By Phoenix of Elder Mountain – The Goddess as Mother Earth herself is my relationship to the Slavic traditions of Marzanna, also called Marowit & Dziewanna (pronounced gee-wanna) who is also called Devana. There are many fertility goddesses in the pagan Slavic pantheon and they pretty much represent the Maiden (Venus) and her fertility transformation into child bearing mothers (the Virgin Mary). Lada is another Venus, Siwa, the love goddess is another Venus archetype. Zhiva and Mokosh are the mother and moist mother (fertile) earth and Rodzanica whose name includes the god Rod is also a summer goddess. The big festival and celebration is Kupala, the goddess of the summer solstice.
Some say that the Goddess Zivena is the opposite of Marzanna, symbolising the dying sun; the root *mar means “death”. Baba Yaga is also the goddess of death, both young and old, associated both with birds and snakes. According to Leeming, who takes Marija Gimbutas as source, she is clearly cognate of the Indic Kali as the deathly aspect of the great goddess of Old Europe.
These are all wonderful, but I was always seeker the older root shamanic and dreaming cultures of woman, not pagans, and of the earth’s representation of woman and grandmother through their roles of leadership, ritual or spiritual leadership and healing ceremonies. I did this to step backwards in the past, before the great change of grandmothers ceremonies mixed with the church and the Slavic pagans. Most of them had been erased from our lives by the 8th century and especially the middle ages. The more archaic the goddess, the more they represent the wise and powerful adult women and grandmothers in rituals and pre-pagan rites.
Dziewanna, whose name means the plant Mullein in Polish, is a goddess of spring and summer and represents the importance of the natural world, the forest, the healing herbs, and our relationships to herbs and their applications and ceremonies. Mullein is mainly used for any respiratory ailments including colds and flu, asthma, lung diseases or illnesses that prevents the breath of life to be strong. Mullein is also used and was used as a torch in ancient times, dipped in natural wax, to light our way in evening ceremonies of any season.
These are seasonal and oppositional Sisters or Twins that carry the wholeness of the yearly season. This yearly season is divided into the thirteen moons, six moons of Spring and Summer, which is ruled by Dziewanna and six moons of Autumn and Winter, ruled by Marzanna. All of their rituals were once lead by the mature adult woman and of course the ancient matriarchal grandmothers.
Patryk Gujda says: “There is not much folklore about Dziewanna left, and in her defense the earliest sources that mention her are in Dziewnio, of the Długosz Chronicle, the first half of the fifteenth century, five hundred years after the adoption of Christianity by the Polish people. After Długosz, Dziewanna appeared in Polish historiography and the Krakow canon. She is always mentioned with Marzanna, and the first description is that she is the Roman equivalents of Diana, Huntress of the Moon.
The second interpretation is from sixteenth century by Marcin Bielski, Maciej Miechowita, and Maciej Stryjkowski. A lot of this was written by Marcin from Urzędów in the “Polish Herbal”, where he based his own observations of her that described Dziewannie (or Dziwicy) was devoted to the Herb of the same name. The latter writings, however, completely mixes Dziewanna with Marzanna together, claiming that she is the same goddess.”
In one way he is right, mythological, the sisters or twins, were effigies (deities) representing mother earth’s seasonal year. In prehistory, they were both one single great mother expressed in two seasons that split the year in half and that is pretty standard in prehistoric goddesses. As a shaman, I have always felt that walking backwards into a time before god or gods, can be brought back into the mystery of the sisters, for women to understand their spiritual journey, created in “their own likeness” to understand their personal divinity, healing processes, transformation and then rebirth. The sisters and twin goddesses express this part of woman’s relationship spiritually to the rhythm and flow of nature, water, air, earth and fire, as seasons were and are divided into the elements.
Dziewanna or the woman connected with this goddess, was most powerful during the gathering of herbs at their peak, and was most likely, an earlier version of the summer solstice Kupala festivals. Our well being as ancient people depended upon the importance of herbs and herbal women and the harvest rituals related to the survival of the tribe honored this is both praise and ceremony. We must remember that the mature adult woman and grandmothers were completely eradicated from their leading roles and major ceremonies of shamanic rituals concerning both these goddesses or water or the elements of nature, one that has been returning since the seventies.
