Gender in Russian Rodnoverie


  • Kaarina Aitamurto University of Helsinki, Aleksanteri Institute



conservatism, gender, paganism, Rodnoverie, Russia.


Conservative and essentialist gender roles prevail in Rodnoverie literature, in which men are regularly presented as strong warriors and women as tender mothers and homemakers. Patriarchy is presented not only as a societal model of the pre-Christian Russian society but also as an ideal model for contemporary Russia and Pagan communities. Rodnoverie rituals also feature a conservative understanding of gender, and this tendency seems to be reified by the processes of unification and elaboration of ritual practices in the movement. Nevertheless, one may also detect features that break the simplistic idea of Rodnoverie gender roles as patriarchal and conservative. An integral element in Rodnoverie’s identity vis-à-vis Christianity is the criticism of the demonization and subjugation of women by the latter. In Rodnoverie ritual practices, women often creatively fashion their gender identities. The bipolar division into femininity and masculinity also characterized such Western Pagan religions as Wicca for a long time, and a more inclusive and open understanding of gender was the result of a conscious labor of widening the understanding of, for example fertility. Similarly, I suggest that Rodnoverie rhetoric about gender should be assessed in its social context. Admittedly, in comparison to many forms of Western Paganism, Rodnoverie seems extremely conservative in this matter. However, in Russian society, much of the essentialism simply reflects the general attitudes and underlying assumptions. Therefore, in a Russian context views that could be regarded as conservative in some Western discussions may in fact be moderate or even liberal in the context of Russian religiosity.

Author Biography

  • Kaarina Aitamurto, University of Helsinki, Aleksanteri Institute
    Kaarina Aitamurto is a postdoctoral scholar at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki.


Aitamurto, Kaarina. “Egalitarian Utopias and Conservative Politics: Rodnoverie Representations of Veche.” Axis Mundi: Slovak Journal for the Study of Religions 3 (2008): 2–11.

——. “Modern Pagan Warriors: Violence and Justice in Russian Rodnoverie.” In Violence and New Religious Movements, edited by James R. Lewis, 231–48. New York: Oxford University Press.

Anfant’ev, S. S. (Skrytimir Volk). Azbuka nachinayushchego yazychnika. Moscow: Veligor, 2011.

Bazhenova, A. I. “BABA YAGA—drevnyaya praroditel’nitsa, prashchur.” In Kolovorot 2008, edited by A. G. Rezunkov, 31. St. Petersburg: Tsentr Strategicheskikh Issledovanii, 2007.

Berger, Helen, Evan A. Leach and Leigh S. Shaffer. Voices from the Pagan Census. A National Survey of Witches and Neo-Pagans in the United States. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003.

Federova, Nadezhda. “Okhota na belykh lebedei, ili vzglyad zhenshchiny na puss­kuyu problem.” Rodnoverie 1 (2008): 70–71.

Hemment, Julie. “The Riddle of the Third Sector: Civil Society, International Aid and NGOs in Russia.” Anthropological Quarterly 77, no. 2 (2004): 215–41.

Hutton, Robert. “Living with Witchcraft.” In Researching Paganisms, edited by Jenny Blain, Douglas Ezzy and Graham Harvey, 171–87. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira, 2004.

Ingersoll, Julie. “Against Univocality: Re-Reading Ethnographies of Conservative Protestant Women.” In Personal Knowledge and Beyond: Reshaping the Ethnography of Religion, edited by James Spickard, J. Shawn Landres and Meredith McGuire, 162–74. New York: New York University Press, 2002.

Inglehart, Ronalda, and Wayne E. Baker. “Modernization, Cultural Change, and the Persistence of Traditional Values.” American Sociological Review 65, no. 1 (2000): 19–51.

Kazakov, V. S. Mir Slavyanskih bogov. Moscow-Kaluga: Russkaya Pravda, 2005.

Kon’, Igor. Seksual’naya kul’tura v Rossii. Moscow: O.G.I., 1997.

Lesiv, Mariya. The Return of Ancestral Gods: Modern Ukrainian Paganism as an Alternative Vision for a Nation. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Press, 2013.

Meschcherkina, Elena. “New Russian Men: Masculinity Regained?” In Gender, State and Society in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia, edited by Sarah Ashwin, 137–67. London: Routledge, 2000.

Oboler, Regina Smith. “Negotiating Gender Essentialism in Contemporary Paganism.” The Pomegranate 12:2 (2010): 159–84.

Omelchenko, Elena. “’My Body, My Friend?’ Youth, Gender and Sex.” In Gender, State and Society in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia, edited by Sarah Ashwin, 137–67. London: Routledge, 2000.

Palmer, Susan Jean. Moon Sisters, Krishna Mothers, Rajneesh Lovers: Women’s Roles in New Religions. Syracuse: University Press, 1994.

Pike, Sarah M. New Age and Neopagan Religions in America. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

Salmenniemi, Suvi, and Adamson, Maria. “New Heroines of Labour: Domesticating Post-feminism and Neoliberal Capitalism in Russia.” Sociology (2014): 1–18.

Starhawk (Miriam Simos). The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess. New York: Harper-Collins Publishers, 1989.

Temkina, Anna, and Anna Rotkirch. “Soviet Gender Contract and Their Shifts in Contemporary Russia.” Idäntutkimus 2 (1997): 6–24.

Veleslav (Cherkasov, Il’ya). ”Zhenchshina i initsiatsiya v uchenii velikoi navi.” Rodnoverie 1, no. 7 (2013): 83–84.






How to Cite

Aitamurto, K. (2014). Gender in Russian Rodnoverie. Pomegranate, 15(1-2), 12-30.