Site Index



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 of Latvia.

Joda mate
The mother of the devil.

Jurus mate
("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 names.

Lauku mate
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.

Lopu mate
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 for Maria.

Meza mate
("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
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.

Velu mate
("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).

Zeme 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, and Velu.

Zemes mate
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.



Lowchens of Australia is proudly sponsored by Oz Show Dogs Community Forum & Dog Directory. Click here to visit!

E-mail Us to report a broken link!

Home | Site Menu | Grooming | Eyes & Ears | Whelping Chart | Vaccinations
Canine Health | Teeth | Diet & Nutrition | Snake Bites & Vitamin C | Canine Skin
Diseases & Defects | Ticks & Gremlins | Breeding & Whelping | Alternative Health

Back to the Top of the Page!

Chinaroad Line
© Copyright 2000-2008 Chinaroad Löwchen. All Rights Reserved.
Text/Research by Dominic Marks. Editing/html page design by April Ingram