What Is Mother Goose Doing Here?
The origins of the Mother Goose Goddess archetype may go back to the ancient Egyptians who believed that “The Great Chatterer” aka “The Nile Goose” laid the golden egg from which the sun god Ra emerged. Look through many ancient goddess pictures and you will see the goose as her symbol or companion! The goose is a solar bird. She announces the dawn.
Yes, the goose is a solar bird. The tradition of the Christmas goose symbolizes the annual death of the sun at winter solstice.
Maybe It's Just Me, But....
I find the similarities to Baba Yaga intriguing, though as far as I know, I'm the only one to make the connection. Like Baba Yaga, Frau Holle suffers no fools. If they are lazy, she is quick with punishment but is extremely generous at rewarding those who are honest and work with diligence and effort. Holda and Baba Yaga either protect children or steal their souls, depending on the circumstances and which story you read. When I see Mother Goose as a kindly old woman, I think of Holda and when I see her as a witch, I think of Baba Yaga.
The Cool Goddess With The Warm Heart
"Yule, the longest day of winter, was her holiday, and until recently she was one of the Christmas gift-givers in parts of Germany. There she was pictured as a red-cloaked witch on a broom who would fill children’s shoes with goodies and then move on. German children left milk and bread for her, in hopes of better presents.
The earlier myth had her leading a Wild Hunt at Yuletide, rife with the howling spirits of her aforementioned dead children, quite different from Odin’s Wild Hunt with its dead warriors ... yet, to my thinking, even more horrific. A Middle Dutch term for the Milky Way was Vroneldenstraet, the highway of Frau Hulde. " -Shannon Graves
"In particular, the customs associated with Holda seem to have to do with rituals of preparation for the New Year. To provide closure for the year that is passing, try to finish up any tasks that you have been putting off for too long. Keep New Year’s day as one of rest and celebration, and include pickled herring and oatcakes on the menu. Other foods might include elderberry tea and pfeffernusse, those gingery German cakes covered with powdered sugar which cover anyone who eats them with a dusting of sugar like snow."
-Diana L. Paxson
She Does All The Things!
“There was an old woman who lived under a hill; and if she’s not gone, she lives there still.”
While she may be hidden in a simple nursery rhyme, Goddess can't be watered down. She is ancient and contemporary, powerful and alive!
Honk. Honk. Hellooooo!
Is This Goddess Calling To You?
If you follow Germanic, Norse or Heathen traditions you may already have blessings and workings for Holda in play. For others, here are some thoughts. Holde, like Hestia, is a wonderful home goddess, a crafter's goddess (especially for those who do textiles, spinning or knitting). Are you a mother, a nanny, a kitchen witch? This may be a Goddess whose energy you need in your life. (And yes, it's okay to go with Mother Goose as your patroness if that's what feels right to you!)
Shannon Graves has a beautiful online Shrine dedicated to Holda with a wealth of information. You may also leave prayers, requests or praise for Holda. There are links and also rituals, invocations and blessings posted there.
Do you have to wait 11 months for Yule to come around? Nope, though it may give you something extra to look forward to. It's still winter now, which may help the vibe, but Holda is not strictly a seasonal goddess. If you feel called to Holda or think she would be good for you, then now may be the time. You'll know.
- Geese are sacred to Holda
- Mother Goose images. The kindly old lady, the beautiful white blonde young maiden in white, or a similar mother figure.
- A vision of a woman with two faces- young and old
- Spinning, thread, yarn. spindle, spinning wheel
- Opportunities to ease the load for someone with childcare, cleaning, errands, kitchen or household tasks
- The colors white and ice blue
- Snow, snowflakes
- Elderberry Tea
- Wild Rose
- Lakes, streams and wells
Other Deities associated with the hearth, home, food, the kitchen, children or crafts:
Hestia, Frigg, Demeter, Hecate, Annapurna, Vesta, Brigid, Cailleach, Lamaria, Cerridwen, Bes, Zhao Shen, Athena, the Domovoy.
- A beautifully presented page About Holda by Shannon Graves
- Holda's Herbs by Raven Kaldera
- Article by Diana L. Paxson of Hrafnar on Holda
- A great read with references from Beliefnet
- Another nice bit from ThoughtCo which also has a link to a Yule spindle ritual.
- And more on Holda Here.
- An interesting piece by author Jeri Studebaker: Mother Goose: Why Was She Sometimes Shown as a Witch?
- Here is a link to Jeri Studebaker's Book: Breaking The Mother Goose Code: How A Fairytale Character Fooled The World For 300 Years (Disclaimer: I have not read this book yet so I can't recommend, but it does look intriguing)