Tag Archive: slavic


Goddess Boldogasszony

“Boldogasszony’s themes are winter, love, romance, relationships, devotion, purity and fertility. Her symbol is milk.  This Hungarian mother and guardian Goddess watches diligently over Her children, wanting only the best for them, as any mother would. Her sacred beverage, milk, is also considered a suitable libation when asking for this Goddess’s blessing.

Hungarian wedding festivals often take place in winter, after the harvest season and meat preparation. The traditions here are laden with magic we can ‘borrow’ for building strong personal relationships, asking for Boldogasszony’s blessing by having a cup of milk present at any activity. For example, cutting a rope that is attached to your home symbolizes your release from the old ways and freedom to enter into commitment. Stepping across birch wood purifies intentions and ensures a fertile, happy union.

Lighting a torch (or candle) represent vigilant devotion in a relationship. Do this at the time of your engagement, as you recite vows, or as you both enter a new residence for the first time so that commitment will stay with you. Wherever you are, eating off each other’s plates and drinking from one cup deepens harmony (include a milk product like cheese). Finally, dancing with kitchen utensils ensures that the home fire will always stay warm.”

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

According to the Wikipedia, Boldogasszony was a mother Goddess.  “Her name means ‘Blessed Lady’ or ‘Bountiful Queen’. She was the Goddess of motherhood and helped women in childbirth. After Hungarians were Christianized with the help of St. Gerard of Csanad, Her figure fell out of favor for that of the Virgin Mary. She is also considered the ‘Queen (Regina) of Hungary'”. [1]

I pretty much found the same information on Britannica.com: “Boldogasszony, also called Nagyboldogasszony,  the Hungarian equivalent of the Beata Virgo (Latin: ‘Blessed Virgin’), referring to the Virgin Mary as the patron saint of the Hungarian nation. Originally, Boldogasszony was probably one of the main deities of pagan Magyar mythology. The name was transferred to the Virgin Mary on the advice of St. Gerard of Csanad (Gerard Sagredo), one of the chief Christian evangelizers of Hungary.

Stephen I, the first Hungarian king (997–1038), offered his country to Mary as the patroness of the Hungarians (Magyarok Nagyasszonya) at the end of his reign. As a consequence, the country was often referred to as Mary’s realm, the Regnum Marianum. On the occasion of the country’s millennial celebrations (1896), Pope Leo XIII sent an encyclical letter to the Hungarian nation, granting permission for Hungarian Catholics to celebrate the feast of the patroness Boldogasszony.” [2]

According to the Encyclopedia of Spirits: “Boldog Asszony literally means ‘Happy Woman.’  Asszony, translated as ‘woman,’ possesses an extra nuance: Asszony indicates a relationship so close and intimate that, though not a physical blood relative, it is impossible to conceive of having a wedding or funeral without Her.  That’s the gist of Boldog Asszony, presiding spirit of life cycles, especially births and weddings.

Boldog Asszony grants fertility, oversees pregnancy, and supervises birth.  It is traditional to honor Her immediately after birth.  An offering table is laid to Her, and She must be formally thanked.  She is, as Her title indicates, a generally benevolent, patient Goddess not given to the temper tantrums displayed by some Birth Fairies.  If a family fails to honor Her, it may take years for Her displeasure to manifest: fail to thank Boldog Asszony at the birth of a baby, and that baby may never have a happy marriage.  (The opportunity exists in the years in between to apologize and make amends.)

Art by Réka Somogyi

Boldog Asszony is a title, not a name, and it is now generally applied to the Virgin Mary, but the original Boldog Asszony was a Goddess with dominion over joy, fertility, and abundance, among the primary deities of the Hungarian pantheon.  Saint Gellert, who converted the Hungarians to Christianity in the eleventh century, wrote that the Church was associating Boldog Asszony with Mary and calling Her the Queen of Hungary.

Boldog Asszony has seven daughters who bring good fortune.  To differentiate Her from Her daughters, She is called Nagy Boldogaszony (‘Big or Great Boldog Asszony’) while Her daughters are Kis Boldogaszony (‘Little Boldog Asszony’).  She is intensely identified with Mary.  Alternatively, She is identified with Saint Anne, while Little Boldog Asszony, reduced to one daughter, is identified with Anne’s daughter, Mary.

Day: Tuesday. (Do not do laundry or anything that pollutes or dirties water on Her day).

Sacred day: She is now associated with Christmas and with various harvest festivals throughout the year.

Offerings: Water, wine, pastries, dried and fresh fruit, Palinka (Hungarian fruit brandy).

See also: Atete; Black Madonna; Fairy, Birth; Szépasszony” (Illes, p. 292 – 293).

 

 

In this video, Zsuzsanna Budapest tells her story with her experience with Boldogasszy during WWII and the Hungarian Revolution.

