Book 8, part 2. The Rites of Love (2006)
The wedding rite
The Vedruss wedding rite, Vladimir, is something you already know about. You wrote about it in The Book of Kin.1 Let me remind you of the essence of these great acts.
It was the lovers’ task to jointly choose a place for their future domain. They would usually go out beyond the perimeter of the settlement where he lived with his parents, and then inspect the area around the settlement where she lived. And there was no need for the lovers to let their parents know of their intentions, as everyone in the settlements had an awareness and comprehension of the deed that this was leading to.
On their chosen plot of land, measuring a hectare or more, the lovers drew up plans for their real life together. Their task was to mentally envision a house and arrange a whole lot of plants so that every part worked together with each other in harmonious precision.
Liubomila and Radomir quickly found a spot for their future domain. As though by mutual agreement, they had each gone outside the boundaries of the settlement to a spot where there was a small grove of trees and a stream flowing by almost unnoticed from a small spring.
Radomir had been here before. He had sat here alone, dreamt about the future, about his future life together with his beloved.
Liubomila had twice come by on her faithful fast-running horse without Radomir. She herself, without knowing why, had once halted her horse by the stream, walked over to the grove, let down her hair, put on a headband and stood for a long time by a goodly young birch tree.
Now the lovers stood on the spot together.
“I was really pleased when I came here on my own,” said Rado-mir. “I would very much like to continue our family line here.”
‘And / like this place, too,” Liubomila whispered.
Early the next morning, as soon as the dawn broke, Radomir brought to the place they had selected more than a dozen rods in a cart and long willow shoots, along with some small posts and a scythe. No sooner had he begun to cut the grass than he saw Liubomila approaching on her steed at a gallop. Radomir was absolutely delighted at the sight, and his heart started trembling. The beautiful girl leapt down from her horse, before it had come to a full stop, three metres short of the as yet unmarked boundary line of their plot, and dashed over to Radomir.
“I greet you with the dawning day, creator,” she said to Radomir, smiling. “The day has turned out to be a fine one, and I decided to bring along some coloured ribbon to mark out the places for our future plantings.”
“Thank you for brightening the day,” replied Radomir.
The lovers did not kiss nor even embrace. According to Vedruss custom, anything like that was not seemly to do before the wedding. And there was a considerable significance to be perceived in this: they did not make a daily routine out of kisses and embraces before their children were conceived. And therefore, when the moment for conception arrived, their energies were at their peak potential. And they never set up dates for themselves.
Each one would visit the selected spot on their own whenever they wished.
Radomir was always the first to arrive with each day’s dawn. Liubomila would follow suit on her steed.
Within a week Radomir had constructed a shelter resembling a magical little house. It was two-and-a-half metres wide and three metres deep. He dug the rods into the ground, made the walls out of interwoven branches, and covered it with a combination of rods and branches.
The lovers covered the whole thing with dried grass, and Liubomila spread a fabric cloth over the interior walls and ceiling. And she made two beds with straw on the bottom, hay on top, each bed covered with a cloth.
When the magical little house was ready, the lovers would often rest and spend the night there, but they did not enter into intimate relations. Such intimacy before the wedding, before creating the ‘nest’, was considered an affront to their future children.
Besides, the young people had a lot to keep them busy Radomir brought a large board, on which he carved the plan for their plot, indicating all the points of the compass, including the rising and setting of the Sun and the risings of the Moon. Wind-speed and direction for both daytime and nighttime were also recorded.
Liubomila would often go to the perimeter of the plot, where she would stand for a long time, picturing in her mind their future plantings. She would also check with Radomir’s plan to make sure they would not have any harm from the wind or shade.
When winter came, Liubomila made less frequent visits to their love domain. She would spend her days weaving fabric in her parents’ home, and embroidering a shirt for Radomir with love.
But Radomir came again and again to their future domain. He continued to obtain and note down information on wind movements, and memorised how the snow lay in the plain.
This is how the Vedruss people over the years made a weather calendar. Every Vedruss family had boards inscribed with such plans and were able to accurately describe the weather to come for a year in advance — two and three years ahead, even. It might seem as though it would have been easier simply to copy a calendar like that from one their parents had made, but it would not have been entirely accurate. The landscape would be just a little bit different, and a copse or a hillock might be able to protect a plant from the wind. The wintertime snowdrifts, too, could be different.
