Blog Mantra and Music Videos

Chants to Lithuanian Gods – Performance by Kūlgrinda

Performers during the Lithuanian Festival of Song holding fire up to the gods. Screenshot is taken from the video below.

This year Lithuania celebrates 100 years of independence as a restored country, and as part of the celebrations a 7 day festival of song and dance took place.

During this song festival, the band Kūlgrinda, along with a mass of talented dancers, gave an enchanting and ethereal performance with songs celebrating the sun and the sacred fire and dedicated to various Lithuanian Gods and Goddesses.

The Romuvas are a community of people who are reviving the ancient Baltic traditions of the past, which are descended from the Religion of the Sun, and the band Kūlgrinda (formed by several members of the Romuva religion) brings the musical aspect of this ancient tradition to life.

Many of their chants and songs are a unique form of singing that stems from Lithuania called sutartinės, which consist of songs that use multiple lines of melody at once, (known as polyphonic chorales) producing very unique harmonies. The songs have mystical lyrics with symbolism, describing sacred principles, and often contain special words of which the meaning isn’t entirely known, but are considered to be magical incantations (the word ‘Tūta’ sung during the first song is an example of one of these mysterious incantations).1 The sutartinės are often accompanied by slow and deliberate dance movements which are imbued with various meanings. For example, during the performance below the dancers form a large sun wheel symbol, which is a symbol often found in the Baltic tradition, as well as many other traditions linked with the Religion of the Sun.

At the beginning of the performance a fire is lit on a large altar.  As the fire is lit a sutartinė is sung called Dega Ugnelė (“The Fire Burns”) which contains petitions to the fire goddess Gabija.

A Romuva fire altar. Photo CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The lighting of fire is something that takes place during all important events and family holidays in the Baltic tradition, as fire has been venerated by the Balts for thousands of years and is considered to be “the mediator between people and the Gods.”2 In the Religion of the Sun the fire is an aspect of the sun and is seen as a force that sustains all life.

The ancient Balts took great care of the fires in their homes and during rituals, treating fire with honor and respect.3 They considered it sacred not only for its source of light and heat, but for the deeper meaning it contained.4

Lithuanian archaeologist Marija Gimbutas explains about this in her book about the Balts:

The Balts were great venerators of fire. Fire was sacred and eternal. Tribes had official sanctuaries on high hills and on river banks where fire was kept, guarded by priests, and in each house was the sacred hearth in which fire was never extinguished. Only once a year, on the eve of the midsummer festival, was it symbolically extinguished, and then kindled again. Fire was a goddess, who required offerings [in the form of bread or salt]. She was fed and carefully guarded and covered over at night by the mother of the family. The Latvians call this flame “mother of the fire,” uguns māte; in Lithuanian it is Gabija (from the verb gaubti, “to cover”); in Prussian Panike, “the little fire.” Fire was the purifying element and the symbol of happiness.5

Interestingly, the song Dega Ugnelė is actually part of a larger ritual called the “Rite of Fire” that the Romuvas perform. The Rite of Fire ritual contains a series of songs, dances, prayers, and stories which celebrate the deeper meaning of the sacred fire in the Baltic tradition.6

Here are some of the lyrics of Dega Ugnelė translated into English:

The Fire is burning, tūta, tūta,
Gabija is shining…
On the mound
On the high mountain
Fire Gabija
Shine as lit…
Fire, Gabija
Shine as lit
Smoulder as covered
Give us strength7

A statue of the mother earth goddess Žemyna in Lithuania. Photo by Šarūnas Šimkus-KalvaitisOwn work, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The other songs in the performance are dedicated to the mother earth Goddess Žemyna, who is associated with the earth and nature, as well as fertility, creation, birth, life and death. It is believed that she is the source of life and that all life returns to her at death.8 She was venerated during all festivals throughout the year9 and shares many similarities to other Indo-European earth goddesses as well as mother goddesses from other cultures.10

This performance has been added to our traditional music gallery and we’ll be adding more songs by Kūlgrinda soon, as many of them convey the universal spiritual principles found in the ancient Indo-European tradition and the Religion of the Sun.

  1. “Lithuanian Folklore as a Source of Baltic Religion: The Fire Ritual.” A Historical Perspective of Americans of Asian Indian Origin. Accessed August 09, 2018.  

  2. See accompanying booklet for Ugnies Apeigos (Rite of Fire) performed by Kulgrinda, Dangus 2002 compact disc. [DGCD003].  

