By Phoenix of Elder Mountain – Its that time of year again to honor the Goddess of Winter – Marzanna, an archaic night goddess and primal connection to her shamanistic and animistic mysteries of the past, present and future. These pre-religious rites are still done in very simple ways today and I hope you join us again this year in making her. Marzanna, a traditional winter goddess and night goddess in her origins is keeper of the sacred mystery.
Marzanna in a deeper journey, is a seasonal lunar goddess who represents the Night, the Spirit of Winter and Winter Moons, both its celebrations and its deaths and rebirths. A goddess who represents mother earth’s changes and rebirth. I moved away from the simplicity of the traditional Polish Marzanna ritual in Slavic paganism which is basically for children and bringing out the child in the adult with a simple tradition on the day of the Spring Equinox.
Traditional Slavic rituals focus on the day of Spring, I wanted the more powerful and archaic Winter Goddess Marzanna, to focus on her whole Season of Winter, the wholeness of nature, spiritually and as a guide for women to understand each lunar season. The traditional Slavic Marzanna was completely ignoring her whole winter season which Christmas and Religion took over. I honor her for what she was as a goddess of nature and mother earth.
Marzanna rules the Winter and her winter Moons (December, January and February) that were always for healing, rituals, dances, effigies, fire ceremonies and letting go. Ancient cultures of shamanism and dream cultures were ruled and guided by the shaman grandmothers (returning) and older mothers, and that is what I celebrate, honor and bring forth into ritualistic forms honoring my own connection to my spiritual side, but also the consciousness of mother earth.
Honoring the Season of Night (Autumn and Winter) with the Moon Mystery and our Dreaming rites, bring depth to us as women and creativity during the Solstice season, rituals not about anyone else, or religions, but about us, our healing, our learning to let go, our inner peace during this season to heal. Marzanna is about to loosens our frozen memories in order to heal them.
Marzanna as a Slavic Winter Goddess, also represents the elder wise Grandmother as spiritual leader and since all maidens and women will become a grandmother phase of life, honoring the elders is part of all indigenous teachings, red, white, black, yellow, brown peoples. That is as close as we come to our indigenous ancient traditions.
Marzanna represents the Old and wise Winter Woman in her elder stages of life, the mystery of the eldest trees, the eldest mountains and volcanoes, the mystery of the past and the ancestors. In symbolism and our nature, she represents the time of death and rebirth, for retreat for regeneration. For mother earth and in nature, she represents the death, transformation and eventual rebirth cycle of life.
The mysterious duality and wholeness of the effigy figures of Marzanna and Dziewanna have been one of the most interesting in the goddess cultures, because we are dealing with sacred twins, two sisters of a time of the goddess era before paganism. She is the goddess with two faces: one light and the other night.
For me, doing the applicable and applied deeper rituals for healing, local healing, folk healing rituals in all of my Slavic rituals, are for purification rites, shadow eradication, health, personal death and rebirth medicines, and the releasing of my own emotional stress and releasing (letting go rituals) and my personal challenges when I was in my 30s, 40s and 50s. Now that I have entered Elder I have a different relationship with Marzanna, its pure nature and shamanic and less personal.
Slavic people do a traditional “one day ritual on the Spring equinox” and burn Marzanna, the Goddess of Winter, to release winter. They don’t honor her in her Winter Cycles of December, January and February, but I do. This is because Religion and Pagan Religious ceremonies like Christmas and Winter Solstice didn’t include Marzanna, the Winter Goddess and completely eradicated her. Poland’s Black Madonna is as close as they got to a dark goddess and at least that still exists as a statue but not a living legend of the goddess of winter.
BUILDING YOUR PERSONAL MARZANNA
We start on the week of the Winter Solstice…
Those of you who want to build your Marzanna, I suggest doing a small and personal Marzanna, about 12 inches / 30 centimeters high, and begin to build her the first week of December and setting her on your altar or outdoor altar on the Winter Solstice as a mirror of your time of release, healing and letting in the winter moons. Do it individually or encourage your group of women friends to do it, or start a group of women in your sacred circle as a sacred group ceremony.
We start with a small Marzanna, a six or twelve inch doll, some may want to go bigger but I don’t recommend it, maybe after ten years, then let her grow a bit because you have in your ritual with her. I collect natural herbs, berries, sticks and sacred branches all summer long and add these things to her each new and full moon of each month but you can find all those things the day you build her or build her with intention each new and full moon until the Winter Solstice. If you are in a group, then a one day ritual is good, if you do it alone, then a three to four week amount of time is good in a slower more ritualistic manner.