By the time spring arrived, the design was already complete in Radomir’s and Liubomila’s thought, and in early spring they began once more to live in their little house. The task now before them was to mark out all the planting areas with posts, ribbons and branches, and harmonise their ideas with each other. Radomir also had to dig a well and fence off the waterspring.
There were only two weeks left until they could put the seedlings into the ground, and the lovers began preparing for the wedding.
First they went to the settlement where the groom lived, and then to the bride’s. They would pay a visit to every house, inviting its residents to their wedding. In every house their arrival was eagerly anticipated. Everyone wanted to see their love and decide on a gift for their future living home. When the young couple visited a garden, a house or a household courtyard, they would speak briefly to the residents. Just a sentence to each one — something like Oh, what a splendid apple tree you have! Tour cat has a knowing look! or Tour bear is a real worker, very considerate!
To any resident hearing the lovers praise a tree growing in the garden or the household cat, this was a sign of appreciation of the resident’s worthy life. It also indicated that the young couple, too, would like to have a plant or an animal like that.
The couple was not invited into the house nor given anything to eat. This was not just a random practice on the part of the Vedruss people. It would not have been deemed considerate for the young lovers to refuse an invitation for a visit and a meal, but if they had started making extended visits, they would not have had enough time to go round to all the families before the wedding.
Arga, who had known Radomir from childhood, broke the rules slightly. When the lovers paid a visit to his house and began talking with his father, Arga suddenly ran off and fetched a marvellous colt from the stable — the one that had earlier caught the fancy of the whole settlement. He started talking excitedly:
“Please, accept this steed as a present from me. Just as before, he has not let anyone near him since Liubomila made him submit that day at the fair.”
The father gave his son a sly smile and said:
“Perhaps, Arga, you are not letting any horse-breakers near your steed? For some reason you don’t seem to want to break him in yourself.”
Arga replied, slightly embarrassed:
“I haven’t been breaking him in. I decided to leave this stallion forever free. But now I’ve changed my mind. Take this steed as a present from me.” And he handed the reins to Liubomila.
“Thank you,” replied Liubomila. “But I cannot accept this steed, seeing as he is already accustomed to another. But if he has a colt, we shall gratefully accept it indeed.”
When the young couple had completed the round of the domains, and the wedding day that had been announced to all finally arrived, young and old began hastening at daybreak to the designated spot.
People lined up along the perimeter of the plot of land which the young couple had staked out with dry branches.
Right in the centre, next to the shelter, a little mound rose out of the ground, decorated with flowers. Radomir mounted the hillock, and excitedly outlined the plan for the future domain before the gathering.
And each time the young man pointed to a spot where some sort of plant was to grow, someone would step forth from the circle of listeners and go over to the place Radomir was indicating. And this Man held in his hands a seedling of the plant Radomir had named. And each contributor who stepped forth was accorded a bow from the people in turn. After all, each contributor had earned the young couple’s praise during the visits to the domains for having been able to grow a marvellous plant. This meant that he was worthy of the praise of the Creator, the Father of all, the all-loving God.
After announcing their design, Radomir came down from the mound and went over to the spot where his Liubomila was following the whole procedure with excitement and trembling. He took her hand and led her solemnly to the little mound, where the lovers now stood together before the whole gathering.
Then Radomir once again addressed the crowd:
“I was not alone in creating this Space of Love. Here beside me, and standing before you, people, is my marvellous inspiration.”
The girl — or, more properly, a maiden — initially lowered her gaze before the gathering.
Every woman has her own beauty But there can be moments in every woman’s life when she shines above the rest. Such moments are absent in our modern culture. But back then...
Now Liubomila raised her eyes to focus her gaze on the assembly
The excitement of the whole throng before her merged into a single exultation. The girl’s face shone with a radiant smile, not of impudence but of courage. She was filled to overflowing with the energy of Love. Her cheeks were aflush with a brighter than usual glow. The people and the whole Space around them were captured by the warmth radiating from her luxuriantly healthy body and her sparkling eyes. For a moment everybody froze in rapture.
