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Medeina: Gods of Lithuania – Unveiling the Ancient Beliefs

Medeina, also known as Medeinė, is a significant deity in Lithuanian mythology. This goddess is closely associated with forests, trees, and animals, and is often compared to the Latvian Forest Mother, Meža māte. As the ruler of the natural world, her sacred animal is the hare.

Lithuanian mythology contains a rich array of gods and mythological figures, such as Dievas Senelis, the master of magic and medicine, and Perkūnas, the god of thunder. Among these, Medeina holds a special place as the guardian of the environment and its creatures.

In ancient Lithuania, Medeina was revered for her role in maintaining the balance of nature. Today, her legacy still offers insights into the rich cultural history of the region, and the deep connection between the people and their land.

Origins of Medeina

Medeina is a prominent goddess in Lithuanian mythology, known as the ruler of forests, trees, and animals. Often compared to Greek Artemis and Roman Diana, she shares many attributes with these goddesses. Her sacred animal is the hare, and she is associated with several other animals as well.

In ancient Lithuanian polytheism, Medeina was a key figure in the pantheon. As a goddess of nature, she was revered by the people and featured in many stories. The Hypatian Codex, dating back to 1252, mentioned this goddess in the context of King Mindaugas’ still practicing pagan beliefs.

Here are some important aspects of Medeina’s identity:

  • Sacred Animal: Hare
  • Similar Figures: Greek Artemis, Roman Diana
  • Symbols: Forests, Trees, Animals
  • Cultural Origins: Lithuanian polytheism

Evolving over time, Medeina’s presence extended beyond Lithuania, reaching places like Poland and other Baltic regions. While she is typically considered a single goddess, some sources mention a Grove God named Giraitis as her potential lover. This connection to other mythologies showcases the complex and intertwined nature of pagan beliefs in these regions.

Mythology and Legends

Medeina in Lithuanian Myths

Medeina, a goddess in Lithuanian mythology, is associated with forests and hunting. She was a part of the official pantheon and represented the military interests of warriors. Later, she was replaced by Žemyna, the goddess of earth, who symbolized the agricultural interests of peasants.

Tales and Folk Stories

One famous tale is about Medeina and an enchanted deer she used to protect the forest. The deer had golden antlers, and any hunter who tried to catch it would lose their way in the woods. Through this story, Medeina is depicted as a guardian of nature, ensuring that forests are safe from over-hunting.

Another popular folk story tells of a hunter who encounters Medeina while lost in the forest, seeking help. She guides him out of the woods, bestowing her blessings and offering protection during his journey. This tale demonstrates Medeina’s compassion towards humans and the mutual respect between humans and the goddess.

In some stories, Medeina is portrayed as the leader of vilkolakis, shapeshifting creatures that roam the forests during the night. As their leader, she ensures they too respect the natural order, guarding the balance between humans and the mythological creatures.

Symbolism and Significance

Nature and Wilderness

Medeina, a prominent deity in Lithuanian mythology, is associated with forests, trees, and nature. Rooted in the Lithuanian words for tree (medis) and forest (medė), her name represents her role as a guardian of the wilderness. As a ruler of these natural realms, she holds a similar position to the Latvian Meža māte (Forest Mother).

Protector of Animals

In her capacity as a protector, Medeina is known to be accompanied by wolves and holds a special affinity for hares. Her sacred animal, the hare, symbolizes her relationship to the creatures of the forest. Through these connections, she exemplifies the harmony between nature and animals in Lithuanian mythology.

Worship and Rituals

Ancient Practices

Medeina, also known as Medeinė or Žvorūnė, was an essential deity in Lithuanian mythology. She symbolized the force of nature, ruling over forests, trees, and animals. Her sacred animal was the hare, which played a significant role in rituals dedicated to her.

Lithuanian polytheism was practiced in pre-Christian times. People would gather in sacred groves, which were believed to be the abode of the gods, to perform rituals and make offerings. Offerings to Medeina could include items such as food, drink, or small natural objects like stones or twigs.

Various celebrations took place throughout the year to honor Medeina. One notable event was Medeinės Šventė, a festival celebrating the goddess and nature. During this time, people would participate in singing, dancing, and feasting.

Revival of Traditions

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the traditions and beliefs of the pre-Christian Lithuanians. Many people are turning to these ancient practices as a way to reconnect with their heritage and learn about their ancestors.

This revival includes celebrating traditional festivals like Medeinės Šventė. Modern adherents to these practices often gather in natural settings to honor Medeina and pay homage to Lithuania’s rich natural landscapes.

Experimentation with ancient rituals and offerings is also taking place, as modern practitioners seek to express their devotion and understanding of Medeina’s influence on nature. These gatherings may include sharing stories about Medeina, offering traditional foods, or engaging in creative performances to bring her energy to life.

