Goddess Mokosh

Slavic Earth Mother

Mother earth and house spirit, tender of sheep and spinner of fate, Mokosh is the supreme Slavic goddess. The origins of Mokosh as mother earth may date to pre-Indo-European times (6th–5th millennia BCE) when worldwide, woman-centered religions are thought to have existed.

Mokosh in Slavic Mythology

In Slavic mythology, Mokosh, sometimes transliterated as Mokoš and meaning “Friday,” is Moist Mother Earth and thus the most important (or sometimes only) goddess in the religion. As a creator, she is said to have been discovered sleeping in a cave by a flowering spring by the spring god Jarilo, with whom she created the fruits of the earth.

She is also the protector of spinning, tending sheep, and wool, patron of merchants and fishermen, who protects cattle from plague and people from drought, disease, drowning, and unclean spirits.

Appearance and Reputation

Surviving images of Mokosh are rare—although there were stone monuments to her beginning at least as long ago as the 7th century. A wooden cult figure in a wooded area in the Czech Republic is said to be a figure of her. Historical references say she had a large head and long arms, a reference to her connection with spiders and spinning. Symbols associated with her include spindles and cloth, the rhombus, and the Sacred Tree or Pillar.

Role in Mythology

Although the Great Goddess has a variety of consorts, both human and animal, in her role as a primary Slavic goddess, Mokosh is the moist earth goddess and is set against (and married to) Perun as the dry sky god. She is also linked to Veles, in an adulterous manner; and Jarilo, the spring god.

Some Slavic peasants felt it was wrong to spit on the earth or beat it. During the Spring, practitioners considered the earth pregnant: before March 25 (“Lady Day”), they would neither construct a building or a fence, drive a stake into the ground or sow seed. When peasant women gathered herbs they first lay prone and prayed to Mother Earth to bless any medicinal herbs.

Mokosh in Modern Time

With the coming of Christianity into the Slavic countries in the 11th century CE, Mokosh was converted to a saint, St. Paraskeva Pyanitsa (or possibly the Virgin Mary). Described as tall and thin with loose hair, St. Paraskeva Pyanitsa is known as “l’nianisa” (flax woman), connecting her to spinning. She is the patroness of merchants and traders and marriage, and she defends her followers from a range of diseases.

In common with many Indo-European religions (Paraskevi is Friday in modern Greek; Freya = Friday; Venus=Vendredi), Friday is associated with Mokosh and St. Paraskeva Pyanitsa, especially Fridays before important holidays. Her feast day is October 28; and no one may spin, weave, or mend on that day.

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Source:

Hirst, K. Kris. “Mokosh, Slavic Mother Earth Goddess.” ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, http://thoughtco.com/mokosh-4773684

Bibliography

Detelic, Mirjana. “St. Paraskeve in the Balkan Context.” Folklore 121.1 (2010): 94–105.

Dragnea, Mihai. “Slavic and Greek-Roman Mythology, Comparative Mythology.” Brukenthalia: Romanian Cultural History Review 3 (2007): 20–27.

Marjanic, Suzana. “The Dyadic Goddess and Duotheism in Nodilo’s the Ancient Faith of the Serbs and the Croats.” Studia Mythologica Slavica 6 (2003): 181–204.

Matossian, Mary Kilbourne. “In the Beginning, God Was a Woman.” Journal of Social History 6.3 (1973): 325–43.

Monaghan, Patricia. “Encyclopedia of Goddesses & Heroines.” Novato CA: New World Library, 2014.

Zaroff, Roman. “Organized Pagan Cult in Kievan Rus’. The Invention of Foreign Elite or Evolution of Local Tradition?” Studia Mythologica Slavica (1999).

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