During my studies of our Germanic heritage I have encountered gods who were previously unknown to me, most of us are familiar with names like Wodan, Thunar, Freya, or Tiwaz, and many more gods are known to us because information about them has been preserved in the works of Tacitus, Grimm, and of course the Edda's, something that deserves our eternal gratitude.
Not all gods were equally important and many of them were only worshipped locally, most of those gods have unfortunately not survived the ravages of time but some of them have managed to escape oblivion and can be found back in archeological findings, old texts, legends, and local folklore.
I have tried to collect some of the information that is left about this gods to preserve this knowledge for future generations, because I am Dutch this text mainly consists of information about gods who were worshipped in the Netherlands but I will also mention some other largely unknown gods of which information has reached my ears.
Another thing to mention is that many of the Germanic gods were Latinized by the Romans who equaled them to their own gods, which resulted in names that were combinations of Latin and Germanic names like Mars Thincsus, Mars Halamarthus, Magusanus Hercules, Mercurius Eriausius, and Mercurius Arvernus.
Here they are in alphabetical order:
The Alaisiagae are believed to have been two Valkyries, one of them was Bed, who could aid people in lawsuits, and the other one was Fimilo, who could divert danger.
Their names are probably Latin and it may be possible that the Romans misinterpreted a local worship of Valkyries.
According to Tacitus the eastern Germanic tribe of the Naharvalians (who belonged to the Lugians) worshipped two young brothers at an ancient grove, Tacitus associated this two brothers with the Roman Castor and Pollux, who were inseparable and even followed eachother in death after which they became two stars in the nightly sky.
The priest at that grove dressed himself as a woman and the sanctuary contained no idols of the two brothers, Tacitus also mentions that the cult was not of foreign origin and that the brothers were called Alci.
I am not sure whether this two brothers were gods or just mythological figures, but it may be possible that some Germanic tribes had their own version of the Castor and Pollux myth, which can point to a common Indo-European origin, Mediterranean influences, or a coincidental similarity.
Arcanua is mentioned in Roman writings, she was worshipped in the Netherlands but for the rest nothing is known about her.
Her name sounds very Latin and it may be possible that she is of Roman or Celtic origin, though the name can also be a Romanized Germanic name.
During the Frisian rebellion in 28AD a Roman army was slaughtered by the Frisians in the Baduhennawald, a holy wood that was dedicated to a Frisian wargoddes named Baduhenna.
This sacred forest was probably located to the north of the city of Velsen in the modern Dutch province of Noord-Holland, the exact location may have been the city of Heiloo ("hei"=holy? "loo"=forest), the word "badwa" probably means "battle".
The name Berchta means "The Shining One", this earthgoddess was worshipped in what is now southern Germany and was probably the same as Holda, Erda, Frigg, Jord, or whatever other names and titles the Germans used for their Earthgoddess.
Berchta was not really an unknown or unimportant goddess and she was probably worshipped my most tribes, only under different names.
One of her main activities was spinning and at the end of the year she destroyed every thread that was not finished yet, although Berchta is mentioned for the first time in the 14th century her origins are much older; in the Edda a goddess named Biort is mentioned, "Biort" is the Old Norse version of the name Berchta and it is likely that "Berchta" was a kenning for a common Earth goddess who was worshipped throughout northern Europe.
It is also believed that the southern German city of Berchtesgaden is named after her.
Burorina is a local goddess whose name was found on an altar near Domburg in the Netherlands, nothing is known about her.
Epona was worshipped in the Netherlands, especially by the Roman and Celtic occupiers there.
It is believed that they were the ones who brought this goddess to the Netherlands since she was not of Germanic origin; Epona ("Great Horse") was the Celtic goddess of horses.
Exomna was worshipped by the Batavians in the Netherlands, her name means "without fear" in Latin, which may suggest a Roman origin or a Romanized version of a Germanic goddess.
On the Dutch island of Ameland a god named Foste was worshipped, in 866AD his temple on the island was destroyed by fanatical Christians and from its wood a church was built.
Nothing is known about this god but it is very likely that he was a local variant of Forseti (or Forsyte), who was the Germanic god of Justice.
The name of this goddess was found on a Roman altar stone in Great Britain, it was created by Suebians who served in the Roman army; "gabis" means gift, and there are theories which link her to the northern Germanic Gefjon (Frigg).
