Krivė, Krivis, Vaidilai, and Seniunai:
the hierarchical structure of Romuva
Krivė (feminine) / Krivis (masculine)
The Krivė/Krivis is the highest position within Romuva. One could translate it into English as “high priest/ess”, but that’s not exactly an appropriate translation. Some have equated them to Catholic Popes, but the only similarity is the hierarchical position with the faith.
The Krivė is the spiritual leader of the faith. The current Krivė of Lietuvos Romuva is Inija Trinuniėne. She was democratically elected after the death of her husband, Jonas Trinkunas, the founder of modern-day Romuva. The Krivė gives guidance to the child organizations, but doesn’t dictate.
Vykintas Vaitkevicius identifies the word “krivis” as meaning not only the high priest (feminine: “krivė“), but the assembly of lawmakers, and the staff that the krivis carried as an indication of his position (which we now call a krivulė).
The Vaidilai are the “priests” of the faith. Currently, Romuva North America does not have a Vaidila but operates with a group of Seniunai who function within our organization as Vaidilai do within Lietuvos Romuva.
Vaidilai oversee the spiritual growth and administrative duties of whatever group they are responsible for. They report to the Vaidilų Ratas (or Priests’ Circle) and to the Krivė as to the group activities, membership, and notable events.
You may also see mention of Vaidliutės – these are historically female priestesses dedicated to a particular god/ess. In modern times, they may be the young women who assist the leaders during rituals.
Seniūnė (feminine) / Seniūnas (masculine)
Until _, each region’s organization was headed by a Seniūnas/ė. For instance, Vilius Dunzila was the Seniūnas in Kaunas before moving back to the United States and founding Romuva U.S. in 1991. Romuva North America did not have a Vaidila until 2012, and that position was vacated after incorporation in 2020.
Romuva North America’s board consists of four Seniunės, all of whom have been active with the faith for at least twenty years. The administer both to the spiritual needs of their adherents as well the organizational and administrative tasks. There are additional Seniūnai who are not board members. All Seniunai have the power to perform weddings and other rites of passage.
Despite this formal hierarchy, the Romuva faith, like the faith of its ancestors, has no bible, no dogma. Its requirements of its adherents can be summed up very simply: to love and respect the earth and its inhabitants. (Read the Tenets of Faith) This does not mean one is free to introduce other gods, goddesses, and traditions and call it “Romuva.” Our faith is inextricably entwined with Lithuanian history, language, and culture. Without that tie, we would all just be playacting a dead faith.
What this DOES mean is that you are not expected to attend “church” every week. You do not have to give homage to anyone (but of course, if you are practicing, it is expected that you honor our Gods and Goddesses). It means that you choose how to practice your faith. You choose to focus on Zemyna, or Gabija, or Perkunas or another god (or to honor them all equally). Of course, you can’t do that without knowledge, and that is what we endeavor to achieve through providing reading materials in English as well as real-time support through the discussion board on this site, our Facebook pages, and in-person events.