If you do it every year, then you can get deeper into the ritual. I attach some of my own sacred shaman necklaces, textiles and talisman that I make and wear the year before and then let them go by decorating her with them all Winter. I also add things I have leftover like stalks of lavender that I harvested, strings of rosehips and wild flowers I collect for my smudge and summer dried lemons. I add pieces of the abundance of nature such as pine cones, tree branches, wild grasses, twine, sticks, berries and more. You can add anything you wish to build her.
If you are an herbalist or artist, use your creativity to build your “personal Marzanna”. Your Marzanna of course should be more traditional with nature’s items along with your creative clothing, so you get to know the ritual and how it effects you personally for the first few years as a seasonal ancient ritual. Always start small and slow in any spiritual traditions, especially with the winter or night goddess. I encourage you to join in the artistic and healing aspects of Marzanna and make her a personal small effigy that represents you and what you are letting go of by the Spring Equinox.
I don’t make my Marzanna out of straw, but that is traditional for many slavic people, and you certainly can if you want. I chose to use my old herbals, lavenders stems, mullein stems, wild grasses, saint johns wort, whatever grows in meandering fields that have died in the autumn. I also make folk smudge for others and use the left overs to decorate her body. I also use sticks and twigs and branches of pine and cedar. I want it to be as natural as possible.
“FOUNDATION: RESPECTING & HONORING WINTER”
Autumn and Winter, the Season of Night, belongs to the old Mother, the Bone Mother, or Grandmother. The Maiden and Younger Mother belongs to the Season of Fire, which is Spring and Summer.
To begin, we start by setting our “Intention” for our personal Marzanna which is about YOU, not anything outside of the self, Marzanna represents you. Set an intention of what we wish to heal over the three winter moons starting at the Winter Solstice’s beginnings. We start by looking for our “Base Stick” and start off by making a sturdy cross, tying the two together with strong twine or rope.
“Set your intention” as you build this “basic cross foundation” which is the most important because it reflects you and your basic structure of strength, basic needs at your foundation at this time of your inner spiritual life and inner emotional life. Then set her on your altar and mother earth to bless her and let her sit there overnight or for a few days.
Once the basic cross of the body has been built, we then begin to add to her. You can go outside at a park or nature or even your yard and collect some autumn or winter field flowers, sticks, pine, straw, wheat or any wild flowers that have dried. Also pine cones, wild grasses to begin to add to your basic structure. Set intention as well on the structure as you begin to tie them onto the foundation sticks.
What sort of structure do you need in your life right now before spring comes? What do you want to practice that will add to your monthly moon intentions. Structure can be simple, like remembering to say thanks or being grateful for who you are and the good things in your life, even if you are having a difficult time. For those who are very structured, add a breath meditation or anything that helps you be peaceful in the winter season to come.
Creative ideas of different types of Marzanna here.
Gathering fabric, beads, yarn, colors, ribbon, etc to decorate your Marzanna doll. You can make her bright and cheerful or make her serious with only a nature theme. Be as creative as you want. All of us are artisans in various ways such as good cooks, creative cooks, singers, dancers, artists, painters, musicians, story tellers, etc… so we all have something that we can share and be creative with when building this primal goddess. Set your creative intention as you dress her up.
Most people make their new year resolutions in the second Moon of Winter but that is like starting a race at the end of the race. Winter is a time of stillness and quiet but this busy world disregards that. You can realign and reclaim the quiet season of Winter by slowly reconnecting with your winter new moon energy, a stillness that can be part of the creation of your Marzanna and what she stands for. For inner peace, nurturing your fears or wounds with comfort and gentleness.
After she is finished, set her on your altar, in your garden or somewhere special and leave her there for winter until the day of the Spring Equinox. Let Marzanna sit in the quiet Winter Moons (months) of your garden or you sacred altar inside your home. This ceremony helps us be patient within the three moons of Winter, its long and we can regenerate during this time personally with a season that is the “quiet” time.
“SPRING REBIRTH – BURNING MARZANNA”
Burning of Marzanna is on the day of the Spring Equinox as a joyous occasion, completing the Season of Night (Autumn and Winter) and we are reborn for another year. We take Marzanna outside and burn her and or toss her in the River after you set her on fire (water is symbolic for our emotional life). The true New Year of Nature (Mother Earth) begins on the Spring Equinox (not human pagan or religious rituals).