 

 

 

Sources:

Britannica.com, “Boldogasszony“.

Illes, Juika. Encyclopedia of Spirits, “Boldog Asszony“.

Wikipedia, “Magyar mythology“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Content.yudu.com (Goddess Magazine – August 2009), “Boldogasszony – Glad Woman” (p. 14- 17).

Goddesses-and-gods.blogspot.com, “Goddess Boldogasszony“.

Hamori, Fred. Users.cwnet.com, “The Sumerian and Hungarian Fertility Goddess“.

Holland, Ellen. Holland’s Grimoire of Magickal Correspondences: A Ritual Handbook.

Infinite8design.com, “Goddesses of Hungary“.

Zbudapest.com, The Goddess/Wiccan Movement: Interview with Z Budapest“.

Goddess Baba Yaga

“Baba Yaga” by ~sgorbissa

“Baba Yaga’s themes are the harvest, rest, providence, thankfulness and cycles. Her symbols are corn sheafs, wreaths of wheat, corn, rye and wild flowers.  This Lithuanian/Russian Goddess of regeneration, Baba Yaga is typically represented as the last sheaf of corn in today’s festivities – Obzinky. As both young and old, She reawakens in us an awareness of time’s ever-moving wheel, the seasons and the significance of both to our Goddess-centered magic.

Follow with the tradition and make or buy a wreath or bundle of corn shucks or other harvest items. Keep this in your home to inspire Baba Yaga’s providence and prosperity for everyone who lives there.

For breakfast, consume a multigrain cereal, rye bagels or wheat toast. Keep a few pieces of dried grains or toasted breads with you. This way you’ll internalize Baba Yaga’s timeliness for coping with your day more effectively and efficiently, and you’ll carry Her providence with you no matter the circumstances.

Feast on newly harvested foods, thanking Baba Yaga as the maker of your meal. Make sure you put away one piece of corn that will not be consumed today, however. Dry it and hang it up to ensure a good harvest the next year, for your garden, pocketbook or heart.

Finally, decorate your home or office with a handful of wild flowers (even dandelions qualify). Baba Yaga’s energy will follow them and you to where it’s most needed.”

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

“Baba Yaga” by Hrana Janto

Patricia Monaghan writes that “the ‘old woman’ of autumn was called Baba by the Slavic inhabitants of eastern Europe, Boba by the Lithuanians. This seasonal divinity lived in the last sheaf of grain harvested in a year, and the woman who bound it would bear a child that year. Baba passed into Russian folk legend as the awesome Baba Yaga, a witchlike woman who rowed through the air in a mortar, using a pestle for Her oar, sweeping the traces of Her flight from the air with a broom.

A prototype of the fairytale witch, Baba Yaga lived deep in the forest and scared passersby to death just by appearing to them. She then devoured Her victims, which is why Her picket fence was topped with skulls. Behind this fierce legend looms the figure of the ancient birth-and-death Goddess, one whose autumn death in the cornfield led to a new birth in spring” (p. 65).

“Baba” by Karlen Tam

As explained by Freya: “Usually, Baba Yaga is a frightening Witch who lives in the middle of a very deep forest, in a place which is often difficult to find unless a magic clue (a ball of yarn or thread) or a magic feather shows the way. The old hag lives in a wooden hut on two chicken legs (sometimes three or four legs are described). Usually the hut is turned with its back towards a traveler, and only magical words can make it turn around on its chicken legs to face the newcomer. Very often, the hut revolves with loud noises and painful screams that make a visitor cringe. This serves to frighten the reader, showing the hut’s old age, and to show that Baba Yaga does not care about her hut’s well being. It is also fascinating that some fairy tales describe the hut as being a unique evil entity: firstly, it has the ability to move on its chicken legs. Secondly, it understands human language and is able to decide whether and when to let a visitor enter its premises. Finally, the hut is often depicted as being able ‘to see’ with its eyes (its windows) and ‘to speak’ with its mouth (its doorway). I also cannot help feeling that the hut is able ‘to think’, and one can observe these thoughts as wild powerful clouds of steam emerging from the hut’s chimney. What powerful imagery!

Baba Yaga’s hut is often surrounded by fence made of human bones and topped with human skulls with eyes. Instead of wooden poles onto which the gates are hung, human legs are used; instead of bolts, human hands are put in; instead of the keyhole, a mouth with sharp teeth is mounted. Very often Baba Yaga has her hut is protected by hungry dogs or is being watched over by evil geese-swans or is being guarded by a black cat. The gates of Baba Yaga’s villa are also often found to be guardians of Yaga’s hut as they either lock out or lock in the Witch’s prey.” [1]  (You can click on the [1] to finish reading the imagery).