The name of this Batavian goddess was found on an inscription found near the Dutch city of Wijk bij Duurstede.
It is unknown who Haeva was but it is believed by some that she was the wife of the god Thunar, her name probably means "Exalted One".
Hariasa was worshipped in Germany and she is thought to have been a war goddess, other names for her were Harimela or Harimella, "hari" means "battle" or "war" in old western Germanic.
Hertha was an Earth goddess who was probably a local variation of Nerthus, some scholars also link her to other fertility goddesses like Berchta and Holda.
the name Hertha may have been derived from the Proto-Germanic words "hertan" (heart) or "erşaz" (earth).
This goddess was worshipped by the western Germans, she is believed to be either an Earthgoddess or a goddess of Fishing.
Some scholars believe that Hludana (*Hludanaz = "Loud One") is the Proto-Germanic name of the northern Germanic goddess Hlodyn or Jörd (the mother of Thunar/Thor) and the Western Germanic Hulda/Holda.
An altar to Hludana was found in the "terp" of Beetgum in Frisia, a terp is a large knoll that functions as a protection against high water.
Hruoda is also known as Hrede in Anglo-Saxon, Grimm briefly mentions her as a Spring goddess and she may be related to Ostara though in most sources they are named as separate goddesses.
An interesting fact is that the Anglo-Saxon calendar has the month March named after her; Hrethmonath.
In the Netherlands a stone altar has been found that was dedicated to this goddess, Hurstrga is believed to have been a Batavian goddess but besides the inscription on the stone altar nothing is known of her.
During the 17th and 19th century AD many altar stones dedicated to a goddess named Nehalennia (also Nehelennia and Nehaleniae) were found by fishermen on the bottom of the Northsea near the peninsula of Walcheren in the Dutch province of Zeeland, on some of the stones she is asked to protect the ship of the creator of the stone, there are also depictions of her on some of the stones but mostly in a Romanized form that was probably copied from depictions of Isis, a fertility goddess who was worshipped by the Romans.
A remarkable detail is that on some of the stones the name of the creator is Roman or Celtic in origin, which implicates that the Romans and Celts from the local occupation force took over some of the native deities and equaled them to their Roman counterparts.
Many of the foreign names on the altars are of people from northern Gaul and the Roman territories near the Rhine in what is now Germany, though the majority of the names are of native Batavians.
Near Walcheren there used to be a temple dedicated to Nehalennia but it was destroyed by Christian missionaries in 694AD.
Near the coast to the west of the city of Domburg there also used to be a temple of Nehalennia as well as in the coastal city of Ganuenta, a lost city that is believed to have been situated on the Colijnsplaat in the Oosterschelde.
Most of the Nehalennia altars were found in the Oosterschelde where they probably ended up after a flood, throughout its history the province of Zeeland has often been flooded by the Northsea so that theory is plausible, though some of the altars may have also been deliberately deposited into the sea.
The majority of the altars seem to have been erected as votive stones and they all contain more or less the same text, to give an example I shall quote this text from an altar that was found near Domburg:
DEAE NEHALENNIAE DACINVS LIFFIONIS FILIVS V(OTUM) S(OLVIT) L(IBENS) M(ERITO)
"To the goddess Nehalennia, Dacinus, son of Liffio, has payed his promise with pleasure and reason."
An altar that was found on the Colijnsplaat gives some more information:
DEAE NEHALAENIAE ARAM QVAM IN HO(NOREM) EIVS HILARVS D(ECVRIO) M(VNICIPII) B(ATAVORVM) OB MERCES SVAS BENE CONS ERVATAS VOVERAT POSVIT LIBENS MERITO ALBINO ET MAXI MO CO(N)S(VLIBVS)
"To the goddess Nehalennia, Hilarus (a Batavian name), city councillor of the municipality of Batavorum (=Nijmegen), has erected the altar in her honour that he promised her for a good protection of his merchandise, with pleasure and reason, when Albinus and Maximus were consul. (=227AD)"
During the early Middle Ages there was a local custom in some parts of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany in which the people rode a ship on wheels through the country while dancing around it and celebrating, this procession sounds very similar to the Nerthus ritual that was described by Tacitus, it was later forbidden by the church.
In Germany the people also worshipped a goddess who protected ships and sea trade, her symbol was a ship just like the symbol of Nerthus and she also protected the ships of her worshippers like Nehalennia did, so there may be a link between these goddesses.
