Taaraism is a Neopagan
Neopaganism is an umbrella term used to identify a wide variety of modern religious movements, particularly those influenced by or claiming to be derived from the various pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe...

 ethnic religion
Ethnic religion
Ethnic religion may include officially sanctioned and organized civil religions with an organized clergy, but they are characterized in that adherents generally are defined by their ethnicity, and conversion essentially equates to cultural assimilation to the people in question. Contrasted to this...

 practiced as of 2000 by approximately 1,900 people in Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

, albeit 11% of the population claims affinity to it. Maausk ("Faith of the Soil") is a parallel movement considered more Reconstructionist
Polytheistic reconstructionism
Polytheistic reconstructionism is an approach to Neopaganism first emerging in the late 1960s to early 1970s, and gathering momentum in the 1990s to 2000s...

 and traditionalist. Both the movements are organised into an institution called Maavalla Koda
Maavalla Koda
Maavalla Koda is a religious organisation uniting adherents of two Estonian native religious denominations, Taaraism and Maausk....



Taaraism was founded by Estonian
Estonian may refer to:* Something of, from, or related to Estonia, a country in the Baltic region in northern Europe* Estonians – people from Estonia, or of Estonian descent...

 intellectuals in order to reaffirm their newly-developed sense of national pride. It came fully into being in 1928, a full 10 years after Estonia gained its independence. It is based on historical Estonian mythology
Estonian mythology
Estonian mythology is a complex of myths belonging the Estonian folk heritage and literary mythology.Information about the pre-Christian and medieval Estonian mythology is scattered in historical chronicles, travellers' accounts and in ecclesiastical registers...

, with its many deities
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

, though Taaraists hold a monistic
Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic...

 worldview regarding all the gods as aspects of one only pantheistic
Pantheism is the view that the Universe and God are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek meaning "all" and the Greek meaning "God". As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that "God" is best seen as a process of...

 reality, which they identify with the god Tharapita
Tharapita or Taarapita or Taara is a god in Estonian mythology.The Chronicle of Henry of Livonia mentions Tharapita as the superior god of Oeselians , also well known to Vironian tribes in northern Estonia...

 or Taara (a deity connected to Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European religion
Proto-Indo-European religion is the hypothesized religion of the Proto-Indo-European peoples based on the existence of similarities among the deities, religious practices and mythologies of the Indo-European peoples. Reconstruction of the hypotheses below is based on linguistic evidence using the...

 deities such as the Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

In Norse mythology, Thor is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing, healing, and fertility...

 or Thunor, the Celtic Taranis
In Celtic mythology Taranis was the god of thunder worshipped essentially in Gaul, the British Isles, but also in the Rhineland and Danube regions amongst others, and mentioned, along with Esus and Toutatis as part of a sacred triad, by the Roman poet Lucan in his epic poem Pharsalia as a Celtic...

 and the Hittite
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 Tarhunt). Maausk differs in theology from Taaraism being fully polytheistic
Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals....

. The first Taaraist organization was formed in 1933. This organization was called Talinna Hiis (The Sacred Grove of Tallinn). There were several thousand members by 1940. Later these Taaraist organizations were banned, and members were executed because of the Soviet Russian and Nazi
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 German occupation.


The Taaraist movement is intended to restore "true Estonian culture", which Estonians Taaraists feel has been obliterated by Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and the influence of other nations. Taaraists don't believe that religions should be dogmatic like Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and the other Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him...

. Taaraism is also connected with recent science developments. The majority of Taaraists have been educated in German and Russian universities and raised as Christians, but switched to Taaraism because of their interest in traditional Estonian culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

. Notwithstanding they use Baltic Christian-style choral songs. The symbol for the religion is named the Tolet, and represents a cornflower
Centaurea cyanus is a small annual flowering plant in the family Asteraceae, native to Europe. "Cornflower" is also erroneously used for chicory, and more correctly for a few other Centaurea species; to distinguish C...

. The word "tolet" is thought to derive from words such as "tõde" (truth), "elu" (life), or "tee" (way). This is how Taaraists pray for Taara: "I believe in tomorrow. I believe that tomorrow will be better than today if I help make it so. Taara will help! "
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