I love to explore the Divine Feminine and write about Goddesses. For a list of those, click on the link: Goddesses. In order to become more balanced within ourselves and, through that, to bring greater balance and harmony to the world around us, we must find greater balance between the masculine and feminine energies within ourselves that each one of us possesses, regardless of physical gender or any other ways of self-identification.
The Ancient Earth Mother
To meet Mokosh, we must first delve a little into medieval Russian history, or better, the history of the Eastern Slavs and their first state, Kyivan Rus’. Their history had been first chronicled by a monk and a little later by another. However, as these original manuscripts are long lost, it is not certain who wrote what, especially as there was more added to it later up until the twelfth century.
These chronicles comprised a book that was called The Tale of Bygone Years. In it, the Earth Mother Goddess Mokosh is first mentioned. However, the first evidence of her worship dates back several hundred years before to the 7th century BCE. She is likely a form of the ancient Mati Syra Zemlya or 'Moist Mother Earth' and, like her. associated with water. That is quite a long time, considering this Goddess wasn’t mentioned before in writing. Then again, the ancient peoples of the Eastern Slavic region were steppe people and had an oral tradition. Being nomadic, they needed to travel light and vast libraries of books were rather incompatible with this way of life.
Mokosh, or Mokoš (there are many derivatives of her name and many places, as well as the River Mokosh are named after her), is a Goddess of moisture as the origin of her name (wet; moist) suggests. She is an Earth Goddess and one of the most popular in the Slavic pantheon. But although she stands for spring and budding life, there is much more to her. She is also the protector of women and women’s crafts, such as weaving and sheering. In this capacity, she is a Goddess of Fate, spinning the yarn of a person’s lifespan and all his or her good or ill fortune along the way, until in the end, much like with the Greek Three Fates, the thread is cut and the human earthly life is at an end.
Mokosh is not only a symbol for the budding of life, as in the Maiden aspect, but moreover, has the attributes of the triple Goddess combined in her as overseeing fertility and motherhood, and midwifery, the latter being the Crone aspect. She quite literally spans the entire life of a human being.
As Mokosh is associated with water and the earth, it is not surprising that she is also the guardian of wells and underground springs. A favourite offering to her, for example, was a hank of spun wool dropped into a well. Mokosh is the water in the earth, the groundwater, the life-giving moisture that enables the life of plants, animals and humans alike. Her many aspects embody fertility, femininity, prosperity, protection, health, good luck, abundance, and a successful future. Her Goddess symbol is often embroidered on the dresses and aprons of women, right over her sacral chakra, the seat of her fertility and creativity.
The Black Madonna
But Mokosh is not only the graceful bestower of blessings. She is also a fierce warrior protecting the weak and innocent from harm, which has made her particularly popular with women over the centuries. And when Christianity was enforced on the peoples of the Eastern Slav and Rus’ regions, her characteristics were merged with the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, resulting in the creation of the Black Madonna who is famous to this day in popular culture through the Catholic and Orthodox Christian religion. Mokosh was often depicted with black skin, as this stands for the fertile soil that is also moist. She is forever fertile and life-giving and creating. These aspects have been transferred to the Black Madonna in Christian times.
She is also the Goddess of Harvest, which doesn’t have to be a literal meaning. When you work with Mokosh, you are asked to look at what you have achieved, that your labours are coming to fruition and you can reap the fruits of your labour and celebrate that you have come to the end of a cycle. It is a time to celebrate yourself, that you are ready to let go of the old and start something new.
Whether this is a creative business project, an old, outdated behavioural pattern, or a negative belief system you are ready to let go off or bring into the next phase is irrelevant in this. You might actually be a farmer or have planted some vegetables in your garden and can harvest now, but it is not limited to these alone.
Mokosh reminds you that the earth is fertile and nurturing. It grows and supports you when mixed with water to make it fertile and turn it into good, healthy soil for you to dig in your roots and draw the strength and all you need in terms of physical needs being met and opportunities provided for you to grow in strength and successfully reach ever higher towards the sun.
