Ode to Nehalennia

Nehalennia statue, Nehalennia festival 2019

A poem or prayer that I’ve written to my Goddess, Nehalennia. She is the Goddess of the North Sea, of seafaring, commerce, the harvest and the dead. I’ve originally written it in Dutch, but I’ve translated it in English as well. Find both versions below.

In de kolkende golven hoor ik Haar stem.
Nehalennia.
Haar wind speelt door mijn lokken,
Haar zilte zegening raakt mijn lippen.

Deae Nehalennia.
Zij die de storm trotseert, en sterker er uit voortvloeit
Zij die de weg laat zien en onze reis bewaakt
Zij wiens woede schepen ten onder doet gaan
Zij wiens tedere omhelzing rust en vreugde brengt

Vrouwe Nehalennia,
Kracht van de Noordzee
Hoor mij aan!
Want ik ben Uw dochter,
Uw gezouten water stroomt door mijn aderen
Uw storm raast door mijn lijf
Uw kracht en diepte heb ik geërfd

Moeder Nehalennia
Hart van de Noordzee
Wees met mij!

Noordzee by Marjolijn Ashara

English version

In the churning waves I hear Her voice.
Nehalennia.
Her wind plays with my locks,
Her silten blessing touches my lips.

Daea Nehalennia.
She who faces the storm and flows from it, stronger
She who shows us the way and guards our journey
She whose rage causes ships to perish
She whose tender embrace brings us peace and joy

Lady Nehalennia,
Power of the North Sea
Hear me!
For I am your daughter
Your salted water flows through my veins
Your storm rages through my body
Your strength and dept I inherited

Mother Nehalennia
Heart of the North Sea
Be with me!

(First published on my witchy Tumblr)

Dutch Myths: Hludana

MmemeHludana

It’s been a while, but welcome to the third instalment of my Dutch Mythology series! Previously we covered the Dutch Goddesses Arcanua and Baduhenna, now it’s time for another Goddess: Hludana.

What we know.

As with all Dutch deities, we only know bits and pieces, and Hludana is no different. We only know Her from five votive stones found, three of which in Germany and two in the Netherlands. Four stones were found within the area that used to be the Provence of Germania Inferior, so we know Hludana was most likely a Germanic Goddess.

hludana
Hludana inscription in Beetgum

The first four stones found, in Germany and Holdeurn (modern Nijmegen), give us nothing more than a name. This caused a lot of speculation as to who this Goddess was. The name sounds similar to known Goddesses like the Germanic Holda and the Norse Hlodyn, which caused Jacob Grimm to think that the earth Goddess Hlodyn and Hludana were the same Goddess. And for a while this was the general concensus: that Hludana was the Germanic name of the Hlodyn, or perhaps a variation of Holda. The discovery of a new votive stone in Friesland in the year 1888 shed some new light on this Goddess.

 

In the Frisian village Beetgum a discovery was made while excavating a terp. They found a votive stone where the lower part of a woman can still be seen, together with an inscription dedicated to the Goddess Hludana. This was the first stone to give us more information than just the name. The stone reads:

DEAE HLVDANAE
CONDVCTORES
PISCATVS MANCIPI
Q VALERIO SECV
NDO VSLM

Meaning: “To the goddess Hludana, the fishing contractors, when Quintus Valerius Secundus acted as tenant, fulfilled their vow willingly and deservedly.”

This tells us that Hludana was probably a Goddess of fishing. Since Beetgum at the time this stone was made was connected to the sea, as was Holdeurn, this would fit. The stones in Germany were all found along the river Rhine, so perhaps this Goddess was connected to this river as well.

What I think.

There is still some discussion going about the connection between Hludana, Hlodyn and Hulda. I think the stone found in Beetgum gives us the information we need to see that Hludana was a Goddess Herself and not an identification or different name for Hlodyn or Hulda.

hludana (1)
Hludana by Froukje Torensma

I see her as the Dutch Goddess of fishing, commerce and the river Rhine. Us Dutchies have always had deep connections to water, so a Goddess dedicated to fishing is something we would definitely have. Commerce is something that my own mind interjects with fishing: you do it so you can sell the fish and feed your family, hence the gold and coins in the aesthetic above.