“Baba Yaga” by ~lpeters

She quite reminds me of another well known Goddess, Kali.  Freya goes onto explain: “Baba Yaga is a Slavic version of Kali, the Hindu Goddess of Death, the Dancer on Gravestones. Although, more often than not, we consider Baba Yaga as a symbol of death, She is a representation of the Crone in the Triple Goddess symbolism. She is the Death that leads to Rebirth. It is curious that some Slavic fairy tales show Baba Yaga living in Her hut with Her two other sisters, also Baba Yagas. In this sense, Baba Yaga becomes full Triple Goddess, representing Virgin, Mother, and the Crone. Baba Yaga is also sometimes described as a guardian of the Water of Life and Death. When one is killed by sword or by fire, when sprinkled with the Water of Death, all wounds heal, and after that, when the corpse is sprinkled with the Water of Life, it is reborn. The symbolism of oven in the Baba Yaga fairy tales is very powerful since from primordial times the oven has been a representation of womb and of baked bread. The womb, of course, is a symbol of life and birth, and the baked bread is a very powerful the image of earth, a place where one’s body is buried to be reborn again. It is interesting that Baba Yaga invites Her guests to clean up and eat before eating them, as though preparing them for their final journey, for entering the death, which will result in a new clean rebirth. Baba Yaga also gives Her prey a choice when She asks them to sit on Her spatula to be placed inside the oven: if one is strong or witty, he or she escapes the fires of the oven, for weak or dim-witted ones, the road to death becomes clear.” [2]

As Fiana Sidhe explains: “Baba Yaga is a very misunderstood Goddess. She is not just the stereotypical wicked witch. She often appears as a frightening old hag, but can also appear as a beautiful woman who bestows gifts.

She is wild and untamed but also can be kind and generous. Even in Her haggard form, Baba Yaga has many gifts to share.

Baba Yaga is the old crone who guards The Waters of Life and Death. She is the White Lady of Death and Rebirth, and is also known as The Ancient Goddess of Old Bones. The old bones are symbolic of the things we cling to, but must finally let lie. When we experience a death, darkness, depression, or spiritual emptiness in our lives, we journey to Baba Yaga’s hut, where She washes new life into us. She collects our bones and pours the waters on them, while She sings and chants and causes us to be reborn. She destroys and then She resurrects. Baba Yaga symbolizes the death of ignorance. She forces us to see our true, darkest selves, then She grants us a deep wisdom that we can attain by accepting the dark shadows within ourselves. We can only receive help from Baba Yaga by learning humility. Her gifts can destroy or enlighten us.” [3]

I absolutely love this explanation of Baby Yaga as the Wild Woman written by Sr. Dea Phoebe: “So, while She is certainly a dark Goddess, a death Goddess, and may even seem ‘wicked’ in ways, Baba Yaga is hardly the villain of Her stories. But also, Baba Yaga is not a nice, clean, civilized Goddess. In the story of Valalisa the Wise, triple Goddess imagery repeats throughout – in Valalisa and her doll’s white, red, and black clothing, (colors traditionally associated with the Maiden, Mother, and Crone,) in the repetition of threes throughout the story (three colors, three enemies in the stepfamily, three riders, three tasks, three questions, three pairs of hands) and in Valalisa, (the maiden beginning her journey), her mother (who has given Valalisa gifts to guide her), and of course, in Baba Yaga as the crone. As a denizen of the deep forest, Baba Yaga is the wild aspect of the psyche, what Estés calls [in her book Women Who Run with the Wolves] the Wild Hag or the Wild Woman —not the gentle grandmother that bakes you cookies and tells you stories, but the stern grandmother that might just smack your rear with a spoon and tell you to smarten up! She is not pretty to look at, and she represents the deepest mysteries of death. No wonder she has a reputation of a scary old witch!

“Baba Yaga” by *MarkTarrisse

When we work with Baba Yaga, when we take that path into the deep forest to face the mysteries of death and emerge with the light of wisdom, we also face the wild aspects of ourselves. They may not be pretty, they may have long stringy hair and iron teeth and a wild cackle, but they also hold mysteries our more civilized day-to-day selves never think upon. Baba Yaga is not tied by social norms and mores. She flies about in yet another symbol of transformation; She wipes away the signs of Her passing so you’re never sure if She’s really been there. She’s rude, She’s crude, and She lives in a hut that doesn’t have the manners to sit down and stay like we expect a house should—and you can bet She enjoys all of this. She is less concerned about what is civilized and polite than what is true.

When you find yourself in need of true wisdom, when you find yourself being too nice, too polite in the face of ongoing boundary violations, when you find yourself stagnated by the expectations of others, it might just be time to retrieve your Wild Woman (or Man.) It might be time to brave the forest and meet Baba Yaga.” [4]

ASSOCIATIONS:

Astrological Sign: Scorpio

Colors: White, red, and black

Gemstones: Garnet, bloodstone, tourmaline, smoky quartz

Goddesses: Hecate, Hel, Kali

Goddess Aspect: Crone

Festival Date: January 20

Herbs/Flowers: Patchouli, sandalwood, geranium

Moon Phase: Waning/Dark

Other Names: Baba, Boba, Baba Den, Jezi Baba

Sacred Animals: Snake, cat

Season: Autumn

Symbols: Mortar and pestle, broom

Tree: Birch                                   [5]

 

 

 

Sources:

Arteal. Order of the White Moon, “Baba Yaga“.

