Berchta is a Winter Goddess with many threads (and names!) throughout Germany, Austria, and the region of the Alps. There are still areas where some rituals to Berchta still take place even after her demonization by the Church.
She appears as either a veiled young woman (Perchta) with pearls woven into her hair or as a disfigured hag, with unruly hair and dirty clothing. As the young woman, she carries keys and mayflowers. As the old woman, she carries a distaff (for unspun wool). Her plant spirit allies are Holly, Mayflower, and Birch.
|Number||6 (as in Jan 6, or 12th Night)|
|Plants||Holly, Mayflower, Birch|
|Season||Winter, Winter Solstice, Yule|
|Colors||Green and White|
In Bavaria, she is one of the Leaders of the Wild Hunt. Leading the procession of those she protects, it is a Yule time procession of the ghosts of women, children, and animals. Other stories include her sovereignty over the fields, as Holda, Goddess of Abundance shaking the snow from herself over the ground that will allow the rebirth and abundance of the fields in Spring. Like many of our Dark Goddesses, she is a bridge between the living and the dead or the cycle of death and rebirth.
Perchta, Holda, Diana, Frigga, La Befana
The list of names and energetic similarities of this Winter Solstice Goddess expands through archeological discoveries by the likes of Marija Gimbutas and many other historians. From appearing with a Swan’s foot, as a Maiden or a Crone, to her demonization by the Church and slitting bellies if not properly behaved and consuming the right “meals”– Berchta and her conflations and sister Goddesses are here to teach us how to regain our own sovereignty through our renewal and rebirth.
Welcoming Berchta – Kaycee’s Experience
Like most other Goddesses, I was deeply intrigued by Berchta. Pre-Christian forms of Goddesses hold so many dualities, are all encompassing, but are historically demonized to control the populace instead of being beautiful stories explaining the seasons and highest connections to divinity. After creating the Berchta Candle, I set out to get to know her even in her darkest forms.
The Stomach Slicer
The stories of Berchta slicing open the stomach of those who didn’t leave the right food or who consumed it all and didn’t leave any for her caught my attention. When I connected with her about this story, this story was changed to inspire fear. In fact, the feeling was that her demonization led her to becoming the Stomach Slicer to free those who are being mercilessly controlled. She explained she is emptying the contents of what has been force fed to us so we can find our inner wisdom, our inner fire, our inner motivation, and purpose. This clearing out and imminent death allows the transformation of rebirth with the return of the solar fire, not just the celestial sun, but the fire within us.
Looking to 2022
Berchta asked me what I am cutting myself open for in 2022. I was taken aback, but she was very persistent with this question. How am I growing my fire? How can I expect this flame to grow without the space available for air to reach it? What must I carve out myself? She tossed her distaff at me, the end having a blade attached. She said this is also a key, I would know where to cut and where to weave when the time is right, but the time is approaching quickly. I look forward to continuing my work with the fierce love of Berchta!
On Your Journey
I hope that this season with Berchta has provided you with a better personal gnosis of her wisdom and a clear path forward for 2022!
We are building a network of Sovereigns too! Stay tuned!
A candle & a key,
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Berchta. (n.d.) Encyclopedia of Christmas and New Year’s Celebrations, 2nd ed.. (2003). Retrieved November 30 2021 from https://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Berchta
Illes, J. (2009).Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Saints, Angels, Fairies, Demons, and Ghosts (Witchcraft & Spells). HarperOne.