Several years ago I read The Beauty and the Hag by Lotte Motz and wrote down some notes. The book is not exactly easy to find, and for those interested in Germanic goddesses, definitely worth tracking down. I wrote down some notes, intending them to go on another web site but that never happened. Now I am tired of just having them to hang on to, so I present them for sharing here. One of these years I hope to revisit the book with more knowledge under my belt.
Motz is a Jungian, which definitely influences her analysis. Interestingly, she seems very reluctant to expand on motivations for figures mentioned in primary sources, but is very quick to make cross-cultural comparisons. I find this to be somewhat curious in practice.
Chapter 1: The Beauty and the Hag
A cross-cultural analysis of female figures, both in art and literature, exposing their vulvas.
No conclusions were drawn, only the myths and images were presented. Motz mentioned both Mellaart and Gimbutas in the chapter, which would be certain to make a lot of Heathens foam at the mouth.
Chapter 2: Female Figures of Eddic Poetry and Prose
I was sorry I was not more familiar with the sagas when I read this, as a good portion of her material was from them. In this chapter she covered human females in the lore.
Quote, from page 70:
Giantesses and their kin are firmly placed in the northern lands and share many qualities with the numina of the northern regions. One would venture to assume that in these beings they had found their origin. Obviously much was altered in the course of the millennia. Giantesses would have lost much of their religious aspect and would have acquired new dimensions by incorporation into literary texts and by literary embellishment.
Chapter 3: Lady in the Rock
This chapter recounts many instances of non-human, non-deity females in both the Eddas and the Sagas.
Giantesses are mentioned as sexual beings and referenced with their relationships with human men. Also discussed are the disir, fylgjar, hamnyjur (check spelling), with the latter two discussed more as independent being as opposed to souls.
Of note for the Fellowship, Gunnlod receives two short paragraphs about her role as a lover of Odin and the mead keeper. Interestingly, Motz says nothing of Gunnlod being raped and indicates Her more as a willing woman rather than victim.
Chapter 4: The Goddess Freyja
Kennings include Gefn (give), Horn (flax), Mardöll, Syr (sow), Lover of King Ottar—possible reference to divine marriage?
About ten pages of discussion of Near Eastern Goddesses Who may have parallels to Freyja. Includes Anat, Inanna, Ishtar. Warrior goddesses, animal similarities, sexual, jewels.
p. 110. seidr mentioned as a specific northern art.
Chapter 5: The Germanic Goddesses of Women’s Lives
First pages discuss birth goddesses of the Lapps, Greeks, and Near Eastern cultures. Small section devotes to the Fates and related Them again to childbirth.
She sets the stage for discussing the Goddesses and Spirits referenced in the title.
Charm on p. 123:
Three young women came from the Orient (Soli’s note: perhaps it was simply East before?)
The first could spin a golden thread
the second could fix (bind) a woman’s womb
the third could put it in its proper place
I found the book to be lacking in some areas, specifically in connecting the female figures with Germanic culture further and possibly expanding on their roles. It is always possible that by the time these tales were recorded the role of the women often became minor, but with tantalizing clues to probe further. If you can find the book I definitely would say read it. You may not agree with all of Motz’s comparisons or conclusions, but it provides much needed food for thought in an area that is still far too ignored in modern Heathenry.