An Exploration- Part III: Reconciliation

A year ago February, the ladies and I held our first private ritual together for the Full Moon in honor of Brigid close to Imbolc.

At that ritual, someone came to me. The Magick and the Power was amazing. I was left tingling all over for the remaining night and into the next morning. During the ritual, I was spoken to, “She has another name. Find her other name.”

After a short week of looking for correlation between Brigid and the Norse pantheon, I kept finding information about Frigg and Brigid, but I pushed it aside because it couldn’t be that easy. I ultimately put together breadcrumbs of information to link Brigid and Sif.

Three months later, I came to realize the answer that I had been pushing aside was in front of me all along. Everything always came back to Frigg. Just completing the Holda write-up of my journey to my own triple goddess gave me even more confirmation that it was Frigg and not Sif that I should have pinned. Perchta and Berta are two other Holda names, and both mean Bright. Like Brigid Bright…

Fast forward to September when I got my genealogy results back. There is no Swedish in my genealogy results and no Swedish in family records that I have been able to locate. Granted, just this morning I got some insight as to how and why siblings may appear that they are from different heritages genetically. The lack of Swedish broke the direct connection I thought I had with Frigg. I have since reconciled this and moved on. Frigg accepted me knowing there is no direct link; she called me knowing I am kith and not kin. Perhaps she is calling on me again as she did in a past life.

Perhaps I was supposed to be looking for Holda all along.

Perhaps, when I was tasked with finding another name…it was never Brigid. Perhaps it was always Frigg (this is what the folks who were there that night believe as well). Perhaps Frigg was telling me at that point that she was speaking to me as Holda, connecting with my German heritage. A child typically takes the name of the father and the faith of the mother.

My mother’s mother’s parents are German immigrants. Perhaps I am relighting the flame from that family line lost so long ago, burning bright and alive with me.

With Frija.

With Frigg.

With Holda.

My own triple goddess.

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An Exploration- Part II- Holda

Over the past few weeks, I have begun calling Frigg at my altar by more than one name. I have begun calling to her, rather, by three. From all of the readings I have done and my own communication with her, I understand and practice with these three names as the same entity.

The second name I call into sacred space is Holda.

Holda’s correlation with Frigg is not on grounds of a single occurrence, but similarities appear throughout reliable sources.

Every written account I have found on Holda states she has multiple names depending on the region in which she is being referenced: Holde (which stands for “merciful”), Perchta, Berta (“Bright”), Frau Freke, Frau Gode and most famously so, Frau Holle. Frau Freke is an almost direct reference to Allmother. Another name for Holda, and therefore Frigg, is “Frau Gode”. German language shifted the W to a G in early medieval times, and has left the prefix Gode in many places. It is the shift from Wode to Gode. So Mrs. Gode, Odin’s wife, Frigg. Germanic lore tends to leave multiple names for their deities: Odin alone has at over fifty, and his son Thor has at least seven.

Luckily, Holda is greatly preserved in German folklore. The most famous folktale about her was written down in the early 19th century CE, by the Brothers Grimm under the guise “Frau Holle”. She has the role of both a good grandmother (to the girl who helps willfully) and a hag (to the girl’s lazy half-sister who refuses to be of any help). On the surface, this seems to be merely a story of morals, but it reminds of the celebration of Christmas (thus, Yule- a time sacred to Frigg): She rewards those who have been good, but punishes those who have been bad.

A further indication of her as a Yule goddess can be found in the idea that “when Frau Holle makes her bed, it snows”. Needless to say, snow is a sign of winter, which is the season in whose midst we celebrate Yule. Also, some of her names are linked very closely to light, especially Perchta and Berta. Again this suggests the time of Yule – as it is indeed the time of year when we celebrate the return of the sun.

Like Brigid to Saint Bridget, traditions devoted to Holda were continued even after our ancestors where Christianized; and some of these traditions are conducted up to the modern day. One of many traditions dedicated to Holda have the twelfth night of Yule allocated to her. Interestingly enough, in Old High German, the name of this night is perahtun naht – meaning “the luminous night”. The connection both to the goddess (as another name for her is “Perchta”), the connection to Frigg, and the general idea of the celebration of Yule can hardly be a coincidence. In many cases, it is Holda, not Santa, who delivers gifts. At Yuletide, she travels the world in a carriage and bestows good health, good fortune, and other gifts to humans that honor her. She not only is connected with Winter Solstice itself, but also with the holiday season that continues many of its customs, the 12 days of Christmas.

Referring back to the idea that Jord and Frigg are one in the same, and Frigg is therefore Thor’s biological mother not stepmother, is confirmed by looking more closely at Holda. In several local legends, Holda is presented as a Goddess of Healing, and is equaled to the Earth Goddess Nerthus, Hludana or Hlodyn; the latter name is identified in Voluspa for Thor’s mother.