Spring comes forth and we have aligned and connected with the power of our great mother who all mother goddesses are named after. Both men and women can do this tradition, men would honor the female side of themselves, their emotional and giving natures. After we burn Marzanna in the magical pond, we hang a painted egg on the Living Tree to welcome Spring and Dweizanna. We put some of the burnt Marzanna around our Death Tree which sits directly across from the Living Tree.
MARZANNA’S STORY OF THE PAST
Marzanna’s story is ancient, unique and kind of fascinating, especially the ethnographic data seem to show the trail of goddesses with the broadest competences and those who have great respect. In Poland, for the longest time in Opole Silesia, girls participe in the ritual assumed obligatory costumes and wreaths identical to Marzanna and at the same time Gaik, is often associated with Spring and Dziewanna (Dziewanna article here) :
What has grown in the forest
they cut her down in the forest
they took her home
our green gait
The Goddess of Winter and her many goddess names were interwoven into Winter Solstice Rituals before Christmas Religious celebration and were connected with the pagan rituals of Ukraine called Kolyadá. Koliada. Kalyada in Belarusian (Каляда); Bosnian, Croatian, Czech, Slovak, Slovene call her Koledsa.
Russians call her Коляда, Kolyada and even the modern song and its own dance, the Kolinka, which is very apparent by the words to the song of snowberries and sleep its a winter joy; Lithuanian call her Kalëdienë. Bulgarians, Macedonians and Serbians call her Коледа, Kashubian and Kòlãda; Lithuanians call her Kalėdos and Kalėda; in Polish she is called Kolęda; Kolenda, Kolędowanie; Romanians call her Kolinda.
There are many missing pieces in Slavic rituals missing because of restrictions of the christian religions, but if you understand core symbolism of all the earths goddess teachings, its not difficult to see the twin or sisters ancient connection with the four seasons that used to be two seasons. I do my yearly traditions of Marzanna at the Winter Solstice and Dziewanna at the Summer Solstice, as a shaman and for specific needs that I have spiritually and community purification. I have found working them as sisters in opposing seasons, reconnects me into the more ancient grandmother’s shamanic rituals.
Marzanna is the Poland tradition, continuously is remembered to this day, directly or indirectly in the uniquely developed Marian cults. This results in frequent and quite unfortunate perception of Marzanna as a simple personification of winter and death. In fact, many traces of the Cult of Marzanna locate her (especially in the West Slavic beliefs) as the Empress of Life and Death.
She as patron of death and fertility (rebirth) of woman and of earth, she is a night goddess, mother of all gods, and the closest image of the Mother Earth as the Primeval Sea (in which she resides like Sumerian praiogin Tiamat). Time, therefore, has eroded her power into a children’s winter afternoon celebration. for a summary of the current state of research and an attempt to identify further important connections.
Grzegorz Niedzielski’s article: “Marzanna or Cerera or Hekate”? says : “Marzanna, especially in Western Slavonic beliefs, although she appears in the majority of all Slavic peoples traditions, is best known as :
Marzanna, Marzana, Marza, Marysia from ritual and Kashubian songs. Morzeczek Morska (Poland), Mořena (Morżena *), Mařena (Maržena), Mařina (Maržina), Mařana (Marżana), Mařoska (Marżoska) , Morana, Maréna, Marca, Mara (Czech Republic / Moravia), Morena, Marejna, Marmoriena, Muriena, Mumuriena, Mamuriena (Slovakia), Marena (Ukraine), Mara (Belarus, Bulgaria and Croatia) and Marinka (Russia). Morė, Māra, Marsza and Masha are known in the Baltic areas.
Teonim, from which the name Marzanna was created, is connected above all with the Indo-European *Mar- “related to Water” and also with the Polish “Sea” from the Hittite marmar (r) a-, mammarra-, mamara “mud, to”, Lithuanian Márės, Gothic Marei, Latvian Mare, Latin Mare “Sea”, Ossetian mal “deep, standing water”, Armenian Mavr “mud”, Russian Morie “Sea”, Oldoisian Muir.
In folk culture, the phrases mean “Behind the Sea” which translated: “in another world” or “in the beyond”, behind mortal waters and evokes the image of the cosmic waters of earth in which the great goddess created all from the Sea and Ocean. “Before the creation of the world there was nothing, only the sky and the sea”.