Before the merchants at Walcheren sailed out they visited Nehallenia's temple where they asked her to grant them a safe trip and a profitable trade, they also promised to erect an altar stone for her when they would return safely, some of these stones are now displayed in museums.
The name "Nehalennia" is sometimes interpreted as "Goddess of the new light" but also as "Companion" or "Protectress", her name is believed to be of Celtic origin but that doesn't say anything definitive about her origin because in the southern part of the Netherlands and Belgium the people are believed to have spoken a language that contained both Celtic and Germanic words, only later the language in these regions became entirely Germanic.
Nehalennia was mainly worshipped in the 2nd and 3rd century BC and she is believed to be the protectress of ships and sea trade.
This goddess was worshipped by the Batavians in the Netherlands, no further details about her are known.
Near Nijmegen in the Netherlands an altar of the goddess Mopates was found, it was dedicated to her by M. Liberius Victor, a corn trader and Nervian citizen.
Nothing else is known about this goddess.
In his work the Roman historian Tacitus mentions an island where a ritual was held in honour of the goddess Nerthus, the island he is speaking about is probably one of the Frisian islands (also called "Wadden") that lie as a long chain along the Dutch, German, and Danish coast:
From Tacitus' Germania: "On an island of the sea stands an inviolate grove, in which, veiled with a cloth, is a chariot that none but the priest may touch. The priest can feel the presence of the goddess in this holy of holies, and attends her with deepest reverence as her chariot is drawn along by cows. Then follow days of rejoicing and merrymaking in every place that she condescends to visit and sojourn in. No one goes to war, no one takes up arms; every iron object is locked away. Then, and then only, are peace and quiet known and welcomed, until the goddess, when she has had enough of the society of men, is restored to her sacred precinct by the priest. After that, the chariot, the vestments, and (believe it if you will) the goddess herself, are cleansed in a secluded lake. This service is performed by slaves who are immediately afterwards drowned in the lake. Thus mystery begets terror and a pious reluctance to ask what that sight can be which is seen only by men doomed to die."
In the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark mummified bodies have been found in peat bogs, historians have still not found a satisfying explanation for this but many of them agree that the bog bodies were criminals and/or human sacrifices.
Many bog bodies were found with their throats slit open while others had cords around their necks with which they must have been strangled to death, the most plausible explanation is that not all bog bodies died for the same reason; some may have been criminals that were "gotten rid of" while others could have been sacrificed to a god, something where many people even volunteered for in that time.
It is believed that the bog bodies were sacrificed to Nerthus though this is not entirely certain.
Most scholars agree that the western Germanic Nerthus is the same as the northern Germanic god Njord, which indicates that Njord/Nerthus was a hermaphrodite or that he/she was worshipped under different genders, this aspect is common among ancient religions and may have had a symbolical meaning.
In later periods Nerthus was also referred to as "Nar" or "Ner" in the Netherlands, the Gooi area in the Dutch province of Utrecht used to be a Germanic gau (province) called "Nardinckland", it was named after Nardinck, which was the old name of the modern city of Naarden; Nar- is derived from Nerthus and -dinck is an old Dutch word for şing (the Germanic folk assembly); thus Nardinckland means "Nerthus'-şing-land".
The tribes of the Reudignians, Avionians, Anglians, Varinians, Eudosians, Suarinians, and Nuitonians were also known for their worship of Nerthus.
The nornes were not only worshipped in Scandinavia but also in many of the other Germanic areas, in southern Germany for instance they were worshipped as "Matres" or "Matrones"; this were originally Celtic goddessess who were also worshipped by the Romans, the name Matrones may be given to them by the Romans who tried to equal them to their "own" goddesses.
In other areas of Germany the Nornes were called "the three eternal ones" and their names were Einbet (Urd), Barbet (Verdandi), and Wilbet (Skuld).
Some Roman sources mention a god named Requalivahanus, "Requaliva" is probably a Latin interpretation of Germanic "Rekwaz" or "Rekwaliwa"; rekwaz is an old Germanic word for "darkness" (Gothic; "riqis" and Old Norse; "rokkr") and liwa is old Germanic for "water", so Rekwaz may mean "the Dark One" and Rekwaliwa can be interpreted as "Dark water".
Rekwaz may have been a god of Darkness or Death but other sources portray him as the god of forests or trees, though I have not been able to verify this information.