Correspondences:

Rituals: fishing, water, anything work related.
Colours: blues and soft greens {water colours}, golds.
Symbols: fish, nets, winding rivers.
Stones: aquamarine, pearl, blue calcite, hagstones, simple river rocks.
Metals: gold, silver and copper {coin metals}.

Sources:

Book – Over de beoefening der Nederlandse mythologie, naar aanleiding der jongste tot dat onderwerp betrekkelijke geschriften – Johan van der Wal
Book – Nederlandsche volksoverleveringen en Godenleer – L. Ph. C. van den Bergh
Book – Teutonic Mythologie vol.1 – Jacob Grimm
Website: Livius.org
Website: Forgotten Gods – Reginheim
Website: Good Ol’ Wikipedia

So that’s it for the third installment of the Dutch Mythology series! Let me know what you think, or if you have a request for the next bit of mythology information. ‘Til next time!

Dutch Myths: Baduhenna

MMemeBaduhenna

Welcome to the second piece in the series on Dutch mythology! This time I wanted to share a favourite of mine: Baduhenna. Not a lot is known of this Frisian Goddess, which makes her all the more intriguing.

What we know.

The Roman writer Tacitus is the only one who gives us any information on this Goddess. Tacitus writes of ‘the Battle of Baduhenna’, an attack by the Frisians on the Romans who had invaded their lands. For a long time the Frisians didn’t mind the Roman presence, they worked with them and lived alongside them. This changed, however, when Ollenius took control of the area. Ollenius demanded taxes of the Frisians, to be paid in aurochs and skins, something that the Frisians did not have. According to Tacitus the Frisians sold all they could to make the payments, including some who sold their wives and daughters into slavery.

It all came to a head in the year 28 A.D. when the Frisians formed a small army and decided

Baduhennaforest
Artist unknown

to attack the Roman fortress Castellum Flevum, where Ollenius was hiding. The Romans fought back and got reinforcements from what is now Nijmegen. In response, the Frisians pulled back into ‘the Forest of Baduhenna’, a well known terrain for the Frisians. This, and the use of light weaponry like handaxes, gave the Frisians the upperhand in the battle. They killed 900 Roman soldiers that day. Tacitus writes that the Romans were so paranoid, so afraid of betrayal, that they killed another 400 of their own soldiers.

In his work ‘Germanica’ Tacitus states that it’s very common for the Germanics to name their forests after a deity, which was then considered sacred to this deity and was seen as a place of worship. This is the reason why scholars believe Baduhenna to be a Goddess. The name Baduhenna can be split into two parts; the suffix -henna is more often used to denote the deity is female, while the prefix Badu or Badw means battle. Which is why Baduhenna is seen as the Frisian Goddess of Battle and War.

What I think.

With what we know of this Goddess one can’t help but wonder if another Goddess of madness and battle, the Morrigan, is perhaps related. One of the faces of the Morrigan, named Badb {see the similarity there?}, can fly over the battlefield in the shape of a crow and bring panic, confusion and paranoia to the enemy. If Badb and Baduhenna are related, this might explain the paranoia in the Roman soldiers, the reasons why they killed 400 of their own men.

baduhennacrow
Artist unknown

It paints quite a striking image, the underdog, the small Frisian army creeping through the dark forest as the crows circle above. A crow flying through the forest, Her forest, crying out to claim victory for those who worship her, and instill fear into the hearts of those who oppose Her people. A cry for blood and vengeance. This the only sound piercing through the quiet just before the battle. The crow has chosen, the fight begins.

To me, Baduhenna is the battlecrow. She is both a Goddess of the forest and of war and madness. She is the Goddess who chooses the victors in battle and brings fear and paranoia to those on the other side of the field. She might even be related to the Morrigan, the Goddess Badb brought to the Frisians by the people of England. I like to see them as connected, sort of as a Dutch version of this Great Queen of War.

Correspondences:

Rituals: standing up for yourself, battle, bringing madness. {you shouldn’t, but you could…}
Colours: black and dark green or black and dark red.
Symbols: crows, handaxe, black feathers.
Stones: garnet, hematite, onyx, git, black obsidian.
Metals: steel and any dark metal.

