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                                                             The Goddess Idunna

                                                                                                  Goddess of North East on the Wheel of Andraste

Idunna.jpg

Idunna

Artwork by Willow Wand

The Goddess Idunna at Imbolc

Meet the Goddess Idunna at Imbolc.

 

 We now come away from the stillness of Yule, the Wheel of the Year turns, and our soul begins to quicken, for the land begins to wake and we feel hopeful. The days lengthen as we wait for the coming of spring; on 2nd February it is Imbolc, also known as Candlemas and the Festival of the Maiden.

Imbolc is a Celtic name. The Druids called this season Oimelc or Immolg, meaning ewes’ milk; it is the festival of the lactating sheep.  By now herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or their wombs are swollen and the milk of life is flowing into their teats and udders.  Imbolc means 'in the belly'. It is in the deep belly of the earth that all life now stirs.  It also means purification.  

At Imbolc, we meet Idunna, Goddess of spring. The Rejuvenating One, Goddess of Purity, and Goddess of the Radiant Dawn.

 

Idunna is the keeper of the magickal apples of immortality that the Gods must eat to preserve their youth. She was the only one amongst the Goddesses who was allowed to collect the apples which She kept in a golden chest.  Apples are one of the holiest and oldest symbols of life and rebirth. In Germanic traditions, Idunna’s life-renewing apples, represents the seed of life, of generative and regenerative ability, the source of life and the germination of life.

She is the wife of Bragi, and was Asgard’s court poet and minstrel. She brings the apple blossom, the delicate and beautiful flowers that bring such beauty at this time of the year. She is the Goddess of rebirth as the land is now reborn, full of promise, and vitality, bringing the radiance of Her love upon us all. She is eternal youth and hopefulness. She asks us to remember our childhood intuition and fantasies, to be playful and joyful in the newness of the world.  She brings us innocence, the naïve wonder of our youth, that looks at life with wide open eyes, looking for the magick in the world and at the magickal child within us.

Idunna challenges us to fulfil our dreams, and in this challenge, She asks us to look at our aspirations and decide whether they are selfish. For in the fulfilment of our dreams we must always be responsible to the needs of others.  She encourages generosity in all of us. Her colours are, white and pale green.

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Idunna’s Creatures

The Squirrel

 Teaches us how to work in harmony with the cycles of nature by conserving for the winter months. It is important to conserve during times of plenty and also to conserve what we have in the world. They have faith that spring is soon to follow, encouraging us to have faith in the future too; they create a safe space for themselves showing us to do likewise, both spiritually and physically.

The Squirrel means communication, being alert to opportunities, allowing curiosity to find new adventure - they remind us to enjoy life’s opportunities.

Swan

 The Swan is one of the most powerful and ancient of totems and can be found in ancient myths; its name is one of the oldest names in the English language and has come down un-changed since Anglo-Saxon times. The neck of a Swam is gracefully long; it is a bridge between the head (higher realms) and the body (lower worlds).

 

Just as the Swan flies between the watery realms and the heavens, she links the two worlds.  She teaches us that as you begin to realise your true beauty, you can cross the bridge to new realms and powers.

Migrating Swans return in the spring, just as the sun is regaining strength, connecting it to Imbolc. They are a symbol of love and fidelity, as they mate for life.  In many cultures the Swan is associated with music, love, purity and the soul.

Lamb

 Lambs look vulnerable yet they are strong and courageous and they are playful and innocent, reminding us of the joy of spring that is about to arrive with the longer warmer days.   Lambs take shelter with each other, teaching us that we don't have to face difficult situations alone for we are stronger together. 

The lamb grows strong on the rich milk of its mother and so we grow strong too on our Mother Earth's bounty throughout the year ahead. The lamb gives us hope, joy and an uplifted spirit. Goddess bless the Lamb.

Geese

 The Goose is associated with communication especially with writing stories; its feathers were used as quills which was for a long time the standard writing instrument.

The ‘V’ formation of Geese in flight is a wonderful winter sight across the lilac grey afternoon sky. They change formation in flight, creating wind drafts, making it easier for those flying behind them. They never fly directly behind one another, giving each Goose an unobstructed view, reminding us that we take others needs into account as we undertake journeys in life.  The ‘V’ shape is like an arrow head pointing towards new directions and possibilities.

The Goose never leaves one of its own behind. If one of the flock is injured during the annual migration, another Goose will remain with the bird until it recovers or passes away. The Goose means loyalty, bravery, protection, communication and determination.

The Sparrow

 Sparrows are songbirds. They are believed to symbolise joy, community, teamwork, protection, simplicity, hard work, or self-worth. They have cultural, religious, mythical, literary, and supernatural associations. In old Celtic tradition, Sparrows were thought to be keepers of ancestral knowledge. An intelligent, resilient and cheerful little bird, it brings power, strength and courage to Idunna’s story and is honest and simple, maybe just like Idunna was?  Call upon Sparrow if you are feeling a little cynical – it will help you see life from a different perspective.

