In ancient Slav mythology, Vesna was the goddess of spring and fertility. She was in charge of spring time, morning and the birth of everything alive. She is also known as Zhiva, Diva and Devana.
Morana is the goddess of night, winter and death. She is most frequently portrayed as a beautiful woman with long black hair, pale white face and wolf like fang and claws. All Slavs know Morana. She is also known as Morena, Marena, Marana, Marzhana and Marzhena.
Vesna and Morana
Vesna is Morana’s opposite. Humans consider it completely good and fond of all people. Even though both goddesses as such are beautiful, Morana is pale and in a way represents beauty in decay while Vesna’s rose cheeks and luscious looks represent spring. People fear Morana and adore Vesna.
They don’t even exist in the same place at the same time. Only when Morana and her winter leave, Stribog brings Vesna on “wind’s wings”. In this context, Stribog was called “that who take one to bring another”. Vesna represents the coming of life after winter hibernation and the return of light after a period of darkness.
Snow, gale, hail and all of winter things come from Morana, the goddess of death of human, animal and plant life. Her three main attributes are winter death and darkness.
A widespread ritual of burning Morana existed. At the end of winter many of the Slav tribes made a rag and straw doll that symbolized Morana and burned her to help Vesna, the spring, to come faster.
Polish Slavs called Vesna Devana with the added “title” of the goddess of fertility and sometimes even the goddess of the hunt. Apart from Vesna and Devana, the same goddess was also known as: Zhivana, Zhiva, Siva, Diva, Deva, Devica, Danica etc. The name Lada is a lot more mysterious than the ones mentioned just now. After Slavs converted to Christianity, Vesna’s domain was split between St. Petka and Virgin Mary.
Vesna is portrayed as always smiling, beautiful, naked and barefoot. Sometimes using only a few leaves of fern and some flowers for clothes. Her hair is long, almost to her knees and various different flowers are in her hair as decoration. 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 and 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.
Super interesting. It’s very difficult to find information on the indigenious traditions of people in the Balkan countries. Thanks for writing this!
Thank you so much! It can be so hard to find information like this. Btw, in modern Russian “vesna” still means spring. Not sure about other slavic languages, but this does show just how revered the goddess was.