  3. J. Balys. Lietuviu Tautosakos Lobynas Treasure Chest of Lithuanian Folklore, 1951, p.39.  

  4. “Lithuanian Folklore as a Source of Baltic Religion: The Fire Ritual.” A Historical Perspective of Americans of Asian Indian Origin. Accessed August 09, 2018.  

  5. Gimbutas, Marija. The Balts. ( London: Thames and Hudson, 1963. ) p. 203-204  

  6. See accompanying booklet for Ugnies Apeigos (Rite of Fire) performed by Kulgrinda.  

  7. Ibid.  

  8. Vycinas, Vincent. Search for Gods. (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1972.) p. 31-33.  

  9. Gimbutas, Marija. The Balts. p. 191-193  

  10.  The Mother Goddess is found in many other cultures around the world such as Durga and Kali (Hindu,) Isis, Hathor and Sekhmet (Ancient Egypt,) Inanna (Sumerian,) Pachamama (Inca) and many others.  

About the author

Vida Narovski

Vida Narovski a writer and researcher for and is a practitioner of the Religion of the Sun. Vida is of Baltic descent, and she is fascinated by the remnants of the Religion of the Sun that are found in her Lithuanian roots, many of which are still prevalent in Lithuanian culture today. She explores ancient sacred sites and pores over ancient texts, with the hope of bringing back the relevance of the Religion of the Sun to those interested in spirituality today.


  • Fantastic to watch so many participate in this video. It has a nice melodic tune to pay attention to – to become more aware.

    The beauty and reference to the Divine Mother is welcomed.

  • I felt drawn to watch this performance tonight. It’s so beautiful and amazing. I love the common links to the Divine. Thanks again Vida.

  • Thank you Vida for sharing this.

    It’s really amazing and unique all this event. It seems the Lithuanian people respect this kind of festival and also the celebration of the Spiritual Sun and the fire.

  • This ceremony looks and sounds amazing. My feeling was that the gods rejoiced in seeing and listening to this.
    It is interesting, as it says in Wikipedia that ..”According to the 2001 census, there were 1,270 people of Baltic faith in Lithuania.[13] That number jumped to 5,118 in the 2011 census..”

    • Thanks Tina, that’s such a big rise in numbers in just ten years and it’s encouraging to hear. I saw a post on FB from a woman in Vilniaus during the autumn equinox who said the river banks were lined with straw and wood structures that were set alight during celebrations on the 22nd of September and that there were hundreds of people, not just Romuvians, who were there to watch, and that poetry, songs and prayers were broadcast. I do wonder how much the pagan revival in Lithuania is due to the nation seeking their identity outside of spiritual practice, but it’s wonderful regardless that celebrations and traditions with solar roots are finding such a broad audience. It gives a lot of hope and encouragement for the Religion of the Sun to reach many more people around the world.

  • Really lovely. I love the references to the fire Goddess and Mother Earth Goddess – there is something special about these ancient ceremonies – lost with today’s patriarchal religions.

  • Beautiful to watch, thanks Vida for all the related information.
    It would be so magical to be there for such a a beautiful event.

  • As I was watching this video I felt it slowly change my sense of time. I felt my awareness shifting away from minute to minute and hour to hour concerns. I saw what it was like again to be in time and contemplate things eternal. What a gift. Thank you!

    • Well said Chris, I totally agree. Despite the size of the event and the number of people constantly it all seems very intimate and filled with solemnity. It certainly would be wonderful to have been there!

  • Thanks for sharing Vida. That’s really inspiring. It gave me great hope when I saw that mass of people. That there are groups of people in the world; and quite substantial ones, focused on something of real meaning and value.

    The music is really beautiful and enchanting. And the harmonies are really interesting; eyrie and moving. Makes me ponder sound, and the power of it. I remember George Harrison saying, in an interview, (something along the lines of) that music should have a higher purpose; and it wasn’t just about “she loves you yeah yeah yeah” (or whatever song it was he used to illustrate his point).

    I also thought about what Layla and Olga were discussing below; about the ceremony having had an unseen and wider impact; stretching, perhaps, so wide as to even affect the entire planet. That what we do in the pursuit of our own individual, and also group, spirituality benefits not only us immediately, but helps to strengthen and support the light.

    We need more of this in the world. More ways we can plug into that strength and support; so we can counteract the pull of a mundane life. And in doing so, help others to do likewise.

    Thanks also for all the valuable and interesting info in the article. It greatly enriched the experience of taking in the video.

