Ringing Cedars' Anastasianism

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Ringing Cedars' believers in Belgorod Oblast, Russia.

The Ringing Cedars (Russian: Звенящие Кедры) or Anastasianism is a new spiritual and religious movement that started in central Russia in 1997,[1] on the basis of the series of ten books entitled The Ringing Cedars of Russia written by Vladimir Megre.[1] The knowledge contained in the books is attributed to an archetypal wise woman from Siberia named Anastasia. Many Anastasians are Rodnovers,[2] that is to say proponents of the return to a Slavic Native Faith (Rodnovery) or other indigenous religion, the books that the movement relies upon offer a holistic worldview teaching about humanity's relationship with nature, God and the universe, the creation of the world, the power of thought in modelling the future, cyclical eschatology, the right relationship between men and women, and education.[1]

The name "Ringing Cedars" comes from Anastasians' beliefs about spiritual qualities of the Siberian cedar. Anastasianism has been classified as part of the broad spectrum of self-described "Vedic" religions arising in post-Soviet Russia. Anastasians propose a whole new model of social organisation, that of the "kinship homestead" or settlement (родовое поместье, rodovoye pomest'ye),[3] the Ringing Cedars have become popular in Russia, and the movement has also spread to other Slavic countries, broader Eastern Europe, and communities have also been established in the West.[4] In Russia, Anastasians face the hostility of the Russian Orthodox Church.[5]

Etymology[edit]

The two names of the movement are explainable as follows: ① "Ringing Cedars" refers to the movement's beliefs about the spiritual qualities of the Siberian cedar, a kind of pine;[2] ② "Anastasia" (Ἀναστασία, Anastasía), from anástasis (ἀνάστασις), is a Greek phenomenological word meaning "resurrection".[6]

Beliefs[edit]

Theology[edit]

The Ringing Cedars may be described as a nature religion, since Anastasian spirituality emphasises the sacredness of nature, conceived as a source of divinity and the mean of communication with God. Scholar Rasa Pranskevičiūtė characterises this vision as pantheistic, and notes how it is a fundamental influence in Anastasians' social project,[7] they stress the importance of harmony, that is to say giving and receiving love and respect, among individuals and between the community of individuals and the divinity of nature.[8]

A Lithuanian Anastasian has defined God as follows:[9]

God is Nature – a twitter of birds, the wind, a rustle of trees... everything that is in Nature is the living book of sensual information, and much more: He touches us through Nature.

Anastasians believe that nature is the "materialised thoughts of God". All living things are believed to be thoughts of God, and therefore by communicating with them humanity may communicate with God.[9]

Morality[edit]

The Ringing Cedars believe in the interconnectedness of all being, and therefore they grealy emphasise the moral responsibility of individuals and humanity towards the umbegoing world, they believe that human thoughts and feelings actively, magically influence the umbegoing world, having the power to affirm or disrupt natural harmony. Pranskevičiūtė reports the following excerpt from Megre's doctrine (1998):[10]

When a man is full of love, he is entirely radiant, that energy of radiance reflects into the planets above him in a short particle of a second, comes back to earth again and gives life to everything that is alive... If a man is ful of anger, his disseminating radiance is dark; it cannot rise up and penetrated deeply into the Earth. After striking deep into the bowels [of the Earth], it comes back and manifests itself as a volcanic eruption, an earthquake, war.

In order to be respectful towards other forms of life, Anastasians try to eschew any form of killing, and therefore they adopt vegetarian, vegan, and raw food diets, and wear clothes made of natural materials.[10]

Heaven on earth and reincarnation[edit]

Buildings in the Korenskye kinship estate in the Shebekinsky District of Belgorod Oblast.