Sources:

Book – Over de beoefening der Nederlandse mythologie, naar aanleiding der jongste tot dat onderwerp betrekkelijke geschriften – Johan van der Wal
Book – Nederlandsche volksoverleveringen en Godenleer – L. Ph. C. van den Bergh
Article (PDF): Baduhenna – Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (no longer available)
Website: Forgotten Gods – Reginheim
Website: Good Ol’ Wikipedia

So that’s it for the second installment of the Dutch Mythology series! Let me know what you think, or if you have a request for the next bit of mythology information. ‘Til next time!

Dutch Myths: Arcanua

MMemeArcanua
Dutch mythology meme 1/? by marjolijnmakes

As most of you might have figured by now, I love religious history and mythology. In my spare time I love to read myths and legends from all over the world and see how their Gods, Goddesses and other creatures were seen and maybe even worshipped. A few years ago that curiousity got me thinking: what about my own cultural heritage? What about the Dutch Gods and Goddesses of Old? I’ve been researching on and off ever since and have been surprised with what I’ve found. So far I’ve uncovered 29 Gods and Goddesses specific to the Dutch region, not including the Germanic Gods. In this series I want to share some of my findings with you, and introduce you into the marvelous world of Dutch mythology!

What we know.

In 1976 in Burchten, a region in the provence of Limburg, amateur archeologists found the foundations of a Roman building. During excavation archeologists found a bronze and enamel rooster, with the name of the Goddess Arcanua stamped on it. Later, in 1982, other archeologists found a small bronze leaf in the same area. The name Arkanua was stamped into it, leading historians to believe that what they had thought was a Roman villa, was actually a temple dedicated to the Goddess Arcanua or Arkanua. The name Arcanua means ´the mysterious one´ or ´the mystical one´ in Latin. It is believed that She was a local Goddess who was was revered in the region before the invasion of the Romans.HaanArcanuaLimbMuseum

The bronze and enamel rooster is the biggest source of information we have on this Goddess. In the area surrounding the temple, more roosters like this one have been found, but this is the only one with and inscription. It reads: DEAE ARCANVE VLPIVS/ VERINVS VETERANVS LEG VI V•S•M•L, meaning ‘To the Goddess Arcanua Ulpius Verinus, veteran of the sixth legion, has redeemed his vow, willingly and with reason. The mention of the legion and the name Ulpius Verinus makes it very likely that this little rooster is older than originally thought, probably dating from somewhere between 123- and 142 A.D. Which makes it the oldest mention of the term DAEA we have to date.

The statue is made of bronze, with enamel eyes, beak and wings. The back of the rooster is hollow, which leads historians to believe that it was used to burn candles or perhaps oil in it’s cavity. This statue differs from others found in the Netherlands, which are usually sandstone altarstones depicting humanoid figures, sometimes accompanied by animals. This could mean that the rooster was an important attribute to the Goddess, or it could mean that the statue itself is not from the Netherlands, but could be from Brittania, where more of these roosters were found.

The leaf gives us little more information about who this Goddess was. It reads: D/ ARKANV/ AE/ M•I•AM/ L•M, which we can compement to D(AEA) ARKANVAE M(ARCUS) I(ULIUS) AM(—) L(IBENS) M(ERITO), which means ‘to the Goddess Arcanua Marcus Iulius Am— has devoted this, willingly and with reason’. Nothing is known for sure about Marcus, or why he would devote anything to this Goddess.

What I think.

Arcanua
Once Wed

We don’t know anything else about this Goddess, what she stood for, what her attributes are, it’s all guesswork. So this is what I think this Goddess was. The rooster is a symbol of the dawn, of the rising sun. Combining this with the idea that the rooster was used to burn candles or oil, it could mean that Arcanua was a Goddess of light. A Goddess of the morning and the rising sun, the light after the darkness.

The meaning of her name, ‘the mysterious one’, could point to Her being a Goddess of the Underworld, many Goddesses of mystery are also Goddesses connected to the Underworld. The keepers of the hidden, that which is behind the veil. Many of these Goddesses, like Hecate, are also seen as Goddesses of magic. Arcanua has the word ‘arcane’ almost screaming at you when you see it. Furthermore, roosters are seen by the Celts and Germanics as messengers to the Underworld. A rooster would cry out if there was danger to the soul of a fallen. Combine that with the fact that the rooster was devoted by a veteran, and Arcanua might have been a Goddess who brought the souls of slain warriors to the Underworld.

