The Fates of Mirdita

Mirdita has a long and well-known tradition of the adoration and protection of the natural environment, generally known under the name of ‘The Cult of Nature’. Local legend has it that, once the flock summers in the shade of great old trees for three years in a row, that place becomes sacrosanct and the trees are untouchable: not even a branch may be cut, for any reason. Any transgressors to this ancient law would fall on harm, for the trees and the pastures are the abodes of Fates (Orët), sacred deities that have watched over these lands from time immemorial, the earliest days when people started living there. The great elms inhabited by the Fates are considered Auspicious Places (vende të mira) and the Fates brought both good fortune to passers-by, as well as harm (orë të liga) to those that impinged on their rest.

 

 

These Fates are found in other lands under several different names - Zana, Ora and Zëra - which indicates a merging between the Ora, Fates of Nature, and Zana, Fates of Folk and lends credence to the antiquity of these practices, going back to the pre-Christian Antiquity of these dwellings and these people. The Cult of Nature, also observed on houses and clothes in Mirdita, is expressed through engravings and decorations of Concentric Circles, Double Spirals and the Sun; as well as the lighting of the Yule Log on the 24th of December, later recast as the Christian Christmas. 

References

 

Hyacynthe Hecquard, Histoire et description de la Haute Albanie ou Guégarie. (Paris: Arthus Bertrand, 1858), k. 4. 

 

Mark Tirta, Mitologjia ndër shqiptarë. (Tiranë: Akademia e Shkencave e Shqipërisë, 2004). 

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