Lepa Mara means beautiful woman when she wakes up in March when the thunder god Perun, her father and the lightning goddess Perunika, her mother makes their first thunder and lightning together to open heaven’s gates in Spring for their daughter Mara. Mara and her Mother Perunika are symbols of feminine rebirth and resurrection of nature from its winter sleep into spring.
In the homes of the ancient Slavs there were small altars in the corner of the house with wax, amber or wooden figurines where girls and women used to offer sacrifices like flowers, ribbons, embroidered napkins, etc. A fire burns or candles here that could be put out only using your fingers, otherwise the peace of the house would be put out with it.
Mother and daughter also represent the feminine or female principle embodied of woman which are: The primal principles, the soul, the instinctual and intuitive, the feeling, the subconscious, the conscious, the dreamer, the seeker, the journey, beauty, attraction, desire, love, the moving force of the world.
Spring is the time when her future husband and twin brother, the mythical Green Man sets her free from a treasure chest and she descends from heaven in the golden bough of a mythical tree on the first full moon after the spring equinox.
She drinks dew and gets her strength from the spirit of the wind and her joy from the smell of flowers. She is tall and thin, has rosy cheeks more beautiful than a rose, black eyes like the thorn bush and walks making small steps like a quail.
She wears a white dress decorated with roses and stars, with golden circles embroidered on it, she has a crown of ocean pearls on her for head and around her neck. She wears a cape of flowers, leaves and moonlight. She is a sacred weaver goddess and an embroiderer, lace maker, knitter, keeper of the home fire, baker, inn keeper, shepherdess, coach woman, chaser of witches, medicine woman, poetess, moonlight, dawn, giver of light, love, happiness and fertility.
During the day she is a kind woman who sits on the branch of the mythical tree in the middle of Paradise or a flowering meadow and at dusk or during the night. In winter she is a woman whose together with her mother she is represented as an unknown, poor, fickle, proud, evil, cruel or ageing resident and ruler of the west or underworld.
Her mother is the Fire Lightning Goddess Perunika and is Baba Jaga/Luca/Roga/Yaga and the Lithuanian Rugiuboba who is the power of death itself. The mother is then known as Jagbaba, Jez(i) baba, Marzana, Mokos, Vodanojka, Zimna (”winter”), Zderacica (”devourer”).
When her great goddess mother was banished as the keeper of balance of life and death, by religious fathers who corrupted her and turned her dark, her daughter Lepa Mara then becomes a stranger, a woman from Arabia, Greece, Turkey and the poor Cinderella, changeable moon or moonlight, a proud girl or cruel Morana. The name Morana comes from the Indo-European stem ”mer”, meaning ”to crumble” or ”to die”.
Croatian words ”mrijeti”, ”umirati”, ”umarati”, ”smrt”, ”moriti”, ”zamor”, ”odmor”, ”mrak”, ”Mura” all meaning death or tiredness (Mura is the name of a river in Croatia) and where the river got its name from. Since the Christians took over, both mother and daughter are inconstant like the time of day or the seasons. Changing their form from fairies into witches, into death, who they represent as the fragmented soul or dual spirit of nature.
Before Christianity they represented the place in-between both darkness and light, white and black, clear and cloudy, summer and winter, plenty and hunger, medicinal and poisonous, health and sickness, youth and old age, love and hate, care and carelessness, morality and greed, fortune and misfortune, good and evil.
She gives flame to the moon, and when man lets go and changes, it frees her of her chains, she marries Green Man on a white whinged horse and shares part of her flame but never to give man all of it again. She is a golden apple from the Paradise tree and her necklace, the first morning or spring light helps her remember how men enslaved her and her mother.
Green Man in return gives her a golden ring and both enable enchantment and love and thus make all living creatures grow and bear fruit. On each young Friday, that is the first Friday of the month celebrations and rituals connected with the fertility of the fields, orchards and gardens. In fact Mary of Fire and Beautiful Mara, although they are represented as mother and daughter in the Croatian oral tradition, show the bonds between mother and daughter and how the family flourishes or perishes.
They are represent the plants: basil, peach, birch, lily of the walley, ox eye daisy, apple, strawberry, fir, violet, poppy, olive, lime-tree, rose, rosemary, dog-rose and plum. When they are represented as animals they are the dove, quail, mare (horse), doe, cow, sow, cuckoo, purple marten (in Russian vernacular an expression for the female sex organ), hen, swan, weasel, swallow, butterfly, fox, bee, partridge, falcon, otter, she-wolf, snake, frog and woodpecker.
Mara is both a spirit and earth goddess, like her mother. At the same time she is a kind sister and a passionate lover. She and her mother Perunika (Lightning and Fire) are goddesses of beauty, love, fertility, marriage, marital happiness and the house or hearth fire.