Correspondences:

Rituals: endings and new beginnings, greeting the sun, unveiling mysteries
Colours: golds and bronzes, set off with bright yellow, red or blue
Symbols: roosters, candles, a golden veil, (autumn) leaves, the sun
Stones: amber, citrine, goldstone
Metals: gold, bronze

Sources:

Book – Antwoord op de vraag, door het Zeeuwse Genootschap de Wetenschappen – Jona Willem te Water
Book – Over de beoefening der Nederlandse mythologie, naar aanleiding der jongste tot dat onderwerp betrekkelijke geschriften – Johan van der Wal
Book – Verhandelingen over het Westland – Derk Buddingh
Book – Nederlandsche volksoverleveringen en Godenleer – L. Ph. C. van den Bergh
Article (PDF) – Born-Burchten – W.J.H. Willems
Website – rgsm.de (in Dutch)
Website – the Limburs Museum (in Dutch)

So that’s it for the first installment of a new series I want to do on Dutch mythology. I’d love to know what you thought of this one so far, or if you have a request on which Deity I should do next. ‘Til next time!

Dutch Deities for D&D pt.2

arduinna_by_cyrilbarreaux-d4w07yt

Are you guys and gals ready for part 2 of our Dutch Deities for RPG’s series? ‘Cause here it is! Last time I gave you a quick rundown on a few Dutch deities with their corresponding alignments, domains and symbols. Quick and ready to use for your favourite pen-and-paper RPG. Today we’ll dive a little deeper into the myths surrounding these deities and why I chose these specific domains and symbols for them. So here we go!

Arcanua
There is not much that we know about this Goddess. All that was found was a bronze and enamelled statue of a rooster, standing on a leaf. The name Arcanua was on a small bronze plaque. Her name means ‘the mystical one’ or ‘the mysterious one’, which is why I linked her with the trickery domains. The back of the rooster has a hole in it, presumably to either burn oil in it or stand a candle. Of course the rooster itself has some ties to the sun and the early morning light, hence the light domain.

Arduinna
The Goddess of the Ardennes. These vast forests were even bigger back in the day, probably spanning a good part of the Netherlands as well. A statue of Arduinna was found where she was sitting on top of a boar, hence the fur and animal domain. She is similar to the Goddess Diana, a protector of the forest and its creatures.

Aulrinia
Not a Goddess, but the mythology fit too perfectly to not include her. She was a famous völva, a Germanic priestess believed to have gotten her powers from the elves, which is why I made her Elven. The völva were seers, healers and witches. The name Aulrinia is closely related to the word Alruin, which is the Dutch name for Mandrake, which explains her symbol.

Baduhenna
Of all the Dutch Gods and Goddesses, this is my favourite. Her myths tell of a fierce battle taking place in ‘the Forest of Baduhenna’, between the Frisians and the Roman oppressors. The Frisians were familiar with the terrain and managed to kill 900 Roman soldiers. Then something weird happened. The remaining Romans, filled with paranoia, killed another 400 of their own men. This gave Baduhenna a quite fierce reputation of being a Goddess of battle, war and madness.
The name Baduhenna also has some connections to the Celtic Morrigan, another Goddess of battle and madness. The suffix -henna is simply a way to note that she is female. Badu looks and sounds similar to Badb, the battlecrow. She is part of the Morrigan and is known to fly over, in crow form, and bless her favoured side of the battle, while causing confusion and fear to the other side. This is why, at least to me, Baduhenna has a strong connection to ravens, and perhaps is even an aspect of the Raven Queen from D&D’s fifth edition.

Fosite
A God/dess worshipped on the Dutch isle of Ameland. They are known both as male, under the names Fosete, Fosite and Forste, and female under the names Fosite and Fosta. Which why for this purpose they are both male and female, a duality within one deity. The name seems to be linked to the Germanic God Forsite, the God of justice and peace. Fosite had holy wells dedicated to them on Ameland, which is why their symbol is a clear drop of water. People who got water out of these wells did so without speaking. This was done both out of respect, and because they apparently were a force to be reckoned with when angered.

