Tag Archive: latvian


Goddess Laima

“Brigit” by Pamela Matthews

“Laima’s themes are love, unity, blessing, luck, destiny and magic. Her symbols are wreaths and swans.  The Lithuanian Goddess of fate, luck, beauty and magic swoops into our lives in the form of a swan (* please see “UPDATE”) reminding us of the transformative power of love. Traditionally, all Laima needs to change from one from to another is a swan feather, alluding to Her nature as a shape-shifter who uses magical charms to manifest Her will.

Around this time of year, young people in Lithuania gather in a temple at sunset, then go into the forest to harvest summer flowers. From these, circlets and strings are made to crown and bind lovers together in Laima’s and nature’s beauty. Then the young people dance to together round a birch tree (rather like a Maypole) singing to the Goddess and asking for Her blessing. This is a lovely tradition that can be adopted by gathering summer flowers and holding hands around them at your family supper table. Allow Laima to renew your love and unity in a moment of silence before dinner. If you live alone, invite a close friend to join you instead.

Also, find a small rose-vine wreath at a craft shop. Adhere the image of a swan to this somehow (representing Laima), and hand it where you can easilty see the wreath regularlily. Each time you do, remind yourself that love is the most pwerful of all the Goddess’s magic – and that includes loving yourself.”

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

“The 3 Fates” by watergal28

Patricia Monaghan tells us that this “Baltic Goddess of fate sometimes appears as three [with Her sisters Kārta and Dēkla] or seven Goddesses to symbolize the many fates possible.  Laima, like the Norns and Fates, measures the length and happiness of a person’s life.  Sometimes called Laima-Dalia, ‘happy fate’, She was invoked in prayers: ‘Oh, Laima, thou art healthy; give me thy health.’  Often mentioned in the same prayer was the sun Goddess Saule, for Laima measured the length of the sun’s day as well as a woman’s life.  Laima was Her name in Latvia; She was Laime in in Lithuania; in both countries She was sometimes pictured as a swan maiden (please see “UPDATE”) or as a multiple Goddess” (p. 189).

“Dalia Lithuanian Goddess of Fate” by Emily Balivet

“Laima…[is] generally associated with the linden tree. Together with Dievs, the sky, and Saule, the sun, Laima determines the length and fortune of human life. In the course of each life She helps arrange marriages, oversees weddings, protects pregnant women, and appears at childbirth to pronounce each infant’s destiny.

Revered as patroness of cows and horses, Laima decides the life span of plants and animals and determines the length of the day.” [1]

I did come across one piece of conflicting information.  Monaghan states that “Laima was Her name in Latvia; She was Laime in Lithuania” (p. 189).  Wikipedia states that “In the Lithuanian mythology, Laima (fate, destiny) is often confused with Laimė (good fortune) and Laumė (fairy). Other related deities include Dalia (fate) and Giltinė (The Reaper).” [2]  However, Encyclopedia Britannica states that “Laima, also called Laima-dalia, (from Lithuanian laimė, ‘happiness,’ ‘luck’)” [3].

 

 

* UPDATE  (06/25/2013):

A very knowledgeable native Latvian lady I exchanged emails with shared some wonderful information with me that contradicted what Patricia Telesco and Patricia Monaghan wrote concerning Laima’s association with swans.  She stated that Laima is “connected to a cockoo, a black or white chicken or a black or blue snake, but never with a swan.”  She also stated that “Laima appears with a green linden or birch sauna besom like this: pirtsslota2

 

Also, the information found in the Wikipedia is very accurate: “The most important goddess of fate is Laima (luck). She lives on Earth and is closely involved in human life. Her basic function is related to birth of child and deciding its fate. Traditionally women would give birth in bathhouse. The path to it would be cleaned so Laima could easily make her way to help in the birthing process. The woman would be ritually cleansed and would offer prayers and give ritual offerings to Laima. After successful birth married women would feast, with Laima being reserved a place of honour, in the bathhouse as sign of gratitude. She would also determine persons fate – a decision even she herself could not alter afterwards. She was expected to help in other important aspects of life as well and cared for well being of the people in general. Unmarried girls would pray to her to give them good husbands and happy marriage. She also ensured fertility of fields and animals (horses in particular) to some extent.  Another two goddesses with similar function are Kārta and Dēkla.  Goddess Māra also has several functions in common with Laima.  Although this view has been criticized, many researchers agree that Māra is synonymous with Saint Mary. It has been suggested that Mary took over some functions of earlier deities, including Laima.  However, Māra was used to refer to Saint Mary, who was also called upon during childbirth and to help with number of ailments by either her modern Latvian name Marija or number of Christian euphemisms.  All these were also used as euphemisms to refer to uterus in folk magic.  The opposing view, based on comparative linguistics linking her with wide range of other Indoeuropean deities, is that she was important pre-Christian chthonic deity that both gives and takes life.” [4]

 

 

 

Sources:

Britannica Online Encyclopedia, “Laima“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Laima”.

Wikipedia, “Laima“.

Wikipedia, “Latvian Mythology: Fate goddesses“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Bookrags.com, “Laima Research and Articles“.

Covenantofrhiannon.org, “Ancient Lithuanian Mythology and Religion“.

Latvianstuff.com, “Latvian Earth and Water Deities“.

Mallory, J.P. & Douglas Q. Adams. Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, “Fortune Goddesses” (p. 212).

