In the tradition of past years posts on the Unconquered Sun and the Victorian Shaman, this years Yuletide post is about a very special lady. Frau Holle, like many Germanic and Northern European deities, multitasks, holding dominion and association with several areas and themes. You may know her as one of her alternative names, Mother Holda, Hulle, Holl, Perchta or Hulde. As Frau Holle she is a protectress of children, and matron of women’s domestic chores, especially spinning.
Through spinning she gains connections with magic and women’s crafts, by implication, trance and charm work typical of northern shamanism. She teaches, inspires and rewards the hard worker, whilst punishing the lazy one, clearly seen in Grimms Fairy Tale HERE she has strong associations with the northern and germanic pantheons, being associated with both Frigg and Freya. Johann Georg von Eckhart (1664-1730) in De orgine Germanorum (p. 398) writes: “The common people of the Saxons honor Frau Freke, who bestows on them gifts, the same whom the nobles amongst the Saxons reckon as Holda.”
According to Oberlin, Luther compares Nature rebelling against God to the heathenish Hulda “with the frightful nose.” Martin of Amberg calls her Percht mit der eisen nasen, “with the iron nose.” Vintler calls her Frau Percht with the long nose and a MHG manuscript refers to her as Berchten mit der langen nas. She is known as Trempe, the trampling one, and Stempe, the stamping one.
Hulda is the goddess to whom children who died as infants go, and alternatively known as both the Darth Großmutter (Dark Grandmother) and the weisse Frau (White Lady). Her various aspects include a heavy association with water, with a carving of her standing on the shores of a pond at Hohe Meißner:
She is associated with the Wild Hunt, and in some countries is said to lead it, also appearing as a patron of witches and witchcraft.
Holda seems to personify the winter weather that transforms the land, for when it snows, it is said that Holda is shaking out her feather pillows; fog is smoke from her fire, and thunder is heard when she reels her flax.
The association between shaking out a quilt or pillows and snow is a strong one:
You’ll notice that images of her tend to fall into two distinct age groups: either she is portrayed as an older woman, else a young one, but the image of her shaking out snow is one which is still fixed in folk memory.
Hail Frau Holle! let it snow!
You can find out more information HERE