Continental Germanic mythology  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Continental Germanic mythology is a subset of Germanic mythology, going back to Proto-Germanic polytheism as practiced in parts of Central Europe before gradual Christianization during the 6th to 8th centuries, and continued in the legends, and Middle High German epics during the Middle Ages, also continued although in a recharacterized and less sacred fashion in European folklore and fairy tales. It includes the mythology of many tribes of Germanic peoples:

Unlike North Germanic, and to a lesser extent Anglo-Saxon mythology, the attestation of Continental Germanic paganism is extremely fragmentary. Besides a handful of brief Elder Futhark inscription, the lone genuinely pagan Continental Germanic document are the short Old High German Merseburg Incantations. Mythological elements were however preserved in later literature, notably in Middle High German epic poetry, but also in German, Swiss, and Dutch folklore.



Old High German

Middle High German

Gods and heroes

The major gods can be identified by their influence on the English weekday names Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday which come from Tiw, Wóden, Þunor, and Fríge respectively, through the Old English names Tíwesdæg, Wédnesdæg, Þunresdæg and Frígedæg.

The Osses correspond to the Norse Æsir: Woden, the leader of the Wild Hunt and the one who carries off the dead. He was one of the chief gods of the Angles and Saxons before the Christian era. He was held to be the ancestor of Hengist and Horsa, two legendary figures from early English history and most of the early Anglo-Saxon kings claimed descent from Woden. He gives us the modern Wednesday ("Woden's day").

Thunor, (AS Þunor). He is the god of thunder, who rules the storms and sky. He also protects mankind from the giants. He was the god of the common people within the heathen community. His name gives rise to the modern Thursday.

Fríge is the goddess of love, and is the wife of Woden. She is one of the most powerful Goddesses, this position being threatened only by Freyja. Her day is Friday, due to her associations with Venus.

Tiw is the god of warfare and battle, and gives us Tuesday. There is some speculation that he is a sky-god figure and formerly the chief god, displaced over the years by Woden.

The Wones correspond to the Vanir: Ingui Fréa was one of the most popular Gods, after Thunor and Woden. He is above all the God of fertility, bringing abundance (wone) and fruitfulness to the crops, herds, and the Folk. Though he is a fertility God, he is also connected to warfare to a degree; however, this warfare is defensive, as opposed to offensive, and is not to create strife and havoc. After all, peace is necessary for a good harvest and a productive community, while needless warfare destroys any prospect of peace and abundance. The Yngling royal line of Sweden claimed descent from him.

Freo is said to be the most beautiful of all the goddesses, and is therefore described as the Goddess of Love. She is not to be mistaken with Frige, however; Freo's dominion is erotic love, whereas Frige's is romantic love. Being a goddess of unbridled passion, she also takes half the slain of the battlefield, with the other half taken by Woden . Like her brother, Fréa, she is connected to abundance and wealth; however, her wealth is primarily in precious metals and gems. She is also a Goddess of Magic, having taught Woden seiðr.

Neorð is Frea and Freo's father, and is the God of the seas and commerce. He is called upon by fishermen and sailors who depend upon good seas. Like his son and daughter, his realm is that of wealth; namely, the wealth of the sea. He married the giantess Sceadu, though the marriage was not successful as neither of them could tolerate the other's element; Sceadu her mountains, and Neorð his sea.

Eorðe, whose name means "Earth," is the wife of Woden, by whom she gave birth to Þunor. She is also the daughter of the Goddess Niht. Her worship is generally passive, as opposed to active, though she is called on for "might and main." Her latent strength can be seen in her son, Þunor.

Eostre, according to Bede, is a Goddess tied with the "growing light of spring," and embodies purity, youth, and beautyTemplate:Fact, as well as the traditional rebirth and renewal conceptsTemplate:Fact. Her symbols are haresTemplate:Fact and eggsTemplate:Fact, which symbolize the beginning of life and fertility. The current Christian festival of Easter is thought to contain elements of a pre-Christian festival in honour of Eostre; hence the name Easter.

Niht is the Goddess of Night, and also the mother of Eorðe. The Norse night was the daughter of Narvi. She was married three times; the first to Naglfari by whom she had Aud; the second, to Annar by whom she had Eorðe; and the third to Dellinger Daeg.

Sigel is a goddess associated with the sun. Sunday means "day of the sun," and may refer specifically to the goddess, or only to the star.

Anglo Saxon Old German Norse
Wōden Wodan Óðinn
Þunor Donar Þórr
Tīw Zîu Týr
Seaxnēat Saxnôte -
Gēat Gausus Gautr
Frīge Frîja Frigg
Ēostre Ôstara -
Ing Ing Yngvi/Freyr
- Phol Baldr
Frēo Fricco Freyja
Sigel Sunna Sol (Sól)
Eormen Irmin -
Hāma Heimo Heimdall
Fosite Forsizo Forseti


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