Tag Archives: Gefjun

Gefjun: goddess or giant?

My last post on Gefjun touched on the question of her status. She is counted among the goddesses, but so are Skadi, Gerdr and Jord, all of whom are giantesses by birth. John Lindow has argued that she was obviously a giant or other primal being, although others have seen her as an earth goddess. So is she a goddess, a giantess, or both?

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Gefjun: outside the boundaries

Gefjun will be forever be famous as the goddess who gave Zealand to Denmark. The Danes immortalized her feat with a fountain in Copenhagen harbour, showing her and her oxen ploughing out the land.

She has many similiarities to Odin, as a goddess who travels between worlds, tricks mortals, and straddles moral and sexual boundaries. Far from being an earth and ploughing goddess, Gefjun is a magical and complex figure.

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Mother-Goddesses and the juno: reproductive power

The Roman idea of a genius, the divine nature inherent in a person or place, can be traced back either to the word gens, tribe, or to the Latin word “begetter”, indicating a fertility spirit.

Women seem to have had their own form of genius, called a juno. (This is a contested idea: the Wikipedia article on Juno denies it completely, while the Brittanica site and the Dictionary of Roman Religion are for it.) However, enough scholars seem to accept the idea that I’m willing to see it as valid. I’m sure even in a society as patriarchal as ancient Rome women took pride in their children and their lineage, and those feelings found their own religious expression.

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