This Goddess holds a very special place in my heart for no other reason than that I was born at the tail end of Her month, March. We don't know very much about Her in fact, other than that March is Her month and was once called "Hreðe-monath" by our Anglo-Saxon forebears. Bede tells us this in his de Temporibus Ratione. Etymologically, Her name may mean "the Victorious One" or "the Famous One." Beyond that, there's nothing but our willingness to seek Her out. Now granted, that's no small thing, however much we might wish for more concrete information. Still, many Heathens would give much to have a little more first-hand source material for Her worship.
Personally, I know this Goddess by feel, by the pressing momentum that for me so defines Her presence. When I sense Her, I sense also a tumble of rushing winds, a gaiety, and a fierceness. I associate Her with those brisk winds and I can't help but think of the old saying about March "in like a lion, out like a lamb." She is best personified by the chill weather heralding and preceding the coming of spring.
Given the etymology of Her name, there is some indication that She might have been a battle Goddess. Certainly She is a Goddess Who can really shake things up—not a bad thing, especially after the enforced inertia of winter. Being an Aries myself, I like to think that perhaps She can be said to embody the best characteristics of the Arien personality: independence, forcefulness, fearlessness, immense creative drive, catalytic power, and a certain whimsical attractiveness. (Being an Aries, we won't talk about the negative aspects of this sign!)
Scholar Rudolf Simek points to the world of folklorist Jakob Grimm and draws a connection between Hreðe and the Roman God Mars, which would reinforce both Her connection to battle, and Her connection to the land's fertility (Mars was originally a God of agriculture and fecundity of the land) (Simek, p. 159).
I usually honor Her in early March, and again when the sun passes into Aries. Chilly, windy days where the scent of spring is in the air but its promise not yet realized are perfect days to call Her name, pour out offerings, and honor the feel of Her presence.
So this March, consider setting up an altar to Her, perhaps holding a ritual in Her honor. We are never going to adequately restore the traditions of our ancestors if we are unwilling to engage with the Holy Powers directly. For every Deity Whose name and ways of worship we know, another has been lost to us. Let's make sure that's not the case with Hreðe. I encourage everyone reading this who might be so moved to honor Her, and to post about your experiences with Her, your prayers, your rituals here. Let this week be a celebration of Her blessings. Hail, Hreðe, in Your majesty, in Your power, for all Your mysteries yet to be reveal.
Prayer to Hreðe
I say hail to Hreðe, Mighty Goddess!
With explosive force, You banish winter.
With enervating drive, You push us into
the rejuvenating arms of Spring.
Cleanse me, Glorious Goddess,
of all those things that hold me back.
Unfetter my mind, heart, and will,
that I might set my feet unswervingly on the road
Hail, Hreðe, ever-victorious in every struggle!
(Krasskova, p. 111)
Prayer to Hreðe from an Aries child
The lion winds of March herald Your passing,
Untamable, Fierce, and Proud:
You come, unstoppable, opening the way
for the gifts Eostre will soon bring.
You will not be bound.
You are as impossible to grasp
to hold, to contain
as the rushing winds
that so define this season.
When You come to me, oh Goddess,
it is with a pushing, driving momentum
that I can neither resist nor deny.
When Your presence fills my world,
it brings strength and laughter
and the whisper that something better
lies just around the corner,
if only I can run fast enough
to claim it, if only I don't give up.
I, born in the month of the ram—
Aries child, with temper and wit to match
that mighty sign's fearsome reputation,
I pay homage to You.
If it be not hubris, I like to think,
that perhaps You laughed,
on the day of my birth.
Please watch over me, Goddess,
of a month both raw and wild;
watch over this warrior child,
who strives always to be strong like You;
and I will praise Your name
Ways to Honor Hreðe
(Obviously, this is all my own UPG. I encourage folks to add to it)
- Colors: light yellow, light blue, white—all colors I associate with the wind.
- Symbols and Altar Suggestions: streamers, lamb, ram, lion, pinwheels (like streamers, something that catches and plays in the wind), spring flowers, dandelions.
- Food and Drink Offerings: good liquor, good wine, candy, cake and other sweets, spicy foods, mint juleps, mojitos (the common thread being mint).
- Service Offerings: Make a donation to a charity like The Wind Works Project that is devoted to clean air, reducing carbon emissions, and saving the environment; if you have children, spend a day totally devoted to playing with them. Make it their day. There is an aspect of this Goddess that I personally have only barely glimpsed that delights in the play of children.
- Contra-indications: littering, wasting energy or resources, squelching a child's happiness or creativity.
May She be hailed!