Freya. Realmagick.com, “Baba Yaga: A Demon or A Goddess?

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

Phoebe, Sr. Dea. Order of Our Lady of Salt, “The Goddess and the Wheel: Baba Yaga – Wicked Witches and Wild Women“.

Sidhe, Fiana. Matrifocus.com, “Baba Yaga, The Bone Mother“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Goddess-guide.com, “Crone Goddesses“.

Mydailygoddess.blogspot.com, “Baba Yaga – Wild Woman“.

Oldrussia.net, “Baba Yaga“.

Revel, Anita. igoddess.com, “Baba Yaga: cross the shadow side – then come out!

Russianclub.com.ua, “Baba-Yaga“.

Russiapedia.rt.com, “Of Russina origin: Baba Yaga“.

Sacred-texts.com, “Baba Yaga“.

Weed, Susun. Matrifocus.com, “Baba Yaga Stories“.

Wikipedia, “Baba Yaga“.

The Veelas

“I miss you” by pranile

“The Veelas’  themes are fairies, nature, healing, wealth and abundance. Their symbols are sweet bread, sacred fairy plants (oak, ash, thorn, foxglove, etc) and healing herbs.  These Balkan Goddesses preside over the woodlands and have the power to heal or harm, depending on the circumstances. The Veelas kindly treat humans who respect them and the earth, rewarding them with the knowledge of how to work harmoniously with the land, which, in turn, creates prosperity and abundance.

In ancient Macedonia, today was a time to appease the spirits of nature, called Drymiais. We can follow their customs by not harvesting any plants (especially vining ones), and not doing any cleaning (especially with water). If you must do one of these forbidden activities, carry iron to protect you from mischievous fairy folk.

If you live near any oak, ash or thorn trees, leave under it a little gift of sweet bread for the Veelas. As you do, whisper a short request to the Veelas for renewed health and permission to gather some herbs associated with health and healing today. Afterward, look for an ash or oak leaf or some tansy flowers. These will act as an amulet for well-being whenever you carry them with you.

For prosperity and abundance, and to improve your connection with the earth, give the Veelas an offering of honey instead, and eat a bit yourself to consume the earth’s sweetness.”

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

“Goddess Artemis” by Sierra-san

Medussa, in an piece written for the Order of the White Moon, presents a very clear picture of who these nature spirits were: “The Veelas, also known as the Vily; the Eastern European name for ‘the Goddess of energy moving through the earth as nature’. They were an ancient Kith long before the Sidhe rose to dominance over western Kithain. They live mostly in Eastern mountains and forests. They were born from the primordial worship of the Great Mother in Her warrior aspect.

The Veelas are the most beautiful women but not human; they are tall and strong, with moon bright skin and white golden hair that fans out behind them, even when there is no wind. They have flashing eyes of grey or pale blue, their voices are low and musical. But do not be mistaken, they are warrior huntresses and very protective of their terrain. They are great shape-shifters able to change into animals such as snakes, swans, falcons and horses. They love to play and dance and if contacted with a great respect they may grant you health, wealth and abundant crops. But if an intruder should show disrespect they would dance the offender to death.

The Veelas prowled the land from Scythia in the south to the Capland in the north sharing dominion with their cousins the Valkyries. They enjoy their most satisfying relationships with trolls. The Veelas are extremely given over to honor and battle.” [1]

This led me to dig a little deeper and found reference an actual Goddess named Vila.  “Vila (pronounced vee’lah) is the eastern European name for the Goddess of Energy moving through the earth as nature.  Vily (plural) are known as female spirits that lived in the woods, mountains, and clouds; they could shape shift into swans, horses, falcons, or wolves.

In Slovakia, they are regarded as the souls of dead girls that lead young men to their deaths; they fire arrows that may disturb one’s reason.” [2]

“Vila” by Hrana Janto

Patricia Monaghan writes that Vila was “one of the most powerful European Goddesses [also] called Samovila…or Judy according to the language of the people, who pictured this woodland forces as a fair-skinned winged woman with glistening garments and golden hair falling to Her feet.  She lived deep in the woods, where She guarded animals and plants as well as cleaning rubble out of streams and assuring sufficient rainfall.

Hunters were wary of beautiful, well-dressed women speaking the languages of animals, for Vila was fiercely possessive of Her wild herds.  Should one be injured or – worse yet – killed, Vila mutilated the offender or lured him into a magic circle and danced him to death.  Alternatively, Vila might bury him in rocks by starting an avalanche, or simply cause him to keel over with a heart attack.

