Beginning of this year I started a journey with a goddess I had always known from legend and fairy tales but never actually approached ritually. A simple request, whether my Rauhnächte incense could also be used for honoring her, lead me to change my perspective. Eventually I spent the whole year researching and gathering herbs that connect to her essence and bring out her different light and dark aspects to finally compose an incense which evokes the obscure deity in her wholeness.
Lacking any image representing her I also designed a new sigil for her, who…
- resides on a white mountain top, at the depth of a well, in the clouds or in hell
- is the goddess of spinning and weaving, winter and death, childbirth and vegetation
- contains the souls of the unborn and stillborn in her well, grants fertility and receives the souls of the dying
- governs legions of elves and gnomes, presides over witchcraft and the sending of nightmares
- sends snow and hail, rain and frost over the land and leads the wild hunt
- visits earth during the twelve coldest nights, blesses the diligent and punishes the indolent
- appears as a beautiful virgin of the dawn, fertile mother of man at day, devil’s sorcerous grandmother at night
- is the companion of the green-man during spring and summer and the spouse of Wode, the hunter, during the dark half of the year
She is known as Percht(a), Berchta and Bertha in upper Germany (who may have Celtic roots), Holle or Holda, holde Frau, Frau Venus in Middle Germany, Frau Herke/Harke or Gercke, Frau Gode/Gaude, in lower Germany, Murawa (a night demon in Saxony) and Spillaholle in Silesia. All these names are present throughout different parts of Germany and are expressions of an older omnipotent goddess.
In Bohemia she is also simply known as Frau Holle, a small and ugly old woman, who carries a batch of stinging nettles. During the twelve cold nights of winter (twelve yule nights) she visits earth and looks into the homes, to see, if the spinners have finished their work or are still spinning. The latter she punishes by beating them with the nettles. But those who have finished their spinning are blessed with a single nettle twig left in the home that protects the house from misfortune for the whole coming year.
A Silesian rhyme about the Spillaholle goes:Spinnt, Kinderlein, spinnt,
Die Spillalutsche kommt;
Sie guckt zu allen Löchlein rein,
Ob das Strähnlein wird bald fertig sein.
Spin, little children, spin,
The Spillalutsche comes;
She peeks through all the little gaps,
If the little strand will be finished soon.
Spillaholle occurs as an especially cruel and mean version of Frau Holle, since she kills the children, that she has caught spinning at night. She also scares people to death. She is accompanied by wood sprites, a tomcat and a goat.
November 26, 2023