Morana - Ana Milojković Omi
            Morana was the Slavic goddess of winter and death. As the goddess of winter, she was never popular among the Old Slavs, which is understandable if we have in mind the climate in which they used to live. Morana was a long and cold winter, a winter that could bring death through famine and extreme cold, that could cause disease and massive death of the cattle. Her arrival was therefore always expected with fear and her departure was celebrated with a lot of noise and cheer. Her complete opposite was goddess Vesna, whom the people used to welcome with festivals and jubilation, at the same time joyfully witnessing the departure of Morana – the winter. Numerous rituals were connected with seeing Morana off. People would most frequently make a doll representing this goddess and then ritually destroy it. They made the doll from straw or switches, and then beat it with their hoes. After that they either threw it into the water or burned it. There was another ritual related to Morana, that was performed in the month of March. That was the so-called mackare (maska = mask), when a masked group of people used to gather in order to scare Morana and drive her away.
            Let us now deal with the relations between Morana and other Slavic deities. Stories concerning these relations are of obscure origin and disputable authenticity, but we will on this occasion take them as relevant sources on Slavic mythology, since they offer a wealth of information on Morana's nature. According to one of these stories, Dazbog, the Sun-god, went to the underworld called Nav in search of his wife Zlata Maja, but there instead of her he met Morana, who seduced him. Since after some time she became bored with Dazbog and found another lover – Jula Crnobog, Morana decided to poison Dazbog, but he was saved by Ziva. Then he burned Morana and banished her back to Nav. This story perfectly fits the process of the Sun’s movement throughout the year, because the Sun, according to the belief of every pagan people, spends the winter in the underworld, called Nav by the Slavs. His mistress is then the winter herself, and she tries to prevent him from leaving the underworld by giving him the drink of oblivion. But Morana cannot rule forever, so at the end of the story Dazbog is released and she is destroyed. Another myth brings Morana in connection with Voden, making them a divine couple of the underworld. Voden (also called Moran) and Morana drown people in their
Morana - Ana Milojković Omi
dark waters, so the Slavs tried to propitiate them by sacrificial offerings. As a water goddess, Morana also appeared as Modruna, a witch that the Slavs living in the Urals believed to inhabit the ponds. She usually appeared as an ugly old woman, but to those who showed no fear before her she appeared as a beautiful young girl. The name of the Morava River has some similarities with the name Morana, another fact that supports the theory that Morana was a water deity. The argument is even stronger if we know that the Slavs thought of water as a hiding place of dark forces and a connection with the underworld – Nav.
            Morana was described as a woman of dark hair and a terrifying appearance. A similar description was used for another creature of quite the same nature – Kuga (kuga = the plague). Kuga was probably just one of the aspects of Morana. Another was Mora – a female demon that attacked people by night and sat on their chest causing nightmares. Witches were also connected with Morana, like many other demonic beings. But we cannot claim that Morana was an entirely negative goddess. No pagan system has a deity with such characteristics, since the unrealistic division between the absolute good and absolute evil came only with Christianity. In Morana we have an example of how our ancestors worshipped even something that did not bring them good, but rather made them scared and terrified.


by Vesna Kakasevski

translated by Snježana Todorović