“Kupala’s themes are joy, health and cleansing. Her symbols are water, flowers, ferns and birch-wood. The Slavic Goddess of springs and water, Kupala, whose name literally means ‘to bathe’, washes us with happiness and longevity. Oddly enough, She has a fire aspect too, which likely alludes to purification, protection and transformation. Wildflowers, birch trees and ferns were sacred to Her.
To bring a year filled with joy, contentment and health, leave a natural cloth outside today to gather dew. Use it tomorrow to bath in Kupala’s magic!
Take some flower petals to any moving water source (even a hose) and toss them on the stream. As you do, make a wish for something that will make you really happy. Let Kupala, in the form of the water, carry your wish toward manifestation.
To rid yourself of sickness, negativity or a bad habit before the year really gets rolling, find a safe fire source (such as a candle that’s self-contained in glass). Put this on the floor and jump over it. As you do, say something like:
‘Old burns away
only the good, the good shall stay
Old to new, old to new
Kupala, my heart renew.’
This symbolically leaves the old behind and invokes Kupala’s aid in your efforts for positive change.”
(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)
This Slavic Goddess of the summer solstice, also known as Sobótka, took her name from a word that means “to bathe”, for her worshippers bathed in rivers and in dew gathered on June mornings. Water healed as well as purifying; to gain relief from illness, one tossed bread into a stream while praying for health. The name is also given to the squatting Goddess found on Slavic embroideries.
In Russia and the Ukraine, Kupala was honored in a summer ritual in which young men and women leaped over a bonfire, dragging a straw maiden. The next day, everyone bathed the figure, which was released to drift downstream, removing evil from the village. Such images were also constructed in Serbia and other Slavic countries. Dressed in a fine gown and decked with floral garlands, the Kupala image was hung from a tree in which all but the upper branches were trimmed, so that the tree formed a green-haired woman. Only women performed these rituals. Men could not touch the tree or the hanging figure.
Kupala ruled herbs. Purple loosestrife was her favorite; its roots had the power to banish demons if gathered at dawn of summer solstice. The flowering fern granted its possessor the power to understand the language of trees, which, on the night before solstice, wandered rootless through the world.
This divinity has been described as a god named Ivan Kupalo, a derivation that appears to come from association of the Goddess’s feast with that of St. John (Ivan) the Baptist on June 24. (Patricia Monaghan, “Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines”)
For more information on Slavonic Neo-Paganism, Kapala, and some great photos of Kupala Day celebrations, click here.