The ongoing exploration of Lithuania’s ancient past continues to bring people closer to their roots and the gods that were once an integral part of their daily lives. As more people come to appreciate and practice these ancient customs, the memory of Medeina and her significance in Lithuanian mythology are being kept alive for future generations.

Iconography of Medeina

Medeina, also known as Medeinė, is a significant deity in Lithuanian mythology who rules forests, trees, and animals. Her sacred animal is a hare, which is deeply associated with her image and worship. As a goddess of forests and beasts, she is often compared to the Latvian Meža māte (Forest Mother).

In early depictions, Medeina was primarily portrayed as a protector of forests. However, between the 13th and 14th centuries, her representation expanded to include her role as a deity of war. The iconography of Medeina showcases a variety of cultural influences, ranging from Neolithic beliefs to Near Eastern goddesses.

One popular sculpture shows Medeina sitting on a bear, symbolizing her courageous and resolute rule over forests and animals. This artwork embodies her strength and power, as well as the perception of Lithuanians’ close connection to nature. Through various artistic representations, Medeina’s status as a revered figure in Lithuanian mythology continues to captivate and inspire people today.

Medeina in Modern Culture

Literature and Media

Medeina, the Lithuanian goddess of forests, trees, and animals, continues to hold a place in modern culture, particularly in literature and media. Her sacred animal is the hare, representing her connection to nature and wildlife1. Various literary works and media productions have been inspired by or feature Medeina, showcasing her significance in the modern world.

Contemporary Paganism

In contemporary pagan practices, Medeina is still venerated by some believers, particularly among Lithuanian and Baltic paganism. Her ancient role as a forest deity and her connection to the bear cult2 have made her an appealing figure for those looking to reconnect with nature and Lithuanian mythology. As a result, Medeina maintains a presence in modern spiritual practices and serves as a symbol of nature, wildlife, and preservation.

Comparative Mythology

Medeina, sometimes referred to as Medeinė or Žvorūnė, is a prominent figure in Lithuanian mythology. She is known as the goddess of forests, trees, and animals. Her sacred animal is the hare, and she is often depicted as a beautiful and voluptuous huntress.

Similarities can be found between Medeina and other deities in various mythologies. For example, the Latvian Meža māte (Forest Mother) shares characteristics with Medeina as a ruler of forests. In Greek mythology, Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, wild animals, and wilderness, also has parallels with Medeina’s domain.

Other Indo-European mythologies feature gods and goddesses with overlapping roles and areas of expertise. Examples include:

  • Celtic: Cernunnos, the horned god associated with fertility and wild animals
  • Norse: Skadi, the goddess of hunting, winter, and mountains
  • Hindu: Aranyani, the goddess of forests and the creatures residing within them
  • Slavic: Devana, the goddess of hunting and the wild

While these deities share common traits, each mythology possesses its unique aspects that differentiate them from one another. Thus, in studying these different deities, it is essential to understand the specific cultural context and symbolism present within each mythological system. Ultimately, comparative mythology allows for the identification of these cross-cultural similarities and differences, granting us a deeper understanding of the human experience as a whole.

Scholarly Perspectives

Medeina, also known as Medeinė, is a prominent deity in Lithuanian mythology, particularly associated with forests and animals. Medeina’s origins can be traced back to Neolithic beliefs, wherein she was primarily a forest deity, later evolving into a deity of war during the 13th and 14th centuries1. This transformation into a central figure in medieval mythology provides evidence of Medeina’s archaic roots1.

Various scholarly perspectives suggest that Medeina symbolizes Lithuania’s connection to nature, particularly through her association with trees and forests2. Derived from the Lithuanian words medis (tree) and medė (forest), Medeina is often equated with the Latvian deity Meža Māte (Forest Mother)2. She governs over forests and animals, and her sacred animal is the hare2.

Lithuanian mythology, in general, comprises a rich and complex polytheistic tradition that intertwines with the Baltic region’s history. Besides Medeina, the pantheon of Lithuanian gods includes a diverse range of deities associated with various aspects of nature and humanity3. These gods are reflections of the beliefs, values, and everyday life of ancient Lithuanians, who were deeply connected to their natural surroundings.


  1. Medeina – Wikipedia: Medeina or Medeinė is one of the main deities in the Lithuanian mythology, and is similar to Latvian Meža māte (Forest Mother). She is a ruler of forests, trees and animals. Her sacred animal is a hare. 2 3

  2. Medeina/Medeinė as a relic of Neolithic beliefs – Medeina originally was a deity of forests in Lithuanian mythology, later in the 13th-14th centuries she also became a deity of war. 2 3 4

  3. Lithuanian mythology – Wikipedia