The Russian text actually says “moist earth,” and you will often find the expression translated literally. The “moist mother earth” is one of the strongest recurring images in Russian folklore. In epics and in tales, the hero, having fallen to the ground, often has his strength renewed, or even doubled, as a result of anappeal to the “mother earth.” The power of the image has led many scholars and translators to identify the “mother earth” with a “mother goddess” or to find in it the expression of an ethnic consciousness among Russian peasants. However, nothing else, in folk belief as in folk narratives, points to the probability of the existence, a long time ago, of a cult of a “mother goddess” or even in the existence of such a goddess in Slavic mythology (although minor female spirits/deities did exist, and continue their existence as elements of folk belief).

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