Lady of the Elves: The Great Germanic Goddess

Lady of the Elves: The Great Germanic Goddess

Stephany, Timothy J.

Rochester Institute of Technology, Published Online (2006)


The prominent goddess of Europe was known in Germany as Berchta and Holda, who appear as goddesses of the bright and the gloomy. These pairings might be represented as Berchta and Holda, Frigg and Hel, and Freyia and Hyndla. The bright goddess arose as a goddess of the sun and sky and the gloomy one appeared as representative of the earth and underworld, but with Berchta and Holda they encompass both aspects and were largely interchangeable. She received the souls of the dead who rode along the path of the Milky Way in a wagon to the underworld. As ‘lady of the elves’ or ‘queen of the fairies’ the huldren, elves, and dwarfs, thought to be spirits of the dead, would appear with her on earth from time to time. The goddess held her position until the appearance of the sky god, which subsequently caused her to take on the role of an earth and fertility goddess. The necklace of Freyia may have initially arisen from either the view that vegetation was the clothing or girdle of the earth or as the rainbow.

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