Romuva is a polytheistic pagan faith which asserts the sanctity of nature and has elements of ancestor worship.
Practicing the Romuva faith is seen by many adherents as a form of cultural pride, along with celebrating traditional forms of art, retelling Baltic folklore, practicing traditional holidays, playing traditional Baltic music, singing traditional dainas or hymns and songs as well as ecological activism and stewarding sacred places.
The main deities were usually not actual people or divine spirits, but rather the elements of nature.
Most divinities revolved around the living elements of nature.
These are primarily summed up by: Perkūns (Thunder), Deināina (Morning Star), Jūris (Sea), and Saūli (Sun).
However, non-natural deities exist. The two main Goddesses have been Laima and Žemyna.
Laima is the beloved Divine Mother who protects and guides human life. Laima is invoked to grant good luck. Žemyna is cherished Mother Earth who protects and guides animal and plant life. She is also womb and tomb, and Balts greet her when they rise in the morning and go to sleep at night.
Reforming and Modernizing
During the failed Teutonic invasion of Mainland Prussia during the 1500's, a reformed approach to the traditional Romuva religion began somewhere in Kunnegsgarbs. Local priests and folklorists banded together to form a religious sect of "Reformed Paganism". The reformation bases itself off of the ancient and older-age religions, but adding new-age traditions. New folklore began during a spread of pan-balticism during the later 1500's, causing a massive social revolution, and a Golden Era of culture during the 'Baltic Renaissance'.
The reestablishment of a Kriwe, or a "Pagan Pope", as classified by older European Documents, was instated during 1596, and the Papal-esque tradition has continued until present date. Although the new religion is reformed, it still follows the same old folklore and culture, with newer additions. Taking influences from other popular paganist movements, Reformed Romuva has light influences of Norse, Germanic, Slavic, and even Suomenusko (Finnish Pagan) traditions.
The Prussian Romuva temple eventually reestablished Dievas, Perkūnas and Velnias as the three main Gods. Dievas is the sky God who lives atop the heavenly mountain. He protects and guides agrarian work. He is invoked to help those in need. Perkūnas is the weather and mountain God who embodies justice. Velnias is both the promiscuous trickster God as well as the God of the dead.
The Kriwe is a powerful priest who is held in high regard by the Prussians, Lithuanians, and Balts of Livonia. His messengers are recognized by a certain rod or other insignia, usually of the Romuvan World-Tree.
He is in charge of guarding the sacred flame and looks into the destiny of deceased followers. He traditionally received one third of any loot taken by pagan warriors, but now simply receives donation and tax income from the state and religious followers since the reformation.
The current Kriwe is Dominykas Dovydas (pictured below), inaugerated on January 12th, 1862 after the previous Kriwe's death.
Temples and Holy Sites
The temple of Romowe is in Western Prusija, and is a major center of the paganist religion. Originally lost to time, it was reinstated due to popular folklore and a huge site was built in honor of the old works. It is a large, tree-like structure, surrounded by prosperous village. It is the home and center of work for the Kriwe, and is a frequent spot of visit from the King himself. It is considered the most important area in the nation other than the Capital, Kunnegsgarbs.
emaičių Alka - a Lithuanian-inspired holy site for Eastern Romuva-followers. The area is a pagan ritual site, various altars and statues of the gods remain on the hilltop. The site itself worships the Living Elements of Nature, instead of the traditional deities. It sits on the far-east province of Oletzko.
Rituals and Sacrifice
The Fire Ritual
Since recorded baltic history, the fire ritual has been chronicled as one of the most significant Baltic rites. The focal point of each Baltic temple was an aukuras, the "fire altar." The ritual is often held to commemorate special occasions, and is an essential component of many holidays. The aukuras is erected at a sacred site, usually outdoors. Participants wash their hands and faces as they gather. A group of people leads the congregants in singing dainas--ancient spiritual hymns--as the fire is lit and the ritual progresses. The leaders make offerings of food and drink and flowers to the fire, as the dainos continue. The participants may be invited to add their own verbal or silent contributions. The significance is that the offerings and prayers rise to the Gods with the fire, the smoke, and the sparks. At home, similar libations are daily poured into the hearth fire.