“Pagan Rituals”– Rusalka, Rusalii, Calus- Pagan-Christian syncretism  

Pagan Rituals” denote the mythology and legends of our ancestor.

We can discover them in a  lot of myths, legends or rituals  of different Indo-European  cultures.

Various ethnic cultures of different communities  show the similarities with their Indo-European ancestors.  They preserve  these myths, believes, rituals even if  Christian Religion try to eradicate them.

Christianity  has failed to eradicate the  ”Pagan Rituals”

Christian religion tried to ban these “Pagan Rituals” but there try is doomed to failure.

So, Christian religion has not choice. Thus, many ethnic traditions and local mythologies have been integrated  into Christian mythology.

“Pagan Rituals” became Christian rituals and the Church accepted  them.

Pagan-Christian syncretism  

Pagan-Christian syncretism highlights both the endurance of traditional inheritance and the process of Christianisation.

Rusalka, Rusalli or the Calus are expressions of Pagan-Christian syncretism.

On the occasion of Pentecost celebrated this weekend in the whole Christian world, let’s analyze some ethnic traditions and local mythologies integrated into Christian mythology.

Rusalii is the traditional Romanian name for Pentecost but Rusalii is at the same time a Slavonic festival to honor the dead.

Don’t forget that the Sunday before Rusalii is dedicated in Romania to commemorate the dead.


In Slavic mythology and folklore, there is a mysterious creature: the Rusalka, a water-dwelling spirit who appears in the shape of a beautiful woman.

Rusalka is not a mermaid, she has feet rather than a fishtail, lives in rivers or lakes (not seawater like mermaids) but comes out many times a year, especially in summer, to dance and walk around nearby woods.

She lives with her sisters in deep forests crossed by lakes or rivers; their long hair is sometimes green because of the waterweeds to which they have been long exposed. Also their pale skin may seem greenish.

During the night, they dance. They sing strange songs with their amazing voices luring men who happen to be passing by just to drown them.

With their looks and their sweet voices, they call them closer, and closer.  The unfortunate men can’t help follow them to their watery grave.

Specifics pertaining to Rusalki differed among regions; in Ukraine  people  often link  them with water, in Belarus they  link  them with the forest and field.

Where land was fertile, the maidens appeared naked and beautiful. In harsher areas of Russia, they appeared as “large breasted amazons”.


Similar to Rusalki, are the evil fairies.  People  known them  in Romania as Rusalii.

According to religious folklore, those who see the Rusalii dancing will become mad.

In popular belief, Rusallile are capricious fairies.

They dance in the air or on the ground during the night, placed in a circle and where they dance the grass remains burned.

If a villager walks in the field where the Rusalii danced, he will get sick, mad and can no longer go because – “it was taken by Rusalii.”


“Pagan Rituals” – the Calus

Pagan Rituals- Calus - Humanizator.ro

“Pagan Rituals” – Calus

On this occasion, the cathartic dance Calusul will offer protection against Rusalii.

The name of the dance- Calus comes from the Latin Callatus – horse – in Romanian language horse is cal.

The dancers are training 2, 3 weeks before the Pentecost.

On Pentecost’s eve, they swear to be chaste 9 days, to keep silence and ask protection from the Fairy Queen, Irodiada.

The Calus evokes the horse’s gallop and the flight and dance of the fairies.

The Orthodox Church banned this dance.

At the end of 19th century, Church  still forbids it  ;  because the people  continued to  perform it   , the church had to tolerate it.

So, the dance was integrated in a Christian scenario.

Nowadays, the Calus, known only in Romania, is on the list of UNESCO’s world heritage.

Both Rusalky, Rusalii or the Calus are examples   about  the Pagan-Christian syncretism


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