In Honor of Nerthus

Galina Krasskova is holding an Agon in April for Nerthus –

Our only written accounts to this Goddess comes to us from Tacitus’ Germania:

There is a sacred grove on an island in the Ocean, in which there is a consecrated chariot, draped with cloth, where the priest alone may touch. He perceives the presence of the goddess in the innermost shrine and with great reverence escorts her in her chariot, which is drawn by female cattle. There are days of rejoicing then and the countryside celebrates the festival, wherever she designs to visit and to accept hospitality. No one goes to war, no one takes up arms, all objects of iron are locked away, then and only then do they experience peace and quiet, only then do they prize them, until the goddess has had her fill of human society and the priest brings her back to her temple.

There is a theory that connects Gefjon to Nerthus, one of the bits of interest in this theory is that the medieval place name for the modern-day city of Naerum in Denmark was Niartharum, which etymologically may connect to Nerthus’ name.

Much is made of Her as a fertility Goddess, while this is true, I also see her as a Goddess associated with fresh waters (rivers, lakes, ponds) and how that water is necessary for the fields. I also personally see Njord as a God of waters at the boundaries (beaches, marshlands, etc),  and Ran/ Aegir more the ocean depths.

A Prayer to Nerthus

We hail the generous earth.
Ripe lie your sustaining fields;
swollen with the promise
of blessings yet reaped.

We hail you Nerthus,
And we thank you
For the plenty you provide
For the gifts you bestow.
May we thrive in health
And fortitude for life.

So we hail!

A little over a year ago I sponsored a prayer card (available for purchase) to this Goddess, with art from Grace Palmer.

Nerthus by Grace Palmer

5 thoughts on “In Honor of Nerthus

  1. ganglerisgrove

    Reblogged this on Gangleri's Grove and commented:
    Another Submission to the Nerthus Agon. I was chatting with Wyrd Dottir on fb and she indicated she wanted to submit this prayer to the agon so here it is. πŸ™‚ I’m very happy to see so many pieces being offered to this mighty Goddess.


    1. Davidson’s Gods and Myths of Northern Europe touches on it some, I’ve stumbled across it elsewhere, but can’t remember the other sources, except for Chadwick’s Origins of the English Nation, which being a 100+ year old text has some out of date info, but still a few tantalizing gems.

      But these texts spend very little time on the theory (1-5 pages), so check to see if they have an index!

      Maybe also Turville-Petre’s, Myth and Religion of the North. If not specifically about Gefjon, than some other similarities to other deities.

      I’ve seen various bits of scholarship through the years trying to tie together the various earth/fertility Goddesses: Gefjon, Nerthus, Erce, Fjorgyn, Freya, Jord/Gerd, Sif, etc.

      One word of caution, we do know sometimes our deities have spevufic other names, but sometimes in certain academic and even just pagan circles there is a preconception that all of an archetype must be the same deity. I like to caution against trying to smoosh them all together into one sameness.


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