Nerthus


Nerthus: Germanic Mother Goddess

Nerthus lived in a sacred grove on a Frisian island. At regular intervals Nerthius travelled inland on an oxcart attended by a priest. During these visits peace prevailed and all weapons were put away. Afterwards she bathed in a specific lake and all slaves who helped during the rituals were drowned in her honour. Sacrifice by drowning was also practised by the ancient Slavs.

Her name refers to strength or powerful one and it is possible that the Nerthus cult was a local version of the popular cult of Freyja. However, some versions of the Asgard myths describe Nerthus as the sister and wife to Njord the sea god, and the mother of Freyja and Freyr.

Nerthus's fertility rituals were biannual. Her chariot or cart was bedecked by flowers and pulled by two heifers, which symbolized primal motherhood and abundance.