Mihail Petruševski, in his comparative study of the black deities and demons in the history of religion, establishes that all black gods and demons have a chthonic nature and therefore belong to the underworld. According to Vyncke (1969), the Slavic clannumen was to a considerable extent chthonic in nature. This people sacrificed to its numina in lakes and springs. According to Petruševski, these were considered ‘entrances to the underworld’. Three Slavic names of gods can be explained in this way. Tjarnaglofi means ‘Blackhead’. Siwa has been explicitly labeled as a prominent goddess by Helmhold. In Common Slavic, siv- is connected with ‘grey, ashen, black’. Siwa can then be interpreted as ‘the Dark Goddess’. Pripegala, probably related to the Baltic gods names Picullus, god of the underworld, and Pikals, evil deity. These names are related to Lithuanian pekla which means hell. The basic meaning is ‘tar, pitch’. Pripegala then means: ‘the tarred, the blackened.’ Several testimonies confirm that the Slavs blackened some of their idols. (Vyncke, 1969)
‘Black’ gods like Tjarnaglofi or Siwa are not necessarily evil, although they may look scaring. They are called ‘black’ because they control the realm of darkness, the underworld. They stem from ancestor worship. Likewise, they are the deceased ancestors, who live in the realm of the dead. Furthermore, they are invoked to give advice, so they are more like tutelary deities. That is a fundamental difference with the demonic beings like Pripegala or the demons from Christian hell, who represent the evil, destructive force. The ‘black’ gods from Slavic mythology are associated with keywords such as ‘underworld, grey, ashen, forefather, death‘. Words classified in the Semantic Colour Space under the code 001:000 or black-on-blue.
I. Michiels, red.