Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Muhu Island - Ancient Stones

 In our second day on Muhu Island we went to the "Ancient Culture Trail". It connected a number of Pre-christian sacred sites which continued to have cultural significance for the locals into the modern period.

It wound through old forest and along pastures and fields. On such a small island it was amazing to find places so hidden and wild! We were encouraged, with informational signs, to honor Tenn - the Forest Father and Mother Earth at each stop.
 First was the meeting of Seven Roads, an ancient offering stone where small favors are left for the Forest Father.
 To make a request of Uku, the thunder god of the Finnic peoples, one hits the small stone on the larger. It's suggested not to make wishes for one's self, but for others.
 The road carried on, winding through the woods. We passed a healing rock, which did not seem to want a photo taken. There, a strange red moss grows there that grows nowhere else on the island. Healing rites are done and items and water are brought to the stone.
 The last stone we visited was Lalli Slide Rock, one of several such stones in Estonia. It is suggested that one make wishes for any new endeavors, or for a safe childbirth.
 Ready, set, weeeeeeee!

 We won't tell our wishes, then it won't come true!

 More of the lovely traditional architecture, the path snuck behind small farmsteads and around the edges of of the fields.
 Our last visit of the day was a different type of sacred stones, an ancient burial ground. The oldest artifacts date to the 1st-2nd century, the oldest burial dates to the 5th. Interestingly, the site was used several times over several hundred years, with each burial being slightly different as the culture changed. We paid our respects and enjoyed the peaceful woods.
Muhu Island was a fascinating place, the local culture has several distinct features that result from sea trade and cultural contact. But it has held fast to many old traditional practices. It was the site of the last resistance to Crusaders from western Europe, and I think the folk there have not forgotten.

For more from our Estonian travels, here's the first post on Muhu Island, Tallin - the capital and medieval fortress, Tartu - the college town, and Villjandi - a large castle and a small town. Also, Oluvestre manor - the host of Craft Camp.

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