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.

 

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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.

Gebo

Gebo has been popping up in my life a lot lately. 

An exchange; a gift, usually for a gift. 

A few weeks ago, I wrote a very straightforward healing ritual calling on the goddess Eir. I haven’t utilized it yet, but I thought about it and it just manifested from brain to hand to paper. At the end, very loudly in my mind, I heard, “Gebo. Gebo. Gebo.”

A gift for a gift. If I want Eir to partake on the ritual I wrote, I would have to provide an offering to her. Should I need to utilize that spell, or one like it in the future, I plan to involve a check-writing portion for a local children’s hospital. Eir, goddess of healing, would want to support other healers. 

Yesterday afternoon, I did a rune reading. I had been feeling like I needed to do things the “right” way and while I still was going with my UPG ways, I was still looking for the “right” ways. The right words, the right symbols, the right libations- all the while ignoring my own advice of intent first. The runes set me straight. 

Laguz- psychic, unconscious, creativity

Kenaz- illumination, creative work

Gebo- gift from the spirit world

All together: put forth the time and efforts and connection will follow. A gift for a gift. Time and attention for time and attention. 
No right, no wrong. Just do it. 

Confirmation bias

Keeping this blog has been a blessing in so many ways. It has allowed an outlet for some really dark days and a place to share some really light and happy moments. It’s also been an electronic journal that lets me document and relive my own personal history. I am open, honest, and truthful here because the main point of writing is for myself- to learn and grow and continue flourishing.

There is one piece on this blog, however, that isn’t honest and truthful because I was lying to myself at the point of writing it. And I have been lying to myself for the past few months. I allowed myself to verbalize the truth to some special people Magickal things started happening all around me.

But lets take a step back and review some history.

In August 2013, someone spoke to me in a night while I was struggling with nursing Witchlette. She was but a month and a half old and we had a tough night. A female voice, whom I later attributed to Frigg, came to me that night and calmed both Witchlette and I and I had successful nursing situations with Witchlette for the remainder of her nursing sessions as well as successful nursing sessions more often than not with Witchling.

Two years later, as I am ebbing and flowing through all sorts of emotions and life transitions, with everything waning and just going through the motions, I was given a gift in the form of a feather which, with basic research and meditation, I attributed to a being from Frigg.

The following February, at a private Full Moon rite, S wrote a very powerful moon ritual which invoked Brigid, gave me a powerful message, “She has another name. Find her other name, and left me that night and all the next day with my crown chakra tingling. 

The same feeling, looking back, I had when I affirmed Frigg had come to me that night with Witchlette. 

The same feeling, looking back, I had when I found the feather. 

Everything came back to Frigg. Everything. 

So that tingling feeling I had that night. The message of Brigid having another name. I affirmed at that moment it wasn’t Frigg because that would be too obvious. That would be my insticts creating what I want to believe, not what truly is there. That would be Confirmation Bias: I believe only which reinforces what I already believe. 

I fought against it so hard. I read and researched and found my “answer“. Brigid and Sif both are related to the Rowan tree. That was enough for me to state. 

And I’ve been struggling to connect ever since. With anything and anyone. 

Because I was given this awesome gift and I fought against it, lying to everyone including myself. 

One Friday in April, after discussing my frustration of only being on this Nordic journey for a few years and already being out of Asynjur material, I was given the name of a few books, including Norse Goddess Magic: Trancework, Mythology, and Ritual by Alice Karlsdottir.  It is a testament to the lack of resources of Northern goddesses and a way to connect with them personally through individual meditative work. 

Pages 72 and 73 include relations between Brigid and Frigg. Brigid has many commonalities with Holda, who is openly considered to be another facet of Frigg. Of many of Brigid’s oversights, childbirth and prophecy are included. She, like Frigg, is a goddess of the homestead. Imbolc, Brigid’s feast day in early February, corresponds with a time also sacred to Frigg/Holda. The woman of the house would welcome Goa (the second month, returning light) in only her shift and would host a feast for all women on the farm. If women danced at this feast, their flax would thrive. The flax was spun into thread to later be woven. Holda/Frigg first bore flax to the people, teaching them how to sow, reap, and spin. Spinning is one of the tasks which is prohibited in traditional Brigid-centric Imbolc celebrations.  