Vila was able to masquerade as a snake, swan, falcon, horse or whirlwind.  Cloud Vilas could transform themselves into clouds or fog.  Born on a day of soft misty rain, when the sun formed miniature rainbows on the trees, She knew all the secrets of healing and herb craft.  Should a human wish to learn Her skills, blood-sisterhood was forged with Vila.  The applicant appeared in the woods before sunrise on a Sunday of the full moon.  Drawing a circle with a birch twig or a broom, she placed several horsehairs, a hoof, and some manure inside the circle, then stood with her right foot on the hoof calling to the Vila.  Should the spirit appear and be greeted as a sister, Vila would grant any wish” (p. 311).

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Goddessrealm.com, “Vila Goddess of Transformation“.

Medussa. Order of the White Moon, “The Veelas“.

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

 

 

Suggested Links:

Finnegan, Margaret. Margaretfinnegan.blogspot.com, “Goddess of the Week: The Vily“.

MXTODIS123. An Inner Journey: The Moon, Mythology and You, “Samovila“.

Mydailygoddess.blogspot.com, Vila: Shape-Shifting“.

Omda.bg, “SAMODIVA” (translated from Bulgarian).

Stanton, Sandra M. The Goddess in World Mythology, “Samovila“.

Wikipedia, “Samodiva“.

 

 

The Narucnici

“The Narucnici’s themes are psychic abilities, spirituality, destiny and divination.  Their symbols are an eye and all symbols or fate or destiny.  In Slavic regions, these are Goddesses of fate who see each child’s destiny at birth.  At times, they can be propitiated through prayer to alter one’s destiny, especially when it’s running headlong into disaster.

In 1831, the acclaimed Helena Blavatsky was born under the watchful eye of the Narucnici, who must have predicted an impressive life for her.  Helena grew up to establish the Theosophical Society, whose goal is to explore mystical phenomena, to better understand it, and to expose fraudulent dealings.  To remember this remarkable woman and honor the Narucnici, focus on your own inherent magical potential.  All of us have the Goddess’s prophetic ability within; it’s just a matter of activating that talent.  One exercise that seems to help people is meditating on opening the chakra located in the middle of your forehead (the third eye).

Close your physical eyes and visualize a purple-silver light pouring into your forehead from above. See it swirling clockwise, forming the image of an eye.  Allow this eye to open, very slowly.  Do you feel different as it opens?  Can you sense things on the edge of your awareness you couldn’t before? After the exercise, try your favorite divinatory tool and examine what new insights it offers now that you’ve cleared the path for that foresight a bit.”

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

Sojenice – The matriarchal trinity

The closest match for information that I could find on today’s group of Goddesses was on the Sudice.  Patricia Monaghan explains that “the Goddesses of fate in Eastern Europe had names that varied from land to land: Rojenice in Croatia; Sudicky in Bohemia; Sudzenici or Narucnici in Bulgaria; Sojenice in Slovenia; Sudice in Poland.  All were said to be beautiful old women with white skin and white clothes, wearing white handkerchiefs on their heads and many necklaces of gold and silver. They glistened as they walked; sometimes they decked themselves with garlands of flowers or carried lit candles.

Generally these Goddesses were invisible to human eyes, but they did appear at birth, when three of them arrived to cast the newborn’s fate.  Two spoke wishes for the child’s fortune, but the words of the last could not be undone.  To make sure She spoke good wishes, parents offered Her gifts of wine, candles and bread” (p. 286).

This is what the legend is roughly translated from the Czech Wikipedia page:

“Sudička is a figure in Slavic mythology. It tells the story of three old women spinners who approach cradles of every newborn child, and foretell their fate. The first has a big bottom lip from the continuous salivating the thread. The second has an inch-wide thumb from holding the knot and the third has a huge foot from pedaling on the spinning wheel. The fate will fulfill to the man, regardless as to whether he is a good man or a bad man.

The story has many similarities to the Greek myth of the Moirai.” [1]

“The Moirae” by ravynnephelan

 

 

 

Sources:

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

Wikipedia, “Sudice (mythology)“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Ancientpoland.org, “Ancient Poland“.

Her Cyclopedia, “The Goddess Rozanica” (down to Sudice, {Those -Who-Judge}.

MacCulloch, John Arnott, Jan Machal & Louis Herbert Gray. Celtic Mythology, “Genii of Fate“.

Medussa. Order of the White Moon, “The Fates: THE NARUCNICI“.

Wikipedia, “Rodzanice” (translated from Polish).

Goddess Mati-Syra-Zemlya

“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…

Sources:

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“.

