The Dievturi Movement in Latvia

By: Gatis Ozolins  

The aim of this paper is to view the Dievturi movement in Latvia as a religious movement. The formation of Dievturi movement in the middle of the 1920s closely related with the endeavour to find a religious answer to the question about the place of ethnic Latvians in the newly created Latvian state, to reconstruct the traditional religion of ancient Latvians based on study of Latvian folk songs, folk beliefs and practices, and efforts to create an alternative religion to Christianity. After the official annexation of Latvia into the USSR in 1940 Dievturi movement was closed down. Legal activity of Dievturi was possible only in exile. The exiled Latvians, who wanted to find a way to retain their ethnic identity outside their ethnic home country, joined them. During the Soviet regime in Latvia, Dievturi were not part of an organised religious movement, its teaching and ritual practice were not further developed. The Dievturi movement in Latvia gradually resumed its activity at the end of the 1980s on the basis of the folklore movement, but it was officially registered as a religious organisation Dievturi Fellowship in 1990. The return of Dievturi from exile to Latvia was a significant impetus for the reconstruction of Dievturi movement. Members of the contemporary Dievturi movement emphasise that Dievturība is the renewal of the Latvian worldview contained in folk songs while religious practice is shaped on the basis of Latvian traditional lifestyle evidence, mainly ethnographic descriptions.

Religious Movement, Dievturi Movement, Traditional Religion, Ritual Practices, Folklore
Religious Community and Socialization
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Gatis Ozolins

Researcher, Archives of Latvian Folklore, Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of the University of Latvia, Latvia