|Geo Center, Møns Klint.|
The goddess appeared in many forms in the North, not at least by the Celts. The Moon was one, the Sun another. When the moon was waxing, the period was fertile, and the peasant had to sow, while the springs and trees grew stronger at full moon. It was not advisable to sow, when the moon was decreasing. When the sun went into hibernation, she had to be strengthened at winter solstice by cultic ceremonies, and when spring arrived, she was awoken by spring rituals, typically of a strong sexual character. At harvest people were singing her lullabies, before she went into hibernation again.
Mother Earth appeared in animal shape like other deities. Her most important sacred animal was the Sow. The sow grew fast, was very fertile and round like the full moon. When she appeared as the Sow, she was usually followed by nine or twelve pigs, her priesthood. The goddess, the Big Sow, was sacrificed at winter solstice, when the pig was fattened and slaughtered for the great sacrificial feast. The deity herself was eaten in order to wake up her life forces. This custom is known from other religions, even from Christianity, where the body and blood of Christ is given in church at the sacred supper. Pork roast at the Christmas table is an ancient phenomenon.
The great Goddess of Earth was worshipped in the North up till present time. One of the old customs was to hide the last sheaf from the field in the furrow. The furrow was the womb of the earth, and the sheaf was a sacrifice to Mother Earth. The sheaf was in other districts hidden until Christmas time. The sheaf was considered as the goddess herself, it was given obscene names, and at Christmas it was sacrificed by giving it to the birds - another continuing custom.
The Danish archaeolog, professor P.V. Glob wrote a book "Mosefolket" (the Moor People), where he gave a representation of Mother Earth's role in the Danish prehistoric period, based upon archaeology. The finds tell us that the goddess was a dominating female deity from *Bondestenalderen up through Bronze Age. The male influence grows during Iron Age, and in the Asatru the male god Frøj took over some of the functions of the great goddess. The female Asa-god Freja inherited the role of the goddess. She adopted the sow as her sacred animal, and she is called the Sow in myths.
It seems that people held on to the great goddess, not just in Asatru, but also later, when the church was the victor. The Mother Goddess was in southern Europe replaced by Virgin Mary, who was worshipped as an independent goddess, but in the North she never became a goddess of the people in spite of the efforts from the church. The old legends describe women figures, who protected village, life and growth. This figure had various names, and it seems that she had a central place in the consciousness of the peasant. She was a buxom and motherly protector, and she is often described as a pious and mild, but also a masterful and just woman figure with power over things. She was always on the peasant's side. The old Mother Earth was still earth itself to the peasant, and life and growth were created in the sacred marriage between the goddess and heaven.
The Celtic influence on the Nordic religion is not fully known, but there was a close connection in the great migration-period and Viking period between the North and the Celtic land areas in Ireland and North England. This might explain the strong position of the goddess by the Scandinavian farmer.
|The Tollund Man|
, lurerne , or valuable members of the society. (Tollundmanden) . Sacrifices like these must have been absolutely necessary - there was either famine, hostile attacks, epidemics, floods or sand drifts, all threatening the existence - and people went for the last resort in order to avoid destruction.
*Bondestenalderen = 4000 BC - 1700 BC
Source: Mads Lidegaard, Danske søer og vandløb fra sagn og tro, Nyt Nordisk forlag, Arnold Busck, 1999.
photo : grethe bachmann
photo The Tollund Man: stig bachmann nielsen, Naturplan Foto