    • Well said Tone – I totally agree that we need more of this in the world right now, and that it’s essential to find ways to pull ourselves and anyone who can be lifted out of the mundane mire that grips our minds collectively and forms the core structure of our daily lives.

    • Totally agree with the effect on the world Tone. There has been considerable research on the effects of very large group meditations. At these times it has been found that there is less conflict in the world on a great scale as well as less murders and other crime.

      An experiment conducted in the early 1980s, during the height of the Lebanon war, sought to discover whether meditation could reduce war. When 1,000 people in Jerusalem meditated on world peace war deaths in Lebanon went down by over 75 percent. Not only did war deaths go down, but crime, traffic collisions, fires, and other destructive events also went down on the days the group meditated.

      From this and other similar studies that showed that war deaths and injuries went down on days groups were meditating on peace, scientists reluctantly concluded that group meditation seems to prevent war. In reporting on these unexpected findings, world-renown quantum physicist John Hagelin Ph.D. commented: “There is far more evidence that group meditation can turn off war like a light switch than that aspirin reduces headaches. It is a scientific fact.”

      • Thanks for sharing those examples Sue. I’d previously heard of the positive effects of group meditation upon the wider environment, but not that particular study. If all other variables remained the same in the days following the group meditation, then a reduction in war deaths of 75% is of huge significance in itself, aside from all the other positive outcomes you mentioned.

        I also recall an experiment in which cardiac patients were randomly assigned to two groups, one of which were prayed for and the other of which received no prayer. The patients didn’t know which group they were in, yet those in the prayer group still showed a statistically significant improvement in their health outcomes. By contrast, I can think of a number of medical treatments which are prescribed as standard, where the success rate doesn’t even run into double figures, yet they are still considered the best available option.

        It’s a pity that simple practices, such as meditation and prayer, which are free and offer such a broad range of benefits are still often viewed with scepticism, while harmful habits and practices are often seen as socially acceptable. I think it shows how far we have drifted as a society in general from spiritual principles, which is why celebrations such as those shown in the video are so special and encouraging.

  • Its nice to see that these spiritual rituals are still celebrated within some societies around the world and that there is still a focus and a importance carrying out these, pity theres not more of it throughout the world, thanks for sharing

  • Thank you, Vida, for sharing such a strong legacy from the past. These days must have been a great celebration of light, and people seemed so happy to participate in playing music, singing, and dancing like heralds from a previous epoch. I hope they can keep inside of them the impact of such celebration and ”bring forth good out of the good treasure of their heart”.

    In parallel, the community of Romuva, as a traditional revival group, caught my attention again as I read that their number seems to have jumped in the last years (from 1270 people in 2001 to almost 5200 according to the 2011 census). It is encouraging to see that the rebirth of ancient spirituality in Europe has continued to emerge and flourish, hoping that they can insert the fundamental keys to transform themselves in order to restore this spiritual knowledge of ancient times.

    • Yes, this is a very encouraging development Maia. It’s wonderful that despite the marginalisation of alternative spirituality in society in general, there is still a strong interest in reviving these ancient traditions of the past. I also hope that those interested will be able to connect these ancient practices with the fundamental principles of The Religion of the Sun.

      Thanks very much for sharing those details on the last census.

  • Must be a huge event for Lithuanians (the World Lithuanian Song Festival 2018), reading a bit about it, they compare it with the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games and this year it was for the commemoration of the Centenary of the Restoration of Lithuania’s Independence.

    I’m also glad seeing the old Baltic tradition alive there and symbols of the religion of the sun to be present and in such way. My feeling watching it was like they praise, glorify and invoke the divine presence of ancient gods with a gentle, elegant and elaborate at the same time way.

    Triggers me to check more about this group “Kūlgrinda”

    Thanks for posting it here.

      • Hi Fotis!

        Thanks for that. Actually, the performance by the Kūlgrindas was on a different day of the festival (July 4th) than the Dance day listed in the link you shared.

        The performance described in the link you shared is another one (which is also very impressive!) called “Rolling the Sun Circle” which had 8000 dancers and conveyed through dance some of the history of Lithuania as well as the ancient symbols and rituals found in the culture all with the sun as the theme.

        It is a beautiful performance as well with a lot of traditional Lithuanian folk dances and the dancers form many beautiful sun/solar symbols during it. Specifically around 55 minutes in you will see some beautiful solar cross formations they make for example. 🙂 The music is really nice too.

