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Anglo-Saxon Pantheon

Guest Author - Elizabeth Bissette

Woden The name Woden means "madness, fury, inspiration." It is in this aspect that he is the leader of the wild hunt and in tales of warriors dedicated to him, (beserkers), who were known for their frenzy, killing all in their way. He is also called Woden "The Terrible".

Woden is also the God of violent death. Only those who die in battle, (or perhaps any violent death), join him in Valhalla. He is also god of the hanged, (his human sacrifices were hung and stabbed with a spear. This was sometimes varied, including death by drowning or being thrown in a pit of snakes.)

Woden was also the god of poetry and speech. He won Óðroerir... "the mead of inspiration" which brought great poetry to the world and runes, which gave man "divine breath." In him, all language began. Woden was also god of galder, "magical incantation." He is also said to have given nine healing herbs to Mankind, giving him a starkly dualistic nature. His name "Oski" means wish, equating him with will and desire. The word Wednesday comes from the Old English Wodnesdaeg, the day of Woden.

Woden was also King of the Gods. In this aspect, he was frequently called "oath breaker," as many of the kings dedicated to him lost their lives in battle.
He was also the God of Wisdom, and ancient kings who served him were beleived to have the gift of ræd, the ability to intuit divine wisdom. They achieved this with methods like sitting on a mound to get inspiration form the dead, and going under the hide, or pulling ones' cloak over the head (or a hide) in meditation. Woden was also the ancestor god and creator of the lineages of Anglo-Saxon Kings.

Fríge

Wóden's wife and the most powerful Anglo-Saxon goddesses, Fríge's was a figure of wisdom like her husband. She was all knowing and was said to know the "orlogs" of all men and things, though she never speaks of them. She was primarily Goddess of the household, but understand that in egallitarian Anglo-Saxon times this was not a subservient or little-valued position.

She is Queen of Asgardr and both advises Woden and makes decisions herself. Women were "frípwebba" or "peace weavers", one who makes and maintains peace. This was a very important role and Frige was central to the elimination of discord. She is associated with spinning and weaving and perhaps was thought of as spinning the thread of each life and weaving it into the web of Wyrd. She punished laziness and rewarded hard work.She may also have been associated with maternity, water and ponds (where the souls of new babies came from) and snow.

She also may have had a dark aspect, associated with the Wild Hunt, riding a great black horse, blowing and cracking a whip, her hair waving behind her. Sometimes she drove the ghosts of unbaptized children instead of hounds, huntsmen and horses. She also represented all phases of womanhood and was depicted as an old woman, a beautiful young girl in white, a fertility Goddess dressed in straw accompanied by women with sickles, and as a beautiful woman with a hollowed out tree for a back. She was associated with the Wood Wives, and other wights of the wood. She was also Goddess of the witches, who flew ever Walpurgis to a mountain peak where they danced all night. They shape shifted, flew and knew the use of potions, knots and spells.

Tiw

God of single combat and heroism. Perhaps the original/oldest Anglo-Saxon God of the Sky/father of Gods who brought fertility. He was probably also associated with horses and the Sun.

Nerthus

God or Goddess, either the Earth Mother or her consort. It was believed she took great interest in people and often walked among them. Those who attended her mysteries were drowned afterwards.

Þunor

Þunor may have been the most widely worshipped God. He brought rain and thunderstorms, defended people and Gods (from Giants) and was associated with justice. He was invoked to hallow ground or items like runes. (He is also called Véurr "he that makes sacred." Þunor is a god of strength and his hammer was believed to be an incredibally strong talisman. Another name is Dphugaðr "deep thinker". He also has connections with magic. Þunor was also God of the king or assembly and was responsible for supporting society.

Freo

Freo brought fertility to people and to the land. The most beautiful of all Goddesses, she ruled love and beauty as well. People prayed to her for happiness in love. She was also associated with war, battle, death, magic, prophecy, and wealth. She receives half of the dead lost in battle in her hall. She is also associated with abundance and wealth. She is also a goddess of magic.

Ingui Fréy

Probably once the primary God, he was later displaced by the Ese. God of fertility, abundance (wone) and fruitfulness to crops, herds, and people. Also connected to defensive warfare.

Brego/Bragi

Bragi means "leader" and "poetry". He does not appear outside Norse myths, and some scholars think he was either the mortal poet Bragi Boddason deified or an aspect of Woden (Odin). Little is known about him. It is Bragi that relates the stories of the Gods in the Bragarœður "Bragi's sayings" of the Prose Edda to Eagor (Ægir).

