Mokosh, also called Mokos, a Goddess of the Earth, was worshipped by the ancient Slavs. She is one of the most primeval deities in Europe. As is true in many countries where reconstructionist Paganism is blossoming, there is currently a significant revival of pre-Christian spirituality and folk traditions in the lands that were formerly dominated by the Soviet Union. Hence, Her presence is being remembered and honored openly once more.
Mokosh – Goddess who gives and takes life, spinner of the thread of life, giver of the water of life. Also known as Mokysha, Mokush. She later evolved into Paraskeva-Piatnitsa – a Goddess of spinning, water, fertility, and health with marriage.
In the Encyclopedia Mythica™ John McCannon writes, “Mokos is most likely a later and more strongly personified variant of the Slavs’ elder earth Goddess, “Damp Mother Earth,” or Mati syra zemlya.” The worship of such a primal earth Goddess was widespread among the Slavs and their neighbors; this is attested to by the fact that the earth deities of a number of Baltic, Phrygian, and Finno-Ugric peoples exhibit similar characteristics and seem to derive from the Indo-Iranian Ardvi Sura Anahita (“Humid Mother of the Earth”)…
As the only female God of note to be worshipped by the Slavs, Mokos assumed a broad range of divine roles. She was first and foremost a symbol of the earth’s fertility. During the early spring, it was taboo to spit on or strike the ground, since Mokos was said to be pregnant then….Holidays were dedicated to Her in the autumn, after the harvest. The belief that Mokos invested the earth with divinity was reflected in peasant practices that, in some parts of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarussia, persisted into the 19th century: the swallowing of a lump of soil to consecrate wedding vows, the placing of earth upon one’s head to seal oaths, the confession of one’s sins to a hole in the ground instead of a priest.
Over time, Mokos became a patron of women, especially those bearing children or giving birth. She oversaw women’s work, such as spinning and weaving. She was also thought to protect flocks of sheep. The strength of her cult remained substantial, even after the Christianization of the Slavs; as late as the 17th century, Orthodox priests attempted to uncover Mokos-worshippers among the peasantry, asking women whether or not they had ‘gone to Mokos.’ (more…)