Earth Religion

One can say that the Earth-religion is an umbrella term for various traditions which in one or other way are based either on conjectures about ancient Estonian religion or Finno-Ugric tribal peoples’ traditions which have been adapted to a contemporary Estonian worldview.

The name ‘Earth believers’ is derived from the putative self-designation of the pre-national-awakening Estonians as the ‘Earth People’ or ‘Country People’. The faith of the Earth People is accordingly called the Earth-religion. Unlike the Taara-believers, the Earth belief is a more diffuse movement greatly influenced by religions of other Finno-Ugrians. The Earth-religion is essentially person-centred: everyone has the right to his own religious convictions. Everybody is responsible for his or her own acts and must be self-sufficient. Earth-religion also emphasises respect for ancestral traditions and personal contact with god(s).

The contemporary Taara-believers preserve the 1920–1930s national Romantic tradition, but the Earth religion which started emerging in the 1960s, relates native Estonian religion to other Finno-Ugric peoples’ nature worship.

In addition to Taara and Earth-Believers one should also mention the tradition of local healers (noeds) which is still very much alive. People may go to the noed in cases of disease or for worries which are untreatable by traditional medicine. This shamanistic tradition has been preserved throughout millennia and represents an expression of Estonian practical religiosity.

Estonians are practical by nature. This practicality is also reflected in the tradition of Earth-believers, where a central concept is ‘power’. The concept of ‘power’ is connected with the idea of the world as a soul-possessing place. Everything in this world has its own ‘power’, which is simultaneously both a sphere of influence, and the essence of everything and everybody. All kinds of well-being are increased by an increase in power, but a decrease of power is associated with disease and other personal troubles.

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