Holda is sometimes referred to as a Goddess of beauty, yet sometimes as an old hag. The “hag” part is most likely a later, Christian, addition in an attempt to demonize the folklore of a local goddess. Either way, we are left with the idea that she is a Goddess of beauty and also an old woman – a concept that appears contradictory to the time we live in, where the words “young” and “beautiful” are often seen as synonyms. This reflects on our modern times more than it does Holda: in the past older women – and elders in general – were respected a lot more than today. In the past, beauty was not seen as something that faded with age as it is today with the endless quest for youthful beauty.

Ultimately, almost all folklore agree is Holda the spinstress. This idea is most famously reinforced in the popular story, one of Witchlette’s favorites, Die Blaue Blume. Here she appears as the guardian of a cave – a cave which appears in a number of local German folktales as the habitat of Holda. In this story, she introduces spinning flax into linen to man.

Additionally, a number of sources mention Holda as a patroness of all women and children – another direct tie to Frigg. Holda has a special tie to souls of the dead, mostly babies and children. It is said Frigg keeps the souls of dead children in her hall, and keeps them well until their parents can join them. It is said that as Holda and her entourage passed through the fields, they blessed the land with abundance and caused a double harvest in the growing season that followed. I find hindsight interesting that I was brought to Paganism after my young sister’s death, and I have been blessed by a goddess who keeps dead children.

During persecution times in Europe, some of those suspected of witchcraft were said to “ride with Holda.” Like the word “witch” itself, it seems phrase has grown recent times to take back the goddess and the folkmagick that she brings. This folkmagick is yet another tie to Frigg, the seeress of the Aesir.

With Holda, I have a more complete image of my goddess, Frigg Allmother.

 

An Exploration- Part 1: Frija

Over the past few weeks, I have begun calling Frigg at my altar by more than one name. I have begun calling to her, rather, by three. From all of the readings I have done and my own communication with her, I understand and practice with these three names are the same entity.

The first name I call into sacred space is Frija.

Calling Frigg Frija has also helped reconcile the Frigg-Freya discrepancy that I’ve been holding, for at one point in time, both Frigg and Freya energies were one within Frija.

While mowing the lawn in mid-September, I mused the idea that Frigg and Freya, as we know them, have switched much of their roles. The powerful leader of the valkyrjur, with war and carnage at the forefront, using harsh magic to ensure who they chose to die in battle indeed died, who weave the destiny of the warriors using intestines for thread, severed heads for weights, and spears for beaters in their gruesome loom. This focus on war and death is the focus of an Aesir god. Yet, Freya is listed as Vanir- fertility-centric earth goddess. This description does not reconcile with the description of Freya as she is known today. She is aligned across cultures with The Morrigan and Badb.

The image of Freya has since been “santized” to not only highlight the pleasant qualities of her and her Valkeries but also perhaps to focus on the inter-cultural exchange which the Germanic travelers were establishing with trade routes through to the Middle East. With this sanitation, the Lore shifted from the magical weaving choosers of the slain and instead focused on love affairs with human men and merely assisting Odin with getting his favorite slain to Valhalla.

Frigg, alternatively, is seen as a loving wife and mother who watches over all domestic affairs. She is a weaver- of the clouds and of the fates of humans. She is able to best Odin in wits at least twice- once in the introduction of Longbeards and once when her chosen brother- the kind brother- eventually rose to the throne.

Both goddesses wear cloaks of falcon plumes for disguise and transformation. Both goddesses partake in the act of seidr, as volvas, which was commonly done by the warband cheifton’s wife at the beginning of the Migration period. Both women take on this role as the veleda. At this point in time, there was likely one large clan, who, with migration, broke off into two or more clans. With the migration, differing customs were developed. It was at this point, I believe, Frija, original warrior/mother goddess, broke off into two forms: Frigg and Freya.

When the Migration Period led to the Viking Age, and the warbands became leaderless groups, Odin was no longer cheiften, but rather wonderer and poet. The need for the veleda was also no longer necessary, and so the role was reinterpreted and eventually evolved to what we now see as Frigg- the Vanir-esque Aesir weaver wife of Odin, the wanderer, and Freya- the Aesir-esque Vanir warrior wife of Odr, the wanderer. Yes, both are beyond those aspects, but everything beyond those aspects (love, beauty, childbirth), they continue to share.

I struggle to wrap my mind around the fractured, split goddesses. I am unable to see the angst in Frigg, who is the wife of the god of war (and poetry) because so much of her surviving lore has to do with the death of Baldr. I am unable to really connect with Freya because so much of her surviving lore gives me the feelings of lustful anger. 

