Welcome to Tursan Tuesdays, where I take you on a journey through the Celtic world.
I’m back, and I’m healthy! No more bronchitis, the head cold is pretty much gone. The stitches from oral surgery have dissolved…what, too much? Ok, fine.
Let’s do this…
Wikipedia offers a lovely list of fertility deities…far too many to compare here in this little blog, but feel free to peruse at your leisure.
For the purposes of this blog, we’ll compare Macha, from Celtic mythology, Anahit, from Armenian mythology, and Freyja, from Norse mythology. Ooooh, this is gonna be good!
Daughter of Áed Rúad and Ernmas the ban tuathid, or female druid, Macha is said to portray the Fertile Woman aspect of the Celtic goddess, Danu. She hales from Ulster, one of the four provinces of Northern Ireland.
Known as a Triple Goddess herself, Macha has aspects to her other than fertility. She is also goddess of agriculture, war, and death. In fact, you may recall she is sister to The Morrígan.
It is interesting to note, Macha is listed as a fertility goddess, but is mostly known for her powers in war, death, and battle. Her fertility aspect may have come from the traditions of Celtic warriors in Northern Ireland collecting the severed heads of their foes, calling them “Macha’s Acorn Crop”…grisly.
She is the goddess of fertility, water, wisdom, and healing. Anahit is quite beloved and cherished by her people, and is considered their mother-goddess. In this respect she is similar to the Celtic goddess, Danu or Anann.
Known as the “Great Lady Anahit,” ancient Armenians believed the world existed at her will alone. She has many temples in her honor, and an entire mountain in Armenia is her throne.
Like Macha, Anahit is also known as a goddess of war.
The patron and protectress of the human race, Freyja, or The Fair One, is goddess of fertility, love, beauty, war and death. I believe I see a trend here…
Daughter to the sea-god, Njord (some sources say his sister is Freyja’s mother!), Freyja is part of the Vanir ~ a group of gods of fertility and wisdom able to see the future.
It is said that Freyja and Odin split the courageous dead from the battlefield, Odin taking his half to Valhalla and Freyja taking her half to Fólkvangr. Some speculate that Freyja’s oft absent husband, Odur, of whom little is known, is in fact the battle god, Odin.
And did I mention Freyja has a chariot pulled by cats?
So talk to me. What do you think of these lovely ladies? I find it interesting that these fertility goddesses have such strong connections with war. Do you see the mother quality in each of these goddesses? Can you relate them to the mother in you? Do you know of other interesting fertility goddesses? Do you have stories of one of these portrayed here?
15 thoughts on “Fertility Goddesses”
Nicely put together.. Thanks!
You’re welcome, Troy 🙂
They say, “War’s a bitch.” I just didn’t realize it was because the war gods are women. I’m sorry Kate, I just couldn’t resist that one. Great stuff. I’m glad you’re feeling better. ~clink~
LOL Thanks, um, I guess :p
Oh, shivers! I love mythology, particularly Norsk and Celtic. Morigan is one of my favorite deities and she appears a lot in my novel 🙂
Wonderful post, Kate. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and passion for this subject!
Yay! That’s exciting…I can’t wait to “see” how much butt she kicks in your book :p
Hi Kate, got a bit of background in this stuff. One theory is that the “war” aspect was overlaid later, after the culture was conquered and assimilated. The other is that all goddesses represent the cycle of birth/death/rebirth, and war is one aspect of death.
I used to work for archaeologist Marija Gimbutas and copy edited her final book. Her stuff could give you tons of material. I didn’t know about Freyja and her cats! I absolutely love this series!
Hi Debra! Thanks for the great info. I’m definitely going to look into getting a copy of Ms. Gimbutas book!
Love those pictures. I agree, it is interesting for the ladies to be so connected to war.
Nice post, Kate. Thanks!
Fascinating stuff, Kate! I love seeing women portrayed as being strong.
Thanks Marcia! Something I’m seeing – most, if not all, of the goddesses I’ve come across (in all of the traditions I’ve researched thus far) are strong. Haven’t come across a weak one yet. I’m diggin’ it 😉
[…] we’ve chatted about the triple aspects of The Great Mother, The Green Man, The Mórrígan, and Macha. Thus far, we’ve gotten a glimpse of how significant the triple aspect is in the Celtic […]
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