by Aldis Pūtelis

"Mother." The Latvian word for "mother" and used to form the names of some sixty (or, according to others, seventy) Latvian deities. Some are the patronesses of specific places, others the personified maternal forces of nature who each represents a particular aspect of nature. The māte are all different, and the ease with which they seem to have been created points to a pattern that has been going on for some time, assuming that there is a mother for every thing and activity. According to the Lutheran priest Paul Einhorn, who describes several in his Historia Lettica (1649), they were invoked by those performing a particular task or activity, such as fishermen appealing to Jūras māte, the "mother of the sea."

Examples are Lauka māte ("Field mother"), Meža māte ("Forest mother"), Ceļa māte ("Road mother") and Darza māte ("Garden mother").



  • Lurker, Manfred. (2004). Routledge Dictionary of Gods and Demons. London: Routledge.