Mahte

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In Latvian mythology, the term Māte stands for "mother", sometimes written in English as Mahte. It was an epithet applied to some sixty-seventy goddesses. They were clearly distinct goddesses in most or all cases, so the term definitely referred to the mother-goddess of specific phenomena. According to professor Lotte Motz, scholar Haralds Biezais mentioned there were at least 70 characters in Baltic religion identified with the title of Mate.[1]

List of Mahte[edit]

Following are some of the Mate characters:[2]

  1. Bangu māte - Mother of Waves
  2. Ceļa māte - Mother of Roads
  3. Dārza māte
  4. Dēkla māte
  5. Gausu māte
  6. Jūras māte - considered a goddess of the sea (from Jura 'sea')[3]
  7. Kapu māte - 'Mother of Graves'
  8. Kārta māte
  9. Krūmu māte
  10. Lapu māte - Mother of Leaves
  11. Lauka māte or Lauku māte - Mother of Fields
  12. Lazdu māte - Mother of the Hazelbush
  13. Lietus māte - Mother Rain
  14. Linu māte - Mother Flax
  15. Lopu māte - Mother of Livestock (Cattle)
  16. Mieža māte - Mother of Barley
  17. Meža māte - Mother of the Forest
  18. Miglas māte - Mother of Fog
  19. Pirts māte - Mother of the Bathhouse
  20. Rijas māte - Mother of the Threshing Place
  21. Sēņu māte
  22. Smilšu māte - Mother of Sands
  23. Sniega māte - Mother of Snow
  24. Tirgus māte
  25. Ūdens māte - Mother of Waters
  26. Uguns mate - Mother of Fire
  27. Upes māte - Mother of Rivers
  28. Vēja māte - 'Mother of Winds'
  29. Veļu māte or Vélių motę - mother of the souls/spirits[4]
  30. Zemes māte - Earth Mother
  31. Ziedu māte

Role of the Mothers[edit]

Scholarship on Baltic and Latvian folklore remarks that some of the Mahte characters comprise a complex of deities related to that phenomenon.[5] David Leeming, for instance, remarks that these goddesses "represent various aspects of nature—fields, mushrooms, elks, and so forth".[6]

Death and the afterlife[edit]

For instance, goddess Zemes Mate ('earth mother') was associated with receiving the dead and acting as their ruler and guardian.[7][a] Other deities connected with the worship of the dead were Kapu māte ('Mother of Graves', 'Mother of the Grave' or 'Graveyard-Mother')[10] and Smilšu māte ('Mother of Sand' or 'Mother of the Sand Hillock').[11] A fourth personage is named Veļu māte or Vélių motę (Mother of the souls/spirits of the deceased),[12] etymologically connected to Lithuanian veles 'shades of the dead', velionis 'dead person'[13] and Latvian Vels 'god of the underworld' (as mentioned by scholar Marija Gimbutas) and, by extension, with some relation to Slavic Veles, deity of the underworld.[14]

Another figure named Nāves māte ("Mother Death")[15] was presumed by scholar Nikolai Mikhailov to be connected to Slovenian word navje, a etymon related to the Nav of Slavic folklore, a designation for the dead.[16] The word nāve also means 'death' in Latvian language.[17]

The natural world[edit]

Another set of Mahte figures relate to the natural world, such as Veju Mate ("The Mother of Winds");[18] Meža mate ("Mother of the Forest"; counterpart to Lithuanian Medeina), protectress of wild life;[19] Miglas mate ("Mother of the Fog") and Lietus mate ("Mother of Rain").[20]

Another group is composed of several water divinities: Juras Mate ("Mother Ocean",[21] "Mother of the Seas"[22] or "Sea-Mother"), a goddess of waters;[23] Udens Mate ("Mother of Waters"); Upes Mahte ("Mother of Rivers"), Bangu Mate ("Mother of Waves"; counterpart to Lithuanian Bangputys).[24] Juras Mate is said to rule the seas as a goddess.[25][26]

Household and home[edit]

Lithuanian scholar Marija Gimbutas pointed out that Latvian traditions contain a Uguns mate ('Mother of the Fire') as a counterpart to Lithuanian Gabija, a deity of the hearth and protectress of house and family.[27] Other deities associated with the household and domestic affairs are Mãjas gars ("Spirits of the House") and Pirts mate ("Mother of the Bathhouse").[28]

Agriculture[edit]