White Wolf 

 The wolf is one of the guardian creatures of these lands and once in the past, roamed freely in forests and woods.  The White Wolf protects the Goddess.

Idunna’s Herbs 

Gorse

 Gorse grows on heathland and blossoms through the spring and summer. When the flowers are given to a woman they are considered to be a good luck gift.  Gorse brings hope and positivity; it gives energy and positive strength to those in need.

Tansy

 A plant of health and longevity. It is believed that this herb brings immortality; also known as Bachelors Buttons and Stinking Willie.  It is a herb of ritual purification; an infusion can be used to cleanse the person, tools and working area.  Young shoots flavour egg and dairy dishes for Imbolc.

Willow

 A plant of love, divination, healing and protection. If carried, it will attract love and if placed in the home it guards against evil.  It is a tree of inspiration and initiation for Bards and Poets.

Willow has the ability to grow merely by pushing a healthy branch cutting into the ground (even upside down). This has come to symbolise renewal, growth, vitality and immortality.

 

Wormwood

 Wormwood is also known as Absinthe and Old Woman.  It is sacred to the Maiden Goddess, and is used in rites at Imbolc.  A plant of love, protection and psychic powers, it is believed that when carried it protects against bewitchment.

Crystals

Clear quartz, White Agate and White Jade

Flowers

Calla Lilly, Snowdrops and Daisy.

Associated with Idunna

Apple Blossom

 In early Spring they are a glorious sight to behold in full blossom and are a sure sign that winter is passing and it is a time to begin to prepare for the season of fertility and growth. It has long been associated with weddings; it stirs memories of happy sunny days, and it brings youthful innocence; its colour encourages action, courage, passion and healing, it is the colour of warmth and love.

Apple Blossom can be used in magickal pouches for love, and as a scent to attract love.

 

Apples

 Although apples ripen in late summer and autumn, it may seem strange that they are associated with Idunna, however, She is the keeper of the Golden Apple.  

The apple has long been associated with immortality; Glastonbury, known as Avalon, derived from old Irish, meaning the place of apples, is known as the Apple Isle, where King Arthur is said to be buried.

It has been called the fruit of the Gods, the fruit of the Underworld and of the Silver Bough.  The Taliesin carried a silver bough of the apple tree hung with bells, denoting that they were bards; it was also hung with ripened apples that allowed them to cross between the worlds.  Unicorns are believed to enjoy the fruits of the apple tree and are associated with them.

Childhood

 The Goddess is seen in Her Maiden aspect at Imbolc and Ostara. She asks us to remember our innocence of childhood, encouraging us to find our inner child and bring forth the joy and naïve happiness that still lives within us. There is no sweeter sound than the sound of children’s laughter at play; they find pleasure in the simple things, reminding us that simple pleasures are important in a complicated world.

 

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Her Story

 Odin, Loki, and Hoenir were on their travels when they happened upon an ox and, since they were so very hungry they decided to cook it.  However, the meat would not cook; it took so long on the spit.  A huge eagle, perched above them in an oak tree, told them he knew why the ox wasn't cooking and would show them how to roast it if they would first let him eat his fill. 

 

They agreed and he flapped his huge wings causing the fire to roar and the ox was cooked.  The eagle ate such a great portion of the ox that Loki got angry, took a pole and struck at the eagle. The eagle flew upwards, grabbing  the pole with Loki stuck to the other end. He told Loki he would only let him down if Loki agreed to kidnap Idunna and her age-defying apples.  

Loki did as he had promised and lured Idunna outside of Asgard to where the eagle was waiting.  The eagle was the giant Thiazi in his eagle skin cloak. He took Idunna to his home called Thrymheim in the mountains of Jotunheim. 

The Gods began to quickly age once the source of their immortality had been stolen. Angry with Loki, they decided he should have to go and fetch her back.  Loki borrowed Freya's falcon cloak which transformed him into a falcon. He flew to Thrymheim where he found Idunna alone;  he turned her into a nut or in some myths, a Sparrow and flew back to Asgard as fast as he could, holding Idunna in his claws. 

As soon as Thiazi returned and found Idunna gone, he put on his eagle cloak and flew towards Asgard, his wings beating so quickly and with such force that he caused strong storm winds to hamper Loki's escape.  The Gods could see the eagle coming in pursuit of Loki. As soon as Loki was safe inside the bounds of Asgard, they built a bonfire which set fire to Thiazi's wings and once the giant fell to the ground the Gods killed him.  

     

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 Idunna is a gentle, selfless Goddess of the spring. She encourages us to be generous and unselfish, for when we are acting in this way, we bring true happiness and peace to ourselves.  

At the time of spring, when new life is all around us, Idunna’s childish innocence brings honesty and truth to us.  For living in honesty and truth brings a loving and contented fulfilment of life.

Copyright © EAGT 2022

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