Motz, Lotte. The Faces of the Goddess, “Laima: Goddess of Birth and Fate” (p. 80 – 83).

Ortega, Pedro. Heresy and Beauty, “Lithuanian Goddess“.

Wikipedia, “Latvian Mythology“.

Goddess Saules Mate

“Saule” by Lisa Hunt

“Saules Mate’s themes are the sun, prayer and protection. Her symbols are the sun, fire, yellow/gold items, horses and birch.  Saules Mate comes to us from Indo-European tradition, Her name meaning ‘sun’. Indeed, with the sun reaching its highest point today, She becomes the center of our festivities. Saules Mate crosses the sky during the day in a carriage drawn by yellow horses, then travels the waters by night in a golden birch boat, hanging a red scarf in the wind to give the sky its lovely color.

In magical traditions, we stop for a moment on this day to mark the sun’s halfway point through its annual journey. Traditionally, this is a time to harvest magical herbs, but do so before Saules Mate gets too bright in the sky; Her heat diminishes the natural oils in the herbs. Remember to leave an offering for the Goddess so She will empower these herbs – perhaps some ground birch wood that acts as plant mulch!

Purify yourself by jumping the ritual fire (or a candle) today, then burn a wish in Saules Mate’s fires to release it into Her care. And use this invocation to Saules Mate for part of personal magic today (for the southern quarter of the magic circle):

‘Powers of fire, reach ever higher. Saules Mate, bring your light; the power to ignite. Salamanders prance in the magical dance, by your power and my will, this sacred space fill!'”

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

“Saule” by Helena Nelson-Reed

“Saule (pronounced SEW-lay) means ‘the sun’ and is the most powerful of Latvian heavenly Goddesses. She is the Goddess of the sun and of fertility, the patroness of all unfortunate people, especially orphans (as the only one to substitute the mother, to warm the child; mother is compared to Saule speaking of kindness, and bride as speaking of beauty). She is the mother of Saules meitas or meita (plural or singular). She is said to live on the top of the heavenly mountain (some model of world), where She rides during the day in Her chariot. At night She sails with Her boat on the world sea. The motif of permanent motion is apparent in this image, as well as the idea of the sun shining somewhere else during the night. Of course, the diachronic aspect is to be taken into account. In several cases She appears as the ruler in heaven, especially in relations with Meness.” [1]

Patricia Monaghan tells us that “Saule ruled all parts of life, from birth into Her light to death when She welcomed souls into Her apple tree in the west. Even the name of the ocean on which the Balts lived was Hers, named for Balta Saulite (‘darling little white sun’). She was worshiped in songs and rituals that celebrated Her nurturance of earth’s life, for She was Our Mother, called various names like Saulite Mat (‘little sun-mother’) and Saulite Sudrabota (‘little silver sun’).

She was married in the springtime of creation to the moon man Menesis. Their first child was the earth; after that, countless children became the stars of heaven. Saule was a hardworking mother, leaving the house at dawn each day and driving Her chariot across the sky until dusk. Menesis, however, was fickle and carefree, staying home all day and only sometimes driving his moon-chariot. The light of Saule’s life was Her daughter (variously named Austrine, Valkyrine, and Barbelina, but most generally called Saules Meita, the sun’s daughter), the beloved lady of the Morning Star (or Venus).

Each evening, after She had bathed Her weary horses in the Nemunas River, Saule looked for the child. But one evening She could not find Her – for in Her absence, Saule’s beautiful long-haired daughter had been raped by Menesis.

Art by Marilyn Todd-Daniels

Furious beyond words, Saule took a sword and slashed the moon’s face, leaving the marks we see today. Then She banished him forever from Her presence; thus, they are no longer seen together in the sky – the end of the happy paradise before the evil came into our world.

Saule was worshiped every day when Her people would bow to the east to greet Mother Sun. But she was especially honored on summer solstice, Ligo, when She rose crowned with a braid of red fern blossoms to dance on the hilltops in Her silver shoes. At that moment, people dived into east-flowing streams to bathe themselves in Her light. All the women donned similar braided wreaths and walked through the fields, singing Goddess songs, or daina. Finally, they gathered around bonfires and sang the night away.

“Sophia of the Heights” by Freydoon Rassouli

Because LIthuanian is the oldest extant Indo-European language, it is thought that the Baltic mythologies hold clues to the original beliefs of the people.  But scholarly convention has it that the Indo-Europeans worshiped a sky father embodied in the sun.  Whence, then, this powerful sun mother? Marija Gimbutas, herself Lithuanian, believed Saule to be an Old European Goddess of that woman honoring culture that preceded the Indo-European invasions; Saule was to give way to a male solar divinity. But sun Goddesses in other Indo-European areas show there is room for study” (p. 274). (See my entry on Sól)

 

 

The most Latvian of holiday, “Ligo!”  Below, a video featuring an in-depth explanation of the traditional Ligo! festivities, by Latvia tourism.

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Saule”.

Putelis, Aldis. Encyclopedia Mythica, “Saule“.

Suggested Links:

Agaliha. Mystic Wicks, “Saule {Goddess of the Week}“.

The Blue Roebuck,Saule“.

Dunduliene, Prane. The Sage Grove, “Forgotten Goddesses – Saule“,

Monaghan, Patricia. The Goddess Path: Myths, Invocations & Rituals.

Wikipedia, “Latvian Mythology“.

Wikipedia, “Saulė“.

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