According to Megre, when a man lives in harmony with his own kin within a homestead of at least a hectare in size, a "love space" is established. A "love space" is where God is present, immanent, and constitutes a "Heaven on earth", where kindred people grow together with the umbegoing world, the concept of "love space" is not merely geographic, but includes anything good which an individual may create.[11] A kinship homestead is also a web of natural relationship, between kindred people.[12]

In other words, the kinship homestead mirrors the modality of God's work through nature; in his hectare of land a man is capable of building a house with natural materials, growing plants and domesticating animals, creating an ecosystem.[13] As such it is perceived as a holy land, a microcosm reflecting the macrocosm, wherein individuals may "co-create" with kindred people and with God.[14] According to Anastasians' own experiences reported by Andreeva and Pranskevičiūtė, the new social organisation represented by the kinship homesteads helps people to leave the unnatural and decaying urban technocratic system, which they conceive as a close system which smothers human creativity ensnaring it in meaningless behaviours.[15]

A Russian Anastasian has described her experience of the kinship homestead as follows:[16]

[It is] a way to open your inner potential – it is the place where every person can open his inner potential to the maximum – in other words, to live in accordance with the programs which have been put by God... Through Nature you can gain insight into God's purpose.

The "love space" always corresponds to a transcendental space where an individual may be reborn. Anastasians believe that reincarnation may be consciously planned, and it occurs in the lineage. Reincarnation occurs within the "love space", or the established kin, because the offspring remember their ancestors, the Ringing Cedars believe that humans and all of reality is fundamentally energy of thought, and ancestors may be reborn if they are thought by their descendants.[11]

Eschatology[edit]

In his books, Megre teaches a cyclical eschatology, according to which time develops through three phases: a "Vedic" (of vision) period when humanity lives in harmony with Heaven; an "Imagic" (of image) period when knowledge starts to be codified and concentrates in the hands of progressively fewer holy men; and an "Occultic" (of hiding) period in which knowledge is totally "hidden" and humaity's consciousness severely downgrades. The contemporary epoch is considered to be one of the third type. Anastasians believe that they are at the forefront of the rebirth of a "Vedic" golden age, and their appeals to go "back to nature" imply to go back to the awareness which characterises humanity during such golden ages, which also equates to a reawakening of the ancestors, these ideas are expressed in Ringing Cedars' books as follows:[17]

When we find our inner charms, how to awake our inner ancestors... we are born as young gods.

Ritual practice and pilgrimage[edit]

Ringing Cedars' believers performing ritual circle-dances on Kupala day.

Anastasians engage in nature-worshipping ceremonies and individual rituals. Rituals for hallowing the "love spaces" are crucial for most believers,[9] the Ringing Cedars also organise pilgrimages to various sites which they consider to be holy, where they believe they may communicate with the ancestors through meditation. These sites include megalithic buildings like the dolmens of North Caucasus, and sites on the Black Sea coast, especially Gelendzhik in the region of Krasnodar. Lithuanian Anastasians make pilgrimage to a holy site in Tverai.[18]

Social and political impact[edit]

According to Andreeva and Pranskevičiūtė, Russian Anastasians tend to give a political meaning to their experience, feeling actively engaged in a movement which frees from the yoke of technocracy and evil Western forces,[19] the 2000s–2010s Great Recession has contributed to the strengthening of Anastasians' eschatological beliefs.[20]

Russian Anastasians also tend to give nationalist connotations to the concept of "love space", extending it to mean the "Russian nation" as an overarching concept, espouse traditionalist values, and Anastasianism for them represents an ethnocultural phenomenon. Otherwise, Anastasians in other countries, for instance Lithuania, tend to focus on spiritual beliefs and on the restoration of traditional rites.[21] According to some observers, the Anastasian system of kinship homesteads is providing a solution to Russia's housing problems.[22]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Andreeva, Julia; Pranskevičiūtė, Rasa (2010). "The Meanings of Family Homestead in the Anastasia Movement: the Cases of Russia and Lithuania". Humanitāro zinātņu vēstnesis (18). Daugavpils Universitāte. pp. 94–107. 
  • Aitamurto, Kaarina (2016). Paganism, Traditionalism, Nationalism: Narratives of Russian Rodnoverie. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-1472460271. 
  • Pranskevičiūtė, Rasa (2015). "The "Back to Nature" Worldview in Nature-based Spirituality Movements: The Case of the Anastasians". In James R. Lewis and Inga Bårdsen Tøllefsen (eds.). Handbook of Nordic New Religions. Leiden: Brill. pp. 441–456. ISBN 9789004292468.