Romuva is a name given to the ancient Lithuanian and Baltic way of living revived in the modern world, in a modern context. The journey to the discovery of Romuva for me has been life long and enjoyable. Romuva is still continuing to give me joyous revelations every day through my own daily and yearly adherence to the ancient Lithuanian customs, as they relate to me as an Australian Lithuanian and living in Australia. The key to unlocking the wisdom of my Ancestors was found in reading the many folktales still preserved in volumes recorded by various Ethnographers, who thankfully wrote in English as well.+ The reading* of the folktales is certainly not limited to Lithuanian tales but those from all indigenous people around the world. The tales of all indigenous people are remnants of my Ancestors in this life and also from many other previous lives that I've lived through. It is however the Lithuanian tales that have revealed to me, an ancient mythology and morality of my Ancestors. The Tales revealed a refreshingly simple and seemingly logical worldview/feeling and morality, that I was easily able to relate to, in my current life.
Another key that helped me to find the Spirit of Romuva was in studying the language and grammar of Lithuanian language. I was not raised speaking Lithuanian and what I have learnt is mostly self taught. I still have much problem with pronunciation, some words are real tongue twisters and correct pronunciation and inflexion is paramount, for people to understand what you are saying. I have sung with the Sydney Lithuanian folk choir for around 10 years and learnt many of the correct prononciations. The experience with the choir also gave me a deeper understanding of the emotive power of Lithuanian words and especially when sung. Lithuanian language is very expressive and has many diminutives. For example, there are 80 words for Mother. I don't know them all but they are varying terms of endearment. So as you could imagine that learning vocab is an ongoing quest. I believe that the words spoken by my ancestors in prayers, chants and songs, have a very real power and energy that raises energy in the individual speaking/singing the words and those who hear them.
All words have power, and singing the words makes them more powerful. I experienced such a raising of energy when I was in Lithuania last year and participated in many songs and dances around the sacred Fire altar. Each time I felt enlivened, encouraged, peaceful, nurtured and safe. My internal eternal Fire was really stoked and I felt warm and even blinded by the brightness of the flame! Since returning to Australia and not having my weekly singing rehearsals, my internal fire has dimmed a little, but still burning strong within me. I think I need to reconnect with a Lithuanian choir here in Australia to get my fix! :)
The key to finding your own path can be found in connecting to the words of the old, ancient and wise. The ancient words of tales, incantations and songs have a special power while all words still have the power to transform your mind body and Spirit. Negative words have equal power but I don't want to give negative power, energy here, so I won't speak about it. I will say however, that negative words has equal power to be destructive for your Soul and Being.
How has finding Romuva transformed me, you may ask?
* I have found total peace at various times in my life when harmony is established in my life. I understand that Harmony is never static and constantly changes and so I must constantly strive to re-establish Harmony. I have learnt to be flexible so I can change, when needed, and continue to strive in order to maintain, foster, nurture actions that are harmonious with my life, my community, my Gods and Goddesses and Ancestors.
* I have become more ecologically aware as the understanding that we owe our survival to the Mother Earth and so we need to nurture Her if She is to continually nurture us.
* I have become more grateful for the many blessings in my life that were not possible for my ancestors who really did it tough.
* I have become more compassionate with my fellow humans and understand the need to foster community where I live.
By adhering to Romuva:
-I see all life as sacred and eternal, animate and inanimate. From trees, animals to Rocks, Waters, Fire, Sun and Moon all have their own energy and life force which is holy and should be respected. I have always known, within myself, this universal truth and Romuva has broadened this understanding.
-I have found a morality in Romuva that isn't dictatorial but by adhering to the ways of establishing harmony,
-I have found that living a life that acknowledges the cycles of life and the seasons in a respectful way will naturally guide you to a type of morality. This morality is not uncommon among other religious/spiritual groups with a few differences that are unique to the ancient Lithuanians.
Lithuanian morality is defined by the following:
-Love and care for the Earth
-Love and care for people especially those in need in your community. Love others as yourself but remembering a Lithuanian proverb that suggests, if someone throws a stone at you then, pick it up and throw it back twice as hard, so they'll think twice about doing it again. None of this turn the other cheek business!
-Respect and care for our Elders and taking time to listen to their stories.
-The importance of the stability of the family unit. I understand that today there are many variations on the traditional family model. Traditionally the family model was very set. My ancestors were very focused on the importance of marrying, having children and having functional families in order to have a functional community. The aim is still the same today but we have much more diversity in family models. Divorced couples marrying and raising each others children. De-facto and married couples fulfilling the same roles. Stay-at-home-Dads, single parent families and same sex families, all are able to function well if the same principles of love and respect, which are principles of Romuva, are practiced. The traditional principles and values of families still very much applies today and I believe that non traditional families should not be discriminated against because they don't fit the traditional model. This opinion differs from those in Lithuania who are very much anti divorce and anti gay. In Lithuania, the idea of an alternate family is unthinkable and abhorrent. We in the western world are more open minded because of historical differences. For example, Lithuania didn't experience the period of the 60's because the were oppressed and occupied by Russia where as much of the western world did experience hippy and free love philosophies.
Adhering to the tenets of Romuva has taught me many things that has brought a profound peace in my life. I know within myself that my Spirit has led me to this path for a good reason. After years of study and practice, I get it! I now feel the most complete I have ever felt in my life. I feel that I am connected to the world and Universe around me in such a real way that harmony seems to easily be found. By celebrating the seasonal and astronomical Sventes, throughout the year, connects me to the many natural cycles of Earth and Cosmos. In learning the words and language of my ancestors connects me with the past. I have learnt that there is wisdom in reading and absorbing the tales and songs of my Ancestors. Romuva has taught me that the ancient Lithuanian mythologies, customs and morals revealed in fables, tales and proverbs are not entirely redundant and many aspects are still very relevant to all of us living today and into the future.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my words on the power of words and I hope that they empower you to strengthen your own path.
*Reading* -note the use of a continual verb. I have found that it's not, "having read" the folktales as a once off activity but by continually and regualrily reading them reveals the underlying wisdom the more you read them.
+Suggested reading list:
Lithuanian Mythological Tales by Norbertas Velius
Lithuanian Etiological Tales by Norbertas Velius
Lithuanian folk tales by Zobarskas
Evening Song by Vytautas F Beliajus
folk tales from the Soviet Union by Raduga Publishers Moscow