Žemyna (also Žemynėlė or Žemelė)[1] (from Lithuanian: žemėearth) is the goddess of the earth in Lithuanian religion. She is usually regarded as mother goddess and one of the chief Lithuanian gods similar to Latvian Zemes māte. Žemyna personifies the fertile earth and nourishes all life on earth, human, plant, and animal. All that is born of earth will return to earth, thus her cult is also related to death.[2] As the cult diminished after baptism of Lithuania, Žemyna's image and functions became influenced by the cult of Virgin Mary.[3]

Žemyna
Earth
Deivė Žemyna.JPG
ConsortPerkūnas or Praamžius

NameEdit

Žemyna stems from the name of Proto-Indo-European Earth-goddess *Dʰéǵʰōm.[4] It relates to Thracian Zemele ('mother earth') and Greek Semelē (Σεμέλη).[5][6][7][8]

RoleEdit

Žemyna was first mentioned by Jan Łasicki (1582). It was later also described by Mikalojus Daukša (1595), Daniel Klein (1653), Matthäus Prätorius, Jacob Brodowski (1740), and in numerous folk legends, beliefs, and prayers.[3] Prätorius described a ritual, called žemyneliauti, performed at major celebrations (e.g. weddings) or agricultural works (e.g. harvest). The head of the household would drink a cup of beer, but first, he would spill some of the drink on the ground and say a short prayer. Then he would kill a rooster or a hen, which would be cooked and eaten by the entire family. Each family member would receive a loaf of bread and say prayers, blessings, and greetings. The bones and other scraps would be sacrificed to the goddess (burned or buried).[3] Other recorded rites included burying bread baked from last crops of prior harvest in a field before new sowing and sacrifice of a black piglet.[9] People would also kiss the earth saying a short prayer thanking Žemyna for all her gifts and acknowledging that one day they will return to her.[10] People addressed Žemyna in various affectionate diminutive names and epithets.

In addition, historical sources on Baltic mythology describe the dual role of goddess Zemyna: while she was connected to the fertility of the land, she was also associated with receiving the dead and acting as their ruler and guardian.[11][a] Pieces of Lithuanian folklore also make references to Earth as mother of humans and their final abode after death.[13][b][c]

FamilyEdit

The goddess is said to be married to either Perkūnas (thunder god) or Praamžius (manifestation of chief heavenly god Dievas). Thus the couple formed the typical Indo-European pair of mother-earth and father-sky.[16] It was believed that the earth needs to be fertilized by the heavens (rain and thunder). Thus it was prohibited to plow or sow before the first thunder as the earth would be barren.[10]

In modern cultureEdit

The Lithuanian folk music group Kūlgrinda in collaboration with Donis released an album in 2013 titled Giesmės Žemynai, meaning "Hymns to Žemyna".[17]

Related male deitiesEdit

Other characters in Lithuanian mythology are related - etymologically or semantically - to goddess Zemyna and a cult of the earth, such as Žemėpatis[18][19] ('Earth Spouse')[20] and Žemininkas,[21] male deities associated with cattle, agriculture and the fertility of the land.[22] Their names are present in historical records of the Lithuanian non-Christian faith by foreign missionaries.[23][24]

Another male divinity with the name Zemeluks, Zamoluksei,[25] Zameluks or Ziameluks[26][27] is also said to be attested. An account tells he is a DEUS TERRAE ('earth god'),[28] while in other he is "a lord or god of earth who was buried in the earth" by the Prussians.[29]