To meet one’s destiny with ancient goddesses, its partly intuitive, partly a passion, a trial and error, and a dreaming remembrance of who we were long ago and how we can bridge that into our present spiritual life in order to bring them back as a living relationship to the self and to mother earth. As I worked with my path with the goddesses over the decades, and then with other women in terms of the mystery and rites of healing, I have learned that if we are going to return the leadership of spiritual women – we must put our actions into rituals of healing. Ceremonies and rites only carry true power when one does real personal healing along side them. Healing relationships in the present, healing childhood abuses, or healing the body or the mind… not just visioning, celebratory or ceremony with drums, for the sake of tradition or spiritual circles which is social-spirituality.
There are still small pieces still intact in rituals and ceremonies of Dziewanna and Marzanna, that can grow to enter a return of ritual in a more shamanic female lineage. Marzanna is symbolically connected with the season of death, transformation and rebirth rites of the old grandmother’s shamanic mysteries within the seasonal nature. Important ritual symbolism of the Grandmother cults of the Old Woman in the form of Winter (Autumn and Winter) are truly related to our eternal Soul within the profaned and once powerful Night Goddesses. Marzanna then transforms from her death or grandmother state, and rebirths into… Marzanna Article.
The Polish Dziewanna, or the Slavic Devana, who returns as Spring and Summer each year after Marzanna’s burning, symbolized by the Maiden and the younger half of the adult Mother stages. Hers as in her sister Marzanna, are the season’s eternally spinning regardless of time, on the circle or wheel of life. Before the triple goddess eras of earth, the two sisters were much older deities, dividing both night and day and dividing the year into two seasons. Dziewanna rules the sun, the waking animals and birds and is called the Season of Fire (spring/summer). The Goddess Matergabia – Matergabiae literally means “Fire Mother” goddess of the hearth and her Baltic cognate is Gabija. She is Huntress, Goddess of the Moon, when the Moon is out during the Day. Marzanna in opposition to this, rules the nocturnal, the earth’s nocturnal animals and birds, the Goddess of the Night (or Star Goddess), when the Moon is out at Night.
When we work from nature, not human knowledge written teachings of paganism, the element of Fire and their rituals in shamanic times, were done in the winter and Water rituals are done in the summer. This is because Goddesses of the Moon Cultures (not sun cultures of paganism) always worked in opposition. The balance of the opposition of seasons in elemental terms is because water is frozen in winter and fire is needed for warmth in the winter.
Marzanna and Dziewanna effigies belong to this forgotten woman’s rituals and past in the culture of the moontime, and the most important rituals of the 13 moons of the seasonal shamanic year. When paganism and eventually religions came, the moon culture was suppressed but also it was grandfathers time to lead and he is associated with the suntime or sun culture. In the moontime shaman and dreaming eras, the sisters ultimately represented the Midnight Sun (autumn and winter) and the the Fire Seasons (spring and summer) before we even had a sun calendar.
Dziewanna and her ceremonies and rituals of spring and summer must contain flowers, herbs, twigs, moss and water as its main elements. Her animals are the horse, the stag and the deer. Even the cooking of the herbs in a sacred ritual brings to life the spirit or divinity of the plants which adds more healing. These seasonal herbs were once given our dances and songs which praised and loved them in ritual. In etymology of Dziewanna, the name “mulnah” comes from the word Tree and is maybe why she is associated with plants in the daytime.
In the Długoszowa Chronicle there was a record of the name “Dzewianna” – Dzew meaning Trees in Polish and the Greek name Anna meaning “grace” or “beautiful”… only later was the name Dziewanna added, the name we know today. In ancient manuscripts, you can find the Latin name for the Tribe of Elbe Drzewian written as Dzevyani which most likely was a matriarchal tribe. In favor of the original name Dzevanna the chronicles of Maciej Miechwala also mentioned Dzevianna and not Dziewannie. Marzanna, in the other half of the year express the rites are of the night, which are the soul medicines, the non-physical healings, like emotional rituals, and the dreaming and journeying to the other half of our lives.