Goddess Lada

“Goddess Lada” by Lady-Ghost

“Lada’s themes are spring, protection, overcoming, kinship, energy, and joy.  Her symbols are birch and bells.  Lada bursts forth from Her winter hiding place today in full Slavic costume and dances with joy, grateful for spring’s arrival. As Lada moves, Her skirts sweep away sickness and usher in the earth’s blossoming beauty. She bears a birch tree and flowers to honor the earth’s fertility and to begin planting anew.

Sechseläuten, a traditional Swiss spring holiday, is overflowing with Lada’s vibrancy and begins with the demolition of a snowman, symbolic of winter’s complete overthrow. If you don’t live in a region where there’s snow, take out an ice cube and put a flowering seed atop it. Let is melt, then plant the seed with ‘winter’s’ water to welcome Lada back to the earth.

Bells ring throughout this day in Switzerland to proclaim spring and ring out any remaining winter maladies and shadows. Adapt this by taking a handheld bell (you can get small ones at craft stores) and ringing it in every room of the house, intoning Lada’s revitalizing energy. Or, just ring your doorbell, open the door, and bring in some flowers as a way of offering Lada’s spirit hospitality.

Finally, wear something with a floral print today or enjoy a glass of birch beer. Better still, make a birch beer float so the ice cream (snow) melts amid Lada’s warmth, bringing that transformative power into you as you sip.”

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

“Lada is the Slavic Goddess of spring, love, and beauty. She was worshipped throughout Russia, Poland, and other areas of Eastern Europe. She is usually depicted as a young woman with long blonde hair. She carries wild roses, and is also known as the ‘Lady of the Flowers’. As Goddess of spring, Lada is associated with love and fertility in both humans and animals. She is said to return from the underworld every year at the Vernal Equinox, bringing the spring with Her.” [1]

“The Slavic Goddess of love and beauty, who appears as Freya, Isis, or Aphrodite with other peoples. She is, of course, linked to the planetary power of Venus who is, besides love and beauty, associated with fertility. Lada is represented as a girl with long golden hair sometimes with a wreath of ears of grain braided into Her hair, which symbolizes Her function of fertility deity thus making Her an aspect of Mother of Wet Land. A symbol of Sun, a mark of lifegiving power was sometimes on her breasts. As a fertility Goddess, Lada has Her annual cycles, which can be shown by the belief that She resides in the dwelling place of the dead until the vernal equinox comes. This world of the dead is called Irij, and here, besides Lada, dwells Veles, the horned god of cattle. [Does this story ring a bell?  A connection between Persephone/Kore in Greek mythology or Oniata in the Americas?]

At the moment when Lada is supposed to come out into the world and bring spring, Gerovit opens the door of Irij letting the fertility Goddess bless the earth. At the end of summer, Lada returns to Irij (there is a similar myth in German mythology in which Freya spends a part of the year underground among the elves, whereas Greek Persefona dwells in Hades during the winter period). Although Her reign begins on the 21st of March, Lada is primarily the Goddess of summer. She follows Vesna, the Slavic spring Goddess. However, both of these Goddesses are associated with fertility so sometimes it can sometimes be difficult to separate their functions. As we can see, Lada’s reign begins in spring, the proof of which is ladenjanother name for April, given after this Goddess. Apart from the Sun, Lada is also associated with rain and hot summer nights, the ideal time for paying respect to the love Goddess.

Lada’s animals are a cock, a deer, an ant and an eagle, whereas Her plants are a cherry, a dandelion, a linden and a peony. Besides Venus, Lada is connected with the constilation of Taurus, which Aleksandar Asov wrote about in The Slavic Astrology. Here, we can once again Her function of fertility Goddess, whose reign begins in spring, mix with the function of the Goddess Vesna. A myth says that Lada is married to Svarog who is only with Her help able to create the world. According to another one, She is a companion of Jarilo, thus associated with Aphrodite, whose lover is Ares. Rituals performed in Lada’s honor are most often linked with contracting marriages, or choosing a spouse. One of the known rites is ladarice, also performed under the name of kraljice in Serbia. Vuk Karadžić described the basic characteristics of this ritual. On Holy Trinity Day, a group of about ten young girls gathers, one of them is dressed like a queen, another one like a king, and another one like a color-bearer. The queen is sitting on a chair, while the other girls are dancing around Her, and the king and the color-bearer are dancing on their own. In this way the queens go from house to house looking for girls of marriageable age. Jumping over the fire is another characteristic of rituals performed in Lada’s honor. This custom existed in all parts of Europe and its purpose was to ensure fertility as well as to protect people and cattle from evil forces.” [2]  This very similar to the customs of Beltane; celebrating the May Queen and jumping the balefire for purification purposes and to ensure fertility.

