Lel – The Slavic God of Erotic Passion
The God Lel or Lelya, Lelo, Lubitsch, is the god of erotic passion in the mythology of the ancient Slavs. He is the son of Lada, the goddess of beauty and love. In contrast to Lada, Lel’s main duty is not love but passion. His powers are the strongest during spring and midsummer nights. Lel is portrayed as a golden-haired winged baby, just like his mother Lada. When compared to other mythologies, Lel is very similar to the Greek or the Roman Cupid/Eros. The only difference is that Cupid/Eros strikes hearts using arrows, whereas Lel burns with his ardent flame.
The first mention of the god Lel is found in the works of Polish historiographers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, including Yan Dlugosh and Matey Strykovsky. They extracted the entire family from the choruses of folk songs: Lel is the god of passion; his twin brother Polel, the patron of marriage (because marriage must follow passion); and their mother Lada is the goddess of love.
Lel was also mentioned in Alexander Ostrovsky’s The Snowmaiden (“Snegoruchka”), where the full audacity of the golden-haired Lel is on display. Lel appears in wedding songs whose choruses repeat “lel-polel,” or“oi-lyuli-lel” and other similar constructions. Researchers consider these to be equal to the exclamation “halleluiah”.
We would like to thank Igor Ozhiganov who has contributed to Slavic Chronicles by sharing his illustrations. Please check out his other work here.