The Island of the Goddess
This month's post is from author Vatsala Sperling, who recently traveled with her husband, publisher Ehud Sperling, to Slovenia.
Recently our travels took us to Slovenia and Lake Bled (Blejsko jezero in Slovene), a breathtaking glacier lake that has an interesting history.
Located in the Julian Alps, the upper Carniolan region of northwest Slovenia, Lake Bled borders the town of Bled. Recorded history tells us that the town and the lake were passed around between the aristocrats, landed gentry, and the bishop of Brixen.
A lesser known but very interesting part of the history of this lake goes back to pre-Slavic pagan society. Pagans had a practice of congregating annually on an island in the middle of Lake Bled with the sole purpose of worshipping Ziva, the Slavic goddess of love and fertility.
When bishops took over the island, they wiped out all signs of pagan worship and built a church. However, they have not been successful in wiping out the ancient cultural memories passed down through generations of Slovenian people. The local Slovenes still recognize the island as a site where the goddess of love was worshipped. So they plan their weddings in the modern day church on the island. The church has 99 steps. The bridegroom must carry the bride up these 99 steps and the bride must not make any sound the entire time. After the wedding, the couple ring the ancient bell three times for good luck, prosperity, and the success of their marriage and for healthy progeny.
Another point of interest about Lake Bled is that the Swiss naturopath Arnold Rickli (1823-1906) chose to establish a health resort on the shores and treated thousands of patients using hydrotherapy, fasting, and other simple naturopathic practices.
Lake Bled itself is very beautiful and from the island, you can see a castle built by ancient kings. The water is crystal clear and full of wildlife. The island with a history of pagan worship adds a hint of charm and mystery and reminds us that, though a church stands in the place of ancient goddess worship, the feminine energy of the goddess continues to attract lovers to the island to seek her blessings.During this same visit we also learned about Inner Traditions/Findhorn Press author Marko Pogacnik, who wrote Nature Spirits and Elemental Beings: Working with the Intelligence in Nature. Marko is very well known in his country because in 1991 he designed the official coat of arms of the newly constituted Republic of Slovenia.