The young goddess stood before the people, shining in all her beauty. The people, in turn, could only admire the most delightful vision.
This was why the maiden’s parents waited before beginning their solemn procession, accompanied by the elderly and younger members of the whole family, to the mound where the loving couple was standing.
Stopping at the mound, the family first bowed to the young couple, and now the mother asked the maiden, her daughter:
‘All the wisdom of the family line lies in you, my daughter. Tell me, do you see the future of the land you have chosen?”
“Ws, Mama, I see it,” replied Liubomila.
“Tell me, daughter dear,” the mother continued, “do you like everything about the future you have been shown?”
“I really do like the design. But still I should like to add just a little something.”
Quickly jumping down from the mound, Liubomila all at once ran through the crowd to the edge of her future garden, where she stopped and said:
“Here is where an evergreen should grow, with a birch beside it. When a breeze blows from that direction, it will first meet the branches of the pine, then the birch, and after that the breeze will ask the trees of the garden to sing a tune. It will not be repeated exactly the same way each time, but it will always be a delight to the soul. And here,” the maiden added, running off a little to one side, “here flowers are to grow. First there will be a flush of red, then over here, a little later, violets will spring up, and burgundy over there.”
Liubomila, all aglow like a fairy, started dancing around her future garden. And once more the people remaining in the circle set themselves in motion, hurrying about to carry the seeds in their hands to the spots on the ground the high- spirited girl had pointed out.
Upon finishing her dance, she once more ran up to the mound. Here, standing next her chosen one, she said:
“Now the Space here will be splendid in its sheen. The earth will produce a most marvellous scene.”
“Tell, my daughter, for all to hear,” her mother once more addressed her, “who will be crowned to reign over all this mar-vellous Space around? Of all the people living on the Earth, upon whom could you bestow the crown?”
Turning to her fiance, the bride responded:
“He is worthy to wear the crown whose thought is able to create a future that will be splendid all around.”
With these words the girl touched the shoulder of the young man standing beside her. He got down on one knee before her. And the girl solemnly placed on his head a most beautiful crown, a garland woven from nice, sweet-smelling grasses by the maiden’s own hand. Then, running her fingers thrice through her fiance’s hair with her right hand, she took hold of his head with her left and drew it a little closer to herself. Then Radomir, now crowned, stood up, while Liubomila ran down from the mound and bowed her head ever so slightly before him in a sign of meekness.
Now, as was the custom, the young man’s father, accompanied by his whole family made its way over to the mound. As they approached, they stopped in respect, and the father asked his son, who was standing over the whole assembly: “Who are you whose thought is capable of creating a Space of Love?”
And Radomir replied:
“I am your son, and I am the son of the Creator.”
“A crown has been placed upon your head, a sign of a great mission to come. You who are wearing the crown, what will you do as you reign over your domain?”
“I shall create a future that all around most splendid will remain.”
And the father asked again:
“Where will you gain the strength and inspiration, my son, and crowned son of the Creator?”
“The energy of Love is capable of wandering through the whole Universe. How will you manage to see the reflection of universal love on the Earth?”
“There is one girl, Father, and for me she is the reflection of universal love on the Earth.”
With these words the young man came down to where Liubomila was standing, took her by the hand and led her back up to the mound. Whereupon the two families merged into a single group, sharing hugs and jokes and laughter.
Then the young man thanked everyone, and they all began to plant their living gifts in the spot Radomir had indicated earlier. Those not assigned a specific spot set about to walk around the perimeter of the plot which had already been marked out and to the sound of the khorovod threw the seeds they had brought with them into the ground. Within the space of a few minutes a marvellous garden had been planted.
Once again the young man wearing the crown held up his hand, and, when all was quiet, said:
“Let all the creatures given to Man by the Creator live together with us in friendship!”
And those who had brought animals as gifts approached the shelter, carrying a kitten or a puppy or a wee calf on a lead, or even a bear cub. Arga, Radomir’s friend, gave them the colt he had promised.
