Winter Gods

I know that technically it is spring, but the weather has been bordering on bitter cold–more like winter than spring. The cold is not my favorite thing, but at least wintertime makes for a good opportunity for me to wear multiple layers. So I can stay warm during the bitter cold that winter brings. This also gives me time to think, because I’m wrapped up in warm blankets and drinking hot drinks while lots of time to ponder things comes to me.

Winter gods came to mind for me–especially Marzanna. Well, or Morana in Czech.

I’ve been dealing with some cold and the general illness that always seems to strike me in the wintertime. Just in general, I don’t do too well in winter. I do get sick more often, but outside that I actually like winter. It’s pretty, spooky and above all else: quiet.

If it weren’t obvious, I love peace and quiet. Which means that the quiet that comes with the outdoors in winter is glorious. And it does make for some pretty excellent photo opportunities. I’m going to plan better next winter to get out more and take more photos–because there is something I just really like about the cold and just how eerie things can look while you’re out and about.

Anyway, I know that technically we’re in spring, but it still feels like it’s wintertime and like the winter gods are still in charge, at least here where I live. Sure, we’ve had a few bright days of spring, but for the most part, it’s still cold (just no snow). Which makes me kind of giggle, because we’re a full month past the traditional time when one would burn or drown Marzanna. So, technically, spring should be well on its way, and Marzanna well banished until her coming again next year so that winter came to end.

Brings up a question: just why is it still so cold?

I might say that perhaps Marzanna didn’t want to go, just yet. Or perhaps just that the seasons are completely wrong. Who knows, there. It really is just a strange situation for the weather here. Regardless, the wintertime weather persists and we are all stuck dealing with it. I still have my winter coats out for the bitterly cold mornings.

Winter traditions though, those are interesting involving Marzanna. Drowning rituals–drowning an effigy of her to signal the end of winter and usher in spring. Or burning and drowning. Regardless, there are long traditions of using effigies to end wintertime and usher in the spring for warmer, better weather.

Though, I don’t think that most people nowadays taking part in these rituals actually believe that the effigy they are drowning is a goddess, nor do I think they actually care. These are more fun traditions to celebrate nowadays; certainly not actually working with the goddess for, oh say 99.99% of the people who do such traditions. Quite frankly, the traditions are very fun to watch, and some are very colorful. That means that there are a lot of people partaking who are not believers. Still, there’s a lot of energy that all these people bring up, which no doubt boosts the effectiveness of the ritual and tradition.

It is almost a month after this though. Because modern time: these rituals go on around the spring equinox and that puts them right about March 20-22 usually. So, still cold but it should usually be the turning time for the weather and seasons to change over towards lengthening days.

I didn’t do anything this year (just too much going on with work and too much stress to plan something), which I am sad about. I want to plan better to do a small ritual next year. Life sometimes just gets in the way, and you have to change the plans. This year I just didn’t have any time or money to actually do anything, so therefore I’ll just have to plan it out and prepare much sooner for next time.

But for winter gods, Marzanna is the quintessential one for Slavs. She’s winter incarnate for a lot of beliefs. So inevitably, when you mention winter, she is the one to think of. Even if there’s some real ambiguity about who or what she originally was (was she a goddess or not? or was she just a personification of winter that was no deity?–that’s another post, I think), there’s no denying that she’s become indelibly attached to winter, to winter traditions and in common folklore.

For me, the whole idea of Marzanna and winter reminds me of Persephone and winter in Greek mythology. She goes to the underworld & triggers winter; when she leaves then the spring, summer and fall exist. Of course in Slavic belief it is the opposite: Marzanna roams free in winter and goes back to the underworld to end the season. That’s not the part that reminds me of the similarity though, I’m more focused on the fact that the winter season is the sore thumb sticking out, and it involves a female figure changing state to affect the huge change in the weather and season.

This kind of weather makes for an interesting parallel. I know technically that it is spring and that it should be warmer weather and warmer times. But there’s still the clinging-on, as though winter is not yet ready to leave us.

Still, I really hope that winter goes away soon. It’s time for warm weather again; even if I do like wintertime quite a bit more than the summer that is going to be coming up fast upon us.

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I'm a bibliophile who loves collecting books. Definite cat person. Amateur historian and major geek, who loves all things Tolkien and Star Trek. I'm also fluent in German.

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