From slowoslaw.pl – Mullein in the Slavic pagan pantheon was supposed to be the equivalent of the Roman Diana and the Greek Artemis – a virgin guardian of both the animals and the forests, as well as an outstanding huntress.
[Phoenix: “Women as huntresses don’t have much to do with hunting in the physical aspect, although women could hunt. She is more like the Inuit goddess Sedna, who had a powerful communication with the animals as a shaman, and with the trees and the herbs and plants in the other forms of communication like astral travel, communications of clairaudience, telepathy, clairvoyance, hydrokenisis, aerokenisis etc. with nature. The symbiotic relationship as huntress was to eradicate shadow and was done by older women and grandmothers. Her skills were precise as a dreamer.”]
slowoslaw.pl – The etymology of the word mullein, has numerous understatements and interpretations, but at the root, the Slavs replaced the Greek and Roman Diana with Dziewanna. In old Polish, the word mute meant a maiden, a virgin, and a girl and the Pagans and Christians did replace all the grandmothers and mothers leadership with the maiden in their pantheons.”
Phoenix: In our own past ancestral lives, we couldn’t hold onto our ancient languages that had no written equivalents. We had to forget our ancestors and we forgot what we called Dziewanna and many other goddesses in their original eras. Today we have the opportunity to work with what is left and build a solid foundation through our ceremonies and rituals and this is important work. I was at the store today while finishing up this article and parked right next to a van that was pink that said “two sisters” – it made me smile. While in the back of the store, I hear what sounded like a child having a really bad tantrum screaming very loud. When I did finally make it back up to the front to check out, the cashier asked if I heard the screams? I said yes I did, it sounded like a girl was having a huge melt down. She said it was a woman about forty years old, who came in screaming and a few women helped her and they went outside.
When I walked back outside, I saw the “two sisters” van again and saw a few police cars around the woman who was having a very difficult time. I drifted into memory of what it must have been like to be an adult woman in times of great change when one’s purpose of family and community was torn away from her by religion and even paganism to an extent, loosing her purpose and her life of the old ways. Many adult women must have gone mad to see maidens carry their torch of power given to them by men and grandfather.
At least the grandmothers in ancient times were older and stronger to let go of their spiritual leadership and hide the mystery away and do it in secret. I thought about the two symbols of the middle aged woman at those moments screaming, and why Dziewanna doesn’t have much recorded history like Venus (the omnipotent maiden). It was very clear, the past (lives) in which we all have lived,which were full of struggle, pain and loss spiritually.
I take none of that for granted today and why I worked so hard at what I do and have done to bring it forth and make it a living art again all these years. I don’t accept the simple celebratory rituals that are simple for the sake of tradition because I wanted more, I wanted a real relationship with the mystery and mysticism through these rituals in a shaman’s path with mother earth and her plants, animals, trees, water, wind, the moon, my dreaming and more.
Dziewanna is also associated with the lighting thunder candles, which is called the gromnica tradition of the polish people. This connects Dziewanna to her sister Marzanna’s winter rituals and fires. But Dziewanna who rules the season of fire of spring and summer, is the elements of the cooling “waters” – while modern pagans light community fire and light the crowns of Kupala. Marzanna is the fire rituals not Dziewanna. Her rituals made herbal crowns not to only wear as a sign of finding a lover or husband, but the ritual born of women collecting herbs together to dry and tying them in circles for sustaining their life, and then offered them as trades in the autumn or winter months to the community for their health.
Lamus Dworski says: “The Candlemas Day is celebrated on February 2nd, and marks the end of a carnival (’zapusty’ in Polish). That day is also officially the last day of a ‘Christmas season’ in Poland and the last occasion to sing the traditional carols together – also the day when all the remaining Christmas decorations should be removed (yes, in Poland the Christmas trees are very often kept in houses even until February). The ‘thunder candles’ also have a much older old-Slavic meaning. For example, they are commonly believed to ward off the lightnings during storms (that’s in fact where their name comes from) and to protect from destructive wildfires.
