Samhain Mysteries of Nerthus and Njord, a Surviving Hebridean New Year Ritual…

First posted on Saturday, October 20, 2012, censored by ZOG-Google, updated and re-published on Saturday, the 31st of October, 2015

Nerthus (1905) by Emil Doepler
Nerthus (1905) by Emil Doepler

The ritual of the Earth Goddess Nerþuz or Nerthus, who may originally have been the consort or twin of Njörðr the Ocean God, and the mother of Frey and Freyja, is of the ancient Vanir tradition. This fertility festival was celebrated throughout Northern Europe by Nordic and Germanic tribes, and in another form, in ancient Greece, both of which presumably were derived from a ritual of even greater antiquity…

The major source for this festival is Tacitus, who tells an enigmatic tale of how the Goddess’s spirit is embodied within a sacred chariot, covered by a cloth and hidden by it.  Either the Goddess herself, or her image, is placed in a chariot drawn by white heifers, and together they make a ritual procession. When the Goddess retires from the view of the common mortals, she returns to a sacred grove on a remote island in the sea where she resides in a temple. At this place, Nerthus and her chariot and the cloth or veil are bathed by servants, who are then drowned as sacrifices to her so they cannot reveal the awe inspiring secrets of the mysteries that they have witnessed. In Chapter 40 of Germania, Tacitus refers to seven tribes who live surrounded by rivers and lakes, all of whom worship Nerthus. Here follows his exact account of the ritual, translated by A. R. Birley,

By contrast, the Langobardi are distinguished by being few in number. Surrounded by many mighty peoples they have protected themselves not by submissiveness but by battle and boldness. Next to them come the Ruedigni, Aviones, Anglii, Varini, Eudoses, Suarines, and Huitones, protected by river and forests. There is nothing especially noteworthy about these states individually, but they are distinguished by a common worship of Nerthus, that is, Mother Earth, and believe that she intervenes in human affairs and rides among their peoples. There is a sacred grove on an island in the Ocean, in which there is a consecrated chariot, draped with cloth, which the priest alone may touch. He perceives the presence of the Goddess in the innermost shrine and with great reverence escorts her in her chariot, which is drawn by female cattle. There are days of rejoicing then and the countryside celebrates the festival, wherever she designs to visit and to accept hospitality. No one goes to war, no one takes up arms, all objects of iron are locked away, then and only then do they experience peace and quiet, only then do they prize them, until the Goddess has had her fill of human society and the priest brings her back to her temple. Afterwards the chariot, the cloth, and, if one may believe it, the deity herself are washed in a hidden lake. The slaves who perform this office are immediately swallowed up in the same lake. Hence arises dread of the mysterious, and piety, which keeps them ignorant of what only those about to perish may see.

Interestingly, in the last few several years,  the excellent, and one would think quite uncontroversial, historian, Tacitus has actually become a focus of hatred for anti-Aryans. There are numerous bizarre “academic” references to him as being a terrible racist “Nazi”, presumably because he is himself of European ancestry, wrote well, or because he alluded to different races as existing, as opposed to the enforced modern habit of Jews and other non-Europeans being allowed to be an ethnic group, but not us. These anti-White hate articles have titles such as, “Ideas are Viruses”, and not surprisingly, they are written by Jews.

No, I did not make this up. It truly exists. Jews already have made corrupt laws to jail those who do not believe their ludicrous and unsubstantiated version of WW2 and its so called "Holocaust". in 17 countries. Next they will doubtless want to ban Tacitus's Germania, or burn it. Semites, usually not just Christian or Islamic but of Semitic race, have burned 90 percent of our ancient texts.
No, I did not make this up. It truly exists. Jews already have made corrupt laws to jail those who do not believe their ludicrous and unsubstantiated version of WW2 and its so- called “Holocaust” in 17 countries. Next they will doubtless want to ban Tacitus’s Germania, or burn it. Semites, usually not just Christian or Islamic, but those of Semitic ethnicity specifically, have burned 90 percent of our ancient texts.

