Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Baltic city built on a dream

Vilnius, Lithuania

In front of the cathedral in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is a statue of its founder, the Grand Duke Gediminas. Carved in the plinth that supports his towering figure is a howling wolf. This recalls the dream that led directly to the foundation of Vilnius.
    In a military camp on a hill, Gediminas dreamed of an iron wolf that opened its jaws and howled. For guidance on the meaning of his dream, he sought out a shaman-priest named Lizdeika. According to tradition, Lizdeika was born in an eagle's nest on a conical hill at Kernave. Lizdeika lived closed to wolves, and was reputed to be able to shapeshift into their form.
    When the grand duke dreamed of the iron wolf, Lizdeika was recognized in Lithuania as the
 krivu krivaitis, or high priest of the old religion. Lizdeika told the grand duke he should build a fortified city on the hill where he had been sleeping. Vilnius is a city founded on a dream, and over the past week it was a grand place to be dreaming with a spirited circle of Lithuanians.

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