Devana

 

Ana Milojković Omi - DevanaThe goddess most frequently associated with the Greek Artemis and the Roman Diana. In a view of the fact that Devana and Diana are very similar names, it is considered that the Slavs took this deity from the Romans. Her long name, Dziewona, or Dzevana as the Poles used to call her, is even more reminiscent of the name of the Roman goddess of hunt, which is another argument in favour of the theory that Devana is not an originally Slavic deity. However, Devana is a name of Aryan origin, which offers a possibility that Devana and Diana are just two different variants of the same name. Which one? Old Aryans believed in Devases, who were sons of Dayus, the father of the sky, meaning, gods themselves. Words deus and theos, which also signify god, came from the Sanskrit term deva. Names of numerous gods have their origin in this term: Dionysos, Zeus, Diona, Dana (Celtic supreme goddess), and, of course, Diana and Devana. In this way, Diana and Devana would represent the primordial supreme goddess who later lost her supreme power and became one of the gods. The belief in the primordial goddess similar to Devana has existed in these territories from times immemorial. Inhabitants of the Balkans bowed to Forest Mother, the mistress of forests and its creatures. Diana and Devana are those forest goddesses, protectors of wild animals and goddesses of hunt. If we perceive Devana as an aspect of the pagan Supreme Goddess, who appears through three phases of the moon and three phases of a woman's life as the Virgin, the Mother, and the Old woman, we shall see that the first aspect, that of the Virgin, is, by no means, Devana's aspect. The very name Devana comprises this quality, for she is deva, or in English: a maiden, a virgin or a young girl. The forest goddess certainly signifies a woman with something wild and unruly inside of her, as she has not given herself to a man. This trimorphic goddess division certainly does not exist with the Slavs, at least not in its original form, but it will be easier if the Slavic system is completed with the Celtic and some parallels are drawn between the two kinds of paganism. More details about the Slavic supreme goddess and her possible triple aspect can be found in a book by Aleksandra Bajić The Great Goddess of the Slavs.
What else can we say about Devana? Her sacred animal is a mare, and Devana herself is considered to be a goddess-mare. On Mount Devica, which is obviously connected to Devana, a rock with a picture of a mare was found. Aleksandra Bajić is of an opinion that Devana appears in Serbian epic poems as the mother of Miloš Obilić, whose last name – Obilić originates in Kobilić (from Serbian kobila, which means mare; -ić is a suffix for Serbian family names). Miloš, thus, represents Jarilo, Devana's and Veles's son.
What was the marriage of Devana and Veles like? In the begining, the goddess was opposed to this marriage, however, Veles found a way to placate her. He turned himself into a basil flower and thus soothed a bit wild Devana. As Veles's wife, Devana appears in Russian fairy tales as Vasilisa, a beautiful wise woman who helps her husband to win numerous challanges. Apart from being mostly the forest goddess, Devana is associated with rivers andlakes. Her trees are a hazel tree, and also a willow.  The Willow Day, a holiday celebrated in the early spring, is dedicated to this goddess. Anyhow, Spasoje Vasiljev deems Devana a goddess of spring, which is the reason why we can consider her to be similar to, if not identical with Vesna.

 

Vesna Kakaševski

translated by Jelena Salipurović