20 Days of Goddesses til’ Imbolc
Day 10 — Morana (Goddess of Winter, Death, harvest, the underworld, witchcraft and nightmares)
The daughter of the great goddess Lada and her husband God Svarog, has grown up to become what ancient Slavs recognized as the patroness of the winter, the underworld and symbol of the end of physical life as we mortals know it.
Morana’s themes are spring, weather, protection, winter, death, rebirth, cycles, change and growth. Her symbols are dolls (poppets) and water (including ice and snow). This slavic Goddess 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. She is sometimes associated with Witchcraft and divination.
In pre-Christian times, She was also associated with the harvest. She was worshipped as the Mother and Goddess of harvest 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. Cold, Frost, Winter, Death, yet also known as a goddess of fertility and mother of all living things, Rebirth, witchcraft and sorcery.
In ancient times people especially worshiped Morana in the territory of Kievan Rus. Initially, she was the goddess that was worshiped as a homemaker, and also the goddess of fertility and mother of all living. However with time gradually Morana transformed into the evil messenger of wilting, impotent old age and disease.
Researchers emphasize that Morana functioned not merely as a symbol of winter, but also as a Slavic goddess. Morana’s later association with death (in some regions she is called Death Crone) trivialized the importance of the goddess, who was the lady of not only death, but also life, and commanded the natural world.
Drowning Morana in water (an element of high importance in many european season-related ancient celebrations) is understood as the goddess’ symbolic descent into the underworld, to be reborn with next winter. Some researchers underline the sacrificial character of this ritual and suggest that Morana is sacrificed in order to appease Winter.
Morana is also mentioned as Mare in Norse mythology, where she appeared as a night daemon, who seats on persons chest during sleep and cause nightmarish visions and suffocating. It is obvious that goddess Morana has indo-European roots same as the root of her name “Mora” which in English is Mare, and today we link that root with a well known word “Nightmare”.
In some legends it is said that BabaYaga is also one of the creations of mistress Morena, or even that BabaYaga is just one of the transformations of Morana.
While she has been likened to the Greek Goddess Hecate with regards to sorcery, as well as the Roman Ceres, goddess of agriculture, there are some distinct differences that set her apart from these similar traditions.
She is most commonly seen as a bringer of death as seen in Slavic mythology when Morana seduced Dazbog, the sun god and pulls him into her embrace for the duration of winter but he breaks free in time to bring spring. Once Dazbog moved on to another lover, Morana poisoned him. As retaliation, Dazbog banished her to Nav (the underworld in Slavic mythology). This story of retaliation coincides with the movement of the sun throughout the year; it was the belief of the ancient Slavs that the sun descended into the underworld in the winter. In this sense Morana is quite literally winter; she
In other traditions, she is a young maiden dressed in white. To most she appeared as the withered old woman with an ugly face, however, it is said that to those who were not afraid of her she would appear as the beautiful maiden.
From this portrayal of her as a young maiden comes the dressing of her effigy in the ritual associated with her in Slavic tradition. Traditionally the ritual was held on the fourth Sunday of Lent (once the ritual was allowed by the Catholic church, after being banished in 1420 by the Polish clergy), and in modern days it is held on the fixed date of March 21 st.
Morana is called: Marzanna (in Polish), Marena (in Russian), Morana (in Czech, Bulgarian, Slovene, and Serbo-Croatian), or Morena or Kyselica (in Slovak), Morena (in Macedonian), Maslenitsa (in Russia) and also Mara (in Belarusian and Ukrainian), Maržena, Moréna, Mora or Marmora, Morė (in Lithuanian)
Abode: Rivers, Lakes, Forest in Winter
Colors: White, Red
Crystal: Beryl, Aquamarine
Incense: Berries, Pine
Plant/Tree: Evergreens, Berries, Grass
Symbols: Sticks, Pine cones, poppets, Golden Apples, Golden Key