Golosov Ravine

Golosov Ravine

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Golosov Ravine also known as Vlasov (Власов) ravine is a deep ravine
Ravine
A ravine is a landform narrower than a canyon and is often the product of streamcutting erosion. Ravines are typically classified as larger in scale than gullies, although smaller than valleys. A ravine is generally a fluvial slope landform of relatively steep sides, on the order of twenty to...

 in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, between the Kolomenskoe Hill and Dyakovo Hill. The ravine has several springs
Spring (hydrosphere)
A spring—also known as a rising or resurgence—is a component of the hydrosphere. Specifically, it is any natural situation where water flows to the surface of the earth from underground...

 and a brook
Stream
A stream is a body of water with a current, confined within a bed and stream banks. Depending on its locale or certain characteristics, a stream may be referred to as a branch, brook, beck, burn, creek, "crick", gill , kill, lick, rill, river, syke, bayou, rivulet, streamage, wash, run or...

 streaming at its bottom. Up in the ravine, on the left side of it, there is a Neopagan shrine
Shrine
A shrine is a holy or sacred place, which is dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, hero, martyr, saint, daemon or similar figure of awe and respect, at which they are venerated or worshipped. Shrines often contain idols, relics, or other such objects associated with the figure being venerated....

, organized around two venerated "sacred stones
Sin-Kamen
Sin-Kamen is a type of pagan sacred stones, widespread in Russia, in areas historically inhabited by both Eastern Slavic , and Uralic tribes...

". In years 2006-2007, during the renovation of Kolomenskoe sides of the ravine were reinforced, and pedestrian paths and stairs were created on its sides.

The sacred stones


The "Sacred stones of Kolomenskoe" are a pair of local sandstone
Sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

 rocks of peculiar shape, located high in the ravine. Some sources claim them to be granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 boulders of a glacier
Glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

 origin, but it seems to be a misconception. Both rocks have traces of manual processing, both old (that exaggerates the shape of the stones), and new (as they are vandalized
Vandalism
Vandalism is the behaviour attributed originally to the Vandals, by the Romans, in respect of culture: ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable...

 by modern graffiti
Graffiti
Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property....

). Initially the stones were located further down the ravine, closer to the springs, but during one of the renovations of the park in the Soviet era they were dragged to the place where they reside now.

The ancient shrine of Veles


According to a recently popularized theory, Golosov Ravine might have initially hosted a shrine dedicated to a Slavic deity
Slavic mythology
Slavic mythology is the mythological aspect of the polytheistic religion that was practised by the Slavs before Christianisation.The religion possesses many common traits with other religions descended from the Proto-Indo-European religion....

 Veles
Veles (god)
Veles also known as Volos is a major Slavic supernatural force of earth, waters and the underworld, associated with dragons, cattle, magic, musicians, wealth and trickery...

. It is alleged that the name of Veles is still traceable in modern name of the ravine (Golosov or Vlasov, through Volosov, from Velesov). The shrine might have been later Christianized
Christianization
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

, with the stones re-interepreted by local inhabitants as traces of a famous battle between the St. George (the holy patron of Moscow) and a dragon
Dragon
A dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that feature in the myths of many cultures. There are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons: the European dragon, derived from European folk traditions and ultimately related to Greek and Middle Eastern...

, thus keeping the ancient mythological motive under a disguise of new names (see "Enemy of Perun and storm myth" section in Veles
Veles (god)
Veles also known as Volos is a major Slavic supernatural force of earth, waters and the underworld, associated with dragons, cattle, magic, musicians, wealth and trickery...

 article).

Modern veneration practices


The stones have their own names: one is called Deviy (or Devichiy, , meaning "Virgin"), and is associated by modern worshipers with giving fertility
Fertility
Fertility is the natural capability of producing offsprings. As a measure, "fertility rate" is the number of children born per couple, person or population. Fertility differs from fecundity, which is defined as the potential for reproduction...

 to women, while the other one is called Gus (Гусь, meaning "Goose
Goose
The word goose is the English name for a group of waterfowl, belonging to the family Anatidae. This family also includes swans, most of which are larger than true geese, and ducks, which are smaller....

"). The local lore tells that they help to cure certain diseases, so people come and sit of them, as well as tie small pieces of tissue to nearby trees
Wish Tree
A wish tree is an individual tree, usually distinguished by species, position or appearance, which is used as an object of wishes and offerings. Such trees are identified as possessing a special religious or spiritual value...

.

History of the veneration


According to some sources, the stones were not continuously venerated by locals in the 20th century, which would mean that the tradition is discontinuous, and may not follow the older patterns, whatever they could be.

Springs


The nearby springs are also considered sacred (miracle-bearing) in contemporary Eastern Orthodoxy
Orthodox
Orthodox may refer to:In music:* Orthodox , album by the Czech death metal band KrabathorIn science:* File manager#Orthodox file managers in computing* Orthodox seed, seed which may be preserved via drying or freezing...

, Neopagan and New-Age traditions. Before the Revolution of 1917 there was a wooden chapel
Chapel
A chapel is a building used by Christians as a place of fellowship and worship. It may be part of a larger structure or complex, such as a church, college, hospital, palace, prison or funeral home, located on board a military or commercial ship, or it may be an entirely free-standing building,...

 standing on top of (or near?) the springs, which implies that the springs were considered "sacred" or "holy" in the past as well. Several springs have (or had) their own names: Kadochka (literally: "Little Tub"; seemingly the most venerated one, with its sub-springs associated with St. George and Our Lady of Kazan
Our Lady of Kazan
Our Lady of Kazan, also called Theotokos of Kazan , was a holy icon of the highest stature within the Russian Orthodox Church, representing the Virgin Mary as the protector and patroness of the city of Kazan. Copies of the image are also venerated in the Catholic Church...

); Peter and Paul's spring; the spring of the 12 apostles; St. Nicholas spring. Some of these springs were destroyed during the recent renovation works in the ravine.