Frau Holda by Gustav Richter, 1852

The Face of the Earth

This is a link to Erica Timm's map of the Distribution of the Frau Holle legends published in German in 2003. After reviewing all of the evidence, she concludes (along with Jacob Grimm and others) that these figures are a faded memory of Odin's wife Frigg, who represents Mother Nature. She commonly rides in a wagon and appears in lakes and ponds, like Nerthus, and has names which identify her as Odin's wife more clearly as one travels north.

In the Eddic lore, she is most frequently referred to as "Odin's wife" under the names Frigg (with no other epithets in Snorri's Edda) and Jord, Thor's mother. She appears to be the sister of Njord (Audr-Udr in Gylfaginning 10), and called Jord in her youth. She is Odin's wife Frigg, Frea, known as Frau Frick, Frekke, Fricca, and Fri in North-eastern Germany. Many names, one figure. Our ancient Earth mother known to all the tribes in common since the proto-Germanic period.

To me this shows the unity of these figures as epithets of a widely venerated Earth mother, wife of the Sky-father, inherited from proto-Indo-European times, which finds their Germanic expression in Odin and Frigg.

She was not split into two figures, i.e. Frigg and Jord, or Frigg and Freyja. We have no clear evidence of that. Only Snorri describes Jord as a different figure than Frigg, and does so inconsistently. We have evidence the at Frigg and Freyja are compared poetically in Voluspa and show superficial similarities, but remain distinct individuals throughout the eddic poems as a whole. The geneaology spoken of above suggests that, as Njord's sister, Jord-Frigg is the mother of Freyja, by her own brother. These are all traits of the Vanir tribe. Frigg is both Mother Earth and Queen of Heaven, as well as Mother of the Gods and Mother of Men, according to her epithets' descriptions in their respective sources .

What is your conclusion of the Frau Holle legends?

- William P Reaves

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