Marzanna (pronunciation here) is the vilified Slavic Goddess of Winter and Death. Why vilified, you ask? I'll tell you. But first, I'll tell you who Marzanna is and what she is currently known for and associated with. In the winter zine, which was just released this week, I include the following information on Marzanna along with my personal thoughts surrounding her vilification. I'm going to expand on that information here.
Marzanna is a Slavic triple-Goddess who goes by many other names in the Eastern European world. Thought to share many qualities with the Greek Goddess, Hecate, Marzanna is also known as Morana, Mara, Morena, and more. Her sister-Goddesses in her holy trinity are the Goddesses of summer and spring. Marzanna being the Goddess of winter completes the circle. I would tread carefully and respectfully when dealing with or calling upon the Goddess, Marzanna. She has many "negative" associations. A few of them being:
The demon you encounter in nightmares and causes sleep paralysis
A Goddess of fate who rides through the night, drinking the blood of men
A kitchen demon who hides in stoves and makes thumping noises throughout the night, warning that danger is near
A shape-shifter Goddess that likes to torment men throughout the night
The rituals associated with Marzanna involve the burning and drowning of a doll created in her image. This destruction of her effigy is meant to ward off the Goddess and banish winter from the land.
If you read this entire passage of Marzanna, you might decide that she's an evil energy or presence. I disagree. It's important to remember that the patriarchy paints Kali the Destroyer, Lilith, and Hecate as being evil and dangerous Goddesses of "dark magic". We know this is not true. We do know that these Goddesses are fearsome, powerful, and dangerous. But why should that automatically make them evil? Let's dig a little deeper with Marzanna before passing judgement upon her.
My opinion, based on previous research in regards to Goddess worship, patriarchy, and the depiction of women throughout history brings me to this conclusion:
Marzanna's ability to shape-shift, paired with the tales of her infiltrating the dreams of men and tormenting them throughout the night align perfectly with men's ultimate and inherent fear of women and their sexuality.
It's a common tale of of a "woman of the night" (read: whore). This could equate to a woman who is sexually liberated (again, read: whore). And, of course a woman who is liberated, creates havoc in the kitchen (where one might say women belong), and has the ability to drink the blood of men (taking their life-force) while riding freely throughout the night, is a woman who should be feared. If society depicts this woman as an evil being that deserves to be burned and drowned (like a witch), then society is telling all women where they belong. For that reason alone, I encourage you to engage respectfully with Marzanna. She has been wounded by the patriarchy for ages. Tread lightly, let her know that you feel her pain.
"Oh, Great Mother, lead me inward, down to the gate of my heart. Remove the years of countless shame and burden. Allow me to break free from the chains of expectation, judgement, and misogyny. Allow my ice cold heart and mind to soften and grow warm under your tender love and care. Allow me to be both soft and fierce. Allow me to make my own choices, to move freely throughout this world, and to be the master of my fate. Allow me to realize my own destiny and my own truths. Thank you for shouldering the burden for so long. Thank you for remaining fierce in the face of adversity and betrayal. I bear witness to your sacrifice and honor your strength. I offer you this gift of [dark chocolate, blood, red wine, black tea, nettles, hawthorn] to show you my gratitude and love. Blessed be."
Sources for additional reading: