Disclaimer: I am posting this for fun and because people enjoy reading about these things. If you choose to play any of these games then you do so at your own risk.
Goddess of Nightmare
In some counties the arrival of spring is heralded by the ritualistic drowning of a straw doll which represents the Goddess of winter Marzanna. This reflects the defeat, or death of winter and the rebirth of the world. You can find more details of how, why and when this ritual is performed to this day in Poland here or here.
Many countries have their own ways of celebrating the Spring Equinox, which is also known as Ostara among pagans. Many of these rituals are designed to celebrate or promote fertility, reflecting the natural world at this time and many ceremonies involve water. While water is associated with life, it is also commonly linked to the spirit world, as I have talked about previously in my blog.
When I was a child I often heard the equinoxes referred to as ‘turning days’ or ‘between days’ and was told that these times can be dangerous. I was told not to go out walking in places associated with spirits or fairies as I could be stolen away or harmed. Although I have never been able to find much about this (which isn’t fiction based) there are still many rituals specifically associated with such times,
Even in the modern world effigies are still submerged into water, commonly considered a spiritual conductor, to allow for communication. On other occasions they are locked in boxes and placed into rivers or beneath the earth. You only have to look at games like One Man Hide and Seek or Daruma San to see that there is a consistent link between spirits and water.
However, if submerging effigies can bind spirits or open up an avenue of communication then burning them is dangerous. It can anger them and if done so without proper preparations, liberate said horror to come and seek its revenge – many of these games warn that burning without putting protection in place can result in possession of the original caster.
Swiatowid from Reddit spoke of a Polish Goddess named Morenna whose effigy is burned every spring to banish winter – Morenna may be another name for Marzanna (can any readers confirm/deny?) or may be another deity entirely. Morenna is known as the Goddess of Nightmare.
Swiatowid says that If you burn a female effigy in a dark room while there is snow on the ground outside then this summons Morenna. The burning of any token associated with her will be taken as a grave insult and she will attempt to punish you. This plays out something like Midnight Man, except that as the Goddess of Nightmare Morenna takes a different approach.
If she catches you then you will be plagued with nightmares so unpleasant that they commonly end in madness. It is said that you can avoid this by remaining awake, although I cannot find any information on how long you need to do this for. If she succeeds then these nightmares will continue every time you sleep until the following spring when Morenna ‘dies’.
Marzanna (the supplied link contains more information on how and why the ritual is performed to this day in Poland).
Initial credit for this goes to Swiatowid from Reddit.