There are rants about how Tacitus influenced the Germans by pointing out they were a pure and unmixed  and indigenous race, and vicious little references are even made about his obviously sincere admiration for the nobility and character of the Germans, as though that were a bad thing. I do not know how it could be more clear that we live in an age where the idea of exterminating our people is now considered  heroic, but certainly the fact that not enough people even dare to openly object to it, is even more alarming, and just as certainly, it is the result of us being forcibly ripped from our culture and identity by Jew worshipers… a situation that must be reversed.

Cessation of violence during certain important religious events, such as the Yule, and the Festival of Nerthus was once a worldwide Pagan phenomenon.  In Northern Europe all weapons were stored away and hospitality embraced, as was also the custom during the ancient Greek Olympics. Even here in Hawai`i, the Makahiki New Year Festival had the same laying down of arms, or in this case, spears and war clubs. Makahiki may faintly echo ancient European origin festivals in Asia, since Europeans were present there in Northern China 1000 years before the ethnic Chinese.

The putting away of the iron weapons mentioned by Tacitus may be part of the origin of the later superstition that witches could be warded off with iron since in the insanity of Christianity all our Goddesses and priestess are transmuted into witches. Ironically, the idea also  may be derived from a surviving belief in the magical abilities of amulets, and to Pagan remedies against ill- intentioned magic.

The Troll Cross, made of Iron, and meant to repel evil..
The Troll Cross, made of Iron, and meant to repel evil..

In part, these festive truces were practical, ensuring that any could attend, even those who had grievances with one another. The sacred truces gave warriors time to rest, relax, and enjoy their family life. This time outside of time also was meant to give everyone a chance to enjoy the sacredness of communion with their kin and with Nature and the Gods, and to honor them. It was a recognition that something special was happening in the spiritual realm, and it seemed fitting that this be recognized  by the children of the Gods.

Since these sacred truces were based upon honor, and Judeo-Christians have no honor, they have occasionally been capitalized upon by Christians who have been known to dishonorably attack worshiping Odinists in order to steal, vandalize, or murder Pagan priests, or congregations, most notably in the case of a dishonorable attack upon of a priest of Thor, whom these cowards could never have beaten in a fair combat.

At the Temple of Aquae Sulis at Bath, England, during an excavation under the sacred spring at the King's Bath, were found 130 lead and tin tablets with inscriptions asking the Goddess for blessings or for her to intercede and grant justice for wrongs done. The tablets were thrown in the spring so that the intentions of the petitioners would reach the Goddess, as a symbolic prayer meant to have a positive outcome..Photo: Seana Fenner
At the Temple of Aquae Sulis at Bath, England, during an excavation under the sacred spring at the King’s Bath, were found 130 lead and tin tablets with inscriptions asking the Goddess for blessings or for her to intercede and grant justice for wrongs done. The tablets were thrown in the spring so that the intentions of the petitioners would reach the Goddess, as a prayer meant to have a positive outcome.. Photo: Seana Fenner

Nerthus is a fertility Goddess, and more. I believe her ritual is paralleled in the festival of the Greek Goddess Hera, whose cult image also was carried in honor by a chariot decorated with draperies and pulled by white heifers. In Hera’s procession there is also a sacrifice, and also a ritual bath to restore her virginity, which Hera takes before renewing her marriage to Zeus. Bathing in cold sacred springs was believed to increase fertility in Nordic lands, and indeed, this is scientifically accurate, since bathing in water in very low temperatures is known to regularize and enhance hormones necessary for conception.

There are also aspects of Persephone and other chthonic deities which may be related to Nerthus.  The Earth Goddess, who is also the Queen of the Underworld, Persephone, joins her husband in the Netherworld in autumn, and renews her marriage as well. The earth lies fallow in her absence, awaiting her return. I think it is appropriate for Odinists to celebrate the festivals of Nerthus and Njord again, especially at this time of year . The concept of other realms or parallel universerses or dimensions is an interesting one since it is explored not only in Norse religion, but in science, in particular in light of the recent efforts of the Hadron Collider, which is about to attempt to contact other worlds.

Above: An ancient Greek  relief that is commonly thought to be Aphrodite Anadyomene, who is born of the sea foam, but which I think may actually depict the ritual bath before the sacred marriage
An ancient Greek  relief that is commonly thought to be Aphrodite Anadyomene, who is born of the sea foam, but which I think may actually depict the ritual bath before the sacred marriage.

