Fate is an important part of Norse myth and culture, from the all-encompassing poem Völuspá with its vision of creation, end times, and rebirth, to the heroic sagas whose heroes and heroines are pushed by their fates into destructive acts and violence.
Fate was not just an impersonal force, but was often imagined as the norns, women who laid down fate for mortals and immortals alike. These women were present at the beginning of the world, and at births, but people’s view of them was not sentimental.
Before Christmas I wrote about Holda, Berchta and Perchta, who led the wild hunt and perhaps received children in the afterlife. For the new year, I want to look at another trio of goddesses, who oversaw birth, and the infant’s journey into the light of life.
In my first post on Rosmerta, I focused on her as a goddess in her own right. This time around, I want to examine the ideas put forth in Michael Enright’s thesis Lady with a mead-cup, which argues that the cult of Rosmerta and Mercury was the basis for the later cult of Odin and various prophetic, mead-serving goddesses (and others) associated with him.
Fensalir, Frigga’s home, has sad associations. Its only mention in Eddic poetry is a verse in Völuspá, which tells us that she weeps at Fensalir after her son Baldr dies. Snorri Sturluson expands on this – he says that it was at Frigg’s home that Loki tricked her into revealing Baldr’s weakness.
The porch of an Anglican church might seem like a strange place to find an altar to a pagan goddess. In Lanchester, Co. Durham, however, a stone altar to the goddess Garmangabi coexisted with the established church.