Seaxneat

Unique to the Saxons, Seaxneats' name means "sword God" or "friend of the Saxons". He was also viewed as the ancestor of all Saxons. He was probably the cheif God before he was replaced by Odin. It is believed that men performed sword dance/rituals in his honor.

Hengest and Horsa

Twin brothers/horse Gods/ancestor dieties who were believed to have led the Anglo-Saxon settlement of England.

Helith or Helia

God or Goddess only mentioned in reference to his/her denunciation by St. Augustine. Associated with pillars and perhaps the snake and stag.

Edgeongan/Iðun

Wife of Brego (Bragi), she was named by the elves. Edgeongan is a youthful, exyremely beautiful Goddesses, associated with magic apples that in some legends keep the Gods young, (some say the apples were for mortals).

Forseta

Forseta is a very old God who lives in Asgard and "settles all the cases", as one of ther 12 judges of the Ese. In one legend, he drank from a spring he created then gave the people law. His name means, appropriately, "one that sets before".

Fulla

Fulla is Frige's sister and handmaiden, and is counted as one of the twelve most divine goddesses. She is Goddess of plenty and of stones. She may also be associated with the Moon.

Geofon

Geofon, a word for "ocean", also means "giving". She is also associated with tilling soil, boundaries and the souls of unmarried women, who live in her Hall after death.

Hama

Hama is the watchman of the rainbow bridge (Bifrost). He is also called Hallinskísði, Gullintani "gold toothed," and is the mysterious Rígr of the Rigsthula. He is also called Heimdali, "ram" and the "whitest of the Ése" or the "White God" because of his purity. His hall in *Ésageard (Asgard) is called Heofonberg, "Heaven Mountain."

He needs little sleep and can see a hundred leagues. His vision is as keen at night as in the day and his hearing is so strong he "can hear the grass growing on the earth and the wool on sheep, and every-thing that makes more noise". Because of these attributes, he is the watchman of the Gods. He carries the Giellerhyrn, a horn that alerts the Gods if Esegeard is attacked.

Hana

Hana was known for his silence and he often travelled with other Gods. Complex, he gives Wod to people and rules the will. He is referred to as the most timid of the Gods, but he is also closely associated with wisdom. Hana is known in part for his beauty.

Meomer

Wisest of the Gods, Meomer is guardian of the well of wisdom and understanding, Meomresburna. He is also associated with metalsmithing and the sword Miming, a sword from the underworld believed to have the power to kill Demi-Gods. Meomresburna is sometimes associated with Wyrdesburna, the Well of Wyrd.

Njordr

God of wind sailing and fishing. He has the power to create storms at sea or to calm it. He is also closely associated with fertility (particularly in the land along the sea).

Weyland, Wayland, Welund

Mythic smith and elflike creature who, like his wife (a Valkyrie swan-maiden), is a shape-shifter.

Eorðe

"Earth," wife of Woden. Called on for "might and main".

Erce

Another Earth Goddess.

Hretha

Possibly a warrior Goddess, her name means "fame" and "honor". She may have symbolized victory and bravery, the defeat of winter by spring. Possibly also associated with earth and fertility.

Niht

Goddess/personification of Night. She and her son, Day, ride chariots across the sky. Nights' horse is Hrímfaxi, and the dew is foam from his bit. Day's horse is Skinfaxi, and he illuminates the earth adn sky with his mane.

Eostre

Goddess of beginnings, at one point a major, (if not the major), Goddess. The name relates to dawn and illumination. Associated with the Spring Equinox and the New Moon. Representative of the re-birth of nature, her symbols may have included the egg and rabbit, the four quarters of the moon, bulls' horns and the Sun wheel. Bulls and/or oxen may have been sacrificed to her.

Mona

Saxon Moon God.

Naglfari

In Old Norse, the name means "nail traveller". A husband of Eostre.

Dellinger Daeg

God of daytime, a husband of Eostre.

Aud

Son of Eostre, his name means "wealth".

Sigel

Sun Goddess. She rides through the sky on a chariot pulled by two horses. She is chased by a wolf, who will ultimately swallow her. Eclipses show he's gained on her.

Bealdor and Wuldor

Wuldor is said to mean "glory", and the God may have been an early sky God, possibly a name for Woden. Bealdor means "lord".







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Content copyright © 2013 by Elizabeth Bissette. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Elizabeth Bissette. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Robin Henderson for details.

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