Archive for January, 2017


A Slavic Goddess of Spring

She is also known as Zhiva, Diva and Devana

A painting of a youthful goddess holding wreaths of flowers and wearing clothing imitating that of ancient Greek or Rome.





The mythological Vesna represented Spring in Slovene mythology

Here spring is represented as a Goddess in Christian Bernhard Rode’s 1785 painting Allegory of Spring.




The Vesna or Vesnas were mythological female characters associated with youth and springtime in early Slavic mythology and they replaced ‘death’ and wore the green fields, the meadows, nice weather, favorable to life and work. When Vesna brought Spring, she brought joy into homes and with her arrival, people knew that Summer is almost here and Spring symbolized the beginning of a beautiful season. Everything blooms and nature wakes, a time of rebirth and renewed life. Vesna had her role as a goddess of youth. She also represented the Sun without which their would be no Spring. She was a Goddess of victory because she overcame death to bring spring.

She is always portrayed as smiling, naked and barefoot and sometimes using only a few leaves of fern and some flowers for clothes. Her long hair is almost to her knees and decorated with various kinds of flowers. Her breasts are large, as expected from the goddess of fertility. Sometimes there’s an apple in her right hand and some grapes in her left hand and sometimes there’s a swallow, the symbol of spring on her right index finger. Sometimes she holds a bouquet of flowers in her left hand to symbolize marriage. It was believed that she carried the smell of spring with her wherever she goes and that all spring’s scents are signs of her passing through there.

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The Slavs, within their own traditions, also have the fight between dark and light. Vesna, Goddess of Springs, overcomes Morena, Goddess of Death. So each year they carry dolls representing Vesna on branches and burn the doll that represents Morena. This battle between Vesna and Morena was not definite as all cycles repeat when Morena wins the battle over Vesna and brings Winter. The fight between Morena and Vesna showed that Vesna had features that were common among our mere mortals. Intolerance towards other women, jealousy and the struggle for power.

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The battle between Vesna and Morena





Together with her male companion Vesnik, she was associated with rituals conducted in rural areas during springtime. Goddess Vesna was never alone. She was always accompanied by Gerovit, the Sun God and Stribog, the God of Wind and Air. She was the sister of Kresnik (representing fire and sun) and lived in a castle Vurberk near Maribor.

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.  The word “Vesna” is still the poetic word for “spring” in the Slovene language, as well as Czech and Slovak. Also, Vesna is a Russian word for spring. The month of February is sometimes named Vesnar in Slovene language. Her name comes from an Indian word ‘vas’ that means solar, illuminated and shiny. The word ‘vas’ is located in the root of the name Vesna. This also shows that the deity Vesna was present in the Slavic people even when they were in India, and before they moved to Europe.

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In Slovene mythology, the beautiful women called “Vesnas” lived in palaces atop mountains where they discussed the fate of crops and of human inhabitants. A magical circle around their palaces kept them from leaving the mountain top except during the month of February, when they would travel in wooden carts down to the valley below. Only certain people were capable of hearing them singing. People who snuck up to their mountain palaces might learn their fates, but risked an unpleasant end if they were caught by the Vesnas.

Because the Vesnas were seen as beautiful women, it for this very reason the peoples believed that giving your daughter that name, your daughter will be happy and cheerful. Vesna was a model for women. She was beautiful and powerful and around her the wonderful scent spread.

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Over the weekend I came into the possession of a marvelous set of eight-point red stag antlers, a vintage mount on a velvet-covered board. My original intent was to incorporate them into some sort of artwork. However, not long after I brought them home, the Animal Father started hinting that he’d like them as part of a personal shrine, since Artemis has one herself. (We’re still debating, since I had some ideas for these antlers, but I’m also not completely opposed to keeping them around–and the stag spirit wouldn’t mind, either.)

This whole business with the antlers brought up something that I’ve been aware of since I began working with the Animal Father–he is not the same deity as the Wiccan Horned God, or the various horned deities who get tossed under that aegis from time to time (Cernunnos, Herne, etc.). Yes, he’s depicted with antlers, but he has…

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