Tag Archive: nerthus


Goddess Hertha

"Incense Fire" by *Zingaia

“Incense Fire” by *Zingaia, based on Jean Delville’s drawing, “Parsifal”.

“Hertha’s themes are rebirth, kinship, health, longevity and tradition. Her symbols are dormant trees and snow. In ancient times, on this day people venerated Hertha, the Teutonic Goddess of fertility, domesticated animals, magic and nature. In Germanic tradition, Hertha descended through the smoke of any fire today and brought gifts, much like an early Santa Claus figure (giving Her solar associations too). Her connection to nature has survived in the name for our planet: Earth.

Yule takes its designation from a Old English word meaning ‘wheel’, representing the turning of time’s wheel back toward the sun. In early times, this festival included parties for various sun Gods and Goddesses; it eventually was translated into the celebration of Christ’s birth. Any light source or burning incense can symbolize Hertha’s presence today.

Besides this, look to the world’s traditions for magical ways of making your celebration special. For example, Swedes eat a rice pudding with one lucky almond; whoever gets the nut receives good fortune. Russians toss grain into people’s homes for providence as they carol. Armenians make a wish on the Yule log when ignited and sometimes make divinations by the cider patterns made afterward. Bohemians cut apples in half. If there’s a perfect star in the center and it has plump seeds, it portends joy and good health. Finally, kiss someone under the mistletoe for a long, happy relationship.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Nerthus” by Lisa Hunt

“Nerthus” by Lisa Hunt

According to Wikipedia, Hertha is another name for the ancient Germanic earth Goddess, Nerthus (click on Her name to be taken to that entry).  In addition to that information presented in Nerthus’ entry, Patricia Monaghan wrote that “no legends survive of the Germanic Goddess from whom we get our word for earth.  It is known, however, that She was worshiped into historic times, when plows were carried in Christian Shrovetide processions in honor of the earth’s fertility.   Hertha was also frequently invoked by medieval witches as their special patron” (p. 152).

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Hertha”.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Asatru Religion, “Goddess Nerthus Or Eartha Or Jordh“.

Encyclopedia Mythica, “Nerthus“.

GardenStone. Goddess Holle: In Search of a Germanic Goddess.

Krasskova, Galina . Northern Tradition Paganism, “Who is Nerthus?

Monaghan, Patricia. Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, “Nerthus” at p. 488.

Mystic Wicks, “Nerthus {Goddess of the Week}“.

PaganNews.com, “Nerthus“.

Reaves, William P. Boudicca’s Bard, “Nerthus: Toward an Identification“.

Twilightmists.tripod.com. “Hertha, Ertha, Nerthus“.

Wikipedia, “Nerthus“.

Williamson, George S. The Longing for Myth in Germany: Religion and Aesthetic Culture from Romanticism to Nietzsche.

Goddess Tellus Mater

“Mother Earth” by *MD-Arts

“Tellus Mater’s themes are earth, ecology, promises, abundance, prosperity and fertility. Her symbols are the globe, soil and grain.  The Roman Earth Mother celebrates today’s festivities, the Earth’s Birthday, by sharing of Her abundance, being a Goddess of vegetation, reproduction, and increase. In regional stories, Tellus Mater gave birth to humans, which is why bodies are returned to the soil at death – so they can be reborn from Her womb anew.

According to James Ussher, a seventeenth-century Anglican archbishop, God created the earth on October 26, 4004 B.C.E. While this date is uncertain at best, it gives us a good excuse to honor Tellus Mater and hold a birthday party on Her behalf.

Make a special cake for the Earth Mother out of natural fertilizers. Take this to a natural setting (don’t forget the candle). Light the candle and wish for the earth’s renewal, then blow it out, remove the candle, and bury your gift to Tellus Mater in the soil, where it can begin manifesting your good wishes!

While you’re outside, pick up a pinch of soil, a stone, or any natural object that strikes your eye and keep it close. This is a part of Tellus Mater, and it will maintain her power for abundance wherever you go today. It will also help you stay close to the Earth Mother and honor the living spirit of earth in word and deed.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“In ancient Roman religion and myth, Tellus or Terra Mater (‘Mother Earth’) is a Goddess of the earth. Although Tellus and Terra are hardly distinguishable during the Imperial eraTellus was the name of the original earth Goddess in the religious practices of the Republic or earlier.  The scholar Varro (1st century BCE) lists Tellus as one of the di selecti, the twenty principal gods of Rome, and one of the twelve agricultural deities.  She is regularly associated with Ceres in rituals pertaining to the earth and agricultural fertility.

