Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/111

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OP THE MORDVINS. 103

According to the Mordvins, Ange Patyai lives both in the sky and on the earth. Her house is high up behind the clonds, and is filled with unborn human souls and with the growing corn on which wild and domestic animals are nourished. Thence she pours down on the earth the forces that sustain life, sometimes in the form of morning dew, sometimes as rain and snow, at other times as lightning. The latter is especially fertilizing. When it has been discharged it pene- trates even the dwelling of Mastir Pas, and gives him the power of fertilizing the ground. In a MS. of the last century, a certain Mik- lovich relates that the Mordvins of Simbirsk called the lightning Sarya^ ozais, and regarded it as Ange PatyaCs dearest granddaughter, and as their principal helper. Ange Patyai sends her female servants to the earth in the event of a child being born, but is herself invisible.

In her abode in the sky she is young and beautiful, but on descend- ing to the earth displays herself as a remarkably powerful old woman. Here she is like iron. The earth bends as she walks along, and should she tread on a stone the print of her foot remains behind. Oc(5asionally she is seen on earth, sometimes in the shape of a great white bird with a golden tail, dropping seed from its golden beak upon the fields and pastures; sometimes in the form of a snow-white dove that showers down flowers for bees to gather honey from and grains of corn for her beloved hens. For the most part men only see the shadow of this benevolent divinity, when she is going to look at the meadows. Sometimes on a clear summer's day, about mid-day, one sees a thin shadowy veil suddenly thrown over the cornfields, though against the sun it is scarcely perceptible. This, the Mordvins say, is the shadow of Ange Patyai. The goddess is then passing invisibly over the earth, benefiting the animals and plants dear to her and fertilizing the ground. Though she assigns an Ange ozais, or good guardian spirit, to every babe, yet she often goes herself to sleeping children and does acts of kindness to them. If a sleeping child smiles, one may know that the goddess is fondling it.

One of her cares is whether women are industrious, and especially

♦ Saryd is tlie flush of dawn or of sunset.