Who is Jord?

What we know from myth, history, and inspiration

Jord1The goddess of the uncivilized, uncultivated, wild earth, Jord is little mentioned in any of the myths. Her name means simply “Earth”, and she is the daughter of Nott, the goddess of Night, and her second husband Annar, an island-giant whose name may or may not mean “Water”. One could metaphorize from here and see the daughter of Night and Water, dark and flowing, whose strongest connection is the fertile earth. In a way, Jord is the ultimate example of the earth-giantess, the being that is entirely in touch with the fertile soil. She is also not a “wifely” goddess. Jord seems to be very centered in herself and her fertility, and though she might willingly mate with a man, she would not center herself around being his partner.

Ari, a spamadhr, writes: “Ah, Jord! What can I say about her except to sing her praises? She lives in the area of Jotunheim that is the most fertile, and her very touch causes trees to fruit and seeds to sprout. In her own way she is just as much a mistress of fertility as any of the Vanir gods. Long hair and eyes the chocolate of rich, turned earth, skin darker than that of most Jotnar. Nothing small about her — belly of billowing female flesh, breasts that could drown a man, hips broad enough to spill forth triplets with ease. SJord's Mountainshe is very often pregnant by her various lovers. It is probably impossible to calculate how many children she has borne. She is like the Earth itself, drawing you into her strong, soft, motherly embrace. Probably one of the most generous and giving etin-women in existence. I can see why Odin fell in love with her. I can also see why he left her — a man could get lost in her bed and never come out again to do any brave, heroic deeds. I have to wonder if Thor's ambivalent relationships with giantesses suggest how hard it was to cut the apron strings with such a powerful mother.”

It is said that Jord was Odin's first consort, before taking an “official” Aesir wife. Perhaps he found her lushness irresistible; perhaps he was acting out an archetypal role of sky-father mating with the Earth-mother. Their son, Thor, is certainly one of the Aesir, but he is in many ways the most giantlike of the lot of them, both in appearance and in behavior.  Jord is also said to have borne a second son by Odin named Meili, but no one knows anything about him.

Jord Tarot CardAlternate names for her are Fjorgyn and Hlodyn; the first name also refers to a parent of Frigga, so it is very likely that she is Jord’s daughter, regardless of whether Fjorgyn is Jord or a male consort of hers. Many of the folks who work with Jord have been told this by her. As Frigga is a dignified and maternal goddess, it is easy to see her as the more civilized daughter of the wild earth mother. This would make Frigga an older half-sister of her stepson Thor. One can also see Jord passing the young and eager Odin off to her daughter for more civilizing. Whichever it might be, if this is the case, Odin did the tribal equivalent of marrying his stepdaughter, trading the motherly but independent Jord in for her beautiful Asa daughter. Frigga, in her turn, was much more willing to assume the role of Royal Wife and Consort, making herself the mistress of Odin's halls and realms.

Artwork by Fangfingers and J. Roesch.