IN THE BEGINNING there was only an egg and the never-ending darkness; until suddenly, a strange sound appeared and cracked the egg open. The dust from the shattering eggshell formed the sacred tree which rose to separate the heavens from the sea and the land. Perun, the heavenly god of thunder and lightning, lived on the highest branch of the World Tree. His sworn enemy, Veles, lord of the underworld, ruler of the realm of the dead lived down in the roots of the World Tree. He stole Perun’s baby son Ivan and raised him as his own.
Why he did that is not our story, but the consequences thereof affect us all. It was this newborn god who had the power to awake the nature, and bring us prosperity.
Gods are powerful, yet whimsical so that sometimes their deeds are quite unpredictable. Ivan was no different. Growing up in the Underworld was most certainly fun, but at one point there was nothing new to see, nothing new to learn so Ivan decided to go up, to the surface of the Earth. It was the part of the World Tree where people lived. His very presence awakened nature. Grass started to grow and trees got their first leaves because he was the god of fertility. Even the Sun gave more warmth. This was not his doing. Dazbog, god of Sun, was curious to see who that young god walking the Earth was, so he leaned over to have a closer look.
To people, he brought the first spring ever. And in this moment our story begins. The moment when Ivan for the first time sat his eyes upon Mara, Peruns daughter, and they fell in love.
Mara and Ivan were the two most beautiful gods that ever walked the earth. Their love was still young and innocent. People worshipped them so much that when Mara and Ivan were wed, they made great bonfires, danced and played jumping over fire. The god of sun, Dazbog, also made his presence at the wedding, careful not to burn the place with his might. That day in the year has been called the summer solstice ever since.
After the wedding, Mara had a terrible premonition dream of her world being torn apart. In her dream, the sky broke in two, the sun darkened, the moon and the stars fell down to the Earth. She felt something unthinkable would happen, and she wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. Her womb burned in pain, her chest tightened, and her palms tingled with unreleased lightning.
It is said that all women of today descend from Mara, so that the cycle of changes they go through in life are exactly the same as Mara’s; also, their intuition is far better than men’s. Sometimes, however, it causes them great pain.
Trun se truni, Nesi lepa gora
As time passed, Ivan and Mara probably became parents. We know nothing of their children, who they were or what became of them. Fields and orchards were rich with fruits. Unfortunately, Ivan could not resist loving other women, too. Mara was aware of his night visits to them. His passion was stronger than him, for it was his nature. Although She was aware of who he was when she married him, she might have hoped that their love would guard him against his yearnings, or even change his very essence. Naturally, it was not so.
Deeply hurt and furious, Mara tries to decide what to do. Can a goddess simply ignore and accept it all?
Pitam tebe, Maro
Mara is beautiful, Mara is strong, Mara is a goddess. She is going to have her revenge.
Being a daughter of Perun, the god of thunder, she asked her brothers to avenge her. Eventually, Ivan was killed by lightning strike.
Ivan’s death brought back winter. Wearing the blood of her husband, on her hands she is no longer naive and innocent. Now, she is both wise and terrible. She has changed. She has changed so much that she became a terrible old woman. People were terrified of her, and used her name to discipline their children: baba Jaga would eat them if they did not behave. Alone and cold like her surroundings, she wandered the Earth, never being able to love again.
In her darkest hour, she used the last spark of light in her to create a time loop and turn back the time. It was winter now, but she would be young again, and spring would come again, bringing her love. Maybe this time she would be able to change her lover, as well as her own destiny. She chose to do it all over again, and she is still choosing it every winter in spite of the pain, and disappointment that it causes her. For how long she will continue to do so, I do not know. And what about us? When the never- ending spring and summer come, we will know that she has succeeded.