L is for Laima

I’ve only recently begun building a relationship with Laima, the Latvian goddess of fate who’s often grouped with Mara and Dievs. I started cultivating a relationship with her because Mara wanted me to; she wanted her sister-goddess on her altar next to her.

In true Indo-European fashion, Laima can be related to other deities. The synchronism I’ve seen for Laima that makes the most sense to my experience is Lakshmi. At least one Latvian folklorist agrees. I’ve even found that she gets along very well with Ganesha.

She’s sometimes a member of a triad of fate deities with Kārta and Dēkla – sometimes they’re three goddesses, sometimes they’re a triple goddess, and sometimes only Laima is mentioned. Triple-deities of fate are fairly common throughout Europe – there’s the Norns, the Greek Fates, and so on. I don’t have any experience of her as a triple deity myself; I’ve never spoken with Kārta or Dēkla. That doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s the case, just that I can’t back it up.

Laima rules over unchangable fate, but she also cares about the people whose fates she sets, and will help. There are dainas or folksongs in which she gives silver or other gifts to virtuous young women so they can marry.

Laime, spinner of fates,
Why have you decreed
That I must leave my parents
For a stranger? (Kr. B. 17755)

The day has gone from me,
The night has gone from me,
The life that Laime formed,
Such was the life I lived. (Kr. B. 9170)

That girl kept her honour:
Laime wove a wreath for her,

Laime wove a wreath for her,
Dipt it into silver:

Laime’s wagon and God’s steed,
Sun’s daughter is the match maker. (Kr. B. 6621)

Building a relationship with a goddess in this way is a new experience for me since I’m doing it at Mara’s behest – not at the goddess’s own, or at my own. I’ve never approached a god because I felt I was “supposed” to, not because I wanted to.

I don’t mind it, but it brings an entirely different experience to building the relationship. It means that I have less connection to and less experience with Laima than with most other deities I approach. That has translated into doing a lot of research to try to build that bridge between us, since there’s very little UPG. I’ve largely been honoring her in some of the ways I honor Mara, since she wanted to share the altar.

Maybe I’ll never have a relationship with Laima; maybe this is purely something Mara would prefer, and Laima’s not going to bother. If so, that’s fine, I’ve done weirder things for Mara over the years. But it’ll take some getting used to.

Have any of you ever tried to build a relationship with a deity because you were instructed to, not because either of you wanted to? How did you go about it? How did it work out?

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