The return of the Goddess to the Earth in Spring, which you can discover more about by watching our Cosmic Ostara video mini- series,  is certainly a matter for rejoicing, but her leave taking and journey to the Underworld must also have been a time of great import and ceremony for our folk. The slaves who went with her must have been intended to accompany her on her travels to the other world. It seems to me that the fact that this is considered a liminal time of year, one when the veil between this and other realms is thinnest, making it easier to travel between worlds, is significant in regard to Nerthus’ journey to another realm. I think the concept of the thinning veil  is chiefly derived from a belief that this Great One travels at this time, opening the doorway to the unknown, so that others can pass through.

The fabled sleeping warrior, Holger Danske. It is said that he rests in Kronberg Castle, his beard growing down to the floor, at that when a time comes that Denmark is in deadly peril, he will awake and save the Danes..
The fabled sleeping warrior, Holger Danske. It is said that he rests in Kronberg Castle, his beard growing down to the ground, at that when a time comes that Denmark is in deadly peril, he will awake, and save the Danes..

At this sacred time of year, like our warriors, the Earth rests and regains its strength and potential in order to burst into life again. In many ways, Nerthus is a shadowy figure, but whatever we might call her, she clearly is thought of as an elemental Goddess, a symbol of life and fertility, and the great forces of Nature. With the advent of fall, I believe Nerthus was historically conceived of as delving not just below the Earth and travelling to the world below, but that she specifically was thought of as returning  to the sea, for this is the time when the Goddess returns to her husband, Njörðr or Njord, to restore the fertility and life force of the Earth.

Zeus and Hera by Carracci
Zeus and Hera by Carracci

Water was known by our ancient ancestors to be a source of life, a belief that science confirms today, since mild temperature and water seem, in the realm of astrobiology, to be the necessary conditions for finding life. Always, in the ancient Celtic, Greco-Roman, Slavic, and Germanic world, oceans and springs had deities or nature spirits associated with them. They were and are thought to be alive.

Where there is water, there is life...
Where there is water, there is life…

The essence of the spring often is considered to be female, but male water spirits, such as the Blue Men, are associated with other bodies of water, such as inland seas, too…and not even the coming of Christianity could eclipse our belief in the living spirit of Nature or Pagan reverence for it. Sacred springs, known to be the domain of nymphs were changed to the names of Saints, yet this mattered little, for in the true experience of our folk, the enigmatic presence of  nymphs, naiads, or even of the beautiful Lorelei, still remain deeply rooted in our ancestral memories and present reality. No one with any imagination can pass by the great stone of Lorelei on the Rhine in a boat and hear the joyful sound of the passengers singing her Heathen song, and not feel the pull of her deathless charm. Whether we admit it or not, most of us sense the soul of Nature. We are awed by the ancient mystery of it, and even though names have been changed and our traditions sullied by the false religion, the souls of our folk are immortal, and we feel what our Ancestors did still.

Lorelei
Lorelei

Ancient Celts considered certain springs so sacred that they made offerings within them of axe and sword, and like Germanics they believed holy bodies of water to be gateways to other worlds. For untold millennia, holy sites on land and at the edge of water, and islands, have been thought of as appropriate places to send a message to Ancestors and Gods, to ask for their favor, or blessings. Scandinavians are known to have deposited wondrous weapons honoring our Gods in certain sacred lakes and at bridges and fords, for example, in Lake Tissø in Denmark, which is also known as Tyr’s lake, and the tradition is that this was done because he decides the outcome of  battles.

Exotic English sword sacrificed at Skåne in Sweden. Historical Museum in Stockholm. (Photo: Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History / University of Oslo)
Exotic English sword sacrificed at Skåne in Sweden. Historical Museum in Stockholm. (Photo: Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History / University of Oslo)

Our Odinist New Year’s ceremony, which we perform during the festival of Samhain, survived in the popular tradition, seemingly in fully Pagan form, to our present time.. In the memory of living men,  Hebrideans have been known to go down to the sea on Samhain. One man, acting as a Pagan priest, wades into the water and makes a libation of ale, calling out to the God of the Sea to bestow blessings upon them.

