Distribution by Name of Frau Holle and Related Folk Figures in Europe, by Erika Timm, University of Trier, 2003.


Odin’s wife Frigg, in her role as Baldur’s mother, clearly possesses characteristics of an earth goddess. She commands all earthly things do do her son no harm, and has their vættir swear oaths to that effect. She makes her home in Fensalir, the marsh-halls. And she lives on in German folklore as Frau Holle, a nature goddess, also called Frau Frick, and Frekka, as well as Frau Wodan (Mrs. Odin). Yet, in spite of this, both Odin's wife Frigg and Odin's wife Jörð (Earth) remain rather opaque figures in Old Icelandic literature. Despite her high rank, we know relatively little about Frigg. The case is much the same with Thor’s mother, the Earth. Physical descriptions of Jörd are few and mainly refer to her as a personification of the land. A strophe by Hallfreðr vanræðaskald preserved by Snorri refers to Earth as “Baleyg’s [Odin’s] broad-faced-bride,” whereas Martin L. West notes that “broad” is the most common epithet of the earth-goddess in Indo-European poetic tradition.

In the third strophe of Þjóðólfr Árnorsson’s Sexstefja (Fagrskinna, ch. 51), Earth is described as haglfaldinni, “hail-hooded,” an allusion which compares snow-capped mountains to the white linen of a woman’s faldr headdress. Elsewhere in Old Icelandic sources, Jörd is said to be eiki grónu, “grown with oak” (Guðorm Sindri’s Hákonardrápa 5); barrhödduð, “fir-tressed” and víði gróna, “grown with woodland” (Hallfreðr vanræðaskald’s Hákonardrápa). The expression haddr Jarðar, “Jörd’s tresses” is a kenning for grass, just as various plants such as galium verum are known as Friggjar gras, “Frigg’s grass,” throughout Scandinavia. Several scholars assume that Jörd was once a powerful goddess in her own right, but surprisingly, we learn very little of her in the sources.

The Sources for Thor's Mother, Jörd, Gathered Together:

Click to access SAMPLE_JORD.pdf