I am the forgotten one, the sacrificed one
Existing in thought alone, starlight in a long ago dream
I am the cord, the tether
Binding us to you, oh ancient mother
Holding us in your long sleep
Rest, ancient mother, for your daughters tend your dreams
This quote is a prayer offered by the elusive goddess Zisa 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 and Sagas, hinting at ancient rites and lost stories which we can only reclaim through a re-making.
Ziza’s trail is incredibly shadowed. Jacob Grimm (yes, of the fairy tales) was her champion and proposed that she was the feminine-self of Tyr (the king-warrior-priest God), or rather his older androgynous form Tuisto (a sky and storm deity). Zisa was also thought to be an alternate form of Cisa, a protector Goddess of a place called Cisenberg (Augsburg in Germany). The very existence of poor Zisa was robustly disputed by R.Kohl in 1936 and she has largely been left there.
For all this, when I quested for Zisa a presence came through strong and clear. An earth goddess to Tyr’s ‘sky-father’ existing in the purple storm clouds, the lightning that rises up from earth, the heavy scent of the rain being absorbed by the earth and, even further back, in the crystals, caves and molten lava of the earth. She is ethereal, as if no longer connected to Midgard itself but still exists as an independent presence in the Tapestry of Wyrd. In Audhumla’s dream she hints that she is the embodiment of a sacrifice made in 3 ways:
- The slaying of Ymir whose body makes up the Earth. Ymir was sometimes thought of as an androgynous being and is, occasionally, said to be the same being as Tyr
- As the divine feminine part of Tuisto, a sky and storm God thought to be an earlier form of Tyr. Perhaps this wild, ancient deity, became the warrior-sovereign-priest God Tyr through sacrificing his wilder, freer nature for the rule of law
- As the sword-arm of Tyr given to the Fenris wolf to save the 9 worlds from destruction
She also claims to be a ‘cord’ and I saw her simultaneously referring to the umbilical cord that must be cut for a child to move into independent life and the ‘cords’ that bind body to spirit, world to world, past to present and present to future. In this sense she is present while not present; a cord we cannot touch but, without which, we would not exist.
Getting to know her
If you want to work deeper with Zisa here are some pointers to consider:
I saw her as a combination of deep purples, silvers and greens. She can be found in the starlight that has travelled thousands of years, the flash of lightning uniting sky and earth and the ethereal rainbow. Stones like fluorite and amethyst are likely to please her. A silver thread attaching sky to earth would be an appropriate picture/ representation for her altar. She also informs me, with a smile, that she is present to every human being in the form of your belly button.