Friday, 20 April 2012

H is for the goddess HOLDA - Ancient Lady of the Sacred Land, Queen of the 'other folk'

Thrilling wild-haired Goddess of
        sexual love
Bringer of generative power to our
Hag Goddess of Winter whom we know
        as Mother Goose and Dame Holle -
Riding high through leaden December
        skies, scattering white feathers
                across the land.
Dark Goddess of the Underworld and
        spectral rider in the Wild Hunt
Galloping beside Odin through the
Goddess of the wild creatures
Roaming snow-clad mountain tops and
        dwelling deep in crystal caverns,
                forever surounded by your beloved
                        animals -
Be with us.
                                                    HAIL HOLDA!
(Courtesy of Jack Gale)

Many pagans have heard of Diana, Cerridwen, Brighid etc. Relatively few are familiar with with the ancient goddess Holda, if they have ever heard of her at all. But after centuries of obscurity,  Holda seems to be returning to the land and with it her power and magic.

Identified witht he fairy godmother of the original Cinderella story by the Brothers Grimm, with the nursery rhyme figure of Mother Goods, and with the sexy Venus in the Tannhauser story popularised by Wagner, the ancient Germanice Goddess Holda (or Hulda) was once honoured across Northern and Eastern Europe.  ("The Goddess Holda" - Jack Gale, 1995, self-published).

Of great antiquity, Holda predates the Northern tradition deities Hella and Freya, who both inherited some of her characteristics. Holda passed on her dynamic sexuality to Freya, a Goddess who traditionally takes mortal men as her lovers and who may be found at the ancient burial grounds of the Northern people. Freya also inherited the role of the witch's goddess from Holda; the prototype of the dark Lady riding a broomstick through the night sky accompanied by her cat. Cats are sacred to Freya and to Holda, along with other animals.

Holda passed on the the role of Underworld goddess to Hella, collector of the souls of the newly-dead. Hella is seen as a half-beautiful and half rotting and hideous woman - half-maiden and half-crone. Holda also appears to have these aspects. Neither Holda nor Hella fit the triple-aspected Goddess embraced by many wiccan traditions.  Holda is both a Hag Goddess of winter, an underworld goddess, and a queen of sexuality who is bestower of gifts, sexual and othewise.

In her book, "Leaves of Yggdrasil", Freya Aswynn attributes to Holda the Hagalaz rune. This ancient symbol is thought by some to predate the runic system and its snowflake structure would link well to a Winter goddess..

Some linguists studying Old German, Norse and Icelandic (and old Welsh)  have claimed that the roots of the word huldu, such as in huldu-folk meaning  'the good people' and is often linked to the elves and dwarves. Holda or Huldra is queen of the huldrefolk, so queen of the otherworldy beings, a fairy queen.  I intend to carry out further research into this aspect of Holda.

To contact Holda is to begin a relationship.  It is a commitment you need to really decide whether you want to make. You could start by offering her some music or visiting one of her holy places. Then bit by bit build up a picture of her in your mind, visualise a journey to meet her and start to communicate with this very special, very ancient, very powerful goddess.


  1. Loved your post! I was only aware of Holda as Frau Holle, the fairy lady in Grimm's fairy tales. Since I'm drawn to Odin, I will explore Her further.

    Do you know whether the books you mentioned are still in print?

  2. The Freya Aswynn book is. The Jack Gale one was only a booklet and I don't think that's still in print. There is another book that has info on Holda and that's "Magic of the Norse Goddesses" by Alice Karlsdottir.

    I'm glad you liked the post and I'm sure Odin is as drawn to you as you are to him. It works both ways in the Northern Tradition!