Golosov Ravine

Up in the ravine, on the left side of it, there is a Neopagan shrine, organized around two venerated "sacred stones"

Golosov Ravine
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Golosov Ravine is a deep ravine in Moscow between the Kolomenskoe Hill and Dyakovo Hill. The ravine has several springs and a brook streaming at its bottom.

In years 2006—2007, during the renovation of Kolomenskoe sides of the ravine were reinforced, and pedestrian paths and stairs were created on its sides.

History

Since ancient times this ravine has always been a bit of a mystery. Inexplicable things constantly happened here in the past. For example, one amazing story was described in the 17th-century sources. In 1621, a small Tatar's cavalry detachment appeared out of nowhere directly in front of the gates to the Tsar's palace in Kolomna. It was surrounded and captured immediately by the soldiers, who guarded the entrance to the Palace.

During interrogation, the horsemen told that they were the warriors of the Crimean khan Devlet I Giray, whose armies had tried to occupy Moscow in 1571, but were defeated. Out of fear of being chased, the cavalry descended into the fog-shrouded Golosov ravine. The tatars spent there, as it appeared at that time, just a few minutes, but when they eventually found themselves on the road again, it turned out that a half of century had already passed. One of the captives, Murza, noticed that the fog was unusual, of light green colour, but none of them paid attention to it in fear of the pursuers. Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich ordered to undertake an inquiry, which showed that the tatars probably told the truth. Even all of their weapons, armour and equipment did not comply with the existing standards resembling the outdated models from the middle of the 16th century.

Kolomenskoe Museum Reserve in Moscow. The Golosov Ravine
pinterest button Kolomenskoe Museum Reserve in Moscow. The Golosov Ravine A.Savin, CC BY-SA 3.0

The mysterious stories didn't end there. In the 19th century, numerous cases of unexplained human disappearances were recorded in the documents of the Moscow province's police office. One such story was published in the newspaper «Moscovkie vedomosti» in July 1832. Two peasants, Arhip Kuzmin and Ivan Botchkarev, while taking a short cut home at night from a neighbouring village, decided to pass through Golosov ravine. There was a heavy fog that filled the valley, where a corridor suddenly appeared. The peasants stepped down into it and met with the hairy humanlike creatures, who tried to show them a way back by signs. A few minutes later the peasants came up out of the ravine, and continued on their way. When they finally reached up their native village, it turned out that two decades had already passed. Their elderly wives and children hardly recognized them. The police intervened in this case. At the insistence of investigators, an investigation experiment was carried out in the ravine, during which one of the time-travelers dissolved in the fog once again and never returned.

Down through the centuries, people have been periodically seen hairy human-resembling creatures in the surroundings of Golosov ravine. Such cases were mentioned not only in ancient and medieval chronicles, but also in the Soviet periodical press. So, in 1926, a local militsioner came across a «hairy wild man» in the fog, who was over two metres (6.6 ft) tall. The policeman pulled out his pistol, but the strange creature instantly dissolved in the fog. Local schoolchildren joined the search for the unusual guest, but they were unable to detect its traces. However, one of the capital newspapers published the article «The Young Pioneers Catching the Leshy» written by the journalist A.Ryazantsev.

The sacred stones

The «sacred stones of Kolomenskoe» are a pair of local sandstone rocks of peculiar shape, located high in the ravine. Some sources claim them to be granite boulders of glacial origin, but this seems to be a misconception. Both rocks have traces of manual processing, both old (exaggerating the shape of the stones), and new (as they have been vandalized by modern graffiti).

Stone veneration in Kolomenskoe
pinterest button Stone veneration in Kolomenskoe Khakhalin, CC BY-SA 3.0

Initially the stones were located further down the ravine, closer to the springs, but during one of the renovations of the park in the Soviet era they were dragged to the place where they reside now.

The ancient shrine of Veles

According to a recently popularized theory, Golosov Ravine might have initially hosted a shrine dedicated to the Slavic deity Veles. The name of Veles is said to be traceable in modern name of the ravine (Golosov or Vlasov, through Volosov, from Velesov). The shrine might have been later Christianized, with the stones re-interepreted by local inhabitants as traces of a famous battle between St. George (the patron saint of Moscow) and the dragon, thus preserving the ancient mythological motif under new names (see «Enemy of Perun and storm myth» section in Veles article).

Modern veneration practices

The stones have their own names: one is called Deviy (or Devichiy, Russian: Девий, Девичий, meaning «Virgin»), and is associated by modern worshipers with giving fertility to women, while the other one is called Gus’ (Гусь, meaning «Goose»). Local lore tells that they help to cure certain diseases, so people come and sit by them, and also tie small pieces of tissue onto nearby trees.

History of the veneration

According to some sources, the stones were not continuously venerated by locals in the 20th century, which would mean that the tradition is discontinuous, and may not follow the older patterns, whatever they might have been.

Springs

The nearby springs are also considered sacred (miracle-bearing) in contemporary Eastern Orthodoxy, Neopagan and New-Age traditions. Before the Revolution of 1917 there was a wooden chapel standing on top of (or near?) the springs, which implies that the springs were considered «sacred» or «holy» in the past as well.

Golosov Ravine
pinterest button Golosov Ravine DyPeMaP, CC BY-SA 3.0

Several springs have (or had) their own names: Kadochka (literally: «Little Tub»; seemingly the most venerated one, with its sub-springs associated with St. George and Our Lady of Kazan); Peter and Paul's spring; the spring of the 12 apostles; St. Nicholas spring. Some of these springs were destroyed during the recent renovation works in the ravine.