Wuffacynn

Heathen Polytheism

Gods & Goddesses                                                          

There are many Gods and Goddesses within Heathenry we have not experienced all of them or pretend to know them all, but there are those that form part of our makeup and who we honour regularly at our blotar. we have listed some here:-

Frigg

We know that Frigg had a following in this country during the Anglo-Saxon period; as we see place names that infer such. She is the Wife of Woden, her titles include, Queen of the Heavens, and Queen of all the Gods. She has patronage of all things relating to the hearth and home, from Child birth through to weaving. It is said that she has a number of handmaids who are Goddesses in their own right, of which we know the names of three. Frigg is said to be a Goddess who has a special interest in the way of mankind, she will walk Middle Earth in disguise watching, testing or aiding. She also sends her Handmaids out into Middle Earth to do likewise. Possibly due to her associations with fertility she is said to have strong links with the Anglo-Saxon Earth Mother and the fertility of the land with a special association with the harvest. She is strongly associated with the hearth and home. Home based industries like spindling yarn were also sacred to her, likewise Marriage and childbirth. As with Tiw, Woden and Thor when the seven day week was introduced a day was translated from the Latin to honour her (Friday).

Thunor

Possibly one of the most popular of the early period Heathen Gods in these lands very little is known of him from this period, his popularity can be gauged by the numbers of place names that have survived that indicate a following of Thunor. also the large number of hammer amulets that have been found in grave goods can possibly lead to an assumption of this Gods popularity. We honour Thunor annually with a blot. Some consider that Thunor and Thor from later period heathenry are one and the same, and with Thor we see one of the great oath Gods of Heathenry, as well as the wielder of the hammer and defender of Asgard he is known for his deep thinking and his drinking.

Hrethe

Very little is known of Hrethe, Bede advises us that she is honoured early in the year (February/March), her name in old german translates as victory, which leads many scholars to assume that she is a war goddess. As our Anglo-Saxon forefathers followed a two season calendar and lived much closer to the land and the changing seasons we believe that Hrethe's was the victory of the lenghtening day over the darkness of winter, paving the way for the return of Eostre and the summer.

Eostre

Another Goddess about which we know very little, her names translates from a germanic root  "to shine". We see her as the bringer of summer to the land.

Nehalennia

A local Goddess for local people! Nehalennia is a goddess associated with the North sea and many votive altars have been found in the Netherlands and lowland Germany honouring her. Offerings were made to her to safeguard those who journeyed accross the North Sea. In times past she has been honoured by the Celtic and Germanic tribes and the Romans. We honour Nehalennia annually with a blot on the beach.

Ran

To Ran Wife of Aegir (Heathen Sea God) go all who are lost to the seas, she gathers them in her net and takes them to Aegirs hall were they are cared for, given the finest of ale and good heathen hospitality. We honour her annually with a coastal blot, a time when we remember those taken by the seas and give thanks for her hospitality and care for them. 

Frey (Ingvi Frey)

Lord of the fields and fertility, we take our harvest wagon into the fields and honour Frey at harvest time with a blot, there is no direct evidence of wagon progresses in England prior to Christianity although the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem for the rune Ing (a rune that is considered by some to be associated with the God) does mention a wagon. During the Pagan/Heathen period Frey was considered to be the Ancestor God of the Swedish royal house. and he is said to be one of the three Gods represented in Icon form at the great Temple at Gamla Upsalla in Sweden. according to Adam of Bremen his statue was endowed with a mighty gold phallus. and his following was very strong throuhout the lands that embraced Heathenry. 

Loki

To some Heathens Loki is persona non gratis and we in Kindred feel he gets an unjustified bad press, he is very much a part of the rich tapestry of heathenry and life, and we honour Loki annually with a blot. (see articles on Loki)  

Woden

As Odinn he is Allfather to later period Heathenry. Like his wife Frigg he wanders Midgarth in disguise, aiding, abetting or just simply complicating the lives of mankind.

Baldr

The shining one, son of Woden and Frigg

Ulr

God of Winter and hunter whose companion is a wolf. we honour him at our Winternight blot

Tiw

Tiw is another God that occurs in a number of place names from many different parts of the country, this is evidence that he enjoyed a popular following during pre-Christian Heathen period. It is believed that he was originally an early All Father to the Heathen Gods being replaced by Woden at some later point in Heathen history. He later assumed the role of war God (although this is hotly disputed by some). He is also a God with an interest in justice and government. Among the places named in his honour is Tysoe, on the Oxfordshire Warwickshire county borders it is said that in former times there was, on a hill in the area, a horse carved into the red soil of the hillside, and due to the origin of the name Tysoe’s it is said that this horse was carved to honour Tiw.

According to Norse mythology Tiw as Tyr sacrificed his hand to save the worlds from the danger of a great and awful chaos in the form of Fenris Wolf. Tiw is considered to be very paternalistic toward Middle Earth and mankind, a good God to turn to in times of need, remember that he will always see the truth of the matter and can not be fooled. He is a very exacting, solid and good patron God.

Nerthus

There is a great deal of debate with regard to the origins of this Goddess, indeed there is much debate within the realms of academia as to whether she ever existed! The first mention we find of Nerthus is in the Germania of Tacitus, She travels the land in a wagon procession bringing peace to all. A lot of dissention settles around this observation of Tacitus, it depends on which translation from the Latin you view, as this may create differing perspectives on the text. The translation I have used for this book is S. A. Handfords revised translation of an original translation by Harold Mattingly, this is from the Penguin Classics range.Some scholars claim that the correct translation is “Nerhus or Terra Mater”, whilst other state it should read “Nerthus and Terra Mater”. If you follow the latter the inference is that the Terra Mater or Earth Mother was taken in the wagon with her consort. This is where the debate begins, if you follow this line then you have to consider who is the consort? There are different views regarding this some have put forward Ingy Frey as a likely candidate, and some proffer Njord, putting forward a very good argument over the progression of the name Njord to Nerthus. It is worth giving time to study these arguments and then make up your own mind.

It all stems back to what is seen by some as a possible ambiguity in this quote, I am not an academic, and unfortunately I do not possess the resource of time to investigate this point ad nauseum. My own take on this is that if Nerthus and Terra Mater were two separate divinities Tacitus would have been clearer in his quote, he would not have just stated this and then totally ignored the consort. In detail we are advised of how the Goddess returned to the grove and was ritually bathed in the secluded lake, no mention or detail is related regarding her consort. If there was indeed a consort surely Tacitus would have passed on more information giving a more balanced picture of this particular ritual, another consideration is that the role of consort was assumed by the accompanying Priest, again one might have expected Tacitus to have mentioned this. The reality is that all we have is this quote and this is open to interpretation, it is very unlikely we will ever be able to tie this down, and it is left to the individual to place their own accuracy upon it.

Within Heathenry there are a number of different Goddesses who have either associations with the Earth Mother, or are considered to be Earth Mothers in there own right. We have already mentioned Frigg, and from Norse sources we have Jord, the name Jord translates from the Old Norse as Earth, she is also said to be the Mother of Thor by Odin. Fjorgyn is a name that could possibly be an alternative name for Jord, she is said to be the mother of Frigg. Hlodyn is another name considered to be another alternative name for Jord.

The great Earth Mother, she is all that the earth is, not only is she the gentle rolling hills she is also the might of the earthquake and volcano. Deserving the greatest respect.

Saga

Goddess of Storytelling and histories, who drinks from golden goblets with Odinn in her hall. Storytelling is very important to us all and we honour her annually with a storytelling blot.

Copyright © 2007 Terry Stannard-Smith. All Rights Reserved.