Archive for the ‘Gods & Goddesses’ Category


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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Arachne lived in a small village on the shores of the Mediterranean with her very poor parents.  Arachne used to spin all day long, while her mother was busy cooking the simple meals for the family, or working in the fields. Her wheel made a steady whirring like the buzzing of some insect. From constant practice , she became so skillful. The threads she drew out were almost as fine as the mists that rose from the nearby sea. The neighbours used to hint, sometimes, that such fine-spun threads were rather useless, and that it might be better if Arachne would help her mother more and spin less.

One day Arachne’s father, who was a fisherman, came home with his baskets full of little shell-fish, which were of a bright crimson or purple colour. He thought the colour of the little fish so pretty that he tried the experiment of dyeing Arachne’s wools with them. The result was the most vivid hue that had ever been seen in any kind of woven fabric. This was the colour which was afterward called Tyrian purple,—or sometimes it was called royal purple, because kings liked to wear it.

Her tapestries found a ready sale and soon became famous after this as all her tapestries always showed some touch of new colour.

And because of this, Arachne’s family could chang their little cottage for a much larger house. Her mother did not have to work in the fields any more, nor was her father any longer obliged to go out in his boat to catch fish.

Arachne, herself, became as famous as her tapestries. She heard admiring words on every side, and I am sorry to say that her head was a little turned by them. When, as often happened, people praised the beautiful colour that had been produced by the little shell-fish, she did not tell how her father had helped her, but took all the credit to herself.

While she was weaving, a group of people often stood behind her loom, watching the pictures grow. One day she overheard some one say that even the great goddess, Minerva, the patron goddess of spinning and weaving, could not weave more beautiful tapestries than this plain fisherman’s daughter. This was a very foolish thing to say, but Arachne thought it was true. She heard another say that Arachne wove so beautifully fhat she must have been taught by Minerva herself.

Now, the truth is, that Minerva had taught Arachne. It was Minerva who had sent the little shell-fish to those coasts ; and, although she never allowed herself to be seen, she often stood behind the girl and guided her shuttle.

But Arachne, never having seen the goddess, thought she owed everything to herself alone, and began to boast of her skill. One day she said : “It has been said that I can weave quite as well, if not better, than the goddess, Minerva. I should like to have a weaving match with her, and then it would be seen which could do best.”

These wicked words had hardly left Arachne’s mouth, before she heard the sound of a crutch on the floor. Turning to look behind her, she saw a feeble old woman in a rusty gray cloak. The woman’s eyes were as gray as her cloak, and strangely bright and clear for one so old. She teaned heavily on her crutch, and when she spoke, her voice was cracked and weak.

“I am many years older than you,” she said. “Take my advice. Ask Minerva’s pardon for your ungrateful words. If you are truly sorry, she will forgive you.”

Now Arachne had never been very respectful to old persons, particularly when they wore rusty cloaks, and she was very angry at being reproved by this one.

“Don’t advise me,” she said. “Go and advise your own children. I shall say and do what I please.”

At this an angry light came into the old woman’s gray eyes ; her crutch suddenly changed to a shining lance ; she dropped her cloak ; and there stood the goddess herself.

Arachne’s face grew very red, and then very white, but she would not ask Minerva’s pardon, even then. Instead, she said that she was ready for the weaving match.

So two weaving frames were brought in, and attached to one of the beams overhead. Then Minerva and foolish Arachne stood side by side, and each began to weave a piece of tapestry.

As Minerva wove, her tapestry began to show pictures of mortals who had been foolhardy and boastful, like Arachne, and who had been punished by the gods. It was meant for a kindly warning to Arachne.

But Arachne would not heed the warning. She wove into her tapestry pictures representing certain foolish things that the gods of Olympus had done.

This was very disrespectful, and it is no wonder that when Arachne’s tapestry was finished, Minerva tore it to pieces.

Arachne was frightened now, but it was too late. Minerva suddenly struck her on the forehead with her shuttle. Then Arachne shrank to a little creature no larger than one’s thumb.

“Since you think yourself so very skilful in spinning and weaving,” said Minerva, “you shall do nothing else but spin and weave all your life.”

Upon this Arachne, in her new shape, ran quickly into the first dark corner she could find. She was now obliged to earn her living by spinning webs of exceeding fineness, in which she caught many flies, just as her father had caught fish in his nets. She was called the Spinner.

The children of this first little spinner have become very numerous ; but their old name of spinner has been changed to that of spider. Their delicate webs, which are as mist-like as any of Arachne’s weaving, often cover the grass on a morning when the day is to be fine.

Blessed Be



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