Chernobog

Chernobog is a Slavic deity, about whom much has been speculated but little can be said definitively. The name may also be given as Crnobog, Czernobóg, Černobog, Црнобог, Zernebog and Чернобог, meaning black god. The only historical sources, which are Christian ones, interpret him as a dark, accursed god, but it is questionable how important (or evil) he was really considered to be by ancient Slavs. The name is attested only among West Slavic tribes of the 12th century, hence it is speculated that he was not a very important or very old deity.

Contents

Sources

One historic source on Slavic mythology mentioning this god is the 12th-century Chronica Slavorum, a work written by German priest Helmold which describes customs and beliefs of several Wendish and Polabian tribes who were still pagans. Helmold wrote that:

The Slavs, they say, have one peculiar custom: during feasts, they pass a goblet amongst them in circle, for purpose not to praise, but rather to curse in the names of gods, good and evil, for every good thing praising a good god, and for every bad thing cursing an evil god. This god of woe in their language is called Diabolous or Zherneboh, meaning black god.[citation needed]

On the basis of this inscription, many modern mythographers assumed that, if the evil god was Chernobog, the Black God, then the good god should be Belobog or the White God. However, the name of Belobog is not mentioned by Helmold anywhere in his Chronica, nor is it ever mentioned in any of the historic sources that describe the gods of any Slavic tribe or nation.[citation needed]

Folklore

A veneration of this deity perhaps survived in folklore of several Slavic nations. In some South Slavic vernaculars, there exists the phrase do zla boga (meaning "to [the] evil god," or perhaps "to [the] evil [of] God"), used as an attribute to express something which is exceedingly negative. No one is really aware of the literal meaning of these words anymore; exclamations such as Ovo je do zla boga dosadno!, To je do zla boga glupo! can be safely translated as "This is devilishly boring!", "That is immensely stupid!" without any actual loss in meaning. This translation is losing actual meaning, because in Slavic language there are common curses used in the middle of the sentence. To je do zla boga glupo! can be translated as "Damn! This is stupid!". It is very similar to the modern Polish expression "do jasnej cholery" literal meaning would be "for shining cholera", but it means the same as ancient "do zła boga". The word Bog ("God"), however, in all Slavic languages today is used as personal name of the Christian God.

In popular culture

Chernobog has made appearances in various media. As Chernabog, he features in the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence in Disney's Fantasia (1940), as a gigantic black demon who summons ghosts and demons. In an interview, Walt Disney referred to him as Satan himself.[1] It is this rendition which has been adapted for the video game Kingdom Hearts, where Chernabog appears as a boss character on top of Bald Mountain where he is considered to be one of the most powerful Disney Villains in the game, second only to Maleficent, who commands all the powers of Hell.

In literature, he appears in American Gods by Neil Gaiman, as "Czernobog", and much later in the novel as "Bielebog" (it is implied that the two are different aspects of the same character, sharing the same existence, but represent symbolic seasons). In Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, the Saxons swear by him on numerous occasions. In the alternate history novel The Peshawar Lancers, the Russian Empire turns to Chernobog worship after a comet impact causes widespread famine and cannibalism. Chernobog is also the main antagonist in the Heirs of Alexandria series by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, and Dave Freer, and appears (at least in name) in The Russian Trilogy by C. J. Cherryh, although spelled "Chernevog". A version of Chernobog is also used in Richard Kadrey's third novel in the Sandman Slim trilogy, although it is spelled as "Chernovog."

He also appears in a number of video games, usually as a villain. In the Blood series he is depicted not as a person but as a essence of a force that keeps the realities together and must be used by persons incarnating the god. The first game features an incarnation as the main villain, and the second game's plot revolves around the main character Caleb actually being the god. He has also appeared as a recurring demon in the Megami Tensei series.

References

  1. ^ The Walt Disney Company (2009). "Disney Archives, Chernabog Villains History". http://disney.go.com/vault/archives/villains/chernabog/chernabog.html. [dead link]

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