Eorðe (Jord)

by Swain Wodening

Eorðe is the Old English cognate of Jörð, and both words mean "earth." According to Norse lore, Eorðe was the mother of Þunor (Thor) and daughter of  goddess Niht (Nott) and her husband Annarr. Throughout the Eddas and even in the Anglo-Saxon corpus she is seen under many different names, in Old Norse she is called Fjörgyn, Hlóðynn, Fold "earth," and Grund "ground." In Old English she is called Folde, Fira Modor "mother of Mankind," and possibly Hrúsan. There is little evidence of active worship of her as with some of the other Gods and Goddesses, however, there is much evidence of passive worship. Galdres in both Old Norse and Old English say to call on her for might and main. This connection with sheer strength is seen in her son Þunor as well. Two Old English works mention her with some detail, in the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem  the verse for Géar may be referring to her in some form of divine marriage:

     Géar biþ gumena hiht, · þonne god læteþ,
     hálig heofones cyning, · hrúsan sellan
     beorhte bléda · beornum and þearfum.

     Géar (Year) is man's hope · if
     God lets, Holy heaven's king, · the Earth sell (i.e. "give")
     Bright fruits, · to nobles and needy.

Despite the obvious Christian reinterpretation, the fact that Hrúsan "earth" is mentioned at all is significant. Another Anglo-Saxon work the Æcerbot also called For Unfruitful Land contains what may be a prayer to her (and evidence of active worship), and contains lines that can only be interpreted as divine marriage.

         Hal wes þu, folde,      fira modor!
         Beo þu growende      on godes fæþme,
         fodre gefylled      firum to nytte.
         Wassail Earth     Mankind's mother;
         Be growing         in God’s embrace,
         Filled with food  man to joyously help..

Old English nytte is cognate to Old Norse nýta.  Kveldulf Gundarsson notes in Our Troth that nýta appears in Sigrdrífumál in the compound fjölnýta. Thorpe translates this in a prayer that Sigrdrífa says on awaking  as "bounteous earth." Kveldulfr notes however nýta is hard to translate and can mean  "helpful, good-bringing, enjoyable." Unfortunately, Eorðe never appears in the Norse lore in person, but his only referenced to by the other Gods or mortals.  Therefore it is difficult to get a real image of her. That she is no Kubaba type Earth Mother is clear. Any Goddess the ancient Germanics would call on for might and main would not be likely to be pictured as overweight and out of shape even when pregnant. We can therefore assume she is a Goddess of some strength, with strong bearing, perhaps built much like her son Þunor.  We can also see her as a mother, as she is seen as the mother of Mankind, not to mention the thunder god.  Finally, there is the obvious connection with fertility.  Eorðe is the ultimate fertility goddess.  Without her the fields will not grow no matter how much we mortals may coax the other Gods and Goddess. Modern Anglo-Saxon Pagans would do well to give her respecet.

William Reaves has theorized that Eorðe and Frige are one and the same. His arguement can be read at http://www.boudicca.de/wpb-004.htm.

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