Phoenix: Wildfires and thunder storms are late spring, summer and early autumn occurrences, when lightning storms are present and the strongest. But thunder and lightning storms in Slavic countries are not in the middle of winter when the gromnica ritual is done, winter is a cold and snowy season. This gives more evidence that the thunder candle of the Dziewanna ritual were originally performed in her Season of Fire (Spring and Summer). But when the pagans and maidens took over the summer solstice rituals, the grandmothers must have eventually evolved their summer rituals into the winter rituals with Marzanna so they could still perform them (in the church).
Lamus Dworski: An ancient custom is to light the gromnice and place them on windowsills as a protection of the house during storms – it is still widely practiced in Poland, especially by the elderly people. People believed also that the ‘thunder candles’ were a protection from an attack of wolves – a small part of the candle was often buried in the middle of a crop field in order to keep the whole property safe. A small part of the gromnica was sometimes buried also under foundations or tresholds of a newly built house in order to ensure its safety.
TWIN SISTERS AND THEIR EVOLUTION FROM GRANDMOTHER TO MAIDEN
The mysterious sister figures of the pre-pagan cultures included a few remaining goddess sisters in a few countries. The Slavs have Marzanna and Dziewanna who are the most archaic pre-pagan effigies, associated with mother earth, grandmother and older adult women and nature in dreaming and then shamanic eras.
The next pair of sisters mostly associated with witches and then eventually pagan religions are Morana, elder sister, goddess of night, winter, death and rebirth. Her associated names are Morana, Morena, Marzanna, Marena, Marana, Marzhana and Marzhena. Ruler of winter in her winter storms of snow, gales and hail. Her sister Vesna (Devana (Dziewanna) is the Polish) goddess of fertility associated with spring and summer, and the goddess of the Hunt. The word “vesna” is still the poetic word for “Spring” in the Slovene language, as well as Czech and Slovak. Vesna (Russian: весна́) is a Russian word for Spring.
The month February is sometimes named Vesnar in the Slovene language. There is also Vesna/Kostroma (Russian), also called Lada, the goddess of spring and rebirth. Vesna is also known as Zhiva, Diva, Devana and Dziewanna. After Slavs converted to Christianity, Vesna’s domain was split between St. Petka and the Virgin Mary. Vesna in pagan times then, was coupled with the god Vesnik and in the nineteenth century, Russian peasants celebrated the return of spring on March 1 by going out to the fields, carrying a clay figure of a lark on a pivot which had been decorated with flowers. They sang songs naming the spring season Vesna.
Grandmother gets younger and younger in later Paganism…
Lada, the once great goddess was then married off and coupled with Lado (adding the male gods with a great goddess or sister goddesses). She was then once removed from the great goddess or sister twin goddesses of the earliest pagan rites, because as time passed, her roles became the virgin mother and would then be the deliverer or “birther of new maiden cults as twins”. The maiden twins names were Dido and Dada and sometimes in other places called Lel and Polel. Lel and Polel are related to Leda’s twin sons Castor and Pollux.
The next set of sisters are the Slavic goddesses Zorya Utrennyaya, Dawn or the Morning Star which are associated with Venus (changed to the maiden), opens the gates to her palace every morning for the Sun’s chariot departure and Dusk, the Evening Star called Zorya Vechernyaya who closes the palace gates after it return, making them the original gatekeepers of wisdom of the time in-between, but also night goddesses because it was from dusk to dawn. Marzanna is a night goddess as well. These two guardian sisters are thus known as the Auroras who watch and guard over the winged doomsday hound, Simargl, who is chained to the star Polaris in the constellation Ursa Minor, the “little bear”. When the chain breaks, the hound will devour the sun-gods and the era of man (patriarch) will end.
The last evolution of the grandmother are the twin maiden sisters…
The largest celebration today are the Maiden-Goddess Twin sisters, who took over Dziewanna’s rituals of spring/summer are the maiden-goddess twins Kupala (also known as Sobótka) and Kostroma. Kupala was approved by the church because maidens carry no power in ceremony and healing rites, not like adult women and grandmothers with decades of life experience and healing experience. The once necessary women’s shaman’s summer solstice rites of healing, became a maiden community festival in modern times, and their newly assigned roles and meanings eventually developed. Kupala personifies the magical and spiritual power inherent in water, and devotees worshiped her with ritual baths and offerings of flowers cast upon water.