Mahte deities related to fields and agriculture include Lauka mate ("Mother of the Plough-Land");[29]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Best exemplified by mythologist Lotte Motz: "The chthonic goddess zemes mate (Mother Earth) receives the dead within her realm. In dainas addressed to her, she provides the eternal resting place: "Rock me mother, hold me mother! / Short is the time spent at your breast. / Mother Earth will hold me longer, / beneath her turf, a welcome guest." (J1209)".[8] She also stated that "In Latvian society ... Mother Earth - zemes mate - is chiefly the resting place of the departed, ..."[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mottz, Lotte. The Faces of the Goddess. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1997. pp. 221-222 (footnote nr. 27). ISBN 0-19-508967-7
  2. ^ Mottz, Lotte. The Faces of the Goddess. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1997. pp. 221-222 (footnote nr. 27). ISBN 0-19-508967-7
  3. ^ Lurker, Manfred. The Routledge Dictionary Of Gods Goddesses Devils And Demons. Routledge. 2004. p. 96. ISBN 0–415–34018–7 Parameter error in {{ISBN}}: Invalid ISBN.
  4. ^ Laurinkienė, Nijolė. "Požemio ir mirusiųjų karalystės deivė" [Goddesses of the Kingdom of the Dead and the Underworld]. In: Metai n. 1 2010. p. 121.
  5. ^ Mottz, Lotte. The Faces of the Goddess. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1997. p. 78. ISBN 0-19-508967-7
  6. ^ Leeming, David.From Olympus to Camelot: The World of European Mythology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 2003. p. 127.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Mottz, Lotte. The Faces of the Goddess. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1997. pp. 72-73. ISBN 0-19-508967-7
  9. ^ Mottz, Lotte. The Faces of the Goddess. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1997. p. 83. ISBN 0-19-508967-7
  10. ^ Lurker, Manfred (2004). The Routledge dictionary of gods and goddesses, devils and demons. Routledge. p. 197. ISBN 978-0-415-34018-2.
  11. ^ Gimbutas, Marija. "The Earth Fertility of old Europe". In: Dialogues d'histoire ancienne, vol. 13, 1987. pp. 22. [DOI: https://doi.org/10.3406/dha.1987.1750]; www.persee.fr/doc/dha_0755-7256_1987_num_13_1_1750
  12. ^ Laurinkienė, Nijolė. "Požemio ir mirusiųjų karalystės deivė" [Goddesses of the Kingdom of the Dead and the Underworld]. In: Metai n. 1 2010. p. 121.
  13. ^ Lurker, Manfred (2004). The Routledge dictionary of gods and goddesses, devils and demons. Routledge. p. 197. ISBN 978-0-415-34018-2.
  14. ^ Gimbutas, Marija. "ANCIENT SLAVIC RELIGION: A SYNOPSIS". In: To honor Roman Jakobson: essays on the occasion of his 70. birthday, 11. October 1966. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Mouton, 2018. p. 746. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783111604763-064
  15. ^ Mottz, Lotte. The Faces of the Goddess. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1997. pp. 221-222 (footnote nr. 27). ISBN 0-19-508967-7
  16. ^ Konickaja, Jelena. "Николай Михайлов: славист, словенист, балтист (11.06.1967–25.05.2010)". In: SLAVISTICA VILNENSIS 2010 Kalbotyra 55 (2). p. 174.
  17. ^ Valentsova, Marina. "К ИССЛЕДОВАНИЮ БАЛТО-СЛАВЯНСКОЙ ДЕМОНОЛОГИИ". In: RES HUMANITARIAE XX, 2016. p. 71. ISSN 1822-7708
  18. ^ Lurker, Manfred (2004). The Routledge dictionary of gods and goddesses, devils and demons. Routledge. p. 197. ISBN 978-0-415-34018-2.
  19. ^ Lurker, Manfred (2004). The Routledge dictionary of gods and goddesses, devils and demons. Routledge. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-415-34018-2.
  20. ^ Doniger, Wendy. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. 1999. p. 109. ISBN 0-87779-044-2
  21. ^ Mottz, Lotte. The Faces of the Goddess. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1997. p. 78. ISBN 0-19-508967-7
  22. ^ Dixon-Kennedy, Mike (1998). Encyclopedia of Russian and Slavic Myth and Legend. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 141. ISBN 9781576070635.
  23. ^ Lurker, Manfred (2004). The Routledge dictionary of gods and goddesses, devils and demons. Routledge. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-415-34018-2.
  24. ^ Doniger, Wendy. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. 1999. p. 109. ISBN 0-87779-044-2
  25. ^ Jones, Prudence; Pennick, Nigel (1995). A History of Pagan Europe. Routledge. p. 174. ISBN 978-1-136-14172-0.
  26. ^ Dixon-Kennedy, Mike (1998). Encyclopedia of Russian and Slavic Myth and Legend. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 141. ISBN 9781576070635.
  27. ^ Gimbutas, Marija; Miriam Robbins Dexter (1999). The Living Goddesses. University of California Press. p. 203. ISBN 0-520-22915-0.
  28. ^ Doniger, Wendy. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. 1999. pp. 108-109. ISBN 0-87779-044-2
  29. ^ Lurker, Manfred (2004). The Routledge dictionary of gods and goddesses, devils and demons. Routledge. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-415-34018-2.