Goddesses Of Time And Seasons

The concept of time appears as a goddess in several cultures. 

In Hindu India, Nidra is the sleep of time, whose passage is beyond human control, while Kalı represents the many eras of the worlds life, with the final era named after her. 

In North America, the Cherokee saw time as ruled by the sun goddess Unelanuhi, who divided night from day and thus invented all measurement. 

Among the pre-Roman Etruscans, time was the goddess Nortia, in whose honor nails were pounded each year into her temple. 

The later Roman Juno represented time as embodied in womens passage through lifes stages, with multiple Junos representing each woman as she aged. 

Some time goddesses are also foretellers of fate, as was Arabic Manat (see Eastern Mediterra nean), Finally, many goddesses are associated with the period before day was divided from night. 

These divinities appear in a primordial, often chaotic ‘‘time before time, and are often creatrixes who form the universe. 

Many goddesses, especially earth goddesses, are associated with specific seasons that paralleled the seasons of a womans life. 

Spring goddesses (Roman Flora, Greek Hebe, Slavic Kostrubonko, Scandinavian Rana Neida) are typically young and sex ually active or even promiscuous, unburdened by children. 

They are kind and gener ous, beautiful and tender. 

Often spring goddesses are associated with dawn, both representing the promise of new beginnings. 

Just as dawn goddesses (see Light/Day, above) could be dangerous as well as desirable, so figures connected with spring, like Slavic Rusalki, could present themselves as threatening. 

Spring was a time of hunger to subsistence farmers, who had devoured their stored crops and were awaiting new growth. 

Even for gathering-hunting cultures, spring could be difficult, so in the Arctic we find Asiaq (see Circumpolar), to whom shamans made sacrifices if ice did not break up in the rivers, allowing fishing. 

Thus maiden spring goddesses such as Greek Persephone were connected to death, an ever-present danger in hungry springtime. 

Summer goddesses, by contrast, are typically maternal, indicative of the earth in its agricultural abundance. 

Like Roman Ceres (from whom we derive the word ‘‘cereal), these goddesses are often associated with food plants, which flourish in summer weather (see also Vegetation, below). 

In North America, such goddesses could be embodied in the important food-crop, maize or corn; see Selu and Oniata. 

Such goddesses are typically depicted as mature and fertile, women in the prime of their reproductive years. 

But in desert lands, summer goddesses could appear as threat ening, as with Egyptian Sekhmet who represents the scorching sun, or Sri Lankan Pattinı (see India) who began as a gentle woman but became rage-filled and destruc tive later. 

It might be assumed that autumn goddesses would represent decline and death, but fall is a season for both harvest and the hunt. 

Thus goddesses connected with autumn could be paradoxically both fertile and deadly. 

Some, such as Irish Tailtu, were sacrificed in order to provide fertility to the land, while in other cases such as Slavic Baba Yaga, they threatened others with death by devouring. 

In Mesoamerican ritual, a mature woman assumed the identity of Toci and was sacrificed and flayed at her har vest festival. 

Other autumn goddesses (South American Pachamama, Greek Demeter, Roman Pomona) were goddesses of abundance, appropriate to harvest sea son. 

These goddesses are typically shown as a woman past the prime of life but still vigorous. 

With the Irish Cailleach, this vigor included sexual appetite; this divine female could exhaust and even kill young men with her demands. 

Winter goddesses, typically envisioned as old women, are often threatening. 

This is hardly surprising, as winter in earlier times was a time of hardship and want. 

Winter goddesses are shown with the power to control the weather (see Weather, above). 

Thus they were to be propitiated, lest they grow angry and bring on dangerous storms. 

The Scandinavian winter goddess appeared as a pair, with friendly Holle shaking her feather beds to make snow and rewarding those pleasant to her with gold, while her twin Perchta roamed through the world looking for people to punish for minor infrac tions, bringing bitter cold with her. 

Some winter goddesses are paired with a spring deity. 

In Scotland, the Cailleach appeared with the girl Bride, who spent winter trying to escape the hags grasp. 

Finally, some winter divinities are witches (Roman Befana, Finno-Ugric Louhi) who kidnap good weather and growth, holding it hostage until spring. 

~ Kiran Atma

You can learn more about Goddess Symbolism here.