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

The Great Northern Forest

On Assignment With National Geographic

Field Notes From Author
Fen Montaigne

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.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0206/feature2/assignment1.html

[the over-imbided part is conjecture, the drink has more water than beer, nothing happened - forgive, John]

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Old Believers Found in Chernihiv

In northern Ukrainian Chernihiv, workers from the Ukrainian Elections Committee visiting remote corners of the country came upon four communities of Old Believers that had been totally isolated from civilization. The ancestors of the people in these communities fled here at the beginning of the 18th century in protest of the reforms that Patriarch Nikon and Tsar Peter were conducting in the Russian Orthodox Church. This news was reported by the agency "Vesty on-line" on 13 July 2002.

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.

http://www.risu.org.ua/eng/news/article;1791/

Friday, February 20, 2009

How To Live Substantively In Our Times

This post offers the example of the Lukov family.
 

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 and Savin with hemp clothing weaved on a primitive loom.

It is said that as many as 40% of the people in Russia were exterminated (it was much worse than the German Holocaust against the Jews), so it became necessarily that all reasonable people runaway from the government, even if they were not yet Stranniki (Runaways). The Lukov’s went as far away as possible and found their own place. The forest was their world and provided everything they required.

Agafia is now the solitary mistress of this independent settlement.

This proves that it is possible to live in isolation for many decades. The Lukov’s secure hideaway is located in a canyon of riverheads with very rugged mountains. It is a wild and remote place covered with woods. They hunted and fished, all the while collecting mushrooms, berries and nuts. They prepared a garden where grew barley, wheat and vegetables. This is a good example which we all can imitate. They never suffered a complete loss of their crops in all the decades of being there. They never grew a crop in one place more than three years. Their crops contain more nutrients than those of the modern world, with no infections. The only fertilizer they use is natural compost.

Dmitry and Natalia Lykov

Many think that such a life of separation from the world is a hardship. The truth is that when they came in contact with the severe climate of civilization (namely the geologists) within a short time everyone of them died, except for Agafia the youngest of them. They had caught infectious diseases that until that time were unknown to them. Strong and reserved, Agafia still rejects all worldliness and lives in a log cabin which her father helped build for her in this distant forest. Agafia is glad to accept gifts from visitors but refuses anything with the mark of Antichrist, the barcode. Several years ago Agafia officially became a nun of the Old Rite.


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?



Hope, a Muscovite, lived with Agafia in the isolation of the forest.

After going through personal tragedy while being in society, Hope traveled from the city of Moscow to Siberia looking so she could learn what is right. She lived with Agafia from 1998 to 2003. Hope has learned many things, like how to make her own bread completely from scratch. Most people have forgotten how to live naturally. But it most certainly is possible to learn, Hope even had what might be called a handicap, that of being deaf. She has learned how to care for animals and everything else required to take care of herself. So anyone can do this. Hope has had many unusual experiences in the forest, like being face to face with a shebear while out on the trail that leads to a nearby river. Thanks be to Christ for providing a covering of protection! So we can easily see how it is a more pure and wholesome way of life to face the extremes of mother nature than the comforts of what is called modern civilization. Sadly, the government made the area a nature reserve and now only Agafia is allowed to live there.

Conclusion

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.

Forgive