Earth stands for grounding, for the physical realm and abundance and water are your emotions, that which animates you and gives you the drive to do whatever it is you decide to do. In overcoming fears and be guided by positive emotions, such as love, compassion, gratitude and the deep innate trust that your needs are being met and you are provided for, no matter what you do, you can find a new way of living your life that is in alignment with your desires and soul purpose, your true, authentic expression.
Mokosh is the loving mother who will battle fiercely to nourish and protect you. There is nothing she would not do for her beloved children, and thus, the strongest ally you could have has your back. Always. Isn’t that a beautiful and comforting thought? Feel secure in the knowledge that Nature loves you, the Earth provides for you and lack and scarcity are illusions born from your fears that you have learned through conditioning, experiences and traumas, but that have no real bearing unless you allow it.
The mythology of Mokosh is an interesting one, too. She is said to have two consorts, or husbands, varying from one account to the next. However, neither is invalid, as one is Perun, God of drought and fire and in this combination, she becomes dry and fiery, personifying the woman in her higher and faithful aspect; whereas in association with Veles, she becomes dry and frozen, personifying the woman in her lower and unfaithful aspect. Stripping this off the patriarchal mindset, this means less that a woman is devout in her fidelity to a man, but rather to herself, her authenticity and her ideals, although one does not have to exclude the other, naturally.
In my romance novel Sealed Brothers, the female MC Haylee falls in love with Austin, a US Navy Seal whom she battles fiercely to protect from certain death. While doing this, his family flies in one by one and finally, she is looking after all of them in one way or another.
However, this isn’t one-sided. Her love interest’s brother Ash is caring as a brother should in his own way, supporting her, while also receiving help from her. However, at one point, Haylee has to face the fact that loyalty to another person would mean being disloyal to herself and her own feelings. This battle is waging within her and she causes not only herself some pain, but also others in the process. However, when she makes up her mind, things finally fall into place around her as well.
Seeing these two husbands in Mokosh’s mythology, they are aspects within our own psyche, it is clear that one drives our passions and highest aspirations, whereas the other is the fear that freezes us into stagnation, immobility and creative infertility. It paralyses us to the point where we merely subsist and survive on a purely physical level, rather than creating a life of wonder, joy and deeper fulfilment, whichever form this may take on an individual basis.
Her animal familiar is the Horse and she is often depicted standing between two horsemen. Her symbols are rain, which is believed to be her milk, and Mokosh stones, which are pebbles in the shape of breasts. These were collected and rubbed while thinking of milk when there was a drought in order to entice the Goddess to let it rain again.
She is an ethical Goddess, the keeper of morality and of good conduct. When you need to deal with business or legal matters, her energy can assist you to find a solution that serves in the highest interest, not only you, but all concerned because her powers keep you honest and fair, as well as protective of those who cannot help themselves.
When making a pledge, promise or vow with your hand on the ground, touching the earth, this promise is binding and sacred, as it is made in her name, the Mother of all without whom there is no life.
Being a Goddess who also stands for divination, she is associated with the Russian witch Baba Yaga who appears in fairy tales and lives in a house with chicken legs in the woods. She helps young men and women with gifts of magical power. And women who practised divination were called mokoshes.
However, she is also the groundwater which stands for the hidden aspects in our psyche, the feelings we don’t allow to come to the surface and that guide our actions when we function on autopilot. It is worth exploring these deeper layers of our psyche in order to heal and embrace them, turning them into powers we can harness to shape our reality into an ever more fulfilling life.
In her black aspect, she is not only a symbol of fertile soil but also of her association with the womb, caves and descending to the Underworld deep within the earth, in which we are forced to face fears, past trauma, nightmares and death (metaphorical and physical). It is only within the caverns deep within her dark womb that we are forced to face and learn to overcome and heal from that which has hurt us, only to re-emerge or be born anew into the world – changed, stronger and wiser.