Holy Mother of Gromnice (Thunder Candles), or the Divine Mother with Wolves

If you haven’t heard of the gromnice (thunder candles) yet, please read this article first.


In the Polish rural beliefs and legends connected to the wintertime the Holy Mother is often described as a ‘Maiden protecting from wolves‘. She’s also taking care of these animals so that they don’t attack the human settlements.

In this context she’s typically depicted with the so-called ‘thunder candle’ (gromnica), and often called a ‘Divine Mother with Wolves’ (Matka Boska z wilkami) or ‘[The one] of the Thunder Candle with Wolves’ (Gromniczna od wilków, Gromniczna z wilkami).

These beliefs are connected to ancient Slavic rites and customs that were syncretized with the Christian celebrations of the Candlemas Day (celebrated on February 2nd) over the centuries. Origins of many elements of these celebrations in Poland are a mystery, but they show a possible connection to the Slavic goddess Dziewanna / Devana, who was the goddess of youth, hunt, wild nature, and moon, mentioned in numerous West Slavic resources.

On that day many Polish Rodnovers (Slavic Native Faith Believers) celebrate a feast of Dziewanna Gromniczna (Dziewanna of the Thunder Candle). It includes lighting the ‘thunder candles’ in honor of the goddess, and in order to enrapture warmth for the second half of winter. Dziewanna, as the goddess of wilderness, is asked for protection during the cold months (especially from the freezing weather or from attack of wild animals like the wolves), and guidance during winter travels.

The Slavic feast of Dziewanna Gromniczna would be analogous for example to the pagan Gaelic feast of Imbolc.

On the pictures below: contemporary and vintage Polish postcards, paintings and sculptures depicting the ‘Divine Mother’ or ‘[The one] with the Thunder Candle’ with Wolves. Sources of pictures: [1,2,3,4,5]

Holy Mother of Gromnice (Thunder Candles), or the Divine Mother with Wolves

Holy Mother of Gromnice (Thunder Candles), or the Divine Mother with Wolves

Holy Mother of Gromnice (Thunder Candles), or the Divine Mother with Wolves

Holy Mother of Gromnice (Thunder Candles), or the Divine Mother with Wolves

Holy Mother of Gromnice (Thunder Candles), or the Divine Mother with Wolves

Holy Mother of Gromnice (Thunder Candles), or the Divine Mother with Wolves

Holy Mother of Gromnice (Thunder Candles), or the Divine Mother with Wolves

Holy Mother of Gromnice (Thunder Candles), or the Divine Mother with Wolves

Holy Mother of Gromnice (Thunder Candles), or the Divine Mother with Wolves


 

[PL] Jako ciekawostka: legenda o wilku gromnicznym.

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