Volume 1, Number 5
Hail, Bountiful Earth!
In the Sigrdrífumál, Sigrdrifa hails the Æsir, Asynior, and the bountiful Earth
asking for blessings. "Heilir Æsir, heilar asynior, heil sia in fiolnyta fold…"
Why call upon the Earth?
Kjós þú þér jarðar megin... "Choose for yourself the might of the earth, " the
High One of the Hávamál, advises. And again, an Old English charm we find Earth
being invoked and a further explanation of her power and reasons to call upon her:
Hwæt, eorðe mæg wið ealra wihta gehwilce and wið andan and wið æminde and wið þa
micelan mannes tungan."
"Lo, earth can prevail against all creatures, Against injury, and against
forgetfulness, And against the mighty tongue of man."
Unlike the supernatural powers that were sometimes beyond men's ken, the earth
was always close at hand, firmly set beneath one's feet. In an account written of
the Germanic tribes during the first century AD by Tacitus, a Roman historian, in
Germania, explained, "They share a common worship of Nerthus, or Mother Earth.
They believe that she takes part in human affairs, riding in a chariot among her
people…" The earth, represented by a goddess was not remote or uncaring, but
reactive and involved.
The faith in the power of the Earth perhaps comes from the view of the strong
inter-relatedness of man, gods and Earth. The need to take care to preserve the
fruitfulness of the fields, pastures and forests is recognized as well as the
strength and protection offered. This fruitfulness is the result of the
stewardship of both men and gods as well as in the giving nature of the Earth.
In an old Anglo-Saxon prayer, the Acerbot, we find the Earth again hailed, and
blessings asked from her, as well as upon her. Hal wes þu, folde, fira modor!
Beo þu growende on godes fæþme, fodre gefylled firum to nytte. "Hail to thee,
Earth, mother of men! Be fruitful in god's embrace, Filled with food for men's
Of earth we are born, and to earth we return after we die, and all through our
lives we depend on the blessings and bounty of the earth. In the northern
traditions one did not seek to escape the earth, but to see earth and heaven
united in a fruitful peace, good harvests and well being. Today many again
begin to see the relationship of respect for the Earth and the wide spread
problems of pollution and unwise use of the land that threaten the
interdependent relationship and the future of both men and the earth itself..
Take the time to step outside the busy routine of daily life to pick up a
handful of earth. Stand for a moment beneath the sky, ask a blessing upon the
earth, and with that, determine one thing that you can do make that blessing a
reality, and call upon her for protection in your life.
Hal wes þu, folde, fira modor!
© 2001 Susan Granquist - Published by the Irminsul Ættir - All rights reserved.