Morena (also known as Morana, Marzanna, Mora) was a Slavic goddess of winter, night and death. Although she is generally referred to as a goddess, some scholars consider her a demon. She symbolized the destructive power of nature. Her name most likely derived from the Old Slavic root mar or mor, which is associated with death.
Some scholars believe there may be a relationship between Morena and the Roman god Mars, Roman goddess Ceres, and Greek goddess Hecate. Some of the first written documents on Morena liken her to Persephone. There are also hypotheses linking Marena with Devana/Vesna, a goddess of forests, hunting, spring, and the creative power of nature. In some aspects she is also associated with the Mare, a female demon that caused nightmares. Witches are often associated with her as well.
According to one of the myths, Mara - is the daughter of a black snake that guards the transition of Kalinov Bridge of Reveal in Nav, and the granddaughter of the Lizard, the father of universal evil and lord of the underworld. Her husband is Koschey (one of the images Chernobog), which the father is her brother. From his birth to death goddess daughters Ledyanitsu, sickness, Aqueous, Zamora, Snezhana and other related crop failures, dying, cattle plague, etc.
Slavic beliefs in relation to this character has a dual character. In some myths, the goddess of death appears as a hunched old woman with her long hair and bushy or tall woman, dressed in rags and black. In other tales, Madder - a beautiful dark-haired girl in white or red clothing, which sometimes appears among the ripening grain. From this we can conclude that Slavic goddess of death was neither good nor evil. For the ancestors, she was not so much the epitome of a nightmare as the fate from which depended on changes in the lives of the inhabitants of the house. On the one hand, it brings death, but at the same time she also gives a new life. Marena is a favorite pastime needlework. And the ancient Slavs believed that she uses in the yarn threads of fate living creatures on earth. Depending on how they are woven into the pattern created goddess to occur or that turning points in life. And if the thread is cut, then the person or other living creature will cease to exist.
Slavic goddess of death can stop the passage of time, both locally and globally. Its possibilities are endless great: it controls life and death not just ordinary beings, but also of the immortal gods.In addition, Mara - a great magician, able to drastically change the world, but only for a short time.
In honor Marena has been taken to build temples.The goddess of death had several permanent seats in which she paid tribute honors. At the same time, the rituals took place not just in the open position while the carved wooden idol. In addition, for the same purpose on earth is sometimes installed straw image of Mary, overlaid with stones around. After the ritual was completed, everything is disassembled and either burned or thrown away into the river.
In Old Slavic lands, winter came with the first snowfall, which usually occurred sometime in November, and snow cover tended to last well into March or even April. Winters were long, harsh and extremely cold. Such conditions made living and surviving difficult. Winter could mean death through famine, extreme cold, and disease. It could cause death of livestock, resulting in loss of livelihood and food. Therefore, it is no wonder the Slavs felt a need for a deity for this difficult period.
Although her myth is not well known and still debated among scholars, she is remembered to this day with the folk tradition of burning and drowning of her effigy at the end of winter to welcome spring (usually on March 21st). A straw figure was made, which was ceremoniously carried through the village in a procession and taken to the nearest river to be burned and drowned. Yelling at her was often involved.
Water has the power or renewal and rebirth. The sacrifice of Morena brings about the birth of spring. The aim of this ritual was to ensure early arrival of summer, abundance of crops, protection against plague and death, and a good appetite in livestock.
The Slavs did not have a clear division of deities into good or bad. Morena reflected the natural cycle of life and rebirth. She is often referred to as a personification of Mother Earth. Although this time of year isn’t very pleasant, it is a necessary time of slowing down, resting, and looking within – all enabling renewal or rebirth.