Horz - Ana Milojković Omi
            In 980 Prince Vladimir erected statues of pagan gods on a hill above Kiev, unaware that he would be the one to pull them down soon after that. Apart from the statues of Perun, Mokosi, Stribog, Simargal and Dazbog, Vladimir also put up a statue of Horz. There is no information on how this statue looked like, but we can at least guess how Horz was imagined by analyzing the records. Momir Jankovic attributed to Horz these physical characteristics: solar halo above his head, on his head a horn that symbolizes the Moon and on his chest a wolf devouring the Moon. From this description we can conclude that Horz was above all a god related to the celestial bodies, although we can doubt that his influence was confined strictly to this area.
            A Ukrainian legend features Prince Viseslav who at his “wolf pace” covers the distance between Kiev and the Crimea. His goal is to intercept Horz and reach the Crimea before a cock’s crow. Horz here has the role of the morning Sun that Viseslav has to outrun, but he also stands for the Moon whose path Viseslav follows. What does Viseslav’s “wolf pace” stand for? We know that Slavic folklore abounds with stories about werewolves, the people who during their lifetime or after death turn into wolves. Prince Viseslav is one of them, a werewolf who under the influence of Horz/the Moon casts off his human form and takes the form of a wolf. Quite similar is the story of Emperor Trajan, a demonic creature who performs evil deeds at night, lingering in the darkness and hiding from the morning sun. Horz is therefore the Moon ruling over the werewolves, vampires and demons, although he cannot be thought of as an evil force because of that, but simply an energy that awakes beastly, dark and hidden urges in man and creatures similar to him. Horz is related to the Moon in yet another way. His symbol is a horn, and on his chest he has a wolf devouring the Moon, thus symbolizing its eclipse. The adjective kors is very similar to Horz’s name, and it denotes something that is incomplete, imperfect. This adjective, of course, refers to the Moon that in its crescent and waning phases looks exactly like that.
            As we have said already, Horz represents not only the Moon, but the morning Sun as well, maybe even the Sun at all its stages. Sreznjev, the researcher who discovered a Horz’s statue, calls him Apollo. Horz is sometimes thought to be the same as Dazbog, thus making a single deity Horz-Dazbog. Horz’s sisters are Hrsalkas – the Sun girls. Linguistic analysis shows that Horz was sooner a god of the Sun than the Moon. Precisely that analysis will point to the problem of Horz’s primal origin and his position in Slavic mythology.
            Most experts (Dragoslav Srejovic, Louis Léger) do not consider this deity to be originally Slavic. The basic problem that emerges when studying Horz is his name, which is not thought to be of Slavic origin. What can etymology tell us? Spasoje Vasiljev thinks that the name Horz comes from the Iranian word kursid and Hebrew cheres, both meaning “the Sun”. There are also Egyptian Horus and Persian Khores, who have similar characteristics as Horz. All these words mark Horz as a god of the Sun, but he is not just that. Horz is, like Svarozic, just another form of the Sun represented as the flame or the light that appears as the Moon at night and as the rising Sun in the morning. Supporting this is one of his forms – Svarozic, son of Svarog, immaterial, the flame of heaven. As we know, Horz and Dazbog belong to the “svarozic” group (little Svarogs), and they simply represent two aspects of one and the same thing. It then comes as no surprise that Horz and Dazbog are sometimes seen as one entity: Horz-Dazbog. Namely, the Sun as the light of day is seen as Dazbog, and the Moon that illuminates the night is Horz (the Sun of the night). Apart from that, Horz is also the morning Sun that Trajan and Prince Viseslav try to elude. Horz as one of the “svarozic” had one more role. In the Preun-Horz-Veles trinity, that was worshipped before the statues of the Kiev pantheon were erected, Horz was perceived as the flame. In Horz we can see different forms of the earthly flame that is a manifestation of Svarog’s heavenly fire, the fire that appears on earth as the Sun, the Moon and the flame.
            Horz’s name is related to many place names, like Horsovo and Horos in Bulgaria, the island of Hortica on the Dnjepr River and the Horem Sea that the Volga flows into. Czech term for fire is horecka, which once again indicates that Horz can be a “svarozic” taking the form of a flame. One of the terms used to refer to a rooster is oroz, so this is the animal that heralds the coming of Horz as the morning Sun. There is also xorovod, a type of dance.
            Although the Slavic origin of Horz is disputable, we have included him among the traditional Slavic deities. Horz is mentioned in Nestor’s chronicle in the description of the Kiev pantheon, and in many other sources as well. We have already mentioned the Ukrainian legend of Prince Viseslav, which is found in The Stories of Igor’s People. Jordanes, the chronicler that studied the period of history from the second to the sixth century AD, mentions the Hortica Island on the Dnjepr as the site of a temple dedicated to Horz. Numerous place names support the theory that Horz was a Slavic god, but when analysing this deity we must take both interpretations of his origin into consideration.


by Vesna Kakaševski

translation by Snježana Todorović