Frau Holda, or Hula is asscociated with the 12 Holy nights. She is seen as the Queen of Winter, and sometimes as the wife of Odin.
Holda, the winter queen
Holda is the winter Queen, who decides which children have been naughty and nice. A blond woman with blue eyes, she rules the cold and harsh winter. Sometimes she is the wife of Odin, dressed up in Red.
Frau Holda, the story
The Grimm story about Frau Holda is a story about a mother with two daughters. One is lazy, one is eager. The Lazy one is loved the most. The other daughter is supposed to spin all day. Her spinning wheel gets blood from the girl’s hands all over it. To prevent her mother from getting really angry with the stained spinning wheel, she throws it into the well. She has to dive into the well to retrieve it. She dives in, and gets into another realm. Lovely, abundant, with breath begging to be put out of the oven and apples wanting to be plucked from the tree. A sort of Garden of Eden in reverse.
Now the good girl enters the home of Frau Holda and does her work, The usual cleaning an tidying. Frau Holda approves and sends the girl back home covered in gold.
The lazy sister also jumps in the well, hoping to get covered in god. She is lazy. She does not harvest, she does not take care of Frau Holda, and she gets covered in pitch.
A story about winter, getting into the realms of the earth and harvesting all it has to offer. A story about judging the work, done in the right way.
Holda and the well
Spinning is an ancient motif, associated with the Mother Goddess. The well is used to clean the spinning wheel, the mandala of the Self, from the blood of the girl. Blood is our life force. Blood is red, the color of fire, the color of anger. It is rather upsetting that the ‘good” girl does not get angry at her mother and sister. Instead, she seems to bottle it all up inside. She needs to search for the Goddess inside the well.
When she jumps in, she enters a paradise with plenty of food. Food that screams to be eaten. In the cold of winter she has discovered a Nirvana. Going down to reach for fertility in the water of the well. Going beyond her anger. Accepting her shadow side, the lazy part of her, that does not care about the work.
Close your eyes and envision your well. See how you can use it as a bridge to the treasures that wait to blossom in a few months. It is not only mundane food that yo are growing now, it is also your spiritual well-being…
Did you dive into the well of wisdom the past days? To harvest what you have learned this year? Did you catch some good dreams too? It is a magical dreaming time so make sure you take notes!
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4 thoughts on “Holda and the winter”
Wonderful story of diving deep and doing the hard work. My husband said about me: “They’ll put on your gravestone: ‘She tried really hard.'” That desire for ceaseless spinning is a Virgo’s blessing and curse.
The eager and less loved girl gets blood on the spindle, throws it in the well, goes after it, and then serves Frau Holden. So she is the one who dives deep and integrates the lazy shadow? Do you think the moral of the tale is to work hard, dive deep, integrate and make conscious this shadow girl, and (of course) always honor the Great Mother?
For me, the story of the good and the bad sister who are done justice by Frau Holla is a story of female initiation. The Good Girl starts bleeding: a symbol of menstruation, and goes into another mystical world.
In the “normal’ world, her mother does not do her justice, now she is on her way to maturity. She gets several initiations.
A bun in the oven: yes a pregnancy. She puts the bread out of the fire: a new project/baby is born. She walks on toward the harvest season and plucks the apples. She shows the sensitivity and responsibility a mature woman should have to function in society.
The lazy sister pricks herself intentionally: she jumps into this mystical world of initiation. This can not be forced. One has to be ready. She does not show the responsibility or the maturity of getting into the initiation processes women in that period of time had to go through. She is the one who shows the duality of Frau Holla. Not only is she the bringer of justice, but she is also the dark mother that brings death and misfortune.
Like Steven Swan Jones said about this fairy tale: “the plot of the tale thus serves to illustrate the heroine’s developments from being an immature juvenile who lacks autonomy, authority and self assurance to a mature woman who is admired, respected and emulated”. This is a just world were good prevails over evil, is the main message of the fairy tale.
Thank you for this Susanne! These stories are so enlightening in their way, reminding us to look into the depths of the well –
Thank you Susan. Reading Marie -Louise von Franz about fairy tales really give me so much more depth when I look at the story of a dream.