Jörð

Summary

The goddess Jörð is a female Jotun in Scandinavian mythology, a sacred divine earth who once gave birth to Thor. Jörd is considered a goddess, as are other Jötuns in connection with the gods. The name Yörd is found in Skaldic poetry both for the poetic designation of the earth and in kennings for Thor.

Other possible names are Fjörgyn, Fold, Grund and Hlóðyn.

The ancient Scandinavian word jörð means “land, land”. It is both a nominative name (“earth”) and a theonomical word (“Goddess of the Earth”). The word comes from the Germanic *erþō- (“land, soil, dry land”), as evidenced by the Gothic airþa, Old English eorþ, Old Saxon ertha, Old Upper German erda. The ancient Greek word éra (ἔρα, “earth”) is probably related to the previous ones. This word is most likely related to the Germanic *erwa or erwōn-, meaning “sand, soil” (cf. Dr. Scandinavian jǫrfi, “sand, gravel,” and J.-H. ero, “earth”).

The name Fjörgyn is most likely another name of Yord. In the 56th stanzas of the Prophecy of the Völva and the Song of Harbard, Thor is mentioned as “son of Fjörgyn”. The name Hlóðyn (Hlóðyn) is also mentioned in the 56th stanza of the Prophecy of the Völva. The phrase “Hlóðyn the descendant” is used, referring to Thor.

Here comes the glorious descendant of Hlodun, the son of Odin goes to battle with the serpent, the guardian of Midgard is struck in anger, all men must part with their lives, – nine steps the son of Fjergün steps back, the serpent slain – he is worthy of glory.

The origin of the name Chlodun is unclear, although it is said to be related to the goddess Chludana, known from Romano-Germanic votive inscriptions found in the Lower Rhine.

Younger Edda

In the first part of the Younger Edda, the Vision of Gulvi, in chapter 9 the following is said about the relationship of Yord and Odin:

And the earth was his daughter and wife. From her was born his eldest son, Asa-Tor.

It is unclear whether Odin is Yord”s father, as Snorri goes on to say that Yord”s father is Anar. A description of Yord”s lineage:

Nervi or Narvi was the name of a giant who lived in Jotunheim. He had a daughter, black and gloomy from birth, named Night. Her husband was a man named Naglfari, and their son was called Aud. Then was her husband Anar, and their daughter was called Earth. And her last husband was Delling, of the race of the Aesir. The son of them was called Day.

Chapter 36 talks about the Valkyries, and afterwards it says that Yord is counted among the goddesses.

Yord, Thor”s mother, and Rind, Vali”s mother, are also counted among the goddesses.

In Snorri Sturluson”s Language of Poetry, Yord is described as a rival to Odin”s wife Frigg and his concubines Rind and Gunnled.

The Elder Edda

In chapter 56 of the Prophecy of Völva, Thor is called a descendant of Hlóðynjar and son of Fjörgynjar (“mögr Hlóðynjar”, “Fjörgynjar burr”). The origin of the name Hlódün is unclear; it is presumed to be another name of Yord.

In chapter 58 of Loki”s Bickering, Thor threatens Loki to shut up. Loki calls Thor the son of Yord and begins to mock him:

“Here the son of Erd has come: why have you begun to scold? You will not be brave, fighting the wolf, which will destroy Odin.”

The asteroid (894) Erda, discovered in 1918, is named after the goddess.

Sources

  1. Ёрд
  2. Jörð