The Order of the White Moon Goddess Gallery Presents
The Slavic Goddess Devana
A Level I Final Project for The Sacred Three Goddess School
Initiate Emily Beatrice
(©2019. All original material in this work is under copyright protection and is the intellectual property of the author.)
Hunter Goddess. Adobe Stock Image #81871582.
She is known by Devana, Ciza, Dziewona, Dzevana and many more names. She is the daughter of Ziva and Perun. She can transform into any animal and is considered the Forest Mother in many Slavic traditions. (Kakaševski, n.d.) She is a rebel associated with mares, bears, her wolf companions, and all forest animals. She is thought to be unpredictable and hard to read. But who is the Goddess Devana? What is her role in the Slavic pantheon? In this write up you will discover who Devana is by getting to know her through mythology, artistic representations, and a new ritual created in dedication to her.
Ancient Slavic Society
The term Slav dates from the 6th Century CE. A Slav is a general term referring to a person or persons that come from a region that covers central Eastern Europe all the way to Southeastern Europe. This area covers Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. In the modern era that area includes three branches of languages, at least fifteen different spoken languages, and multiple dialects. Because Slavic is such a general term that covers a huge area of the world there are a lot of interpretations and overlaps of different Slavic pantheons.
Map of Slavic countries. http://www.simplyslavic.org/slavic-map
The Slavic Pantheon
There is some question about whether or not Devana was actually a member of an original Slavic pantheon. There is not a lot of folklore about Devana that has survived to the modern era let alone English translations. What we do know are accounts from five hundred years after the Slavic people adopted Christianity. (Elder, n.d.) Her memory is mostly kept alive through collected bits and pieces shared by folk writers, scholars and bloggers. Pilkington (2009) lists the names of twenty-one deities in the Slavic Pantheon.
If we look at Russian specific Slavic mythology there were six main deities. Five of them were male. Perun, the god of thunder and Devana’s father, is one that both Pilkington’s (2009) list and Russian mythology have in common. We also know that the Goddess attributed to being Devana’s mother, Ziva or Diva, would be similar to Mokosh, the Goddess of fertility and life in Russian and Pilkington’s (2009) list. Ziva’s devotion was located in what we would consider modern day Poland. (Muniz, 2010) In fact some sources regard Devana as being Polish. We can conclude that Devana’s devotion in some form probably ranged over a large area. She had at least thirty known name manifestations depending on the language, translation, and dialect used. Muniz (2010) suggest that under her Polish manifestation, Dilwica, she is actually an aspect of the Great Goddess and her name was given in order to protect her real identity. Various sources also suggest that she is part of what would be now interpreted as the Slavic aspect of the Triple Goddess. She is very similar to the Roman Goddess Diana or her Greek counterpart Artemis. It is very possible that she came about from Roman or Greek influence through trade or conquest.
It is also worth noting that according to Kakaševski (n.d) a rock with a picture of a mare was found on Mount Devica, associated with Devana, in the eastern part of Serbia. Mount Devica is also the location of multiple undated stone circles that have yet to be investigated by archeologists. (Serbian Irish, 2014) Whether or not there is conclusive evidence that Devana has a direct association with this location, there has been Pagan worship at this site for some time.
Perun’s Final Myth
Devana’s story begins with the final myth of Perun. Devana was conceived after Perun’s marriage to Ziva. Deva means maid, virgin or young girl. In what stories that survive she is almost childish, arrogant, and conceited. “She has inside the power of a wild and unrestrained femininity, which had not been possessed by a man.” (Hirschlauf, 2016) It became clear early on that she was destined to become a great huntress. According to Perun’s final myth, she unfortunately began to hunt more for entertainment rather than requirement. (Slavic, 2010)
She became confident in her abilities and decided to try and overthrow Svarog, God of the sun and fire, in order to rule the three worlds. Dazhbog, son of Svarog, found out. Dazhbog informed Devana’s father. “Catching sight of her in the woods, he let out a roar so loud it scared off Devana’s wolves, she had no choice but to engage her father in battle. Spears were drawn and both fighters rushed at each other on brilliant steeds, destroying each others’ spears in a flurry of splinters.” (Slavic, 2010) In an attempt to salvage the fight against Perun Devana transformed into a lioness. Perun not only copied her but cornered Devana. In an attempt to flee she transformed into a bird and Perun transformed into an Eagle. He caught Devana again. In another attempt to escape Devana turned into a fish. “Perun called upon the aid of Mokosh, the goddess of fate. Perun’s request was answered and a Seine had caught Devana.” (Slavic, 2010) Father and daughter reconciled and Devana never considered overthrowing Svarog again.
Marriage and Family
At one point Devana begrudgingly married Veles. Veles was the God of many things including the underworld, water, cattle, and trickery. At first Devana refused Veles. Veles eventually won wild Devana over by turning himself into a basil flower, soothing her wild spirit.
Basil Flower https://pixabay.com/en/herbs-plant-garden-eat-bio-3814075/
(Kakaševski, n.d.) In Russian Folklore Devana and Veles’s marriage is marked by her wisdom and council. She aids him in many situations over the course of their relationship.
Devana and Veles have at least one child. Kakaševski (n.d.) refers to him as Jarilo, the God of vegetation and fertility. Another sources names Devana and Veles’s son as Miloš Obilić from a Serbian epic poem. However, I could not find a resource available to support these claims.
The sacred attributions below are mostly assumptions made by me based on the research gathered about her for this Final Project.
