The Stranniki (Russian for Runaways or Wanderers) are the strong Pomorsky Old Believers who rejected prayers for Tsar Peter and all government papers (identification, passports, money, etc). They would not wear clothing contrary to Old Orthodox Russia, nor eat with those of contrary Faith and Practice. Keeping themselves separate from the antichrist society they went far into the Siberian wilderness. This blog is about these people and my effort to conform my life to theirs.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Field Notes From Author
I teamed up with Luda Mekhertyecheva, National Geographic’s Moscow office manager, to search for Old Believers, a Russian religious sect whose members reject modern life to live off the boreal forest. On a cool, rainy day in central Siberia, we drove ten miles (16 kilometers) down a muddy road, walked more than a mile through boreal forest on a steep slippery track, then finally made it to a mist-covered river near the Old Believer village. We tried unsuccessfully to find a path through the forest, then failed to make it upstream along a rocky bank. Finally, our guide decided to bushwhack his way to the village, where he hoped to dispatch some members to pick us up in a boat. He succeeded, and we spent a few hours in the village, talking to residents, eating melons, and sampling homemade beer. One of the Old Believers over-imbibed and nearly capsized our boat on the return trip. He was a sweet man at heart.
[the over-imbided part is conjecture, the drink has more water than beer, nothing happened - forgive, John]
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
International scholarly expeditions doing research in Siberia and Altai, Russia, have come across Old Believers settlements a number of times. For over 300 years, these Old Believers have been living beyond the reach of the civilized world. They have their own calendar, which does not center around the birth of Christ but from "the creation of the world." Their lives are led in difficult labor and the study of ancient texts and prayers.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Agafia Karponova Lukov is known for expressing how unloving it is to live in modern society. Eternal spiritual love is found in the mountains, where God, the light divine, dwells. For more than 60 years she has lived separately from this world. It is true that scientists (outsiders) invaded her way of life in 1978. Perhaps the contact with the outsiders could have been avoided if the Lukov’s were slightly more careful.
Having a completely independent way of life is how the stronger Old Believers have been for centuries. This is only one family of millions who was faced with industrialist socialism and atiestic communism in Russia. Many of them concluded that isolation is the only possible way of life, that obscurity is the only peaceful environment available. When the scientists arrived at the Lukov’s they found the elderly father Karp and four adult children still alive, Savin, Dimitry, Natalia and Agafia. All of them were in good health, of sound mind and perception, with a profound spiritual culture.
Agafia Karpinova does not show having been born and grown up in the woods. The completeness of her Old Faith awareness gleams; being in step with all Creation she keeps all the worship services without fail.
Agafia provides for herself only what she needs. Sooner or later all of us must follow her example, if we are to find what we are really looking for.
To reemphasize, the Lukov’s are not at all alone in their way of life. This particular family living in isolation is widely known in the world only because it happened to come into contact with outsiders. There are very many untold stories of this kind of existence. There is a book written by one of the geologists about the encounters titled “Lost in the Taiga” and was made into a film, here. In Siberia there are many homes of Old Believers which have never been interrupted by outsiders. By their hidden locations contacts are reduced greatly. The impending crash of industrial society will not be a doomsday event for these people.
Can city dwellers master subsistence living skills?
We should all learn how to live in the mountains. In feeling a kind of trepidation for family, friends and neighbors I would offer a proposal given to one and all. If everyone desires a peaceful and happy existence, we all should live without regard for the prideful and polluting ways of society and begin to learn what it takes to live entirely without such corrupting things. Living independently from modern society is the most free and open way of all and offers us the greatest of choices, instead of the constricting alternative which is to remain hostages of the sick and overpopulated cities which are really everywhere else.