Nerthus"After the Langobardi come the Reudigni, Auiones, Angli, Varni, Eudoses, Suarines and Nuithones all well guarded by rivers and forests. There is nothing remarkable about any of these tribes unless it be the common worship of Nerthus, that is Earth Mother. They believe she is interested in men's affairs and drives among them. On an island in the ocean sea there is a sacred grove wherein waits a holy wagon covered by a drape. One priest only is allowed to touch it. He can feel the presence of the goddess when she is there in her sanctuary and accompanies her with great reverence as she is pulled along by kine. It is a time of festive holidaymaking in whatever place she decides to honour with her advent and stay. No one goes to war, no one takes up arms, in fact every weapon is put away, only at that time are peace and quiet known and prized until the goddess, having had enough of people's company, is at last restored by the same priest to her temple. After which the wagon and the drape, and if you like to believe me, the deity herself is bathed in a mysterious pool. The rite is performed by slaves who, as soon as it is done, are drowned in the lake. In this way mystery begets dread and a pious ignorance concerning what that sight may be which only those who are about to die are allowed to see. (Germania, ch. 40)."
Thus is the only information we have on the Goddess. We do know however, that her procession bears similarities to later ones told of the God Frea (Freyr), and that her name is a feminine version of the God Neorð (Njord). Like Frea's temples in which weapons were banned, all weapons were put away during her procession. We are told by Tacitus that she is the Tellus Mater "Earth Mother," and many have taken this to mean she was the Earth Goddess. In all probability she was not the Earth Mother, but instead the Vanic Earth Mother. That is she was the Earth Goddess of the Vanir. H.R. Ellis Davidson has theorized that she may have been sister and consort of Neorð (Njord), Snorri having said in the Ynglinga Saga that brother sister marriage were customary amongst the Vanir. She was certainly known to the ancient Angles, whether the other Anglo-Saxon Pagan tribes worshipped her is not known.
Note: Nerthus in Old English could potentially be reconstructed as *Neorðu