Sun Mother & Sun Daughter
1. The Birth of the Sun Daughter
Eina dottvr ————–A daughter
berr Alfra/ðvll———–is birthed by Elf-Splendor (the Sun goddess)
aþr hana Fenrir fari; —after she is swallowed by the wolf
sv scal riða, ————–She (the New Sun) shall ride
þa er regin deyia, ——as the gods are dying
modvr bra/tir mer.—–the old paths of her mother.
Vafthrudnismál st.47, Poetic Edda
2. The Sun-land [Winter-land] of the South ruled by the Sun Mother, where all new souls are born
Another name for the Sun goddess is Alfrǫðull [Elf Shine]. Since elves are associated with souls, we may wonder if Sun is also associated with souls, and how. We do not know, but there is an interesting parallel in Sami mythology, where the Sun Maiden, Beaivi Nieida, is the mother of all souls. The souls come to the Earth mother in the shape of sun rays, where they are received by Mâtarâkka – the Ancestral Mother (i.e. Earth). One of the Earth´s three daughters is responsible for placing the souls within the wombs of females. Since the souls emerge from a female source, all souls begin as female as they enter the womb, but half of them are changed into males by another of the Earth´s three daughters.
The Sami concept about the Sun Maiden and the souls of the living is part of a very ancient Finno-Ugric tradition reaching all across northern parts of the Eurasian continent. The Finno-Ugric cultural groups may have originated as a “proto-Uralic” cultural group. By researching Finno-Ugric mythologies from the Sami in the West to Siberia in the East, one professor, V.V. Napolskikh (1992) found that it is possible to detect a common base to them all, a basic, proto-Uralic cosmology that must be extremely ancient, reaching back at least five thousand years.
Central in this basic cosmology stands the “Winter-Land of the South”, a Southern realm ruled by a female being or a couple, who receive the migrating birds in winter. While the Land of the Dead is situated in the North, a dark and frozen land, ruled by the “Death Mother”, the realm of the South is placed in the warm land of the Sun. This Sun-Land or Winter-Land is always characterized by a lake or spring, a watersource that gives new life and rejuvenation to the migrating birds. All new souls are born in this land; in fact, the water birds, especially swans and geese, symbolize the human souls. We may know this because these are still living mythologies employed as spiritual maps for contemporary shamans. The connection between swans, geese and human souls is indisputable. The same birds are strongly associated with the world of the dead.
This age-old Finno-Ugric cosmology is actually remarkably similar to the way Snorri describes the world of the Nornir (fate goddesses) by the Well of Origin. This realm is placed in Heaven, and the Edda myths frequently refer to this place as the South. Its natives, the fate-goddesses and the Valkyriur, are repeatedly referred to as the “Southern Ladies” or the “Southern Goddesses” (alternately “southern-red” or “red-golden”).
Opposed to this Southern Heaven is the North, where Níflhel is situated, ruled by the grim lady Hel, another striking similarity to proto-Uralic Cosmology as described above.
As in proto-Uralic cosmology, the water of the Southern land is ruled by a female, the Norn Urðr (Origin), and has the effect of rejuvenation and restoration of life on the whole world. It is also associated with swans, just like the fates and Valkyrias of the Edda often wear swan hides when they travel. I think that the widespread and ancient proto-Uralic use of the swan or water-bird as a metaphor for souls that are reborn in the Southern water is extremely interesting as an analogue to the Norse fate-goddesses and Valkyrias, well-known to possess swan hides, and associated with the rejuvenating Southern lake of Origin, from which they originate. Snorri relates how all human beings possess a fate-goddess who rules the fate of the individual. This idea is confirmed in the Poetic Edda. Could the Norse fate-goddesses of the individuals actually be analogue to human souls? In proto-Uralic cosmology, the Southern land of rejuvenation is usually ruled by a female entity closely associated with the sun. She is called “the Golden Woman of the South”, “Sun Mother”, “Sun Woman”, “Geese Mother (i.e. mother of souls)”, “the Old Woman of the South” or simply the “Mother Goddess”. She appears as both an old woman and as a young maiden at the same time. By her life- and soul- renewing lake, where birds and souls submerge themselves before being reborn due to the magical power of that water, there is also usually a tree. The Tree of Life. Birds and souls are seated in the branches of this tree until the woman of the Southern Lands send them back into life.
The Norse equivalent of this seems obvious. First of all, Sól, the Norse Sun goddess, just like the fate-goddesses, comes from the South, and lives in heaven. This is basically the same place as where the fate-goddesses live, in “that place in heaven” which is called the Well of Origin [Urðarbrunnr], the watersource by which Ásgarðr [The Court of the Aesir] is actually situated, according to Snorri´s Gylfaginning. At the same time, the Poetic Edda reveals that Sun is both of the Heavens and of the Underworld, just as the Well of Origin “stands beneath the Tree” and is also a heavenly realm.”