Semigalls’ Warchant


The pale moon casts its evil eye
Over the man in the forest
He calls wolves with the soundless bagpipe
Utters the magic words of summoning
And when the snowstorm starts its icy dance
Wolves come – red burns their eyes
Hungerful howlings fills the night sky

In the depth of the forest
There live people far from the others
They live by the elders’ custom and worship pagan gods
Wolves guard them against the persecution of Christians
As they deny the dogma of Christ

People from the neighbouring villages
Call this place – the forest of werewolves
( they tell: )
Those who pass by the marsh of wolve
Never return

The snowstorm roars
Red blood paints the snow
Wolves gnaw the bones of man
Who dared to enter the realm of werewolves



I call you brothers to the war
To the land where Christians dwells
Proud Semigallian sons
I call you to grind your swords

There’s no peace in our land anymore
Since Viestards has passed away
But Semigalls will never
Bend the knees in front of the cross!

Beware Christians
Nameisis is my name
Creep in fear hearing that
I come invited by the Dead

My foal runs swifter than Northwind
Battle axe don’t know the rest
I sing the song of victory where
Blood of my enemies is spilled

And Semigalls together with Lithuanians
Through Prussian lands they ride
Nameisis cuts crusaders most wrathfully
Along own men he calls:

“Let’s kill all the Christians
You, my proud heroes!” *

* From „Rhyme chronicle”



Black clouds lies over the dark forests
Dreary centenary oaks rustle in the wind
On olden stones of sacred mound
Ravens sits voicelessly
They’re messengers of Velins* land

Sacred fire under oak burns in night
Stones sink in moss and slowly wane
Signs carved in them

Signs carved in stone…

But with a morning’s fog
Nine priests ascend the sacred mound
Beside the stones they stand
And ancient ritual has begun

Spirit of Fire, take our offerings
Let wreath of smoke reach the sky
Don’t turn away your blessing
Pērkon, old God of forefathers
Let the next generations to understand
Signs forsaken by us

Let us raise again
The banners adorned with thunder crosses
Let us carry on the kin that perishes
And proudly uplift our hanged heads
And let our power never again leave us

Pērkon, give us a power!

*Velins – the god of underworld, he is master of the Dead



The sun has vanished
Freezing northwind now rules the land
From the realm of ice and eternal darkness
Mother Winter snow clouds sends

White warlord rides the sky
Hundred steeds pull his sledge of ice
The roaring noise follows him
It’s the sign that the winter solstice has arrived

The ancient song fills the air
On the mound sacred fire burns
People dance the magic dance of rebirth
For the sun’s sooner return

Here is the longest night of the year
When the evil spirits of darkness is awake
Old witch woman dances across the room
She drives whole evil spirits back in the gloom

Over the frozen field the northwind wails
Falling snow turns into the raging snowstorm



(Ancient Latvian folk song)

Long I heard, now I see
Dievs’s grey horses
Adorned with silver droplets

In darkness Dievs arrived
Don’t know where to put his horse
Ride sister at night watch at grass
Let him into the apple grove

Dievs placed his horse
On a stone to rest
So his hooves wouldn’t rust
In the tillable land

On the road I found
The horse Dievs had ridden
Golden saddle on its back
Silver bridle



Titmouse sings
Near the house door
Wake up, brothers, saddle the horses
Titmouse brings the message of war

Come on, sisters
Shine our heavy swords
Then go, open the gates
Your brothers must ride to the war

I cut my battleaxe
In the green oak
Onto my spear I tread
Here we swear the oath

Almighty god of war and thunder
Watch us from above
Now we are the hunters
To the hunt we go
Father Moon, high in the sky
Light our way tonight

Two bloody rivers flow
Down from the hill
There my enemies lie
By my sword they’re killed

From their bones we made the bridge to home

This is our warchant
It gives us courage and makes us strong




The holy man rides up the tallest hill
Gazing long at the black night sky
Signs in the stars grant him wisdom:
It’s time to take up swords and cross the sea!

Rise now Reikis! You fought with Danes!
Rise warlord of Jūrpils, and your brother Meinis!

Make your orders swift for building the ships
To bear silver and gold, and carry it home!

Two thousand men will sail with them
All proven true in fierce battles
They raise up their axes like woodcutters
But each blade has slain dozens of foes

The ships set sail in the grey morning
While the tail-wind still blows strong

Take us over the sea, to the foreign lands
Guide our boats to their treasures, with swords in our hands
Oh Mother of Wind…

What destiny will meet us on this journey –
Shall fate grant us honour and glory
Or bad days of grief and disaster?

Take us away to the Northern shores
There is no way back anymore
So let the sea roar and let the storm howl
And the great waves shake our boats

Laughing we stand, our fear is beneath us
Horror and death now means nothing to us
Wind is our father and sea is our mother
Common fate brought us here together



White fog covers the sea
The sharp winds calm and fail
Boats of Kurši appear as dark ghosts
Their oars fall with silent splashes

Nine times have they seen the Moon rising
Nine times has it greeted the Sun
The long journey is finally over
Before the Kurši lies the Northern Shore

Warchief Reiķis stands first on the coast
Beyond the woods he sees a village
The Kurši seize their heavy axes
Each hungry for his share of the spoils

Boldly up one path strides Reiķis
Down the other marches Meinis
And following each one thousand men
All warriors fierce and strong

“In these lands we’ll sow cold fear today
Our axes will drown in blood
We’ll reap a harvest of the foes we’ve slain
As our swings cleave Northern men!”

Suddenly mist wraps up the forest, like an evil witch
It binds trees tightly in white blankets
Silent feet tread over moss
Ears harken to a battle ahead…

Flashing by are shadowy figures
War horns call for death
There is clattering of steel all around
The forest is shaking in a bitter fight

Reiķis cuts through the white shrouds of mist
His blade enters warm flesh
“Pērkon, father, can it be…?
The corpse of Meinis lies in front of me!”

“Bloodfield” – black raven croaks
For the friends who cut down friends
There a brother killed his brother
By plunging axes through the fog…



In the moonless dark of freezing winter
When you stare up into the sky
Behold the red light that shimmers there
Mysterious and eerie…

Far to the North it is flashing above
Bloody colours are playing there
And hearts below seize with fear

Who are they – they are Kāvi
What do they want – they bring death
War, devastation and famine
For they are kinsmen of Velin

Blood-red silhouettes ride
Through the black night
A song of moans resounds
As the sky is blazing in their fire

Old men say:
“Now come home they
Who went away to sea”

On distant Northern shores their bones are rotting
They cannot find peace in the world beyond
So their ghosts will always ride, envoys of evil days
They are the curse of the earth

Night warriors on white horses of the Otherworld
Gallop raging to fight again
A song of moans resounds
Through the black night
Bloody shades glittering ghastly
Kāvi rides over the sky

* Kāvi are a mythological manifestation of the Arctic Lights,
sometimes also called the Northern Lights. In olden times,
people believed they were the restless spirits of fallen warriors,
still engaged in great battles in the sky.
The Kāvi foreshadowed times of hardship, and their appearances
were thought to signify the approach of war, or evil days
of starvation and sickness.

All music by Rihard, Peter & Edgar
All heathen poetry by Peter, except “Long I Heard, Now I See”.