Also known as:
Zeme (Lithuania); Zemes Mate (Latvia)
Zemyna, holiest of all Baltic deities, ceaselessly creates and nourishes all life on Earth, including animals, plants, insects, and humans. Zemyna is Earth, and she is the spirit of Earth’s abundance, too. The mother and protectress of the living and the dead, Zemyna does not bring or cause death: she is a goddess of life, not death. She receives the dead into her body via burial, then transforms death into new life in an eternal cycle.
Zemyna is the daughter of a primordial pre-Baltic deity called Zemyna of the Marshes or Zemyna of the Swamps.
In traditional pre-Christian Lithuanian religion, all celebrations begin with an invocation of Zemyna. Devotion to Zemyna the Earth Goddess was primarily maintained by peasants and farmers. She was not particularly significant to the ruling elite who venerated male spirits like Perkunas. Because of this, Zemyna was somewhat ignored during the transition to Christianity, allowing her veneration to quietly persist. (It’s also hard to eradicate devotion to a deitywho is literally always underfoot.) Documents indicate that as late as the seventeenth century, Zemyna’s priestess sacrificed black suckling pigs to Zemyna, which were then consumed by participants during rustic harvest festivals.
• Zemyna, the life-giver, bestows the power to give life: she has dominion over fertility.
• As a goddess of justice, oaths are sworn on her.
Zemyna is literally Earth, but she also manifests as a woman. She appears each spring in the guise of a beautiful pregnant woman.
Date: Spring equinox
Creature: Black pig
Although Zemyna is ever-present and may be venerated anywhere, large, flat stones dug into Earth are her traditional altars.
Bread, beer, ale: pour generous libations directly onto Earth; bread may be buried in Earth. Offerings to Zemyna are a component of traditional Lithuanian funerals.
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.