Then people quickly fashioned tree branches into a wicker fence to attach animal pens to the shelter. And soon the dwelling which just a short time ago had been used by people as sleeping quarters was now filled with animals, who were similarly young. And there was tremendous significance in this. For in mixing with each other this way, these animals would forever live together in friendship, caring for and helping each other.
After accepting the gifts, the young couple once again thanked everybody, and then a joyful celebration with songs and khorovods began. The young people, however, withdrew with their families each to their own house. They would not see each other again until after two nights and one fall day had passed.
During this time the best craftsmen of both settlements carried the pre-built framework of a log-house to the new domain, put a roof on top, laid down the floor and filled all the seams with moss and grass. And the women placed their best fruits of their harvest in the new home. The two mothers covered the bed with a linen counterpane. And by the second night every last one of the visitors was gone from the domain. The energy of Love lingered over it in anticipation of the young lovers’ coming.
“Look what happens, Vladimir,” said Anastasia, after finishing her account. “The Vedruss family, in this case little Liubomila’s family, accepted the appearance of the feeling of love in the little girl as the gift of God. And they treated the appearance of this feeling as that of a new member of their family, sent by God, as a helper in the raising of their little girl — perhaps as the primary helper. As a result, the girl’s grandmother helped her understand what the great energy of Love wanted of her, pointing to concrete actions in a simple language comprehensible to a child.
“The little girl was inspired to start learning various disciplines, the pristine wisdom of being, and worked to perfect her own spirit and body
“Who was primarily responsible, Vladimir, for Liubomila’s success — her grandmother, the wise-men-teachers, the girl herself, or the great inexhaustible energy of Love?”
“I would say that if you took away the energy of Love, then all the other participants in the girl’s upbringing would hardly be capable of getting even half of that done. But without them, the energy of Love would have a hard time setting the girl on the right path all by itself.”
“So then, what happened was a joint creation, and joy was shared by all from its contemplation! Well, that is precisely what God wants of Man.”
“I agree. The wedding rite itself is a festive masterpiece altogether unsurpassed in beauty, significance and rationality. If you compare it to modern wedding rites, it looks as though we’ve all transformed ourselves into a bunch of occult idiots. What are young people left with today, after a modern wedding? Memories of gadding around in a car, for some reason, to the ‘eternal flame’,2 a drunken spree in a cafe or restaurant, cries of Gor’ko, gor’ko!3 and public kisses wasting energy that should be saved for the conception of a child. Whereas after the Vedruss wedding rite the couple is left not with just memories but with an actual house built with joy by the finest craftsmen, a garden with a multitude of growing things planted by the hands of relatives as well as friends and neighbours who contributed to the young lovers’ design.”
“In reality, Vladimir, they are left with an actual Space of Love. A sacred, living, truly Divine nest, where the conception of a child may subsequently be expressed.
“The witnesses at a Vedruss wedding rite comprise not just two friends, as happens today, but all the relatives from the whole area, and they create designs not on pieces of paper but in a living creation on the earth.
“The young people in turn sit an examination together, de-scribing their design for their future domain in front of the whole community. I would say their presentation is on an incomparably higher level than today’s doctoral dissertations.
“Of course the materialisation of living Space — the house, the homestead, the beauty of the actions used to create these, all play an undoubtedly important part. But there is one incredible aspect that is just as important. See who actually marries the young couple. Not the parents, not some random official in the Civil Registration Office or a priest whom they often see for the first and the last time.
“Liubomila herself places the crown on Radomir’s head, in front of the whole gathering! This is an act that God’s children are indeed entitled to fulfil. It is a psychological factor that is not as simple as may seem at first glance.
“A Man who lets his love be registered by some random person is already relieving himself, on a subconscious level, of the responsibility for the subsequent fate of his family. Liubomila, by contrast, takes this responsibility upon herself.
“There are many formalities placed between modern couples registering their marriage and God. These include the
blessing by the parents, the registration at the Civil Office and a priest in the church. By contrast, nobody stands between the Vedruss couple and God. Consequently their marriage can be blessed only by God Himself.
‘And even before the crowning, He really makes this into an actual manifestation. He sends them mutual love. The Vedruss people knew how to accept it and make it eternal.
‘And what happened, one might ask, before conception in the Vedruss period?”