Let’s turn our attention to an elusive goddess, Jörð (also known as Jord or Iord). Often described simply as ‘the earth’, she holds an unusual position in Nordic Heathenry, one defined by mystery and sporadic attestations in the lore. She is most often described as Thor’s mother, and a lover of Odin, sometimes called Fjörgyn or Hlóðyn - her connections to the land, the earth and by extension, nature itself is rather undisputed.
It is worth mentioning here that Thor’s association with Jörð helps inform modern heathens of his associations with agriculture – reinforcing that ‘everyman’s god’ identity that many hold dear. As the son of Jörð (Jarðar burr, as he is sometimes described) he is grounded in Midgard – our world – as a force of protection and strength, tied to us innately.
With mentions in both the Poetic and Prose Edda, alongside an incredibly brief appearance in Saxo Grammaticus’s History of the Danes (Gesta Danorum), Jörð has close ties and unspoken (no doubt lost) importance to the history of the gods as it is presented. There’s certainly an element of Jörð being a figure that played a crucial role in the ‘early days’ of the gods, founding and laying the path for the stories we are eventually told.
Snorri Sturluson in Skáldskaparmál of the Prose Edda offers the most information we have on her connections to the greater family tree:
How should one call the earth? Thus: by calling her Flesh of Ymir, and Mother of Thor, Daughter of Ónarr, Odin’s Bride, Co-Wife of Frigg and Rindr and Gunnlöd, Mother-in-law of Sif, Floor and Bottom of the Storm-Hall, Sea of Beasts, Daughter of Night, Sister of Audr and of Day.
(Translation: a rather old (1922) Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur version. To mix things up).
An important element there lies in the Flesh of Ymir, suggesting the Jörð may have been born/created upon the death of Ymir. Other translations replace Co-Wife of Frigg to rival (notably Faulkes in his 1995 translation). While she is often described as one of the jötnar – and while her ties to Ymir are recorded, though different from other Jotunn – Rudolf Simek argues her position as an Æsir goddess in the Dictionary of Northern Mythology.
There are some modern heathens who believe Nerthus to be another name for Jörð, potentially tying her more closely to the Vanir gods. The Vanir’s seemingly innate connection with fertility and the natural world would fit seamlessly with Jörð’s associations.
Regardless, in strictly human terms, she was clearly known across the Germanic region, persevering across history and geography.
Yet despite all of this, she remains relatively absent from ritual on the greater heathen landscape.
Do you work with or worship Jörð? What does she represent to you?
Does anyone have any personal gnosis or experiences with her?