In me all find the rest and peace of Audhumla
I am implacable, silent and wise
I ease suffering hearts and demand nothing in your name
My shoulders are strong enough to bear all grief
Rest easy, divine mother, for you are reborn in me.
This quote is a prayer offered by the goddess Jörð to Audhumla, the divine cow. It came as part of my vision-questing work preparing for our Hearthspace story-session ‘Audhumla’s Dream: The Earth Mothers’. The trail of the Earth Mothers is hard to follow as they appear almost as bit-parts in the Eddas, Sagas and lore hinting at ancient rites and lost stories which we can only reclaim through a re-making.
Jörð 's trail
Jörð means ‘earth, soil or land’ and her name appears more frequently in the older sources than some of the other Earth Goddesses. For all that, we don’t know much about her as her name is mainly used as a ‘kenning’ (poetic descriptor) for earth rather than in allusions to her character or deeds. She is known to be the mother of Thor and lover of Odin. You might wonder how ‘Jord’ becomes ‘earth’ so it’s worth remembering that her name is sounded as ‘Y-orr-dth’. She is tied very closely to Erce (an Anglo-Saxon name for Earth) who we’re also covering in this series. The Prose Edda refers to her as both wife and daughter of Odin; potentially referring to an ancient union of sky (Odin) and earth(Jörð). I suspect this union is better explained in its earliest form as Tyr (sky) and Ziza (earth) who are then succeeded by Odin and Frigg (herself often named as an Earth goddess). The Prose Edda also names Jörð as a daughter of the giantess Night by a being named simpy Annar (Another or possibly Water). Like Rind (a sister earth Goddess also covered in this series) Jörð was said by some sources to be a member of the Asyniur (female members of the Aesir, Odin’s tribe of Gods); however, she and Rind are also known as ‘rivals of Frigg’ and the connection to the Asyniur has always seemed a little unlikely because of this. To my mind the Earth goddesses make up an interconnected web of deities who blend and separate depending on time, local culture and ritual necessity in the moment. Jörð, perhaps more than any of the other Earth Mothers we are covering has the ability to blend with and claim powers held by the others. She is in this sense, perhaps a unifying force for the Earth Goddesses.
In her prayer (which, to be clear, was channelled by me as part of a sequence of work with the Goddesses so is not an original source) she strongly identifies herself with Audhumla, the primal cow. Audhumla is known to give indiscriminately, she loves all, nurtures all, suckles all. The strengths Jörð claims is the strength to take on not only the physical needs of others but also the emotional. This reminds me of those moments in life where we simply lie, silent, upon the Earth and it literally drains the overwhelming emotions and feelings from our bodies. It reminds me that the bounty of the Earth is given without discrimination. It does not judge good or evil. The world ‘implacable’ worried at me within the poem and I realised this came from my own guilt that there are people out there who have so little. Deserving people. They duty to share the bounty of the Earth fairly rests not with Jörð; she refuses to judge, choose or favour.
When she spoke her prayer I saw her sitting amongst a group of children. She was smiling and watching them play as they splashed water at each other and darkened the dry earth with its moisture. This reminded me that the Gods are known to walk amongst the people. She may not show her judgement or demand that we account for ourselves – but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t see.
I found Raven Kaldera’s description of her compelling. I recognised the brown eyes and wild freedom. The fecund, fruiting aspect was perhaps less visible to me but I think perhaps this is because I encountered her in the early Spring – it would not surprise me if her appearance was strongly tied to the seasons of the Earth. Kaldera also indicates that Jörð resides in Jotunheim, the land of the giants, rather than Midgard. This makes sense as she is a giantess by birth and perhaps explains why Erce (covered later in the series) came forward so strongly as the ‘Earth’ of Midgard itself.
Getting to know her
If you want to work deeper with Jörð here are some pointers to consider:
Her name combines the Jera rune (year/ harvest), Othala (estate), Raidho (rhythm, right action), and Thurisaz (the thorn but also the might Hammer Mjolnir wielded by Thor, Jörð’s son, to protect and fertilise the earth).
She responds well to greens, yellows, rich browns and deep reds. An out door altar would please her including offerings of fruit, honey, bread, salt, beer and mead.
http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/jord/who-is-jord.html (Raven Kaldera)