Goddesses of Latvia
The goddess of gardens. One of 'the mothers' mentioned in Paul Einhorn's
17th century texts describing Latvians and their life (e.g., Historia
Lettica, 1649). After listing the nameless gods the Latvians are said
to have worshipped "in the past" comes another list of deities
presiding over more or less practical aspects of everyday life, mostly
in form of "the mothers" of particular objects and places. Proves
the theoretical assertion that the minor deities are invoked in everyday
life, while the supreme god - only in case of some serious misfortune
(see Mircea Eliade's works).
Dekla is a deity of fortune and destiny. One of the first mentioning
of her is found in Paul Einhorn's "Historia Lettica..." (1649),
spelled Daekla. She functions together with Laima but in general she
is less mentioned and described. Her functions are not as clear and
they double those of Laima. If Laima has more general power influencing
human life and destiny, Dekla seems to be the goddess of beginning as
it is etymologized through the verb deht having meaning "to make;
to create". Still also this interpretation is hypothetical. Dekla
is found in very few folklore texts, mostly those from the western part
The mother of the devil.
("sea mother") The goddess of the sea. She is one of the numerous
mothers (see: Mates). She is said to be worshipped by fishermen and sailors,
plays an important role in healing by magic, especially to stop bleeding.
She is an obscure goddess and rarely mentioned in song texts, still she
is among the Mothers mentioned in 17th century texts. Whether the ritual
demand of keeping the details in secret has led to these rituals of worship
being gradually lost is a reasonable speculation. One is still well known
among the Livs (a Finnish people living in the coastal areas).
The goddess of fate and destiny, similar to Laima and Dekla. Much less
mentioned in the song texts (just 17 texts in Latvju Dainas), still used
to build the "three fates" concept. May be of local origin,
known mostly in just some western districts of Latvia.
(Laime) The personification of fate, as good luck or as bad luck. The
name is similar to laime - "luck", with both grammatical
variants traceable in the folklore material. The name of this deity is
different as referred to in different sources. She assists childbirth,
therefore is honored by both maidens and married wives, and controls the
most important events of a person's life, such as birth, marriage and
death. A person may mention or even condemn the respective Laime, it may
be understood that the concept 1) was in stage of turning into a synonym
for liktenis - 'fate', 2) this deity is understood as opposable, although
the judgment cannot be affected in any way. One of the first appearances
of Laima in a document is again Paul Einhorn's Historia Lettica (1649).
She is also the deity of pregnant women and can ensure a good pregnancy
as long as she is in the house. Frequently mentioned together in the song
texts with Dievs, in some cases God's horses are outside her door (meaning
suitors arriving at a maiden's house), but it is a very weak motif among
those of the heavenly wedding. She is the central one of the alleged trinity
of Laimas or destiny deities, together with her sisters Karta and Dekla.
There are texts mentioning 'three Laimas', although not giving their particular
The goddess of fields and fertility to whom farmers sacrificed to secure
an abundant harvest. One of 'the mothers', may be compared to dievini
- the minor gods, who still are the immediate rulers of human life. One
of the few "mothers" listed in Paul Einhorn's texts in the first
half of the 17th century.
The goddess of cattle, one of "the Mothers". In some cases a
synonym for Mara/Marsava.
In certain ethnographic regions (Western Latvia) Mara has the same functions
as Laima. Her name may be derived from Marsava, a protective deity of
cattle. Stribingius mentions a "cow deity" by the name Moschel,
that may also be corrupted form of Marsava. In the dievturiba she
is made the highest female deity - a ruler of the material world, a feminine
counterpart of Dievs as the highest concept; one of the heavenly trinity
(Dievs, Mara, Laima), with all the 'Mothers' being just her avatars. Several
scholars believe that this deity is to a great extent a result of Christian
syncretism, as proven by older dictionaries giving Mara as a translation
("mother of the forest") The Latvian protecting goddess of the
forest and the creatures who dwell in it. Contrarily, she is also worshipped
by hunters and woodcutters.
Goddess of destiny. Her name means "misfortune", the opposite
of Laima, the goddess of good fortune.
(Latvia) Ragana ("witch") is a seeress who reveals the future
and knows how to control supernatural powers. Later she is degraded to
a witch bringing misfortune to humans and animals, very likely by Christian
diazotization. At the same time the semantic attitude in the word is not
entirely negative. Etymology comes from redzet - 'to see'.
Saules meitas or meita are the daughters of the sun, Saule. Sometimes
it is argued that the notion is used to speak about the sun itself (Biezais
opinion of it being just Genitivus apellativus meaning "the Virgin/Maiden
Sun"). Most of the appearances are in some connection with Dieva
deli, their lovers, or some other suitor(s), with the heavenly wedding
being the main myth for them to appear in. This myth, from the perspective
of some scholars, could be the Latvian myth showing the course of time
in general and the year in particular. Some astronomers tend to explain
the names of the deities as meant to denote constellations.
("mother of veli") The goddess of death and ruler of the realm
of the dead. She receives the dead, but the living always try to deceive
her in order to stay in this world for longer. The veli are supposed to
be her children, although they are more likely the souls of the dead.
She might be taken as a synonym to the Sun in this world (the parallels
are between "si saule" - 'this sun, this world' and "vinsaule"
or "aizsaule" - 'that world, the world behind', which is the
realm of Velu Mate).
Creator of earth. According to late tradition she had from forty to seventy
sisters, all of whom were related in some way to fertility. All their
names ended with the suffix -mate, which means "mother". Some
of her sisters: Briezu, Dziparu, Joda, Kapu, Laimas, Lauka, Lauku, Lazda,
Linu, Mera, Meza, Naves, Ogu, Piegulas, Pirts, Saules, Sene, Smilsu, Veja,
Zemes mate ("mother of the soil") is concerned with the welfare
of the people and makes the fields fertile. She is also sometimes identified
with Velu mate, for she too rules over the dead in the underworld. Einhorn
giving the first description does not say anything regarding the latter.