for the Mari, God has nine substances, or hypostases, ranging from the life-giving Ilyan Yumo to the birth goddess Shochinava.
Asked about the theological foundation of his faith, Mamayev smiled and said, "Everything works through nature."
Indeed, like most animist religions, the Mari faith traditionally knows no written scriptures and no sacred edifices. Prayers are chiefly held in sacred groves, where some feasts include the ritual slaughter of animals as sacrifice.
"Nature is our temple," said Zoya Dudina as she walked with worshippers on a winding path through high grass after the ceremony in the grove had ended.
Dudina, a poet and intellectual from the republican capital, Ioshkar-Ola, expressed pride that her people had regained the possibility to practice their traditional faith.
In Soviet times, she said, villagers would sneak out to the sacred groves after midnight, hoping that nobody would report their forbidden prayers.
Indeed, unnoticed by much of the outside world, the Mari faith has made a remarkable recovery since the end of Soviet Union.
In Marii-El, the Mari Traditional Religion, dubbed MTR, is recognized as one of three traditional faiths, along with Christianity and Islam.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."