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Home  |  Gods   |  European Gods   |  Baltic Gods   |  Perkunas : The Thunder God

Perkunas : The Thunder God

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At a glance

Description
Origin Baltic Mythology
Classification Gods
Family Members Žemyna (Wife)
Region Latvia, Luthuania
Associated With Sky, Thunder, Lightning

Perkunas

Introduction

The sky deity of the Baltic religion, Perkunas, is regarded as a fertility god and the guardian of law and order apart from being the god of thunder and lightning. He is considered to be similar in powers to other gods such as the Norse god Thor and the Greek god Zeus. The oak, which is the tree most frequently struck by lightning, is regarded as sacred to him.

According to ancient tradition, people who were struck by lightning were protected from devils and were treated with bullets made from bronze or flint. The objects that were struck by lightning were also used to cure various ailments, such as fever, toothache, and anxiety. The most popular of all Baltic gods Perkunas, is referred to in Lithuania as dievaitis, an archaic form of dievas.

Physical Traits

Perkunas is usually depicted as a middle-aged man riding a two-wheeled cart with goats. In some accounts, the thunder god is seen driving a flaming horse or a cart through the skies. He would be identified by the constellation of Ursa Major.

Family

Some stories claim that Perkunas and a woman known as Vaiva or the rainbow were supposed to get married but the bride was kidnapped by Velnias. Since then, Perkunas has been hunting Velnias. Some stories also claim that there are four sons of Perkunas who are representative of the four seasons or the four cardinal directions.

In most myths, however, Perkūnas’s wife is Žemyna. In some myths, Perkunas would expel his wife and children and then remain in the sky by himself. In other stories, Dievas saves him from the earth and takes him into the sky. The reason for this is that Perkunas was given the responsibility of the stones in the sky whose rumbling and rubbing against each other tend to generate thunder and lightning during storms.

Other Names

The name of Perkunas has multiple variations across the Baltic and Finnish speaking regions. In Lithuanian, his name is Perkunas, while in Latvian, he is Pērkons. In Yotvingian he is known as Parkuns, whereas Perkele is his Finnish name. His name in Old Prussian is Perkuns.

His name is also linguistically related to the Slavic Perun, Sanskrit Parjanya, Finnish Perkele and Greek Keraunos, all of which relate his role as a rain/sky/thunder god.

Powers and Abilities

In most stories, Perkunas chases his opponents in the sky using a stone and fire-based chariot. It is usually accompanied by a pair of white and red horses. Perkunas has many weapons, such as a sword, a powerful axe, a fire-breathing club, and a variety of lightning bolts. He is said to be the creator of these weapons while at times he is aided by Televelis, the heavenly blacksmith.

It is similar to the Samogitian representations of Perkunas riding a flaming horse. He is depicted as a grey-haired old man with a large beard and wearing white and black clothes. On his heavenly chariot, Perkunas is holding a goat with one hand while he uses an axe or horn on the other.

He is also considered to be able to strike people down with lighting and is also the reason behind thunderstorms which are caused by huge boulders in his possession in the sky. Most of his battles with his opponents also end in a thunderstorm and rain.

Modern Day Influence

In Baltic mythology, Perkunas is associated with Thursday and special worship is offered on this day of the week. This is in line with his similarities to Thor in Norse mythology who also happens to be after whom the day is named. Perkunas is also a common character in mythical retellings and modern literature in Lithuania, Latvia and neighbouring countries.

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Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.