That’s a whole lot more than a coincidental tree. 

I made this statement aloud Monday night. As soon as I made the statement aloud, my crown chakra tingled. Tuesday, on my way home with my kids, I passed a falcon that seemed to watch us as we drove by, whose underfeathers match the feather I found in my car gifted from Frigg. And my crown chakra was on fire. 

The night with Witchlette at 1 1/2 months old. 

The feather. 

The moon. 

I have been drafted and I am on Team Frigg. Full and wholly Team Frigg. 

Manifest gods

Friday night I was having dessert at a local pub with some of my CotE people when we started discussing manifest gods. 

Makes me think of the Joan Osborne song

What if God was one of us? 
Just a slob like one of us 
Just a stranger on the bus 
Tryin’ to make his way home?

So, the gods of old are manifested into folks living now. Their spirits are immortal, but their bodies are not. They reincarnate into new bodies and take on new personas, but continue to manifest their godly selves within that persona. 

Sounds quite a bit like…

Left right: Anders/Braggi, Mike/Ullr, Axl/Odin, Ty/Hodr, Olaf/Balder

Norse gods continue to reincarnate through decendants of Norse gods manifested who fled from the  I North to Norsewood, New Zealand. It sounds a bit silly and at times it is.  Seriously though, go watch the heck out of this show. It’s not American, so nudity and swearing is high while violence is low. 

So, manifest gods. There was talk of Odin being a school bus driver, Thor being a fighter pilot, and Loki being Tom Cruise. I believe Odin to be more suited as a truck driver, as there is much more traveling for The Wanderer. And Thor is much more blue collar. Tom Cruise I understand for Loki- he’s entertaining, but crazy as hell and totally unpredictable and uncontrollable. 

The next day, while on our 10 mile hike, Hubby and I discussed this. Hubby declared Odin would have to be a travel writer and I agree with his conjecture 2000%. Odin is the master of language. He would need to share his travels. He also believes Thor would have career status in the military and be eligible for retirement years ago, but continue to volunteer for front line infantry. 

Thinking of Witchlette’s favorites, Balder and Hod…I wonder if they would be working together. Balder the gentle, kind god. He would be one of the rare make preschool teachers. 

This got me thinking too about the goddesses. Would Frigg be more focused on wives or mothers? Would she be a general women’s advocate and cover both? Or would she be a seamstress for fashion designer? Perhaps she’s Vera Wang, known most for her wedding gown designs. What about Sif? She is to wives what Frigg is to mothers: embodiment of both, but known for one more than the other. She’s an agricultural goddess, so perhaps she’s be a farmer. Maybe a hair dresser, as she’s known more for her golden locks than anything else. All the handmaidens of which we know far too little about…

My personal goal for the remainder of 2017 is to get to know as much as I can about these mysterious figures. So much has been lost to the sands of time. I have been pointed to some resources that may help shed some light onto them. More to come!

The next day

Woke up this morning feeling very well. Despite Witchling being up twice overnight and it being my turn to tend to him, I wasn’t sleepy upon wake. 

This morning we went to Rise for breakfast, then to the circus with Hubby’s parents. 

I was very impressed with the lack of whips and force put towards the cats. The man had a long stick with a pointy end which he used to scewer meat and feed it to cats upon completion of a trick and an even longer stick with a frayed string at the end. 

This, but imagine a much bigger kitty

Witchling took a nap on me for the tail end of the show, as it was nap time and he was ready. The four of us got home and Hubby and I split the kids. He and Witchlette went driving, Witchling and I went to the playground. 

Witchling climbed the steps, crawled through the tunnel and made his way to the biggest slide. Twice. Third time he went back and forth through the tunnel. Then, after asking to get down, he walked to the gate and said bye bye home. I asked if he wanted to go for a walk or go home, and he said walk, so we took to the trail. 

Shorts in Feb!

When I stop for long moments, I still have a tingle. All through the woods, I could feel the vibration. 

During our meditation, after connecting with Her and feeling Her presence, I was told, “She has another name. Find her other name.” I did some reading this morning, and I feel I may be onto something. More reading is needed and I will share my discovery.