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ "Zemyna (otherwise Zemlja or Perkunatelé) is the earth-goddess and psychopomp of the dead."[12]
  2. ^ "Archeological findings witness that the most ancient phase of Lithuanian culture was definitely Zemyna's culture. The distinguishing factor in these findings was the burial rites. In the oldest cultural phase, the dead were buried - given back to Zemyna, Mother Earth."[14]
  3. ^ Researcher Nijole Laurinkiene, at the end of her book on Zemyna, writes thus: "Žemyna was also imagined as the giver and supporter of human life, because like flora and fauna, humanity is a part of nature. (...) The newborn would immediately be laid down on Mother Earth as if she were its biological mother, so that she could ‘accept’ and ‘embrace’ the infant as her own earthly creation and give it vegetative power and vitality on a cosmic plane. (...)".[15]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Laurinkiene, Nijole. "Gyvatė, Žemė, Žemyna: vaizdinių koreliacija nominavimo ir semantikos lygmenyje". In: Lituanistika šiuolaikiniame pasaulyje. Vilnius: Lietuvių literatūros ir tautosakos institutas, 2004. pp. 285–286.
  2. ^ Laurinkienė, Nijolė. "Požemio ir mirusiųjų karalystės deivė" [Goddesses of the Kingdom of the Dead and the Underworld]. In: Metai n. 1. 2010. pp. 116-127.
  3. ^ a b c Balsys, Rimantas (2010). Lietuvių ir prūsų dievai, deivės, dvasios: nuo apeigos iki prietaro (in Lithuanian). Klaipėdos universitetas. pp. 103–114. ISBN 978-9955-18-462-1.
  4. ^ Mallory, J. P.; Adams, Douglas Q. (1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. Taylor & Francis. p. 174. ISBN 978-1-884964-98-5.
  5. ^ Dundulienė 2018, p. 111.
  6. ^ Laurinkienė, Nijolė. "Motina Žemyna baltų deivių kontekste: 1 d.: Tacito mater deum, trakų-frigų Σεμέλη, latvių Zemes māte, Māra, lietuvių bei latvių Laima, Laumė ir lietuvių Austėja" [Mother-Goddess Žemyna in the context of Baltic deities]. In: Liaudies kultūra Nr. 2 (2007). p. 12. ISSN 0236-0551 https://www.lituanistika.lt/content/7871
  7. ^ Duridanov, Ivan (1985). Die Sprache der Thraker. Bulgarische Sammlung (in German). Vol. 5. Hieronymus Verlag. p. 69. ISBN 3-88893-031-6.
  8. ^ "[Zemyna's] name is the linguistic equivalent of that of Semele, mother of Dionysos, in the Greek and Thracian traditions." Jones, Prudence; Pennick, Nigel (1995). A History of Pagan Europe. Routledge. p. 175. ISBN 978-1-136-14172-0.
  9. ^ Gimbutas, Marija; Miriam Robbins Dexter (2001). The living goddesses. University of California Press. pp. 208–209. ISBN 978-0-520-22915-0.
  10. ^ a b Dundulienė, Pranė (2018). Pagonybė Lietuvoje. Moteriškosios dievybės (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Mokslo in enciklopedijų leidybos institutas. pp. 111–115. ISBN 978-5-420-01638-1.
  11. ^ Laurinkienė, Nijolė. "Požemio ir mirusiųjų karalystės deivė" [Goddesses of the Kingdom of the Dead and the Underworld]. In: Metai n. 1 2010. pp. 116-127.
  12. ^ Jones, Prudence; Pennick, Nigel (1995). A History of Pagan Europe. Routledge. p. 175. ISBN 978-1-136-14172-0.
  13. ^ Ūsaitytė, Jurgita. "Motina Žemė: Moteriškumo reprezentacija" [Mother Earth: representation of femininity]. In: Tautosakos darbai [Folklore Studies]. 2002, 23,. p. 148. ISSN 1392-2831 [1]
  14. ^ Vycinas, Vincent. Search for Gods. Springer, Dordrecht. 1972. p. 32. ISBN 978-94-010-2816-5
  15. ^ Laurinkienė, Nijolė. Žemyna ir jos mitinis pasaulis [Žemyna and her mythical world]. Vilnius: Lietuvių literatūros ir tautosakos institutas, 2013. p. 494.ISBN 9786094251092
  16. ^ Sirutis, Dainius (1999). "Žemyna". In Jonas Trinkūnas (ed.). Of Gods & Holidays. The Baltic Heritage. Vilnius: Tvermė. pp. 80–83. ISBN 9986-476-27-5.
  17. ^ Kūlgrinda Ir Donis – Giesmės Žemynai. Discogs.
  18. ^ Laurinkienė, Nijolė (2008). "Lietuvių žemės deivės vardai" [The Lithuanian names of the Goddess of the Earth]. In: Tautosakos darbai, XXXVI, pp. 77-78. ISSN 1392-2831
  19. ^ Eckert, Rainer (1999). “Eine Slawische Une Baltische Erdgottheit". Studia Mythologica Slavica 2 (May/1999). Ljubljana, Slovenija. pp. 214, 217. https://doi.org/10.3986/sms.v2i0.1850.
  20. ^ Borissoff, Constantine L. (2014). “Non-Iranian Origin of the Eastern-Slavonic God Xŭrsŭ/Xors" [Neiranskoe proishoždenie vostočnoslavjanskogo Boga Hrsa/Horsa]. In: Studia Mythologica Slavica 17 (October). Ljubljana, Slovenija. p. 22. https://doi.org/10.3986/sms.v17i0.1491.
  21. ^ Laurinkiene, Nijole. "Gyvatė, Žemė, Žemyna: vaizdinių koreliacija nominavimo ir semantikos lygmenyje". In: Lituanistika šiuolaikiniame pasaulyje. Vilnius: Lietuvių literatūros ir tautosakos institutas, 2004. p. 285.
  22. ^ Doniger, Wendy. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. 1999. p. 1161. ISBN 0-87779-044-2
  23. ^ Vaitkevičienė, Daiva. "Nuliejimas žemei: gėrimo apeigos adresato klausimu" [Libation to earth: regarding an addressee of the drinking ritual]. In: Tautosakos darbai [Folklore Studies]. 2004, 28. pp. 104-117. ISSN 1392-2831 [2]
  24. ^ Ališauskas, Vytautas. "Apie nemokslinį žalčio ir gyvatės skirtumą: Jono Lasickio knygelės paraštėje". In: Naujasis Židinys–Aidai, 2003, Nr. 11–12, pp. 612–615.
  25. ^ Beresnevičius, Gintaras. "Aisčių mater deum klausimu". In: Liaudies kultūra 2006, Nr. 2, pp. 8-9. ISSN 0236-0551 https://www.lituanistika.lt/content/4244
  26. ^ Paliga, Sorin. "La divinité suprême des Thraco-Daces". In: Dialogues d'histoire ancienne, vol. 20, n°2, 1994. pp. 143. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3406/dha.1994.2182; www.persee.fr/doc/dha_0755-7256_1994_num_20_2_2182
  27. ^ Trynkowski, Jan. "Problemy religii Getów w korespondencji Godfryda Ernesta Groddecka i Joachima Lelewela". In: Przegląd Historyczny 71/2 (1980): 325-331.
  28. ^ Trynkowski, Jan. "Problemy religii Getów w korespondencji Godfryda Ernesta Groddecka i Joachima Lelewela". In: Przegląd Historyczny 71/2 (1980): 328.
  29. ^ W. M. Flinders Petrie. "104. Links of North and South". In: Man 17 (1917): 158-62. Accessed February 1, 2021. doi:10.2307/2788049.

Further readingEdit