Tellus/Pax panel of Ara Pacis

The attributes of Tellus were the cornucopia, or bunches of flowers or fruit. She was typically depicted reclining.  Her male complement was a sky god such as Caelus (Uranus) or a form of Jupiter. A male counterpart Tellumo or Tellurus is mentioned, though rarely. Her Greek counterpart is Gaia (Gē Mâtēr), and among the Etruscans She was Cel. Michael Lipka has argued that the Terra Mater who appears during the reign of Augustus is a direct transferral of the Greek Ge Mater into Roman religious practice, while Tellus, whose temple was within Rome’s sacred boundary (pomerium), represents the original earth Goddess cultivated by the state priests.” [1]

Patricia Monaghan tells us: “The Roman ‘Mother Earth’ was honored each April 15 [Fordicidia], when a pregnant cow was sacrificed and its unborn calf burned.  The Romans tried to offer appropriate tribute to each divinity and they felt that the earth – pregnant in spring with sprouting plants – would especially appreciate such a sacrifice.

“Ceres” by ~rebenke

Tellus’ constant companion was Ceres, the grain Goddess, and the two of them interested themselves not only in vegetative reproduction but in humanity’s increase as well.  Therefore, they were invoked at every marriage that they might bless it with offspring.  Tellus too was considered the most worthy Goddess on whom to swear oaths, for the earth, witnessing all doings on Her surface, would see that an oath taker kept his promise.  Finally, Tellus, to whom the bodies of the dead were returned as to a womb, was the motherly death Goddess, for unlike Her Greek counterpart Gaia, Tellus was associated with the underworld as well as the earth’s surface” (p. 293 – 294).

“Nerthus” by MarisVision

On a side note, “the identity of the Goddess Nerthus, called Terra Mater, Mother Earth by Tacitus in Germania, has been a topic of much scholarly debate.”  Click here to read a fantastic article by William Reaves entitled “Nerthus: Toward an Identification”.

 

 

 

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Tellus Mater”.

Reaves, William P. “Nerthus: Toward an Identification“.

Wikipedia, “Terra (mythology)“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Berger, Pamela C. Goddess Obscured: Transformation of the Grain Protectress from Goddess to Saint.

GardenStone. The Nerthus Claim.

Lipka, Michael. Roman Gods: A Conceptual Approach.

Novaroma.org, “Fordicidia“.

Took, Thalia. Thaliatook.com, “Cels“.

Wikipedia, “Fordicidia“.

Goddess Nerthus

“Nerthus” by Lisa Hunt

“Nerthus’ themes are spring, cycles, health, energy, peace and prosperity.  Her symbols are fire, chariots and soil.  This Germanic earth Goddess welcomes the season with Her presence. She was so important in Danish regions that no weapons or iron tools could be left out during Her festivals, because that was thought to invoke Her displeasure. During spring rites, Her statue was covered on a chariot until the priest determined She had arrive to oversee the festival.

Traditionally, Buergsonndeg is a day spent before a bonfire that greets the sun and banishes the last vestiges of winter. So, take down your heavy winter curtains, and let some light into the house! This restores Nerthus’s positive energy and expels any lingering sicknesses. If it’s cloudy out, turn on some lights, don dazzling-colored clothing, and find ways to brighten up your living space with flowers and decorations that speak of earth (Nerthus) and spring’s beauty.

Another customary activity is turning the soil, mixing it with an offering of milk, flower and water. Even if you don’t have a garden, turn a little dirt near your apartment or home and leave a similar gift. This action rejoices in Nerthus’s awakening and draws the Goddess’s peace and prosperity to your residence. Take a little of that same blessing with you, just collect a bit of the soil-milk mixture in a container and put it wherever you need peace or prosperity the most.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Nerthus” by MarisVision

Nerthus was an ancient Germanic earth Goddess. She was known since the time of the Roman Empire. Tacitus, the Roman historian in 1st-2nd century AD, identified Nerthus with the Roman Goddess Terra Mater. Nerthus was a popular Goddess since She was worshipped by seven Germanic tribes – Reudigni, Aviones, Anglii (Angles), Varini, Eudoses, Suarines and the Huitones.  She was worshipped in a sacred groove on an island in the North Sea or the Baltic Sea (possible Sjaeland), but the center of Her worship was in Denmark.  She can be found dwelling in the hidden realms underground. Like the strong earth-dweller She is, Her symbol is also the boar.

“Nerthus” by Thorskegga

Tacitus described Her as living in a holy birch grove.  He recorded that each year there was a festival where the Goddess would supposedly travel in a chariot pulled by two white heifers, escorted by the priest, bringing prosperity and good harvest.  It was good luck for those settlements She visited in Her journey and doors were opened in hospitality.  No one was allowed to take up war or bear arms during the festivities that accompanied Her; even iron tools were locked up during the Goddess’ journey.

“Nerthus” by ErebusOdora

When the priest discerned that the Goddess grew tired of human company, the priest would guide the chariot to a sacred lake, where Nerthus would bathe. Her chariot would be covered with a cloth. After the selected slaves bathed the Goddess in the lake, the slaves were then drowned, as sacrifices to Nerthus.

