MARA is the ancient Ukrainian winter goddess associated with winter’s death, rebirth (and dreams). In ancient Slavic rites, the death of Mara at the end of Winter gives rise to the rebirth of Spring. Despite this relatively benign process of nature, Mara is primarily a frightening figure, the agent of death.
In some stories, Mara is depicted as “a destroying fate-goddess who rides the night winds and drinks the blood of men. She is the ‘mare’ in the word ‘nightmare’, described as a monstrous hag squatting upon the breast, mute, motionless, and malignant, an incarnation of the evil spirit whose intolerable weight crushes the breath out of the body” (1).
Mara is known as Marzanna in Poland; More in Lithuania; Marena in Russian; and Morana in several other Slavic countries.
- Macnish, Robert. The Philosophy of Sleep. Glasgow: W. R. McPhun, 1830.