Though this name is seldom mentioned and it’s quite obscure in Norse Mythology, it’s a name worth knowing more about because this goddess and giantess paid some role in Norse Mythology.
Jord – Mythology
Jord or Jörd means Earth in Old Norse. This is only of the less prominent names in Old Norse, and Jord would also be referred to as Hlódyn or Fjörgyn. She was a giantess and a goddess, specifically, the mother to the deity Thor. She was also Odin’s mistress. Late in the pre-Christian Era, it is believed that Jord had a husband that was also called Odin, which would point to her ability to transform into not just anything but a masculine personality. The name Jord is also said to be connected and related to the name of the Lithuanian thunder god, Perkun. Both names are said to be related to the Old High German forha or oak, which is also known as fir.
Going back to history and the important figures that played an important role in Norse Mythology, Jord doesn’t play any active role in the important tales that were recorded, and her name has only been referenced just in passing, where she’s been named as the mother of Thor, and the daughter of Nótt (Nott means night in Norse), and another or Anarr.
Besides the attestations of Jord in Poetic Edda and in Prose Edda, there are other attestations of this goddess in archeological records where she is believed to have invoked spells, charms, and prayers, which also included the common Saxon charm known as the Aecerbot. So, just like Mani, the goddess associated with keeping time, Jord is attributed to magic spells and played a huge role in most of the day-to-day religious observations, as suggested by the surviving literature in Norse mythology.
But, it’s also worth noting that Thor’s mother is known as Fold, Hlóðynn, Fjörgyn, or Grund, and throughout the Skaldic and Eddic poetry, these are the names that were used to refer to Thor’s mother. The name Jord, meaning Earth, appears to have been settled on based on its concept, though the name was not believed to be associated with a person of great significance.
Which begs the question, why all the different names for one person?
Well, in all likelihood and in some of the passages, the name has been used to communicate the fact that Thor is the son of the earth – earth, actually – not a necessary of a specific Earth. In this context, Earth represents a general concept and not a discrete figure. The main reason for this is that the Norse and the rest of the Germanic peoples all belonged to the part of the larger group of people known as the Indo-European people (Romans, Greeks, Slavs, Celts, and even the early Hindu Society), and throughout this world, the idea of femininity and the earth being intrinsically connected was deeply ingrained. The sky was, on the other hand, associated with masculinity.
This belief was borne in Celtic mythology, where most of the goddesses conformed to and were related to mother, fertility, earth, and even the sovereignty type. This was also the belief carried along in Aristotle’s cosmology, and it also turned into the most famous formulas for marriage in India. This is also seen with the Germanic goddess Nerthus who was identified with Mother Earth or the roman Terra Mater. It’s also seen in the Old English Prayer – Erce, eorþan modor meaning, Erce, Mother of Earth – this was a charm that was recited as the plows cut through the first furrows during the growing season. Therefore, it would make sense to think that the reference by the Old Norse poets to Thor’s mother as being the Earth meant referencing to a more general concept which was more ambient and also taken for granted and not an important mythical figure. Throughout the history books, therefore, referring to Thor’s mother as the Earth was more than enough reference.
Who is Jord?
Jord is known as the goddess of the uncivilized and the uncultivated wild earth. However, the name Jord is not mentioned in the myths from the time. And it’s since been established that her name simply referred to the Earth.
As mentioned above, the goddess Jord is the daughter of Nott, who’s the goddess of the Night, and her 2nd husband, Amnar or Anarr. Amnar was an island giant, but his name may or may not mean Water. From this, it’s been metaphorized that Jord was the daughter of Night and Water, the dark and the flowing and that Jord’s strongest connection from these metaphors is the fertile Earth. It is, therefore, believed that Jord is an ultimate example of what an earth-giantess is – she is not the wifely goddess but one who is completely in touch with the fertile land/ soil. In one of Ari’s writings, she notes that Jord had long hair, chocolate eyes that turned earth, but nothing about her curves and other feminine features. #
More interesting facts about Jord
Jord’s alternate names are Fjorgyn or Hlodyn, and Fjorgyn refers to Frigga’s parents – meaning she could be Jord’s daughter, whether Jordi is Fjorgyn or just another one of her make consorts.
Note that if this is the case and the truth about Jord and Frigga, the dignified, maternal goddess, it quite makes sense that she’s Jord’s more civilized daughter. Also, Frigga would then be Thor’s older step-sister. Also, this would mean that Jord passing off Odin to her daughter was the more civilized move, as Odin then goes on to marry Asa, the beautiful daughter.
In Anglo-Saxon, Jord is known as the Mother of Mankind, and she’s been called upon in petitions and prayers, and she’s been asked to provide answers to prayers. In one instance, Jord was invoked and asked for help when accessing/ finding healing herbs and also in activating the full potential of these herbs.
The main symbols associated with Jord include the earth, hills, unspoiled/ uncivilized wilderness, and mountains. Jord is also associated with bees, healing herbs, and also grandmothers, as well as all the features resembling women and soil – breast-shaped hills or the womb-like caverns. Girdles are also associated with Jord.