The twin sister Kostroma is a Russian fertility goddess personifying youth and spring. She is born and then dies at the end of spring and rises again at winter and then dies again on the spring equinox. I imagine she is the Snow Maiden in fairytales. She is depicted as a maiden dressed in white holding an oak branch (both symbols of the Dionysus cult of Greece and Rome). Her name is connected or from the god Kostromo, the burial of Kostroma, a rite of fire, where maidens were chosen, then honored and carried in a procession on the summer solstice. Afterwards she reins over the day long ceremony, games and dances and dances around the fire. A sacred holy day honoring young girls and maidens and the Fire and Water elements. Kupalo is a male form of Kupala, and recognized in other Slavic regions as John the Baptist, June 24th feast day.
World Twin Sisters and Sister Goddesses…
Another pair of the oldest sisters are Egypt’s first kingdom Goddesses Wadjet, the Cobra (day, sun, creation or fire) and her sister Goddess Nehkbet, the Vulture (night, destruction which I call transformation, rebirth and dreaming). There are the Navajo sister Goddesses Asdzą́ą́ Nádleehé and Yolkai Estsan and the Greek Goddesses Demeter and Persephone (Kore), but by the time they were recorded, they were not sisters anymore, they were mother and daughter goddesses in the later sun-patriarch.
One of the oldest set of Sisters are from Mesopotamian culture, the goddess Ereshkigal and her sister Inanna. Ereshkigal is “Queen of the Great Earth” Goddess of Kur, the land of winter (the dead / underworld) in Sumerian mythology. In later myths she was said to rule Irkalla and sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, ruler of winter (gatekeeper to keep the underworld at a distance). She is also called the “Great Lady of the Earth”. In Sumerian myths, Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom to bring justice and banish demons and humans who had shadow back to the underworld. The main temple dedicated to her was located in Kutha.
Ereshkigal’s sister was Inanna (Sumerian Dinanna) was the ancient Sumerian goddess of love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, combat, justice, and political power. She was later worshiped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians under the name Ishtar. She was known as the “Queen of Heaven” and was the patron goddess of the Eanna temple at the city of Uruk, which was her main cult center. She was associated with the planet Venus and her most prominent symbols included the lion and the eight-pointed star. Her husband was the god Dumuzid the Shepherd (later known as Tammuz) and her sukkal, or personal attendant, was the goddess Ninshubur (who later became the male deity Papsukkal).
What has grown in the forest
they cut her down in the forest.
They took her home, our green gait
and beautifully decorated.
Traces of the existence of the Dziewanny Cult, are associated with the custom of decorating the self like the Dodole (or Perperuna) goddess traditions or what is called today in the male pagan tradition Kukeri. The ritual of the large Spirit Doll during the Rite of the Malka (Spring Rites), and the well-known Podlasie (Poland) customs. Dziewanna and Marzanna are the Lady of Life and the Lady of Death like the Indo-European beliefs. It is also worth noting that appearing in the image of Marzanna and Dziewanna (and the Kewubian Velewita close to them), the symbolism of the Offering and the Wreath.
Symbolism accompanying the Goddess Marzanna belongs to an exceptionally rich one. The dress of the bride with her beads, golden apples, devoured grain and a golden key – one can distinguish the following plants and animals associated with Marzanna.
WORKING WITH THE SISTERS IN SEASONAL RITUALS
Dziewanna is also a heroine of numerous poems. Halina Poświatowska wrote about it in: “In the midday sun” and Małgorzata Hillar’s “Ballada o dziewannie” or Bronisława Ostrowska “Dziewanna” which is this poem:
The south goes hot through the moors
breath flows into the Dried herbals
Sometimes, a glass that flashes under the Sun
Or Butterflies on Flowers and Bees generously
from the thicket of blossom, the mullein grows proudly.
The air with vibrating heat will saturate, as if it
were shaking the horses with the harmony of glass.
Pine resin drips from pine tree trunks,
and among the scorches of solar gold Mullein
she is bent, love like a meridian.
