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Perkons

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In Latvian mythology, Perkons was the god of thunder, rain, mountains, oak trees and the sky, one of the most important deities in the pantheon.

By the 2nd century, Perkons was popular throughout the Baltic region. He was strongly associated with Dievs, though the two were clearly different.

The people sacrificed black calfs, goats, and roosters to Perkons, especially during droughts. The surrounding peoples came to these sacrifices to eat and drink together, after pouring beer onto the ground or into the fire for him. The Latvians also sacrificed cooked food before meals to Perkons, in order to prevent thunderstorms, during which honeycombs were placed into fires to disperse the clouds.

Perkons' family included sons that symbolized various aspects of thunderstorms (such as thunder, lightning, lightning strikes) and daughters that symbolized various kinds of rain.

Perkons appeared on a golden horse, wielding a sword, iron club, golden whip and a knife. Ancient Latvians wore tiny axes on their clothing in his honor.

Alternatives Perkunas (Lithuanian), Percunis (Prussian), Perun (Slavonic), Perkonins (diminutive), Perkonitis (diminutive), Perkona tevs, Vecais tevs

Etymology Perkunas (Lithuanian), Lett. Perkuôns, Percuns / Parcuns (Old Prussian)

  • IE. *perk-oun-os; (Baltic languages) name of Thunderlord, also "telling", analogous to Perun in the Slavonic[?]
  • IE. verb. *perk; "to fling, to throw, to strike(??)". Compare to Old Slavonic *pork and *pork-os "(Old Polish "prok") instrument for throwing stones, "slingshot" and *pork-t-is "slingshot";
  • from *perk- also > IE. *perk(w)-os "an oak, tree", also the abode of a pagan god, such as a tree, which is struck by thunderbolts or with some force. (Latin quercus = "an oak", Celtic herkos, Old Icelandic[?] "fork, staff, cudgel, club" - rather "oaken stick" than "instrument for beating");
  • IE. *perk-uniy-a "oak wood" (Celtic herkynia, Lithuanian perkunja, Russian perynja *perkynja) - secondarily united or created after the example: *perg-uniy-a "steep place, mountain" - and understood as a "holy forest = oak wood on a hill", see: Przeginia.

Striking variancy *per- / *perkw- with identical passage-doubling p > k(w), even within the same notions: Latin Quer-n-us / querc-us (however quernus maybe from *quer-c-oun-os).


The Finns assumed the name perkele to refer an evil spirit (not being on good terms with the Lithuanians at that time). Later with Christianity they also co-opted him for one of the titles of satan. perkele is also the commonest swearword in the Finnish language; and frequently the first word taught to foreigners. (It is pronounced roughly PEAR-kell-LEH)



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