        You can see video of it here:

        • Those dances are absolutely breathtaking! Thank you for sharing the additional links Fotis and Vida. I can’t believe something so pure and beautiful is going on today on this scale… The music is beautiful too, like from a fairy-tale, and at some points reminded me of Slovak folklore music.

          • I had the same reaction, Lucia. Especially in the part that Vida pointed out around the 55 min mark with all the solar symbols in the dance. Amazing to find such pure and joyous dance performances today. And it definitely has a folkloric element that made me think of Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, etc., and of round dances in general.

          • Thanks everyone for your comments on these performances. I agree Lucia – it’s awe-inspiring that these celebrations are still taking place on such a large scale today.

        • Thanks for that Fotis and Vida. I agree, the music is very nice. It’s great to see that the performers seemed to be really enjoying what they were doing, despite the massive number of performers!

          I hope the celebrations manage to grow in such a way that it spreads to other areas!

  • I find this video deeply moving. The music, movements, clothes, and symbolism coming together in celebration of the fire remind me of a mystical ceremony from a bygone age.

    Particularly when the group making the cross in the middle started rotating and the other participants formed rotating circles around them, it felt like a glimpse of something that might have been done in the very distant past at sacred places – perhaps involving very large numbers of people. The feeling at that moment created by the movements and music combined was so solemn and profound.

    What an amazing way to physically enact spiritual principles in a group on a large scale. So inspiring!

    • Hi Justin,

      I fully agree with everything you have said. It is indeed breathtaking and also immensely encouraging to see so many people performing this beautiful tribute to ancient times and practices. The flame of the Sun is burning in so many people.

      What I also like around the 5:09 mark is that after they made the cross in the middle you can also see the three circle’s of devine father, mother and sun, even from the sky with the beautiful forests around.

      Vida, thank you so much for sharing this. It is so uplifting!

  • How beautiful to see this genuine and serious ritual of Light in todays dark world where the music industry in particular spreads all kinds of perversions, trying to make them a mainstream…

    Like Laura mentioned, the attendance at this festival also stood out to me, how obviously popular the band is, and how seriously the people of Lithuania take their ancient traditions.

    I also loved the symbols, the big sun wheel, the gracious movements and the repetitive polyphonic chants that really sounded like the invocations of gods, and the last but not the least, the young girls dressed in white and gold, holding the fires, reminding me of the virgins of the Sun…

    Thank you very much Vida for this inspiring article, and the closer explanations of the Baltic symbols and traditions related to the religion of the Sun.

  • Thanks Vida.

    Saw this video a few days ago, found it very special. Actually seeing the existence of such a solemn and beautiful ceremony at that scale I found to be a rather eye-opening thing. Giving a sense of how things could be, and could well have been in the past for developed societies based around the Religion of the Sun around the world.

    It also brought up some wonders and questions, so very glad to see this post appearing on with some of the answers :-)!

    That quote on fire being “the mediator between people and the Gods” is very beautiful and worth keeping in mind in one’s approach when utilising it in ceremonies and practices. I find that sometimes when managing to meditatively tune in to a fire one can almost sway along, feel, and connect to this deeper eternal sense which it has. And sort of communicate through it.

    Those magical incantation words, like ‘Tūta’, sound really cool! Do you know anything about how they still have knowledge of these actual words? Were they still part of folk songs, or did ceremonial traditions still survive from person to person even? Is there a list of them with closest approximate meanings?

    Lots of beautiful moments in that video capture of the performances btw. For some reason even the people moving back into place on the stands, with the white dresses trailing, seemed nice in itself.

    • Hi Karim!

      I believe the Romuvas have done a lot of research into the ancient Balts, as well as much knowledge has been passed down through family traditions and likely oral histories too, and Kūlgrinda is preserving and bringing to light this knowledge with their music.

      Since Lithuanians were able to hold on to their pagan culture for much longer than others being converted to Christianity, it seems many customs trickled down to the present. My great-grandmother for example used to get up and greet the sun each morning. 🙂

      I haven’t come across a list of the meanings, but Inija Trinkūnas (one of the founders of the Romuvas) lists a few of the other words in her article on the fire ritual here:

      • Thanks for the link to that page Vida. The little customs of how the fire is cared for and treated feel natural and harmonious. It’s a shame that none of such things are taught in relation to fire when growing up in the west. Although I think everyone’s felt those little nudges of conscience of ‘this isn’t quite right’ when handling fire in a brazen way, or when it goes out at the wrong time as not a good sign etc.

