Mokosh

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Mokosh
Life-giving and life-taking, fertility and moisture
Obec Mokošín- Bohyně Mokoš.jpg
Modern wooden statue in the Czech Republic
Symbol Friday
Consort None
Roman equivalent Paraskevi of Rome
Christian equivalent Paraskevi of Iconium, Virgin Mary

Mokoš (Old Russian Мокошь) is a Slavic goddess mentioned in the Primary Chronicle, protector of women's work and women's destiny.[1] She watches over spinning and weaving, shearing of sheep, and protects women in child birth. Mokosh is the handmaiden of Mat Zemlya.

Mokoš was the only female deity whose idol was erected by Vladimir the Great in his Kiev sanctuary along with statues of other major gods (Perun, Hors, Dažbog, Stribog and Simargl).

Etymology and origin[edit]

Mokosh means moisture. According to Max Vasmer, her name is derived from the same root as Slavic words mokry 'wet' and moknut(i) 'get wet'. She may have originated in the northern Finno-Ugric tribes of the Vogul, who still have the divinity Moksha.

Myth[edit]

Mokosh depicted with male sexual organs. Embroidery pattern ca 19th century.

Mokoš was one of the most popular Slavic deities and the great Mother Goddess of East Slavs and Eastern Polans. She is a wanderer and a spinner. She has no consort.

Archeological evidence of Mokosh dates back to the 7th century BC.[2] As late as the 19th century, she was worshipped as a force of fertility and the ruler of death. Worshipers prayed to Mokosh-stones or breast-shaped boulders that held power over the land and its people.[3]

Mokosh depicted with uplifted arms and flanked by horses, as creator of celestial bodies.

In Eastern Europe and especially in modern day Russia, Mokosh is still popular as a powerful life giving force and protector of women. Villages are named after her. She shows up in embroidery, represented as a woman with uplifted hands and flanked by two plow horses.[4] Sometimes she is shown with male sexual organs, as the deity in charge of male potency.[5]

In Slavic mythology, a common theme includes a duel between a storm god and a serpent. In some instances, the abduction of Mokosh causes the struggle.[6]

According to Boris Rybakov, in his 1987 work Paganism of Ancient Rus[7] Mokosh is represented on one of the sides of the Zbruch Idol.

Christianization[edit]

Warning from the Christian church against worshipping Mokosh

During Christianization of Kievan Rus' there were warnings issued against worshipping Mokoš. She was replaced by the cult of the Virgin Mary and St. Paraskevia.[8] The name of the latter can be translated as "Friday", the day associated with females and female deities; in Slavic tradition, it was devoted to Mokoš. Probably because of associations with Mokoš, St. Paraskevia became one of the most popular and beloved saints in Russia.

Celebration[edit]

The traditional day of celebration is on the last Friday in October. It marks the day that winter work begins. A traditional celebration includes a double circle dance where dancers of the outside circle go clockwise, and dancers of the inner circle go counterclockwise. The outer circle represents life and the inner circle represents death.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Russian folk belief By Linda J. Ivantis
  2. ^ Harald Haarmann (2008). "[1]". Introducing the Mythological Crescent: Ancient Beliefs and Imagery p. 98
  3. ^ Patricia Monaghan (2010). "[2]". Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines p. 516
  4. ^ Russian folk belief
  5. ^ Mother Russia: The Feminine Myth in Russian Culture By Joanna Hubbs p. 26
  6. ^ Pushkin's Historical Imagination by Svetlana Evdokimova p. 216
  7. ^ Boris Rybakov (1987). "Святилища, идолы и игрища". Язычество Древней Руси (Paganism of Ancient Rus) (in Russian). Moscow: Nauka. 
  8. ^ Vyacheslav Vsevolodovich Ivanov, Vladimir Toporov. Mokoš./ В. В. Иванов, В. Н. Топоров - «Мокошь». Мифы народов мира, т. II. М.:Российская энциклопедия, 1994.
  9. ^ "Параскева-Пятница и древнерусская богиня Мокошь". ЮжноУралец. 10 November 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2014.