Finding the Divine in the Polar Depression
It is very, very cold where I am. The temperature catapults from below zero to a whopping, warm, 15 degrees. Salt covers our cars and we track it in on carpets; so much so, that one colleague commented that she felt like we worked at a local salt mining facility. It is very hard work to keep warm, both inside and out. It is far from picturesque, though sometimes the sun does shine and make the dirty, grey snow shiny and inviting. Go outside and the wind is bitter and cold. The media calls it the Polar express and I call it the Polar Depression.
Each quarter, my circle has “sponsors,” as a way to learn about different gods and goddesses. Each member is invited to explore these gods (or not) in their own way. Because the winter started early and harshly, I serendipitously found myself exploring the landscapes and gods of the Slavic countries. I found richness and harshness in their gods, particularly in the winter. Our winter goddess is harsh, strong, demanding, and powerful while her husband is sweet, comforting, and supportive. The polarities in the gods reflect the polarities of life in the upper part of the world. Winter demands strength, preparation, and no mistakes while spring is precious, brief, and prized. Neither is better than the other, it just is.
Morana (Morena, Marzanna) is not a beloved goddess but one that is feared and respected. Pronounced “mah-rah-nah,” she is portrayed as a woman with long black hair and a terrifying presence. She is the goddess of winter, death, and witchcraft, and sometimes the goddess of the harvest. In a land of privation and scarcity, she helps souls journey to the underworld and she provides the magic of survival. In the spring, a doll or effigy of her is constructed and either burned or drowned to celebrate the triumph of spring over winter. In March, a festival of masks is held. Villagers will don frightening masks to scare Morana away.
She was the daughter of the thunder God, Perun, and her twin brother and husband was Jarilo. She is associated with the Sun, while he is associated with the Moon and springtime.
The Charge of the Goddess Morana
Hear now the Charge of the Goddess Morana,
I who am called Marzana, Mara, Mora, Marmora
And many other names.
Celebrate the season of winter with me!
Face it with courage, strength, and endurance.
Know that scarcity and bleakness cannot defeat you
For my magic and power is deep in your soul.
Look at the unloved part of your soul
Know that I find it terrifying in its beauty
And I love it despite your displeasure.
Look at your unloveliness with compassion and strength
And you will find love and beauty.
How could it not?
It is a part of you.
Know this wisdom, for it comes from the heart of what terrifies you:
It is not necessary for others to understand or love this thing
Only you must.
And in that there is beauty, power, and mystery.
Blessed be from the coldest heart of winter.