Makosh, Mokosh, Mokos, Moksha, Makusha, Mokusha – all these are names for one of the chief and most famous Slavic Goddesses. Her name is commonly mentioned in historical sources, as well as folklore (if an unsheared sheep rubs some of its fleece off, they say “Mokusha cut it off”, Mokusha is also another name for a domestic spirit Kikimora).
This horned headdress makes many believe that Makosh is also the ancient Goddess of the Moon, wearing a crescent Moon upon Her head.
A spindle and a distaff are some of the most famous attributes of the Great Mokosh. With these instruments, the Goddess spins fate, turns time forward, and measures how much time each of us gets to spend living. By tying knots on the Thread of Life, the Great Makosh marks the important events in people’s lives; tying two threads together signifies a union between the two people, and so forth. It would be no surprise that the art of “nauznichestvo” (tying of magical knots) still popular in Northern Russian villages is considered the sacred craft of Makosh, and any kind of rituals performed with a spindle are also dedicated to this Goddess.
However, it is not snakes that are considered Makosh’s sacred animals – it is cats. “A woman and a cat and stay in the house – a man and a dog stay outside.” A Russian saying states. Just like the “khatnya bogynya” (household Goddess), cats prefer warmth and coziness of human homes to the whims of weather outdoors. In Northern Russian spiritual tradition, striped (tabby) cats are considered Makosh’s messengers, as their skin reminds of life – the interchanging light and dark stripes. Some researchers see the common root in Russian word for cat “koshka” and Makosh… Other animals sometimes attributed to Makosh are spiders – the eternal weavers, and on some images Makosh Herself is portrayed with six arms – a hard-working woman for whom one set of arms is simply not enough.
Silver is a metal of Makosh. Crystals that may be used when meditating or working with Makosh and Her energies are pearl, azurite, sapphire (blue variety), and charoite. Some consider crystal quartz and moonstone Her sacred stones, as well. Makosh is believed to preside over fall season, and Her main holiday occurs in the fall.
At this time, Slavic women finished all their work in the fields and gardens and focused on processing flax: soaking it, beating it to soften it up, separating the fibers, combing them, and finally spinning. For the first time that year, women would gather for a bee, with songs and tales, and laughter and dreams of better future. Soon after this, a wedding season would begin, and again the goddess of Fates would be tying the two sacred threads together joining the couples not for once, but for life.
Goddess of Fate, or Mother Earth, wise and merciful or strict and unkind, patroness of women and their work, “khatnya bogynya” Makosh was never completely erased from people’s minds, and the end of October-early November, even though marked in calendars with the names of Christian Saints, still remained dedicated to this Goddess, with its “Viewing of Flax” and Paraskeva Friday, spinning bees, and a long white thread spun in the evening by the window.
May your own fate be merciful to you.
Mokos was a goddess of the Kiev pantheon. Her statue was erected by prince Vladimir in 980 AD on a hill above Kiev, but it was pulled down by the same prince eight years later, after he converted to Christianity. How was Mokos represented? In northern Russia she was imagined as a woman having a big head and long arms. Vollmer, the historian, mentions Mokos’s statue representing a figure put together from parts of different animals. Owing to that, Mokos was considered to be the goddess of ugliness, pains, troubles and human passion, but this interpretation has no foundation in the traditional ways of representing Mokos.
What can we learn from etymological analysis of Mokos’s name? The name of this goddess is most frequently connected with the word mek (= soft), so she could be related to something that is soft. Since she was the spinners’ goddess and the protector of the sheep, it is most probable that the adjective “soft” refers to fleece. Mokos could also be connected with the adjective mokro (= wet), which makes some authors identify her with Majka Vlazna Zemlja. This identification is certainly based on one of Mokos’s characteristics – she was also seen as the goddess of fertility. The rain was therefore sometimes referred to as “Mokos’s milk”. The term Mokos is also used in Finland, where it can usually be found as a surname. The Finns are thought to have taken this name over from the Slavs, or to be more precise, those whose last name is Mokos are thought to be of Slavic origin.
Mokos is sometimes identified with Vida, Svarog’s wife. She was, along with Svarog, the creator of mankind, and was consequently connected with the white bee, Slavic mythical ancestor. The bee is therefore Mokos’s holy animal, along with the sheep and the snake. Her plants are lime, flax and “kantarion”. Lime is of course related to the first woman made of lime-wood, created by Mokos. According to Cajkanovic, flax is a plant frequently used in casting spells, whereas “kantarion” is used in treating problems connected with female reproductive organs.
Mokos’s characteristics were transferred onto St. Petka. St. Petka is also the protector of women, and it is interesting to know that Vlach women frequently mention this saint while performing magic rituals. Some of them pray to St. Petka to help them perform the ritual, and she even appeared to a man to welcome him into a witch cult. Mokos’s holy day is Friday – women must not spin on that day, otherwise Mokos will punish them. The festival dedicated to this goddess was celebrated some time between 25th October and 1st November, depending on which date happened to be Friday. As we know, St Petka’s Day is celebrated on 27th October, and that holiday is fixed to that date, although it probably shouldn’t be because Friday is dedicated to female deities Freya (Friday) and Venus (venerdì). On Mokos’s holiday people would go to a lime-tree wood and make offerings usually consisting of herbs and various vegetables, but there is also a record that they sometimes sacrificed birds to this goddess.
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