by Aldis Pūtelis
"God." Dievs is the supreme deity of the Latvians, with the same position Zeus has in Greek religion. The word was later also used to denote the Christian god, and the main question is whether Christian influences are included in Dievs' image.
The first time Dievs is mentioned as a Latvian (i.e. non-Christian) deity is in Stender's Neue vollständigere Lettische Grammatik (1783). It is likely that previous authors simply overlooked this deity, not willing to contaminate the Christian notion.
Dievs is the most frequently mentioned Latvian deity (counting all the usage of the word), and is a sky and fertility god. In some cases he is the suitor of Saule. There is no explicit hint of a wife and only his sons — Dieva dēli — are mentioned frequently (they are the most frequent counterparts of Saules meitas).
Dievs' main appearance is that of a plain-looking wise old man with a white beard, who appears in everyday-life situations. This concept is more poetic than that found in the song texts and it comes mostly from fairy-tales. In song texts Dievs is more militant and harsh, giving orders and even using his sword to maintain the order in the world. It is therefore possible to speak about several independent concepts of Dievs.
Either because of the predominance of Christianity, or of other reasons in accounts of Latvian religion in the Middle Ages, the leading position among the deities is given to Pērkons ("thunder"). Latvian mythology students of the mid-war period have opposed it at great lengths, sometimes even overlooking the fact that the sky god is very much connected with thunder, allowing the name to be substituted. Whether this attitude can be related to some ideas of Dievturība remains inexplicable.
The Finno-Ugric loan words derived from the Baltic mean "sky" or "heaven" (compare Finnish taivas, Estonian taevas and Old Prussian deiwas).