|Life-giving and life-taking, fertility and moisture|
Modern wooden statue in the Czech Republic
|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. She watches over spinning and weaving, shearing of sheep, and protects women in child birth. Mokosh is the handmaiden of Mat Zemlya.
Etymology and origin
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.
Archeological evidence of Mokosh dates back to the 7th century BC. 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.
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. Sometimes she is shown with male sexual organs, as the deity in charge of male potency.
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. 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.
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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mokosh.|
- Russian folk belief By Linda J. Ivantis
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