Nerthus’ attributes also resembled that of the ancient Celtic counterpart, Matres or Matrone, the group of mother Goddesses that was popular around the Rhine River.

Though the worship of Nerthus seemed to have ended in the 5th or 6th century, the later tradition says that She had been identified with Norse god, Njörd (Njord), the Vanir god of the wind and sea. Njörd was the male form of Nerthus. How had Nerthus undergone a change of sex, still baffles modern scholars.

Nerthus may well have been the unnamed sister and wife of Njörd, in the Norse myths, who became the mother of Freyr and Freyja. Though none of the Norse authors ever gave a name to Njörd’s sister. Or She may well be the ancient form of Freyja Herself. Since the Norse writers believed that the Vanir deities were older than the Aesir, then that Teutonic Nerthus became the Norse Freyja is more than likely true.” [1][2][3][4]

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Asatru Religion, “Goddess Nerthus Or Eartha Or Jordh“.

Encyclopedia Mythica, “Nerthus“.

Monaghan, Patricia. Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, “Nerthus” at p. 488.

Mystic Wicks, “Nerthus {Goddess of the Week}“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Krasskova, Galina . Northern Tradition Paganism, “Who is Nerthus?

PaganNews.com, “Nerthus“.

Reaves, William P. Boudicca’s Bard, “Nerthus: Toward an Identification“.

Wandering Woman Wondering, “The Goddess Nerthus“.

Goddess Sága

“Sága’s themes are foresight, divination, inspiration, femininity, psychic abilities, kindness and tradition.  Her symbols are cups, water and fish.  Sága is an attendant of Frigg, is a Scandinavian Goddess whose name means ‘seeress’. Saga is a student of the Universe, ever watchful and ever instructing us about the value of keen observation. She is directly connected with the sign of Pisces, which governs artistic expression, psychic abilities and sensitivity toward others’ needs.

In artistic representations, Sage bears a long Viking braid, an emblem of womanhood and honor. According to the Eddas, Sága lives at Sinking Beach, a waterfall, where she offers Her guests a refreshing drink of inspiration from a golden cup. Later, Her name got applied to the sacred heroic texts of the Scandinavian people.

Tend your sacred journals today. Write about your path, your feelings, where you see yourself going, and where you’ve been. Saga lives in those words – in your musing, memories and thoughts – guiding them to the paper to inspire you now and in the future.

Invoke any of Sága’s attributes in your life today simply by practicing the art of observation. Really look at the world, your home, and the people around you. As you do, remember that little things count. Saga’s insight lies in the grain of sand and the wildflower as well as the stars.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Sága is one of the twelve major Goddesses, second only to Frigg according to Snorri in Prose Edda. She sits by the stream of memory and drinks from golden chalices at Her grand estate called Sökkvabekkr. Sökkvabekkr means ‘Sinking Beach’ and was a landscape of flowing waterfalls. There She and Oðin drink every day from golden chalices.  The liquid is either the waters of memory, or pehaps from the Well of Urðr.

Sága pours Odin a drink in an illustration (1893) by Jenny Nyström.

Her name means ‘seeress’ or ‘ominiscience’ and is connected with the Norse word for history – thus, some call Her the Goddess of history.  She is often assumed to be the sibyl or seeress who prophesizes Ragnarök.  Sága’s name is most likely directly related to the word saga (epic story) which in turn comes from the Old Norse verb segja ‘to say, tell’.

It has also been postulated that since Frigg knows everything about the present, and Sága knows all about the past, that Sága is an aspect of Frigg as Memory.

Sága’s genealogy is lost in the mists of time, and seems to belong to an older generation than that of the Vanir or Æsir, like Týr.  It is thought that She may have been an ancient sea deity akin to a Nerthus/Njörðr or Ægir/Rán combination, which is why sometimes She has been described as the Grandmother of Heimdall (who had nine mothers, the waves).

From Grímnismál
Oðin is describing the halls of the gods:

‘Sökkvabekkr, a fourth is called, and cool waves resound over it; there Oðin and Sága drink everyday, joyful, from golden cups.’ From the Poetic Edda, translated by Carolyne Larrington

From Gylfaginning
In answer to ‘Who are the  Asyniur?’

‘The highest if Frigg.  She has a dwelling called Fensalir and it is very splendid.  Second is Sága.  She dwells atSökkvabekkr, and that is a big place.’ From Snorri Sturluson’s Edda, translated by Anthony Faulkes

There is also some speculation that Iðunn and Sága might be one in the same.” [1]

 

 

Sources:

Ladysaga.tripod.com, “Saga“.

 

Suggested Links:

Krasskova, Galina. Exploring the Northern Tradition, “Saga“.

Paxson, Diana L. Hrafnar.org,Beloved“.

Wikipedia, “Sága and Sökkvabekkr“.


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