“Lady Galadriel” by Josephine Wall

“Lada’s name means peace, union, and harmony.  Lada creates harmony within the household and in marriages;  She blesses unions of love with peace and goodwill.  In Russia, when a couple is happily married it is said that they ‘live in Lada.’  Rituals performed in Her honor are most often linked with contracting marriages and and choosing a spouse.” [3] 

 

 

Sources:

MXTODIS123. An Inner Journey: The Moon, Mythology, and You, “Lada“.

Kakaševski, Vesna (translated by Jelena Salipurović). Starisloveni.com, “Lada“.

Sabrina. Goddess A Day, “Lada“.

Goddess Leshachikha

"Changing" by Benita Winckler

“Leshachikha’s themes are earth, nature, harvest, birth, and protection.  Her symbols are leaves and seeds.  A Goddess who sometimes appears as a Slavic forest, a wild animal, or a leaf, Leshachikha is said to have died in October and revived around this time of spring. She fiercely protects Her lands, not taking kindly to any who abuses them. In this manner She teaches us about reciprocity and nature’s fury. Additionally, Leshachikha’s watchful aspect can be applied to our figurative lands – for example, safeguarding our homes.

Whenever you need a little extra protective energy, pick up a fallen leaf and put it in your pocket. This will keep Leshachikha’s guardian powers with you all day. To bring that protection into your home, wax the leaf to preserve it, symbolically sustaining the magical energy forever. Put the waxed leaf near your entryway or in the room where you spend the most time.

Go to a nearby field or park today and scatter some seed to Leshachikha to greet Her as She awakens. Today marks the beginning of the ploughing season in Slavic regions. Before this date the earth is regarded as pregnant. It is a crime against nature and Leshachikha to plough the soil with iron tools when it still bears a magical child (spring). Once earth has given birth, the fields can then accept new seed, which the birds will also appreciate!”

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

A Slavonic forest Goddess (les = forest), Leshachikha is a rather temperamental Goddess who fiercely guards the land and animals of the woods, punishing those who abuse them. She is wife of the forest god the Leshy and mother of the Leshonki. The Leshies died in October and were reborn in the spring. As previously stated, they were territorial, often leading those who entered their forests astray and abducting children who wandered into the forest, but almost always releasing them in the end. To avoid their spells, one must remove their clothes under a tree, then put them on again backwards and place their shoes on the opposite feet and making the sign of the cross. [1] [2]

Sources:

An Inner Journey: The Moon, Mythology and You, “Leshachikha“.

Chinaroad Löwchen, “Slavic Mythology and Goddesses“.

Goddess Marazanna

“Marazanna’s themes are spring, weather, protection, winter, death, rebirth, cycles, change and growth.  Her symbols are dolls (poppets) and water (including ice and snow).  The Polish Goddess for whom this holiday is named represents an odd combination of winter, death and the fruit field’s growth and fertility. As such, She oversees the transitions we wish to make in our lives.

Marzanna is a Polish spring festival which an effigy of Marzanna is tossed into a river to overcome Her wintery nature and ensure that there will be no floods that year. This tradition is likely an antecedent of ancient river sacrifices made to appease the water spirits. Following suit, resolutely throw a biodegradable image of something you wish to overcome this season into any moving water source (even your toilet!). Let Marzenna carry it away, slowly breaking down that negative energy and replacing it with personal growth. Burying an image has the same effect.

To invoke Marzenna’s protection until next winter, write your name and birth date on a piece of paper and freeze it in an ice cube.

Keep the cube in a safe place in the back of your freezer to keep yourself surrounded by Marzenna’s safe barrier. Melt the ice cube later in the year if you need a boost of spring’s revitalizing energy.”

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

“Witch .Marzanna” by smokepaint

“Marazanna is a Slavic Goddess associated with death, winter and nightmares. Some sources equate her with the Latvian Goddess Māra, who takes a person’s body after their death. Some medieval Christian sources such as the Mater Verborum also compare Her to the Greek Goddess Hecate, associating Her with sorcery. The Polish chronicler Jan Długosz (15th cent.) likened Her to Ceres, the Roman Goddess of agriculture.” [1] “In pre-Christian times, She was also associated with the harvest.  She was worshipped as the Mother and Goddess of corn and held in very special reverence.  She appears as an old woman dressed in white who becomes a hag when winter hits and slowly dies off.  She is sometimes associated with Witchcraft and divination.” [2]

The tradition of burning or drowning an effigy of Marzanna to celebrate the end of winter is a folk custom that survives in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.  This folk custom falls always around the date of 20/21 March – at the vernal equinox when the Spring begins. The female straw effigy of Marzanna can vary in size – it may be a small puppet or a life-size dummy. The doll is set on fire, drowned in a river or both. The ritual is a symbolic farewell to Winter and the dark days that it involved. It shows joy of rebirth of Spring and victory over death. It was believed that the ritual would ensure good harvest. Destroying the effigy of evil Goddess was believed also to remove all the effects brought by Her. According to the custom the straw effigy was placed on a stick and covered with linen. She was also decorated with ribbons and necklaces. Village children would march with Marzanna – and branches of juniper in their hands – around the whole village. They would drown the Marzanna doll in every river (or generally every water – let it be river, pond or puddle) on the way. In the evening Marzanna effigy would be given to the village youth that would take her out of village and (in the light of burning juniper twigs) they would set a doll on fire and drown in the river. There were of course many superstitions connected with that custom. One could not touch Marzanna after it had been drowned in the river (as he would be in danger of losing the hand), looking back on the way back could bring serious disease and stumbling or falling down could predict death within the next year.