Core * mar- / * mor-, except for connections with death (morem) and waters – the sea (in a mythical context identical with the other worlds) can be extended with further range of associations. First of all, they include the time of winter, night and sleep (“frost”, “darkness”, “dream” and the like).
It is also possible to note the phenomenon of frequent approximation of the concepts of winter and earth (eg, letters zema and żemē, prus zema and zeme, Latin hiems and humus). An interesting analogy is also the Bulgarian and Serbian Baba Marta, in displeasure dissatisfied with the efficiency of his partner, Lutego. This is probably the echo of the former world pair (eg Marzanna and Nyji). Baba Marta and Lut were depicted with puppets, just like in Marzanna and Marzanioka in Silesia.
Long ago the ancient Slavic people called this season of the three moons of winter, a time of the sleeping people who hibernated and dreamed and then reawakened into the waking life in spring. Marzanna and the rituals, even though they are very simple now, transitions into the re-birthed self of the eternal renewal called Kostroma, Lada and Vesna on the Spring Equinox. I do not celebrate New Years, my New Year begins on the Spring Equinox because I fully want to honor all that winter offers.
An Eastern Slavic folk holiday – Marzanna is called Maslenitsa (Марена) in Russian, Morė in Lithuania and Latvia and Morana in Bulgaria, Slovene, Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia. Mara, Mora or Marmora in Belarusian and Ukraine. Baba Marta / who is much like Cailleach has an interesting remnant of the former Slavic goddess coded with the core Mar, from the Balkans (Bulgaria and southern and eastern Serbian) mythical figure known as Baba Marta (Баба Марта) – “Grandmother of March”, an old woman shepherdess like Cailleach, who brings the end of winter and the beginning of the reign of spring. Its feast is celebrated today on March 1, and is associated with the gift of white and red, man-made ragged woolen knits, called martens.
The former mythical figure and rite were attempted to impose a historical interpretation, associating the custom with the formation of the Bulgarian state, which was to take place on March 1, in the year 681. But the thing is that on March 1, it is associated in Slavic, especially eastern, in the first row with the first day of spring (Russian usien ‘- the first day of spring, 1 March). Once more, three festivals were celebrated in honor of Baby Marta, in addition to the 1st, but also on March 9 (Orthodox Day of Saints Youngsters) and March 25 (Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary).
Baba Marta in folk beliefs is a malicious old woman, the equivalent of the Celtic Cailleach, a woman with sudden changes in humor, and as variable as the weather in the early spring. Sunny weather meant that she was happy, or the return of winter and frost signaled her bad mood. What is also important is that talisman were worn only until the first signs of spring appeared which could be a stork, a swallow, a crane or a blooming flower. Then they were removed and put under stones (which was associated with health divinations), attached to a thriving fruit tree to ensure its fertility, or, as in the case of Marzanna, were thrown into the water so that the winter or bad things would go away with it.
From Bulgaria, we also know the custom, which is supposed to be humorous, according to Marcin Bielski, and Marzahn’s song, “Death snakes on a fence looking for trouble”. Indeed, in March, often on its first day (according to the Gregorian calendar, 14 – according to the Julian calendar) or at the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, on March 25, repatriates were banished from singing by singing:
“Bjàgajte, zmii, gùšteri, // če Marta ide z lopàta, // Ta šte vi tròši rebràta!” (Flee
vipers and lizards // because it goes March with a shovel // and break your ribs!). Considering the mythical relationship of the serpent with the earth, the East Slavic spells call the serpent with nipremnaja zemlją – “impenetrable soil” and the etymology of the viper, derived from the prose. zemja- “land”, coming from pie. * g’hem – “woman”, it can not be ruled out that Marzanna takes the form of the “cloud serpent” of mother earth which is ruler over moisture to the land to grow in the spring and summer.
TRADITIONAL PAGAN MARZANNA, MIDDLE AGES UNTIL TODAY
To this day we keep the ceremony of Morena, a custom was first written down in the 16th century when writing was more accessible in the form of journalism and law, from previous folk traditions of the Goddess and Shamanic cultures when writing didn’t exist except for art (images on stones).
It says that the youth carried an effigy of the Goddess Morena made of two wooden sticks in the shape of a cross in tangled harvested wheat and straw. This effigy dressed in festive traditional costume and a singing by the whole village as they carried her to the river. Behind the village threw her off a bridge into the water, or burned in a bonfire as the symbol of winters end, and springs renewal, that from death comes rebirth.