Another theory is that "Rekwaz" is one of the names of Wodan, many Germanic gods had multiple names in various languages and dialects, besides that they were also referred to with kennings and nicknames which described some of their characteristics.
Altar stones dedicated to this goddess were found near the Dutch city of Roermond, the stones date from the 3rd century AD.
Rura is probably a minor goddess of local importance and her name suggests that she is the goddess of the river Roer (Dutch) or Ruhr (German).
Not much is known about this goddess except her name, it is believed to mean "the truly rich one" (Old Norse; "sandr"=truly, "audigr"=rich).
In 1812 a Roman altar stone bearing the name Sandraudiga has been found near Rijsbergen in the Netherlands (southwest of Breda), Dutch historians have interpreted the name "Sandraudiga" as "Goddess of the Sandland" though it is also possible that it may have meant "Red-sand"; there is even a possibility that the Dutch cities of Zundert and Zandrode were named after her.
Tanfana, who was also known as "Tamfana" or "Tan", is briefly mentioned in the work of Tacitus (Annales, book I, 50-51) who mentions that the Marsii had a temple dedicated to her, this temple is believed to have been located in the Netherlands.
Although the name Tanfana is Latin ("fana" means "sanctuary") the "Tan" element is believed to be Germanic in origin; in early Germanic languages it was another word for water.
The name "Tan" may also be derived from Proto-Germanic "tanhuz", which means "tough", and another possibility is that it was connected to hills or mountains; the old Dutch word for "sand ridge" is "tange", a name element which is still present in some place names, the Icelandic word "tangi" means "mountaintop".
The exact origins of Tan are unknown and Germanic, Celtic, Roman, and even north African origins have been suggested, it may also be possible that she was a local variation of Hel, Nerthus, or Berchta.
Tan is believed to have been either a moongoddess or a mothergoddess, some interesting information about her can be found in the Dutch legends from Overijssel in the site menu.
Some altars and Roman texts mention gods like Magusanus Hercules, Hercules Magusanus, Mars Halamardus, Jupiter tonans, Hercules, etc.
These are believed to be Romanized names for the Germanic god Thunar, who was also known as Donar or Thor, the Romans had a habit of equaling native gods to their own.
So although Thunar is a well known god I have decided to mention his Roman names to avoid confusion.
Thunar was one of the most important gods of the Batavians and they mainly worshipped him under his Latin name "Magusanus Hercules", near the Dutch village of Ruimel an altar dedicated to him was found.
Some Roman sources mention the god Mars Thingsus, this was another name for Tiwaz, "thingsus" may refer to the Germanic folk assembly (şing) in which Tiwaz (also known as Tyr/Tiu) played an important role.
This goddess was worshipped at the city of Cologne (Köln) in Germany, she is believed to have been a goddess of trees and wood and was also worshipped by the tribe of the Batavians in the Netherlands.
Vercana is an unknown goddess mentioned by the Romans, the Germanic name of this goddess may have been *Werkanaz (Worker) which points to a connection with labour.
The name of this goddess has been found on Roman altarstones in Belgium, it may be possible that she was a Celtic goddess though the "-dis" ending points to a Germanic origin.
This god is believed to have been worshipped by the Saxon tribe of the Warnians and was probably identical to Wodan, the modern Dutch village of Warnsveld is also believed to have been named after him as well as the Frisian village of Warns, in Austria is a city called Warnsdorf and in the Czechian Sudetenland there is a Varnsdorf, though whether this cities have been named after the god Warns is unknown.
The goddess Zizarim was worshipped in Germany, in later times she was also known as Zisa or Ciza and in Switzerland the people called her Cisara, in the German city of Augsburg she was worshipped as the protector of the city, her holy day was the 28th of September.
A temple dedicated to her was located in a forest on the Zisenberg hill but it was later destroyed by Christians, she was associated with Tiwaz, who was the god of war, and she may have been his wife; an interesting sidenote is that Tiwaz was called "Ziu" in some areas in Germany.
Other unknown goddesses:
The following goddesses are only known by name but I don't want to leave them out:
Although most of the gods and goddesses on this page were of minor importance they can still tell us a great deal about our history and it is very pityful that most of them have been lost forever in the haze of time.
With the disappearance of this ancient gods we have lost a part of our own identity, and I have decided to write this text as a commemoration to the gods of our ancestors and I hope that they will never be truly forgotten.