Food: What the forest provides.
Colors: Greens, browns, tans, and forest colors of day the day and night.
Elements: Earth (See Figure 6)
Stones: Moonstone, silver, and quartz.
Human aspects: Hunter, wisdom, virginal purity, bravery, confidence, and forests.
Animals: Mares are especially sacred to Devana. She also has two wolf companions. All forest creatures are sacred to Devana.
Plants: basil, willow tree, hazel tree, mugwort, and wolfsbane.
Regions/locations: Slavic countries, Mount Devica, forests, lakes, and rivers.
Days/Celebrations: Monday, Spring, (See Figure 7) and Willow Day.
Devana, Spring aspect. Original acrylic painting on canvas by Emily Beatrice. December 2018.
Ritual to Honor Devana by Emily Beatrice
Hirschlauf (2016) directly attributes devotion of Devana to Artemis and the peoples who lived in the Balkans. “She is a very powerful Goddess and may be temperamental when approached with unclear intent. Be certain in your approach and carry basil and garlic for protection. Honor your pets and wildlife!” (Hirschlauf, 2016) With that in mind, I have created a ritual dedicated to Devana.
The Spring Equinox is the main inspiration for the environment of this ritual. Specifically the forest in the Spring. Think delicate flowers carpeting the forest floor, warming sunshine filtering through the leaves, and baby animals. This ritual is designed woman specific, but could be tweaked if necessary. As with all rituals I create, I like to leave room for personal creativity in order to implement authenticity. This ritual can be completed clothed or skyclad, whatever you are comfortable with. (See Figure 8)
DEVANA RITUAL OUTLINE
-Candles (Colors representing spring. As many as you feel you need while still being fire safe.)
-Flowers (Fresh or fake. You want your ritual space bursting with symbols of new life. Floral crowns are a great addition to this ritual.)
-Floral incense or essential oil blend to bless yourself and your ritual space. (Basil essential oil is a good option. Moxibustion could also be used as it is made of Mugwort.)
-Food offering for animal companion or wildlife.
Before you begin set an intention for this ritual. It could be a boost in confidence or a blessing for an animal companion, or just to get in better touch with your inner Sloth Woman. Review the Sacred Aspects of Devana to help you find a clear intention. Brain storm and write it out if need be. Knowing exactly why you are asking her for help is key.
*Prepare for this ritual how you would normally for your regular practice. (Set your ritual space, ritual bath, etc…)
**Refer to the Chapter Five section about the Spring Equinox in Stein (1990) “Casting the Circle: A Women’s Book of Ritual”, and March 23rd about Marzenna in Telesco (1990) “365 Goddess: A Daily Guide to the Magic and Inspiration of the Goddess” for further inspiration.
***At the end of the ritual you will honor either an animal companion or wildlife. Please prepare an appropriate food safe offering to honor Devana to be given to your animal companion or wildlife. (Cat or dog treat, hummingbird food for your local hummingbird population, etc…) PLEASE follow all local wildlife safety protocol and regulations if preparing something for local wildlife. (This includes using essential oils for blessings) Contact your local Audubun Society chapter or State Fish and Wildlife Authority if you are unsure.
After preparing your ritual space bless the space with the incense or floral essential oil blend you prepared. Light all candles. Take a minute to ground yourself feeling the pulse of the earth beneath your feet. Think of your intention for this ritual and meditate on it for a moment. Be very clear about your intention. Devana does not like vagueness. Bless yourself. Feel free to prepare a blessing ahead of time or improvise one if you feel moved in order to create a more authentic ritual environment.
Open your circle in the manner you normally would during a daily ritual focusing on your intention. Consider who Devana is and what she represents. Tap into your own wild woman, liberated and unrestricted. Feel the energy of the earth pulsing beneath your feet. Let that energy move you. Do you feel like dancing? Dance! Do you feel like singing? Sing! Whatever that energy is telling you to do, do it while focusing on your intention. (See Figure 10) Raise the energy higher. Feel it in your knees, your thighs, your hips, your lower belly, your stomach, your chest, all the way up until you’ve pushed it through the sky. Keep going, going, going, going until you feel moved to stop.
Before you lower the energy back into the earth bless the food offering for your animal companion or wildlife. *You can prepare the blessing beforehand in order to better focus the energy. However, do not ignore the feeling to improvise if you feel it is right.
After you have blessed the food offering ground yourself once again and focus the energy you raised that is now buzzing overhead towards Devana. Use your hands to lower it back into the earth. *I like to start with Uttarabodhi Mudra pointed way over head, and then slowly lower my hands down focusing the energy into the earth. Take a moment to center yourself. When you feel at peace close the circle and bring your blessed food offering in honor of Devana to your animal companion or set it out for the wildlife. (See Figure 11)
The Goddess Devana, Huntress of the Forest. Original leather burning by Archibald Knightfield. December 2018,
created by the author’s spouse and owned by the author.
Devana. Original drawing by Amaya Wolfe. December 2018.
Auset, B. (2009) The goddess guide. Woodbury, Minnesota. Llewellyn Publications. ( Pg. 30)
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Serbian Irish. (July 18, 2014) Stone circles on mountain device. Retrieved from: http://oldeuropeanculture.blogspot.com/2014/07/stone-circles-on-mountain-devica.html
Slavic mythology: perun| Перун. (October 23, 2010). Retrieved from: https://russianculture.wordpress.com/2010/10/23/slavic-mythology-perun-перун/
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