Christianity would forbid this Slavic custom. In 1420 Polish clergy was advised not to allow the villagers to celebrate ‘drowning of Marzanna’. When that would not help, the priests would invent their own habit to replace Marzanna custom with it. On Wednesday preceding Easter holidays an effigy of Judas would be thrown down from church tower. But that would not help either to forget about ‘Drowning of Marzanna’ habit.

Nowadays the ritual is kept within schools and kindergartens. During field trips children perform with their teachers ‘Drowning of Marzanna’ to prepare warm welcome to Spring.” [3]

“‘It concerns the ‘drowning of Marzanna’, a large figure of a woman made from various rags and bits of clothing which is thrown into a river on the first day of the spring calendar. Along the way, she is dipped into every puddle and pond … Very often she is burned along with herbs before being drowned and a twin custom is to decorate a pine tree with flowers and colored baubles to be carried through the village by the girls. There are of course many superstitions associated with the ceremony: you can’t touch Marzanna once she’s in the water, you can’t look back at her, and if you fall on your way home you’re in big trouble. One, or a combination of any of these can bring the usual dose of sickness and plague.’  —Tom Galvin, “Drowning Your Sorrows in Spring”, Warsaw Voice 13.544, March 28, 1999″ [4]

Sources:

Stella. Gods and Goddesses, “Goddess Marzanna“.

Swiech, Barbara. BellaOnline: The Voice of Women, “Slavic goddess and Spring“.

Wikipedia, “Marazanna“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Rolek, Barbara. About.com, “The Drowning of Marzanna or Frost Maiden – Topienie Marzanny“.

Svätoslava. Slavorum: Perserving Slavic Heritage,Burning Morena“. (Fabulous background information, photos and videos about Burning of Morena).

Goddess Kupala

“Kupala’s themes are joy, health and cleansing. Her symbols are water, flowers, ferns and birch-wood.  The Slavic Goddess of springs and water, Kupala, whose name literally means ‘to bathe’, washes us with happiness and longevity. Oddly enough, She has a fire aspect too, which likely alludes to purification, protection and transformation. Wildflowers, birch trees and ferns were sacred to Her.

To bring a year filled with joy, contentment and health, leave a natural cloth outside today to gather dew. Use it tomorrow to bath in Kupala’s magic!

Take some flower petals to any moving water source (even a hose) and toss them on the stream. As you do, make a wish for something that will make you really happy. Let Kupala, in the form of the water, carry your wish toward manifestation.

To rid yourself of sickness, negativity or a bad habit before the year really gets rolling, find a safe fire source (such as a candle that’s self-contained in glass). Put this on the floor and jump over it. As you do, say something like:
‘Old burns away
only the good, the good shall stay
Old to new, old to new
Kupala, my heart renew.’

This symbolically leaves the old behind and invokes Kupala’s aid in your efforts for positive change.”

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

This Slavic Goddess of the summer solstice, also known as Sobótka, took her name from a word that means “to bathe”, for her worshippers bathed in rivers and in dew gathered on June mornings.  Water healed as well as purifying; to gain relief from illness, one tossed bread into a stream while praying for health.  The name is also given to the squatting Goddess found on Slavic embroideries.

In Russia and the Ukraine, Kupala was honored in a summer ritual in which young men and women leaped over a bonfire, dragging a straw maiden.  The next day, everyone bathed the figure, which was released to drift downstream, removing evil from the village.  Such images were also constructed in Serbia and other Slavic countries.  Dressed in a fine gown and decked with floral garlands, the Kupala image was hung from a tree in which all but the upper branches were trimmed, so that the tree formed a green-haired woman.  Only women performed these rituals.  Men could not touch the tree or the hanging figure.

Kupala ruled herbs.  Purple loosestrife was her favorite; its roots had the power to banish demons if gathered at dawn of summer solstice.  The flowering fern granted its possessor the power to understand the language of trees, which, on the night before solstice, wandered rootless through the world.

This divinity has been described as a god named Ivan Kupalo, a derivation that appears to come from association of the Goddess’s feast with that of St. John (Ivan) the Baptist on June 24.  (Patricia Monaghan, “Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines”)

For more information on Slavonic Neo-Paganism, Kapala, and some great photos of Kupala Day celebrations, click here.

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