Hesus
The only God I could convert into an Evil alignment. The only evidence of this God has been found in France, but scholars believe that the town of Hees gets its name from this God, and therefore believe that he may have been worshipped in the Netherlands as well. In Hees there was an enormous linden tree which was probably used for human sacrifice, perhaps to this fearsome God. In 1903 the tree fell after being struck by lightning.

Hludana
In several rivers in both the Netherlands and Germany votive stones have been uncovered naming this Goddess. A few of these reference to the stones being offered up by fishing guilds that resided in the area. Quite simple and straight forward, this one!

Irmin
A God of war which was worshipped on the Dutch Veluwe. He is believed to be related to the Germanic Tyr or Tiwaz, another God of war. Possibly this God was one of the most important Patron Gods of the Saxons. The Saxons celebrated their festivals around a huge pillar called the ‘Irminsul‘, which was believed to be a symbol for the Yggdrasil or ‘World Tree’.

Jecha
Not a lot is known of this Goddess. She is a Saxon Goddess of the hunt who was worshipped in Drenthe. The name Jecha is derived from the word ‘jach’ meaning hunt. This Goddess is believed to be similar to the Goddess Diana, Goddess of the forest and hunting.

Lady Holle
This is a bit of a tough one, because this is where a lot of folklore, myth and fairytales start mixing together. In the Netherlands the tale of ‘Vrouw Holle‘ is a very popular fairytale, speaking of an enchantress who makes it snow in the world by fluffing up a pillow. She punishes laziness and rewards those who do household chores without complaint. She is thought to have connection with the before-mentioned Hludana. The brothers Grimm stated in their books on Teutonic mythology the possibility of a Germanic Goddess called Holle, Holda or Huldra. So we’re not sure if she even was a Goddess, or just a fairytale, but I think she still makes and awesome deity.

Meda
A Goddess of purity, innocence and virginity who was also called Medea. She was called upon by young daughters for protection. There is no connection with light in itself, but a vision of beauty and purity is in my mind one of goodness, healing and hope.

Nehalennia
The most famous and well-known Goddess of the Dutch pantheon. She was a Goddess who was worshipped in Zeeland and was connected to our North Sea. Dozens of votive stones dedicated to her have been found, all of them thanking this Goddess for a safe sea passage. Some of these stones were recovered in England, meaning that she was worshipped on both sides of the passage. A lot is known of this Goddess, but the most important aspects of her are that as a Seagoddess and protector of travellers.

Sandraugina
In Brabant a votive stone dedicated to this Goddess was found, sacrificed by worshippers of her temple. The stone was decorated with cornucopias and branches filled with leaves and apples. Which is why Sandraugina is thought to be a Goddess of abundance and prosperity.

Tamfana
Another difficult one. Looking at the history books, there is only one mention of the name Tamfana, which speaks of the destruction of the sanctity of Tamfana. The people there were celebrating one of their holy festivals, and were said to be too drunk to fight back. It’s not know where this sanctity was located or even if this Tamfana was a God or a Goddess, or perhaps neither. Since -fana means sanctity it’s entirely possible the name of the deity was actually Tan or Tam.
However, the people of Oldenzaal claim that this Goddess is bound to the Tankenberg, and more in particular a large stone that lies there. Some interesting myths surround this place, supposedly there was a temple dedicated to Tamfana there, where the Goddess would use a golden chalice to divine a person’s future.

Viradectis
Votive stones dedicated to this Goddess have been found in Belgium, Scotland and the Netherlands. Not a lot is known of this Goddess, but the stones have been sacrificed by the Tungri, a Germanic tribe of well known tradesmen and seafarers. They probably traded grain, which was a popular product shipped from Belgica.

So there you have it. A list of awesome Dutch Deities for you to use in your next D&D/Pathfinder/RPG session. If you have any questions or would like some more info on any of these, or other Dutch deities, feel free to let me know! Are you suddenly inspired to make a war cleric of Baduhenna or a tempest cleric of Nehalennia? I’d love to hear about it!

Dutch Deities for D&D pt.1

baduhenna_by_marjolijn_ashara-d8u21uw
the Goddess Baduhenna, Goddess of War and Madness

…and other RPGs of course! Being pagan I love reading and researching mythology. A year ago I started looking into my own countries history. I knew we worshipped the Germanic Gods here, but were there a few Gods of our own? This curiosity led to a year of study and research and, up to now, 37 Dutch Gods, and my study is far from over.