I can wrap my mind around the two, back as one. Witchlette, wise beyond her years, continues to confuse the two in name and in likeness, also understands Frija better.  I can easily see Frija, devoted mother, dependable wife, skilled seeress, powerful warrior. I can reconcile the two seemingly flipped personas back in their original form.

Thought while mowing

I had discussed Frigg and Freya, their similarities and differences quite a bitAlmost to ad nauseum

When I first started my 30 days of Frigg devotional, I spent a lot of time on Norse Mythology for Smart People

The article about Frigg soends a lot of time, like I do, dissecting Frigg from Freya based on Frija. 

Germanic mythology acquired its basic form during the Migration Period, and is, accordingly, a mythology especially suited to the socio-political institutions and prevailing ways of life that characterized that era. The cornerstone of this schema is the divine pair Frija and Woðanaz, the veleda and the *xarjanaz (“warband leader”) respectively. During the Viking Age, the formal warbands of earlier times gave way to informal, often leaderless groups of roving warriors – the vikings. Since the warband was no longer a feature of the lives of the Norse people, the mythological structures that had accompanied it lost much of their relevance. Now that Odin was no longer thought of as the leader of the warband of the gods, nor Freya/Frigg its veleda, the opportunity arose for their roles to be reinterpreted. For unknown reasons, part of this reinterpretation evidently involved splitting Frija into two goddesses, a process that appears to have never been fully completed, but was instead interrupted by the arrival and acceptance of Christianity.

The other day, while mowing my lawn, I was thinking about Frigg, and how earthy she is. How gentle and loving she is. How Freya is a warrior. How Freya is more like the female Odin than Frigg. How Freya is the veleda. Freya, a Vanir, has the personality and likeness of an Aesir. Frigg, and Aesir, has the personality and likeness much closer to Idunn, a Vanir. 

Did Frigg and Freya switch personas when one became more dominant over the other? 

I shared these thoughts with my Circle on Friday night, and R, who Frigg/Holda has also called to, sees what I see. She is helping me as I continue to embrace E, my Salem Witch grandmother, and release the ideal of being kin to my gods. Yet, she continues to remind me that I am. I call them by their Nordic names, but I am kin to their German faces. I am kin to Thunar. I am kin to Holda. To Woden. 

Perhaps I am connecting to Frija herself through the face of Frigg. 

As I was reading through older posts, getting back to the start of this year and to the 30 day devotional, my crown was all tingly reading through where I’ve been and what I’ve learned, how far I’ve come. 

Goddess blessed. 

Hail Frigg. Hail Frija. 

A powerful realization 

Last night, while celebrating Mabon with my Circle, we started talking about the afterlife. I honestly don’t remember how the conversation evolved to that point; there were hours within a sacred space just sharing and enjoying each other’s company while working Magick and celebrating friendship. I shared how Helheim is equivalent to the Greek version of an afterlife- a neutral place that is just where you go. It’s not a place of punishment like the Christian Hell. Valhalla isn’t heaven; it’s been romanticized by modern Heathens, but is not a place our ancestors would choose to go. Generation upon generation would go into the family mound and be together. Then the people starting exploring far and wide and dying in far off places and not returning- so it was decided they went to Valhalla where they were rewarded with their bravery by feasting and sparring everyday until they would do and fight, and die, a second time. I also shared how each God has a hall and each God chooses those to join them in their hall. Hubby and I may end up in Frigg’s hall because our relationship is that of true soul mates and Frigg takes in and reunites spouses of our ilk. She also takes in children who die, and calls their parents when it is their time to reunite them.

And I suddenly lost it. The atmosphere, the power of the company…

I started walking this path, like many other Pagans, because of the trauma of life. When I was 20, my little sister, M, passed at 3 1/2. Last night it sunk deep in my heart that Witchlette is now older than M. 

With these amazing women, I went through some powerful shit, and felt cleansed afterward. 

With these amazing women, I had a moment, and was able to turn around and continue to celebrate after feeling some big feelings, as I was in a safe space surrounded by love and magick. 

Returning to my roots

Three weeks ago, I spent the non-student work days setting up my workspace and the beginnings of my instructional materials. 

This year, after a two-year hiatus, I am returning to my roots and going back to what I know best. 

I’m going back to the classroom. 

A few weeks ago, at the CotE Urban Paganism workshop, I hit on an idea I hadn’t thought of before: setting up sacred space at my place of work. 

I had mini Mason jars filled and set for rituals without candles, but they are now present at work. 

Additionally, I collected the two crow feathers I have gathered from work the last few years and places them within the frames of my kids’ pictures. 

Perhaps one for Hunnin and one for Munnin?

When I find something unobtrusive that would make a good Frigg totem, that will be added as well. Perhaps also something for Thor, Sif, and Idunn.