While people believed that death, winter was to be survived, the goddess cultures influenced this folk custom of local slavic regions to make it through long winters. The original faith of ancient Slavs and Slovaks were banned by male religions and many withdrew into seclusion for fear of persecution with their ancient honoring of a goddess.
Religions of the middle ages, could not have any competitors of their dying on the cross and Morena, Marzanna represented a threat to their power and control, so she had to be forbidden, they only wanted the symbol of women as compassionate and loving mother, not powerful goddess over death. So as in direct competition to male religions, as a much more ancient ritual she had to be banned. Even though they tried, her rituals still survives today all over the world by Balto-Slavic people.
Morena the beautiful but cold winter goddess, death and ruler of the underworld where journey to the underworld one must cross the river Smorodina (Smorod: stench from rotting carcasses), through which you can only flee, guide and get to the other side by a shaman woman or man. Morena in winter gains power as the old sun god Dažbog experiences his death.
Her flying chariot drawn by snow-white swan represents death and those who dream of large spirit swans will have witnessed a loved one’s soul carried over to the other side (from old slavic folk lore). Marena is also dressed in white as snow as the keeper of gates to heaven and the hair and complexion of her is the same. She is the original snow queen but not the evil version that is modern.
Her ceremony is in the few weeks right before spring, and we honor Morena, to pay respect to the forces of mother nature, and then in the spring honor the growing Dažbog. Morena’s animals and avian are wolves, ravens and swans, as a symbol of winter’s death and then its rebirth. Her Majesty marks the time when we honor our ancestors by paying respect to all the Slavic the Goddesses.
The Church tried to Christianize the tradition of Marzanna and replace it by burning Judah or throwing Judah puppet from the churches’ roof on Holy Wednesday. This tradition is cultivated in some Polish regions, but Marzanna tradition is known much better all through Poland. In the Czech Republic or Poland, this is often performed during a field trip by children in kindergartens and primary schools.
The effigy, often prepared by the children themselves, can range in size from a puppet to a life-size dummy. This ritual represents the end of the dark days of winter, the victory over death, and the welcoming of the spring rebirth. 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.
Grandmother represents the Winter Stage (Dark Moon) phases of life, the Death and Rebirth stages of life and in this very ancient Ritual of the Burning of Marzanna during the first few days of Spring, she represents the archaic dark primordial grandmothers releasing winter into the rebirth of the maiden’s spring. The Winter Goddess, who is the original Snow Queen is a Slavic Goddess associated with seasonal agrarian rites based on the idea of death and rebirth of the nature and woman herself.
She is associated with death and winter and often described as the goddess of death. The 15th century Polish chronicler Jan Długosz likened her to Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture. Her name is derived from the same Indo-European root as Latin mors ‘death’ and Russian mor ‘pestilence’. Some authors also likened her to mare, the celestial horse spirit of Slavic folklore, associated with dreams and sleep paralysis (astral travel). In some Russian dialects the word ‘mara’ means ‘phantom’, ‘vision’, ‘female Prophet’ or female Visionary.
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. Typically taking place on the day of the vernal equinox, the rite involves setting fire to a female straw effigy, drowning it in a river, or both. In Poland, this is often performed during a field trip by children in kindergartens and primary schools.
The effigy can range in size from a small doll size effigy to a life-size goddess statue out of straw. This ritual represents the end of the dark days of winter, the victory over death, and the welcoming of the spring rebirth.
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, mothers, women and the baba elders.
Carrying out Morena (Marzanna) is a Slovak Tradition, a custom first written down in the 16th century, from previous folk traditions of the Goddess. It says that the youth carried an effigy of the Goddess, made of two wooden sticks in the shape of a cross in tangled harvested wheat and straw. This effigy dressed in festive traditional costume and a singing by the whole village as they carried her to the river.
Behind the village threw her off a bridge into the water, or burned in a bonfire as the symbol of winters end, and springs renewal, that from death comes rebirth. While people believed that death, winter was to be survived, the goddess cultures influenced this folk custom of local slavic regions to make it through long winters. The original faith of ancient Slavs and Slovaks were banned by male religions and many withdrew into seclusion for fear of persecution with their ancient honoring of a goddess.
Morena in winter gains power as the old sun god Dažbog experiences his death. Her flying chariot drawn by snow-white swan represents death and those who dream of large spirit swans will have witnessed a loved one’s soul carried over to the other side (from old Slavic folk lore).
