Frequently Asked Questions about this Site
- Who created this site?
Arlea Æðelwyrd Hunt-Anschütz. You can read my heathen topic articles at the Skvala site.
- Why did you create this site?
Back in 1999 I started a 'goddess of the week' discussion on the Asynjur e-mail group. Every week I researched the lore for a particular goddess and posted it to the list. I decided I might as well post it to a website too for future reference by group members and anyone else who was interested. I kept going until I ran out of known, verifiable Germanic goddesses.
- What is the purpose of this site?
It is intended as a lore reference site for anyone studying or researching Germanic goddesses. I have tried to provide what little 'objective' evidence we have about these goddesses, which consists mainly of quotes from medieval and classicial literature and inscriptions on votive altars. I have purposely refrained from stating my own opinions or interpretations of the evidence (except in the Goddesses FAQ) because I feel it is important for people to read the source material and draw their own conclusions.
- Does anyone still worship these goddesses?
Yes. Heathenry, the pre-Christian Germanic religion, is being revived today in many parts of the world, including North America, Northern Europe and Australia.
- Are Germanic goddesses the same as Norse goddesses?
All Norse goddesses are Germanic. Not all Germanic goddesses are Norse. The term 'Germanic' applies to all those Northern European cultures who speak languages derived from Proto-Germanic. Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, Frisian and German goddesses are all considered 'Germanic'. Some of the goddesses on these pages were known throughout the Germanic world. Others had a much more local influence.
- Why isn't the goddess X listed on this site?
This site contains pages devoted to all the Germanic goddesses for whom I have found references in medieval or classical literature or archeology. If you are looking for information on a Germanic goddess and can't find her in my list, there are at least four possibilities.
To summarise: all of the Germanic goddesses for whom I have come across references in medieval or classical literature or archeology are already listed on this site. I do not have any useful information to share with you about those which are not listed.
- She is listed under a different dialectal form of her name. I've tried to list goddeses by the name most often used in the original source material. So if you're looking for Ostara, you'll find her under Eostre.
- I have researched this 'goddess' and determined that she is most likely a literary invention and was not actually known in pre-Christian times. For example, if you are looking for Erde, you won't find her here because Richard Wagner created her for his Ring Cycle operas. Similarly you won't find Hertha because this name seems to have been based on a misreading of the name Nerthus in a manuscript.
- I have come across a brief mention of this goddess in some modern source which doesn't provide a reference for the information, and I have been unable to trace any mention of her in the lore. (If you're looking for more information on the goddess Jutta, ask Nigel Pennick. Don't ask me!)
- I have come across references to a character from Germanic folklore who may have originally been a heathen goddess, but I have been unable to trace any reference to this goddess going back to heathen times. For example, Grimm discusses Perchta or Berchta (who still plays a role in German folk customs today), but as far as I know, there are no medieval (or earlier) references to her. Does this mean there is no goddess Perchta? No. It only means that I can't provide references to her from primary sources, which is, after all, what the Germanic Goddesses page is all about!
- Author X talks about goddess Y in their latest book. Can you provide me with more information?
No. See above. I've found that a lot of New Age or Pagan books and magazines mention supposed Germanic goddesses that the authors seem to have created out of thin air. Fantasy authors write fiction and should be expected to make up things like goddesses who never historically existed or make up original stories about goddesses whose names are recorded. If you want to know more about a goddess you read about in a New Age, Pagan, or fantasy book who is not listed on this site, I suggest you write to the author of the book or article that mentioned her and ask about their source material.
- Website X provides much more detailed information on goddess Y than I've found on your page. Where did they get all this stuff?
Don't ask me. Write to the owner of the website. Unfortunately, many popular Pagan websites present personal opinion, wishful thinking, or dubious theories about goddesses as 'fact'. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if the owner of a website doesn't specify the source of their information ('according to the Old Norse poem X ...' or 'in a vision I experienced during a meditation' you're absolutely right to wonder where did they get this stuff.
