Friday, October 11, 2013
Berchta, Germanic Goddess of Winter
Berchta, also called Perchta, is the Germanic Goddess of winter, the forests and destiny. Her worship originated in Bavaria which is in Southern Germany. She is associated with other Germanic Goddesses such as Mother Holde and also the Norse Goddess Frigg. Known as "the Bright One" or "the White Lady" she is said to dwell in the forests and caves and amongst the snow.
Berchta is honored at the Winter Solstice in a celebration called "Mothers Night". During this festival everyone stops working on their spindles for the night and enjoys a meal of fish in her honor. As spinning is sacred to her she is said to check all the spindles on this night and reward those who have been working hard. It is said that if she is angered on this night she will slice open your belly open and fill it with straw.
Berchta is portrayed in two forms. Sometimes she is said to be beautiful with a white robe and a crown. Other times she is portrayed as a hag with straggly hair and long teeth, while flying on a broom with a goose flying beside her. She is closely associated with the goose and according to Jacob Grimm, author and mythologist, has a goose foot or swan foot which is thought to be a sign that she has the ability to shape-shift.
Berchta is also honored at the time between the winter solstice and the new year. She is said to travel around with her wagon to visit children. She rewards those who behave well with gifts and punishes those who have been bad. There are other Goddesses who practice the same act such as La Befana, an Italian deity, who has similar characteristics to Berchta.
Berchta is known as the great teacher and initiator. In her myths the act of her belly slicing is seen as a form of initiation. She teaches people the stories of her culture and prefers not to break away from cultural norms. She works at the spindle spinning the fates of many and teaches us that we have the power to decide our destiny. Berchta's sacred colors are black and white, her sacred animals are the goose, bear and wolf and her sacred herbs/trees are elm, juniper and willow. She is also associated with the spindle and the Wild Hunt.
Enjoy honoring this Germanic Goddess of destiny!
Picture courtesy of Source Ceremony
Posted by Tara at 3:10 PM