Outer Hebrides, Iron Age Fort Beach, Photo: Seana Fenner
Outer Hebrides, Iron Age Fort Beach, Photo: Seana Fenner

The ancient Hebridean  traditions we enjoy in our Odinist New Year ceremony, in which we make libation to the great sea God, Njord, is a wonderful ritual to practice during our Samhain festivities. Our ancestors apparently have practiced this ceremony at this time of year virtually continuously since long ages past….It must have been considered a propitious time. Nerthus, having returned to the Netherworld, and Njord, having been recently reunited with his wife, would be full of joy, and happy to grant abundant blessings to those who asked..

"Christian fundamentalists are believed to be behind the theft of a statue of a Celtic sea god from a mountain top above Limavady." A 5ft cross emblazoned with 'Thou Shalt Not Have False Gods Before Me' was left behind after the thieves took an angle grinder to the steel frame of the statue of Manannán Mac Lir." "Manannán Mac Lir is a sea deity in Irish mythology and is also said to have been the first ruler of the Isle of Man. Manand is the old Irish name for the Isle of Man and as his surname suggests, he was the son of Lir, meaning sea." http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/christian-extremists-steal-statue-of-celtic-sea-god-from-mountain-top-in-northern-ireland-30929777.html
“Christian fundamentalists are believed to be behind the theft of a statue of a Celtic sea god from a mountain top above Limavady.” A 5ft cross emblazoned with ‘Thou Shalt Not Have False Gods Before Me’ was left behind after the thieves took an angle grinder to the steel frame of the statue of Manannán Mac Lir.””Manannán Mac Lir is a sea deity in Irish mythology and is also said to have been the first ruler of the Isle of Man. Manand is the old Irish name for the Isle of Man and as his surname suggests, he was the son of Lir, meaning sea.” For more on this story, see here

As in the Hebrides, when here in Hawai’i, I enter the water in a place that seems right to us, and in the company of whatever Odinists are present, and make a libation as an offering to Njord, asking for blessings, fertility in all our endeavours, and protection for our tribe in the coming year… Last year, our offering was attended by favorable omens… a giant stream of light like a column came down from the clouds, 3 birds flew up in formation, and we saw, for the first time ever, a monk seal feeding upon an abundant school of silver fish…

During the Dark Ages, our Divine Ones were demonized by Judeo- Christians, and their wisdom and power temporarily obscured from view.  They have been presented as caricatures of themselves and objects of evil or fear by fanatics who have bowed down to the oppression of Semitic cults. Now, as the willful ignorance of Christianity and its false gods are ending, the true nature and beauty of our Gods are revealed again.

After climbing down a cliff I enter an area of Ocean fed by fresh water spring... An Odinia member hands me the horn so that I may make a Samhain offering to the God. Hail Njord!
After climbing down a cliff, I enter an area of ocean fed by fresh water spring… An Odinia member hands me the horn so that I may make a Samhain offering to the God. Hail Njord!

© Odinia

About the Author: Seana Fenner is the leader of Odinia International, an organization which seeks to restore and celebrate our native European religion. She is the writer and narrator of the Odinist video redes and blóts on the Odinistpodcast Channel on Youtube. She has spent many years doing research on the ancient world while doing graduate work at the University of Oxford, both at archaeological sites and research libraries and museums. Her degrees are in archaeology, history, English literature, and religion. In addition to writing about Odinism and archaeoastronomy, she is especially active in working on European civil rights issues and freedom of religion and speech. Most recently, she has worked for the NASA Infared Telecope, and as a lecturer, creating and teaching archaeoastronomy courses for the physics department at the University of Hawaii. She has also given history, natural history, and science lectures for the Harvard Museum of Natural History and private jet tour expeditions. For more about her research, and upcoming book, see her Author’s Guild page here. To submit an article to the Odinist Journal Foxfire, or to join our Odinist email newsletter, or Odinia International, please contact us at Odinia@outlook.com Our membership page is here. 



About the author: Odinia

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