WikiPagan
Advertisement

Statue of Vahagn along with a prayer to him in Armenian.

Vahagn Vishapakagh (Vahagn the Dragon Reaper) or Vahakn (Armenian: Վահագն) is a god of fire, lightning, thunder and war worshiped anciently and by modern neopagans in Armenia. Some time in his existence, he formed a "triad" with Aramazd and Anahit. Vahagn was identified with the Greek Heracles. The priests of Vahévahian temple, who claimed Vahagn as their own ancestor, placed a statue of Heracles in their sanctuary. In the Armenian translation of the Bible, "Heracles, worshipped at Tyr" is renamed "Vahagn".

The Christian historian Moses Khorenatsi preserved a fragment of an ancient song dedicated to Vahagn, which provides a clue to his nature and origin:

In travail were heaven and earth,
In travail, too, the purple sea!
The travail held in the sea the small red reed.
Through the hollow of the stalk came forth smoke,
Through the hollow of the stalk came forth flame,
And out of the flame a youth ran!
Fiery hair had he,
Ay, too, he had flaming beard,
And his eyes, they were as suns!

Other parts of the song, now lost, said that Vahagn fought and conquered dragons, hence his title Vishapakagh, "dragon reaper", where dragons in Armenian lore are identified as "Vishaps". He was invoked as a god of courage. He was also a sun-god, rival of Baal-shamin and Mihr.

The Vahagnian song was sung to the accompaniment of the lyre by the bards of Goghten (modern Akulis), long after the conversion of Armenia to Christianity.

Another legend of Vahagn connects him with the Milky Way. It was said that the Milky Way was formed by hay spilled after Vahagn stole it from the rival Assyrian god Baal-shamin to provide for his country, giving Vahagn a trickster aspect as well. This earned him the alternative title "Hartagogh", or Hay Thief. In Armenian the Milky Way is still referred to as the Straw Thief's Way.

Modern Neopaganism[]

Vahagni_tsnund_&_Amanor._govazd.

Vahagni tsnund & Amanor. govazd.

Vahagn worship resurfaced with the Armenian neopagan movement in the 20th century. Revolutionary Garegin Nzhdeh was said to have had a vision of Vahagn as he climbed Mt. Khustup, and was adament that Armenia needed to return to its native religion. Armenia's sole surviving pagan temple, Garni, was reconsecrated to Vahagn, though originally being a temple to Mihr. Vahagn and his battles against dragons symbolize Armenia's struggle against it's enemies.

March 21st, the Spring equinox, is observed as the birthday of Vahagn by modern neopagans (Վահագնի ծնունդ in Armenian, "the Birth of Vahagn"), as it is believed that the coming of spring symbolizes his victory over the Vishap. This date was considered the start of the new year on earlier Armenian calendars, much like the Persian Nowruz, before being moved to August 11 (Navasard) to commemorate the traditional founding date of Armenia in 2492 BC. By the Vahagn calendar, the Gregorian year 2017 corresponded with the year 9600; Vahagn is said to have been born in the year 7583 BC.

Links[]

Advertisement