In August I needed a new character for our Pathfinder campaign after my beloved Aasimar Oracle perished. I decided on a Human Warpriest, called Noor. For her deity I chose the Dutch Goddess Baduhenna, a Frisian Goddess closely connected to Badh and the Morrigan. She is amazingly fun to play! We’re looking into D&D 5th edition, which is just amazing, and in the back of the Player Handbook there are lists of real Gods and Goddesses converted to a format usable for D&D and other RPGs. So I figured, I have all this info on Dutch Deities, why not do the same and share it with the rest of the geeks?

So here is a short list of Deities that are usable in RPG. In part 2 {coming next week find it here!} I’ll give short backgrounds on each deity’s myth and how I came to their lore. Thing is, on a lot of Dutch Deities we don’t have a lot more than the name. Take Arcanua, of Her we only found a bronze statuette of a rooster with Her name on it. In the back you can set a candle. We know Her name means ‘the mysterious’ or ‘the hidden’. Furthermore, roosters are a symbol of the dawn. Hence the Light and Trickery domains. I included two sets of domains, the first set is for D&D 5e, the second for Pathfinder. Of course you can mix and match as you please, that’s the beauty of these systems. So here you go and please, let me know what you think!

Deity

Alignment

Domains

Symbol

Arcanua, Goddess of mystery and light

CN

Light, Trickery

Animal (Feather), Sun, Trickery

A bronze rooster and golden sun

Arduinna, Goddess of woodlands

N

Nature, Life

Animal (Fur), Plant

A silver boar

Aulrinia, minor Elven Goddess of magic and prophecy

LN

Arcana, Knowledge

Knowledge, Magic, Travel

A root in the shape of a human

Baduhenna, Goddess of freedom and madness

CN

Trickery, War

Liberation, Madness

A red raven and silver moon

Fosite, both God and Goddess of peace and justice

LG

Knowledge, Life

Law, Protection

A clear drop of water

Hesus, God of vegetation and sacrifice

NE

Death, Nature

Plant, Decay

A humanoid figure hanging on a tree

Hludana, Goddess of fishing and rivers

NG

Nature

Water

A fish above a woven basket

Irmin, God of war and strength

LG

War

Strength, War (Tactics)

An Irminsul

Jecha, Goddess of woodlands and the hunt

N

Nature, Life

Animal, Luck

A simple bow and arrow

Lady Holle, Goddess of magic, winter and weaving

CG

Arcana, Tempest

Magic, Water, Weather

Three snowflakes in a triangle

Meda, Maiden Goddess of purity and light

LG

Life, Light

Healing, Sun

Three golden rays angling down

Nehalennia, Goddess of the sea and travel

N

Nature, Tempest

Protection, Travel, Water

A ship’s wheel

Sandraudiga, Goddess of prosperity and abundance

NG

Nature, Life

Healing, Luck, Plant (Growth)

A red apple with green leafy vines

Tamfana, Goddess of joy and prophecy

CG

Arcana, Knowledge

Knowledge, Magic

A golden chalice

Viradectis, Goddess of trade

N

Knowledge

Knowledge, Travel (Trade)

Three falling golden coins

As I stated before, here in the Netherlands we also worshipped the Germanic Gods, as well as some of the Norse ones. There are several names we Dutchies used for these Gods and I listed them below. So if you do decide to use the Dutch Pantheon, you can easily include the Germanic Gods for some extra flavour!

Austrōn = Ostara, Goddess of spring

Donar = Thor, God of thunder

Frea = Freya, Goddess of beauty and love

Freke = Frigg, Goddess of love and marriage

Frija = Freya, Goddess of beauty and love

Ing = Freyr, God of male virility and prosperity

Saxnot = Tiwaz/Tyr, God of law and heroic glory

Thunar = Thor, God of thunder

Weda = Odin, God of magic, prophecy and healing

Wōdanaz = Odin, God of magic, prophecy and healing

Wotan = Odin, God of magic, prophecy and healing

A note on Frigg/Freya, in myths they are so often interchangeable that scholars now believe they might be the same Goddess. They call Her Frijjō for this purpose.

So that’s it for now, see you next week for part 2!