Many people who create 'Pagan Goddess' websites simply copy material from other 'Pagan Goddess' websites without bothering to check out its validity. As a result, the same misinformation can appear in a number of places --the fact that it is repeated does not make it particularly valid or valuable. I once got a question about a supposed entity from Germanic mythology, unknown in the historical lore, whose name, along with very similar descriptions, appeared on six web pages. I was able to trace back all the references to one webmaster's typo!
- Can you recommmend any books about these goddesses?
This website is intended as a resource for anyone with an interest in the Germanic goddesses, but I am assuming that most viewers will arrive at this page with a basic familiarity with Norse mythology. Those who don't may find many of the lore references rather cryptic. If you have no clue who Baldr's mother is or what Brisingamen is, I recommend that you come back to this page after reading The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland. This widely available book (try your library or order it on-line), is clearly written and highly entertaining. And don't skip over the footnotes at the back, they tell you where our knowledge of these myths comes from.
If you do have a basic familiarity with Norse Mythology, then I recommend you find and read the primary sources referenced under every 'lore' link.
A good general resource to have on hand is Rudolf Simek's Dictionary of Northern Mythology (D.S. Brewer, 1993)
- Where can I ask questions about these goddesses?
You can try posting questions to the Asynjur Yahoo Group. This is a web/e-mail group set up specifically for discussion of Germanic Goddesses. There are probably people currently subscribed who can answer your questions. You could also try subscribing to a general heathen e-mailing list such as the Asatru list.
- Where can I get one of those beautiful wooden statues (Ran, Ostara, etc.)?
See Donna Kaunike's Heathen Carvings site. I have commissioned several works from her and have always been pleased with the results.
- Where do the paintings and drawings come from?They are scanned from romantic era books, either by me, or by others who have posted them to the web. Most of the ones I can date are over 100 years old, so I am assuming they are not copyright protected. However, as this is a non-commercial, non-profit, educational site, I haven't consulted a lawyer on the matter.
- Can I download them?
Be my guest. However, beware that it's probably a good idea to research copyright before using them for any commercial purpose.
- Where else can I find this sort of art?As far as I know, the largest collection of heathen art on the web can be found at Woden's Harrow.
Why don't you...
- Why don't you give more information about goddess X?
Because there isn't any more historically valid information about goddess X. (At least, none that I've been able to dig up.) Sometimes very little has come down to us about a particular goddess --a single mention in a book or a single inscription on an altar stone. If I gave any more information I'd be speculating. I'd rather present the 'facts' and leave the speculation up to you.
- Why don't you include the myth about how goddess X did Y?
If it's a myth that goes back to medieval times, with roots in pre-Christian times, then it most likely appears here in the earliest form that has survived. If it's a myth made up by a 19th century romantic author, 20th century fantasy author or popular Pagan press author, then it doesn't appear here. If you wish to know about an author's source material, I encourage you to ask the author (though if the author is dead, your only recourse may be to consult a medium!).
- Why don't you have illustrations of every goddess?
I haven't been able to find illustrations of every goddess, I can't draw, and I can't afford to hire an illustrator.
- Why don't you include pronunciations for the goddess names on each page?
Because I don't know your dialect and most people can't read IPA (the International Phonetic Alphabet). If I were to give a pronounciation guide along the lines of 'Eir' sounds like 'air', I think it would be relatively close for most Scots, but way off the mark for most Texans.
Hint: the characters: Ð, ð, Þ, þ all represent sounds spelled with a 'th' in standard Modern English.
- Why don't you include all the lore about valkyries, disir, norns and matronies?
If I ever find myself with lots of spare time on my hands, I may choose to expand this site, but I have no plans to do so at present. This is currently the 'Germanic Goddesses' site, not the 'Germanic female spiritual entities' site.
- Why don't you make a similar site with all the lore about all the Germanic gods?Because no one has employed me to do so, and I think it would be a full-time job. References to Germanic gods in medieval and classical literature are far more detailed and copious than references to Germanic goddesses.