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Mati-Syra-Zemlya

   

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Description: Mati-Syra-Zemlya means "Moist Mother earth' to the Slavic peoples who believed in her. She is a supreme being, kind and just, sentient and a predictor of the future to those who can understand her. One must never attempt to deceive Mati-Syra-Zemlya; and Slav peasants have long settled legal disputes by calling on her as a witness. A legal and binding oath can be made by having it sworn while the speaker has a clod of fresh earth upon his head. Attempting to contest the oath later would lead to sorry consequences for the swearer. Reportedly, during times of epidemics and on the eve of the first world war, Russian peasants wanted to preserve their village and the women of the village performed a secret ritual which went like this: At midnight, the old women of the village walked through the village streets and secretly awoke and bid other village women to join them. The men were kept in the dark about the whole affair. Nine virgins and three widows were selected and the group was led out of the village by the other women. The chosen women were then undressed down to their shifts, and the virgins let down their hair and the selected widows covered their own hair with white shawls. One of the widows was then hitched to a plow and another widow served as the driver of the plow. (It is not specified what role the third widow played.) The nine virgins each took up scythes and the other women took up various items such as animal skulls and other frightening looking things. The procession then made its way around the village with the women howling and shrieking, while the two widows ploughed a furrow in the earth. The aim was to allow powerful earth spirits to be freed to annihilate evil in the village. It is claimed that any man who was foolish enough to look upon the proceedings or admitted knowledge of the strange parade was "felled without mercy." It is believed that this Russian ritual is effective and is still performed when times demand it.

 
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