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Arevakhatch, the Armenian symbol of eternity

Armenian neopaganism, or Hetanism, is a reconstructionist neopagan religion and an ethnic religion of Armenia. Followers of the religion refer to themselves as hetanosThe rebirth of Armenian polytheism after centuries of dormancy has its beginnings in the early 20th century, with the doctrine of  philosopher and revolutionary Garegin Nzhdeh, who saw the need for an Armenian national religion unique from Christianity. It took an institutional form in 1991, just after the collapse of the Soviet Union in a climate of national reawakening, when Armenologist Slak Kakosyan founded the "Order of the Children of Ari" (Arordineri Ukht). According to ethnologist Yulia Antonyan, assistant professor of the Department of Cultural Studies at the Yerevan State University, the emergence of Hetanism is attributable to the same causes that led to the explosion of other Neopagan movements in the other post-Soviet countries: it is the indigenous and ethnic answer to the social and cultural upheavals that followed the collapse of the Soviet structure and its atheistic and materialistic identity.

Brief HistoryEdit

Armenia's pagan traditions were influenced by many surrounding sources, from the Greek pantheon, Zoroastrianism, Mesopotamian religions, and of course local beliefs from Urartu, a proto-Armenian empire that had toppled by 585 BC. This had been the main religion of the Armenian plateau between then and 301 AD, when the King of Armenia, Trdat III, converted to Christianity, and thereafter forced the rest of his country to follow suit, in a rampage of religious persecution. Temples were ransacked and destroyed, people who did not convert were killed, legends and deities were gradually forgotten. Small pockets of paganism lingered on in remote regions such as Goghtn for centuries, but were all but gone by the Middle Ages. Interestingly, memories of the pagan tradition of Armenia were only preserved by the very people who sought to destroy them, priests of the Armenian Apostolic church. The Armenian alphabet had been invented by the church, making priests the only literate ones in Armenian society, able to record history. Historian Moses Khorenatsi wrote a history of Armenia in the 400's AD, and Agathangelos wrote a history of Armenia's conversion at around the same time. While both cast the pagan traditions in a negative light, they nonetheless preserved the memories of Armenia's gods.

Chief DeitiesEdit

  •  Aramazd (Chief creator God)
  • Anahit (Goddess of Fertility, Healing and Wisdom)
  • Astghik (Goddess of Love, Beauty and Water)
  • Vahagn (God of Lightning and Thunder, also a dragon-slayer)
  • Mihr (God of Light, closely related to the Persian Mithra)
  • Tir (God of Knowledge and Science)
  • Nane (Goddess of War)
    Armenia 2014 083

    The Temple of Garni

Holy SitesEdit

While all pagan temples were destroyed and most had churches built in their place, the temple of Garni, built in the Greek style, miraculously survived. It had been made into the king's summer residence. The temple was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1600's, but rebuilt in the 1970's. It was originally a temple to Mihr, but Armenian neopagans eventually reconsecrated the temple to Vahagn in the 1990's, and hold most of their ceremonies there today.

Holidays Edit

  • Terndez = February 14th, Pagan Valentine’s Day, Ode to Mihr
  • Zatik = March 21st, Birthday of Vahagn, Coming of Spring
  • Mayreri Or = April 6th, Ode to Anahit
  • Vardavar = July (98 Days after Zatik), Ode to The Goddess Astghik and her union with Vahagn
  • Navasard = August 11th, Ode to Aramazd, Armenia New Year
  • Khaghoghorhnek = September 21st, Ode to Tir, Ancestor Remembrance Day
  • Mihri Tsnund = December 22nd, Birth of Mihr

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