        It’s so lovely to hear about your great grandmother, greeting the sun like that, must be so ‘healthy’ in multiple ways. 🙂
        I think that between modern city life and rural life 50-100 years ago there’s already a huge gap. Making your own food, picking berries in certain seasons, milking cows, working the land etc. it’s not in itself necessarily spiritual, but it does make someone already be closer to nature, its energies and the seasons. So I can see how with such a life someone would probably be a ‘step closer’ to be able to feel the deeper energy and meaning behind nature and the sun.

      • It’s wonderful that your great-grandmother would greet the sun every morning Vida. Do you know how she did it, with gestures or prayers or just being present at the sunrise? How amazing that this tradition had survived so close to our time in your family.

  • Very nice performance with creating nice symbol during the first dancing performance, double circle with swastika inside. It looks to me that the whole event was worshiping the Sun in very nice way. The audience was also big, so it looks that this tradition has deep roots in people’s life in this part of the world.
    Thanks for posting this video.

  • I’ve been pretty glued to this video since I saw it a few days ago – it’s such a beautiful spectacle to behold, there’s something almost other-worldly about it. The way the participants move together in such harmony, they look like an army of spiritual warriors, calm but determind and with such reverence and grace in their movements.

    I had tried a bit to find the lyrics for the chants used with no luck, so thanks Vida for explaining more about the meaning of the chants and providing some of the lyrics-invocations – would you be able to share a resource page where the songs used by the band Kūlgrinda are? It would be great to find out more about these ancient chants used.

    On a side-note, I really liked the look of the hand-held lanterns they had, and found something similar commonly used in Indian puja ceremonies called a diya lamps or Divali oil lamps. You can make them quite easily it seems:

    This performance really gives some inspiration for what a spiritual ceremony can look and feel like.

    • Hi Ella!

      I haven’t come across a resource page online with all of the songs and lyrics in one place so far. I know on some of the videos on youtube there are people who have translated a bit in the comments. In some of the songs they use a very old dialect of Lithuanian/Old Prussian so it’s harder to translate.

      On this site there is an article by Inija Trinkūnas (one of the founders of the Romuvas) where there is more information about the fire ritual and the lyrics to the Dega Ugnelė song are there.

      The Kūlgrinda CDs themselves have the words as well as english translations and explanations of the songs and their meanings.

      Thanks for the info on the lamps! That’s really neat. I also really liked the way they looked and it seems like they would burn for a lot longer and with a bit more strength than a regular candle.

  • Really beautiful!
    Also, it looks like almost every participant was really engaged and seemed to know the meaning of what they were doing.

  • This was very, very beautiful in every sense. I love the music, the movements, the clothes – there is such dedication in all of it. I felt like it took me back to ancient times when mystical reverence and sacredness was still alive, part of society and respected by everyone.

    What caught my attention from the beginning was how many people there were present – not only performing but also in the audience. Also it seems like a majority of the dancers are very young people. When I first heard of Romuva and saw a recording of a ritual they performed in nature I thought it might be a small unknown group but from this it seems they are well known and loved. It’s amazing.

    It was very interesting and inspiring as well to read more about the significance of fire in the Baltic tradition so thanks for explaining that deeper Vida. Looking forward to more!

    • I was struck by that as well Laura. It was a major event in Lithuania, so it was wonderful to see that the Romuvas were there performing in it. It really made me realize how much the culture there in Lithuania still thrives on and celebrates their ancient history.

  • That was really quite amazing to watch, looks like it would have been very special to be there for it.

    The slow and deliberate dance moves really add to the power of it I think and make the dance seem very meditative, like every movement they do has a meaning and significance – the part around 2:47 where they raise up the flames moving them from side to side reminded me of a serpent rising and stood out when I was watching it.

    The music Kūlgrinda creates is really captivating! Look forward to seeing what else of theirs is shared.

  • This was so enchanting to watch, the dancers and singers, their movement, clothing and respect, captured what I felt to be a very heavenly invocation of the enigmatic baltic solar religion. It evoked an almost Egyptian-like initiation and deeply reverent awareness of something present and existing beneath the veil of the earthly realm. Very uplifting.

  • What a magical performance. Feels very otherworldly with that beautiful music and the fire ritual — like a revival of something long forgotten.

Leave a Comment

Data submitted via this comment form is collected and processed on the basis of legitimate interests that enable us to provide our services and which benefit the users of those services. Please view our privacy policy for more information.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!

Send this to a friend