Historian Moses Khorenatsi's report of an ancient song gives a clue to his nature and origin: Ancient Armenian origin of Vahagn's birth song:
- In travail were heaven and earth,
- In travail, too, the purple sea!
- The travail held in the sea the small red reed.
- Through the hollow of the stalk came forth smoke,
- Through the hollow of the stalk came forth flame,
- And out of the flame a youth ran!
- Fiery hair had he,
- Ay, too, he had flaming beard,
- And his eyes, they were as suns!
Other parts of the song, now lost, said that Vahagn fought and conquered dragons, hence his title Vishapakagh, "dragon reaper", where dragons in Armenian lore are identified as "Vishaps". He was invoked as a god of courage. He was also a sun-god, rival of Baal-shamin and Mihr.
The Vahagnian song was sung to the accompaniment of the lyre by the bards of Goghten (modern Akulis), long after the conversion of Armenia to Christianity.
Another legend of Vahagn connects him with the Milky Way. It was said that the Milky Way was formed by hay spilled after Vahagn stole it from the rival Assyrian god Baal-shamin to provide for his country, giving Vahagn a trickster aspect as well. This earned him the alternative title "Hartagogh", or Hay Thief. In Armenian the Milky Way is still referred to as the Straw Thief's Way.
Modern Neopaganism Edit
Vahagn worship resurfaced with the Armenian neopagan movement in the 20th century. Revolutionary Garegin Nzhdeh was said to have had a vision of Vahagn as he climbed Mt. Khustup, and was adament that Armenia needed to return to its native religion. Armenia's sole surviving pagan temple, Garni, was reconsecrated to Vahagn, though originally being a temple to Mihr. Vahagn and his battles against dragons symbolize Armenia's struggle against it's enemies.
March 21st, the Spring equinox, is observed as the birthday of Vahagn by modern neopagans, as it is believed that the coming of spring symbolizes his victory over the Vishap.