Marzanna (in Polish) or Morena (in Czech, Slovak, Russian) or also Mara, Maržena, Morana, Moréna, Mora or Marmora is a Slavic goddess associated with seasonal agrarian rites based on the idea of Death and rebirth of nature. She is associated with Death and Winter and often described as the goddess of Death.
Muma Pădurii literally means “the Mother of the Forest”, though “mumă” is an archaic version of “mamă” (mother), which has a fairy-tale overtone for the Romanian reader (somewhat analogue to using the archaic pronouns like “thou” and “thy” in English). A few other such words, typically protagonists of folk-tales, have this effect.
Muma Pădurii is a spirit of the forest in an old woman’s body. Sometimes she has the ability to change her shape. She lives in a dark, dreadful, hidden little house. This (step-) mother of the forest kidnaps little children and enslaves them. In one of the popular stories, at some point, she tries to boil a little girl, alive, in a soup. However the little girl’s brother outsmarts Muma Pădurii and pushes the woman-monster in the oven instead, similar to the story of Hansel and Gretel. The story ends on a happy note when all kids are free to go back to their parents. Instead of saying “she’s ugly”, Romanians sometimes say “she looks like muma pădurii”.
In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a supernatural being (or one of a trio of sisters of the same name) who appears as a deformed and/or ferocious-looking woman. Baba Yaga flies around in a mortar, wields a pestle, and dwells deep in the forest in a hut usually described as standing on chicken legs. Baba Yaga may help or hinder those that encounter or seek her out and may play a maternal role and has associations with forest wildlife. According to Vladimir Propp’s folktale morphology, Baba Yaga commonly appears as either a donor, villain, or may be altogether ambiguous.
Andreas Johns identifies Baba Yaga as “one of the most memorable and distinctive figures in eastern European folklore,” and observes that she is “enigmatic” and often exhibits “striking ambiguity.” Johns summarizes Baba Yaga as a “a many-faceted figure, capable of inspiring researchers to see her as a Cloud, Moon, Death, Winter, Snake, Bird, Pelican or Earth Goddess, totemic matriarchal ancestress, female initiator, phallic mother, or archetypal image”
[Mayhem] Norway, Dawn of the Black Hearts album. (True Dead’s Death picture for the cover)