AN EXCERPT FROM THE LAND CEREMONIES CHARM

 

Erce, Erce, Erce, eoran modor,
geunne e se alwalda, ece drihten,
cera wexendra and wridendra,
eacniendra and elniendra,
sceafta hehra, scirra wstma,
and re bradan berewstma,
and re hwitan hwtewstma,
and ealra eoran wstma...

...Hal wes u, folde, fira modor!
Beo u growende on godes fme,
fodre gefylled firum to nytte.
Erce, Erce, Erce, Earth Mother,
may the almighty, eternal lord grant you
fields growing and thriving,
increasing and growing stronger,
tall sheaves and fair produce,
and the broad barley,
and the fair wheat,
and all of the earth's produce...

...Hail to you, Earth, Mother of Men!
Be you full of growth in the god's protecting arms,
filled with food for the benefit of humankind.

 

The Land Ceremonies Charm is a complex spell to ensure the fertility of a field. It begins with instructions to take sod from the corners of the field and bless them with holy water and Christian supplications. A plow is then blessed while the incantation here is spoken.

It is tempting to speculate that the Erce at the beginning of the incantation is the name of the Earth Mother, however the word is more likely a cry of invocation. There is no record elsewhere of this word as a name for the goddess known variously as Hrethe or Eorthe. Regardless of whether Erce is a proper name, in the Land Ceremonies Charm we clearly see that the early Anglo-Saxons revered the earth as a personal and responsive goddess. The first lines of the incantation reference the "Earth Mother" (eoran modor) in a rather passive way, and it could be argued that this was nothing more than a poetic affectation. But in the second excerpt (spoken as the plow is cutting the first furrow in the field) the earth is directly addressed. The goddess is hailed and spoken to as a person.

In a later portion of the charm, instructions are given to bake a loaf of bread "as wide as the palm of the hand" (innewerde handa bradn). I think it is safe to assume that the cakes Bede refers to being plowed into the earth at Solmonath were small loaves similar to this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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