Marena is dressed in white as snow as the keeper of gates to heaven and the hair and complexion of her is the same. Her Ceremony is in late winter until spring, where the underworld experiences natural cycle of decay, and we honor Morena, to pay respect to the forces of mother nature, and then in the spring honor the growing Dažbog.
Morena’s animals and avian are wolves, ravens and swans, as a symbol of winter’s death and then its rebirth. Her Majesty marks the time when we honor our ancestors by paying respect to all the Slavic the Goddesses.
Marzanna is one of the last prehistory grandmother connections of our shamanic and dreaming cultures – which I call it in her earliest name: the Midnight Sun which is Winter, the three Winter Moons, the Season of Night (Autumn and Winter) and all her Night Goddesses that developed later. This included her ceremony of the Kolovrat, which means to spin or the moving circle, symbolizes the great Round Dances, the Dance of Happiness.
The Midnight Sun, is a direct shamanic connection to the spinning of our seasons and the spinning around the earth, who in turn spins around the sun in their dance of death, transformation and rebirth. Winter is the season of the grandmothers, the season of the night, the snow queen, the bone grandmother (bone mothers) or cave mothers, and we invite you to join us at your private home or your own spiritual circle, to make your Marzanna effigy again this year.
My work as a shaman with Marzanna each year is a six month (moon) process and ritual and ceremonies are done as I build her on each of the new and full moon, which is mandatory for the protection of our land and the region here at Elder Mountain. As a dreamer (shaman) I have a lot of my time dealing with keeping shadows at bay. But most Marzanna traditions are still practiced today, but like all ancient traditions, they have lost their shamanic ritualistic powers of real protection and for the relationship to the consciousnesses of the earth mother (nature).
I have found no others who works with Marzanna in its more shamanic rite and ritual that actually does the necessary cleansing of shadows in the environment. The Balkan people have their Kukeri rituals, which are mostly festivals but I have seen some that take their cleansing of shadows very serious. I take my work with her very seriously too to keep the winter safe.
The word Marzanna, Mora and Morena are connected with the shamanic principles of the death and rebirth rites. The word Mor is the root of a very old Slavic word meaning Death and in shaman’s terms (not shamanic terms), the shamans cleanses and purifies their own shadows and past life karma, which is a death and a death ritual for decades. This is what the old grandmothers who lead spiritual rites and rituals understood. Dreaming Marz and Mor is the exact thing that happens when we fall asleep, we die to the dreaming and return with our soul and wake up in the morning. This was incredibly important in shamanic and dream cultures before the patriarch.
Morena a powerful grandmother (later changed to a beautiful young maiden), is the cold winter elder goddess of death and ruler of the underworld in shaman’s terms, who must journey to the underworld (shaman) and cross the river Smorodina (Smorod, meaning stench from the dead souls), through which you can only flee, guide and get to the other side. In many ways this small story is the story of all true shamans who cross the veils of life and death, where the karmic souls are prisoners in the underworld.
This is why many cultures do Autumn and Winter shamanic rituals to protect the waking plane from roaming shadow spirits because the veils are thinner in winter. Marzanna is still alive and well, but more associated with children and festivals of Spring and most of the tradition is focused around Spring and the end process of her burning to release winter. I do a very serious shamanic working ritual each year with her, not only for my own protection as a shaman but wherever I live.
To be connected spiritually to the whole process of our life, is to touch the awareness of birth, living, transformation, death and rebirth as a person who honors all things and understands and lives by the nature’s cycles by working with it personally and with nature herself. This is a living planet with a natural mysticism that is alive if you can ‘see’ and if you participate in ritual enough years it becomes easier to see.
Please do share your photos of your Marzanna with us at our Facebook! Write us at Eldermountaindreaming@gmail if you wish to be on our once a month lunar work-study or join us for any of the Marzanna and Dziewanna rituals.
Sources: Brandi is an Herbalist, Ritualist and Yoga teacher in Austin Tx, her website is http://ritualunion.us. Winter Queen by Aly Fell, Artist Nina Gorfer; Goddess of Winter by FantaSam; Marzanna illustration by unknown artist; 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; Photo by Czlowiek Kamera; Morana by Игорь Ожиганов; http://www.bogowiepolscy.net; http://www.slawoslaw.pl; http://lamus-dworski.tumblr.com;Dragovid; Wiki, Elder Mountain, Slavic Folklore Dreams; beksinski.dmochowskigallery.net, Snow Queen by PJ Lynch.