Kate Farrell (author of Story Power) call upon this Baltic folklore to make sure no child is left behind or forgotten.
Laumės are the oldest goddesses of Lithuanian mythology, existing since the Stone Age, meaning their lore is deep and has a long evolution. From the flow of history and imagery, as well as their relationships with humans or deities, some see a formation of a distinct culture, belonging to laumės.
As a culture that has deep connection with destiny, the water goddesses, laumės are said to revere Fate itself, understanding it like no other. Knowing the ephemeral nature of a human life as well as the inner workings of fate, laumės seek to bring the best to a life, caring for forgotten, orphaned or disabled children, bestowing material gifts to those lacking, yet worthy: Stealing of children could tie in with this reason, an attempt to provide a better life for a human child. Anyone going against what was already spun is at odds with Laima.
A FOLKTALE OF THE LAUMĖS
A woman was harvesting a field and had taken her child with her. She was so busy with her work that the child slept the day through, and she left the little one behind. The woman went home at the end of the day to milk the cows and make dinner.
She served her husband, who asked her, “Where’s my son?”
With terror, she whispered, “I have forgotten him!” She ran as fast as she could to the place in which she left her son, and heard a Laumė speak: “Hush hush, forgotten child.” The mother, from the distance, asked the Laumė for her child back.
The fairie said, “Come, come, dear woman, take your child, we have done nothing to him. We know that you work very hard, at many jobs, and that you didn’t want to leave your child behind.”
The fairies then went on to shower the babe with much treasure, enough gifts to raise several children. The mother went home with her precious baby and with her gifts; she was greeted with great joy.
Another woman, hearing of her good fortune, was taken over by jealousy. She left her child in the fields and went home, thinking, “I shall do the same as her, and also be showered in gifts.”
When she later approached the field, she heard the fairies speak: “Čiūčia liūlia, you left your child in greed.” The fairies tossed the child at her feet. The babe was dead.
LESSONS OF LAUMĖS
Laumės are not afraid to bare their teeth and stand against injustices and vices. Laumės are beautiful, yet are sought for their skills and knowledge, not only those that pertain to household matters.
Their sense of fate enables them to change it, to show that life is worth living, despite the hurdles that stand in the way.
Sources: “Heathenism in Lithuania” and “Mythology and Religion of the Ancient Lithuanians” by Pranė Dundulienė.
“Lithuanian Religion and Mythology: Systematic Study” by Gintaras Beresnevičius. http://www.lituanus.org/1972/72_1_06.htm
Notes: The Stone Age was 2.6 million years ago and lasted until 30,000 BCE; this venerable, fearsome goddess is among the most ancient.
Čiūčia liūlia means “forgotten child” and is the name of a famous, traditional lullaby. Sung by Rasa Serra: https://www.reverbnation.com/rasaserra/song/3405722-lullaby-iia-lilia-dukrytla-acappella
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