“Sadness of Gaia” by Josephine Wall

“Mati-Syra-Zemlya’s themes are community, divination, promises, justice, and morality.  Her symbols are oil and soil.  This Goddess’s name means ‘moist mother’, alluding to Her fertile aspects. She attends today’s festivities to hear oaths and witness legal decisions that may affect the rest of the year. Any promise or sentence made with one hand on the earth, or in Her name, is completely binding. In some areas Her motherly nature is expressed through healing qualities, while in others She has prophetic ability. An appropriate gift for Her is hemp oil.

Landsgemeinde is a civic-oriented holiday in Switzerland during which people gather to conduct regional business, including voting, budgets, and tax proposals. It’s a very old custom adorned with lavish clothing, ceremonial swords, and, I suspect, and eavesdropping Goddess (just to keep everyone honest).

If you need to tie up some pending business, work on your personal budget, or balance the check book, honor Mati-Syra-Zemlya and draw Her ethical energies to you by getting busy!

Alternatively, if you’ve been thinking about getting more involved with your local or magical community, make a commitment to Mati-Syra-Zemlya to start making efforts in that direction. Simply place a hand on the ground and speak your pledge to Her ears. The Goddess will respond by giving you the time and energy needed to fulfil that commitment.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Mother Earth” by Paul Morley

“Mati Syra Zemla is the chthonic mother Goddess of the ancient Slavs; a vague personification of the earth (literally, “Damp Mother Earth”). Perhaps the Slavs’ oldest pagan deity, Her identity later blended into that of Mokos.” [1] “According to Roman Jakobson and Marija Gimbutas, the worship of such a primal earth Goddess was widespread among the Slavs and their neighbors; this is attested to by the fact that the earth deities of a number of Baltic, Phrygian, and Finno-Ugric peoples exhibit similar characteristics and seem to derive from the Indo-Iranian Ardvi Sura Anahita (‘Humid Mother of the Earth’).” [2]

Mati Syra Zemla, or Matka, for short, is the Slavic Goddess of the Earth.  Her name translates to Moist Mother Earth, and describes Her as a forever fertile, life-giving force. She is not seen in human form but as the Earth itself; although it is believed that at certain times She will take human form. When She does, She is usually portrayed with black skin which associates Her with the blackness of the fertile soil.  Matka is believed to be the most ancient and powerful of all of the Eastern European deities. In fact, Matka is so powerful that She survived into the 20th century despite all attempts of the Church to do away with Her.

She is the mother of all – the people, the animals, and all of the plants of the Earth.  The Slavic people had a strong connection to their Mother Goddess and an altogether different relationship they had with all the other gods.  They looked upon Her with a mixture of love and admiration, and She was the only deity they addressed personally.  When the peasant people spoke of Her, their eyes would fill with love.  They called on Her to witness property disputes and swore by Her name.  Oaths and marriages were confirmed by swallowing a clump of earth or holding some on their head while they swear and oath. Her aid was invoked during epidemics and while in childbirth.

Matka is also viewed as a champion of justice and a wise prophetess who allows Her petitioners to come to Her without the aide of a priestess or a shaman. It was said that She held all the knowledge of the world and when asked, would release the signs that could be interpreted.

When the Slavs converted to Christianity, the Church attempted to transform Her characteristics the Virgin Mary, but this was not wholly successful, for during trying times, the people would revert to the worship of Matka.  Her Holy Days are May 1st, June 24th and August 1st.  A ritual to Her took place on the fields in August.  At this time, a libation of hemp oil was poured out onto the four directions accompanied by a prayer for protection against the destructive forces of nature.” [3]

“Melaina” by Thalia Took

Based on Mati Syra Zemla’s description as a chthonic Goddess who appears black skinned when She takes “human form”, I could not help but draw a parallel between Her and Melaine, “The Black One” who is the under-earth or chthonic aspect of the Greek Great Goddess, said to bring nightmares.  Different Goddesses are called by Her name (Aphrodite Melaenis represents a dark aspect of the Goddess of love as Underworld deity, though some say She is called “Black” because love-making often takes place at night).  Melaina is also the epithet of Demeter Herself as an Underworld Goddess, and in this respect is called Chthonia. [4]

I think its important to note that the term “chthonic” is not only used to describe earth deities, but Underworld deities as well.  As a chthonic earth Goddess, it would be easy then to see Her as a fertile life giving and nurturing mother – yet on the other hand, Her blackness would be associated with the womb, caves and descending to the Underworld deep within the earth in which we are forced to face fears, past trauma, nightmares and death (metaphorical and physical).

It is only within the caverns deep within Her dark womb that we are forced to face and learn to overcome and heal from that which has hurt us, only to re-emerge or be born anew into the world – changed, stronger and wiser.

Ancient Mother, no matter by which name You are called, I hear you calling…


McCannon, John. Encyclopedia Mythica, “Mati Syra Zemlya“.

McCannon, John. Encyclopedia Mythica, “Mokos“.

MXTODIS123. An Inner Journey: The Moon, Mythology, and You, “Mati Syra Zemlya“.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Melaina“.

Suggested Links:

Agaliha. Mystic Wicks, “Mati-Syra-Zemlya {Goddess of the Week}“. * (HIGHLY SUGGEST visiting this site – packed full of detailed information and associations!)

Axinia. 1000 Petals by Axinia, “Mokosh’ – The Russian Goddess Lakshmi“.

Kakasevski, Vesna (translated by Snježana Todorović). Starisloveni.com, “Mokoš“.