It is impossible to separate Marzanna from her sister Dziewanna even though religions had severed the tie. In their essence, both are extremely interrelated, regardless of whether we view them as two faces of one deity, or sisters representing death and life. What is the reason for this state of affairs to bring these goddesses into one or to separate Marzanna and Dziewanna into different goddesses, as Jan Długosz did? To answer this question, let us return to his chronicles of the famous Kingdom of Poland, which proclaimed:
“Diana, on the other hand, considered according to pagan beliefs to be a woman and a virgin at the same time, matrons and virgins worshiped by putting wreaths in front of her, while farmers and farmers worshiped Cerera, races offering her cereal grains (…). Since the state of the Lechites had arisen in an area containing forests and groves of which the ancients believed that Diana lived and that Diana claimed control over them, Cerera was considered the mother and goddess of fertility, which the country needed, which is why two goddesses: Diana in their language Dziewanna [Dzewana] called Cerera which is called Marzanna [Marzyana] as a special cult with special devotion.”
Marzanna is the direction of the North and her fullness is expressed by the three moons of winter and she is not done in rituals any time except Autumn and Winter. Her ritual start at the Winter Solstice, not just the day of the Spring Equinox like its done today and over the past few centuries. Dziewanna and her forgotten names, her rituals begin at the Spring Equinox and peak at the Summer Solstice but end by the Autumn Equinox.
Slavic people including myself love their fire rituals, but as a shaman, I do not use fire in spring or summer rituals at Kupala or Dziewanna, I use Water rituals because the fire goddesses has the Fire Within (unless they are for healing ceremonies or heating stones. I only use fire in rituals in the Winter, Season of Night because fire is then external and the Waters are Internal and or frozen in winter (including the day of Spring Equinox with Water and Fire with Marzanna’s burn, releasing the Winter Goddess. Thus only water and fire are used together for Marzanna on the Spring Equinox and at the Autumn Equinox for Dziewanna.
Last is the ceremonies of Radunica as part of the Spring Ritual that are associated with Dziewanna id done on the second Tuesday following Easter (this year its Tuesday the 10th of April, 2018). A festival also known as the Day of the Dead and on this day, offerings are made to the dead and to loved ones who passed on, and those most frequently consisted of offering eggs.
Radunica derived from Greek poSoivia which means “meadow of roses”. To me, this was probably an older pagan tradition of the Springs Rebirth where both the old of the dead of winter was completed and cleared for the fullness and beginning of spring. Originally Radunica (before Christianity), was from the old ways of the Spring Equinox until around the second week of April, the second new moon of Spring, when a long month of rituals and ceremonies that brought forth the spring renewal, ending completely the death of winter. This is because the winters were so long, in the more northern parts of the Slavic regions.
To conclude, when we begin to work with the 13 moons in alignment with the seasons of nature’s year, we start to become aware of the natural flow and process of life on earth. It requires some dedication and a willingness to learn how to heal and how to connect with both the winter aspects of our little deaths and rebirths, as well as our ability heal our self. These are what the two sisters represent symbolically and physically and it is worth exploring a real relationship to the seasonal year with out limiting ourselves to what has always been done in tradition, but welcome the power of the mystery of life to teach us something new that is very very old.
PHOENIX’S SUMMER SOLSTICE RITUAL / ARTICLE:
Sources: Art of Dziewanna and her Horse, sometimes Stag or Deer and Radunica, both by Jerzy Przybył; Niedzielski Grzegorz, Dziewanna – lady of forests and groves; Biegeleisen Henryk, Treatment of the Polish People; ługosz Jan, Roczniki, or chronicles of the famous Kingdom of Poland; Gieysztor Aleksander, Mythology of the Slavs; http://www.bogowiepolscy.net; www.slawoslaw.pl; photo of kupala from http://ukrainianpeople.us/ivana-kupala-day-midsummer-day-july-24-july-7; Patryk Gujda at wolnemedia.net/dziewanna-slowianska-bogini-lasow/; https://lamusdworski.wordpress.com/2016/01/29/gromnice; Kostroma and other fairy tales,Faith Pavlova Remizov – Kostroma, Illustrations by Vera Pavlova.