Berchta, goddess of the slender birch,
Lady, young and old, free from all blame,
She whom jealous men renamed, “Perchta,”
and demonized, diminished and defamed
into a hungry belly-slitting hag —
Upon this twelfth night you will rise again.
Your younger sister, Holle,
and shakes her feather bed
to bring the snow.
She shares with you those aspects
known to each —
spinning wheels, and wells, and winter’s flow.
Your watch is in
the southern Alpine clime,
and there you guide
the children gone too soon,
with gleaming threads
thrown from your spindle bright;
with warp and woof
cast from your shining loom.
Mother’s grieving hearts
you comfort well.
With visions and with whispers
that their loved babes
are shielded from harm;
held safe within
your tender power and care.
Women, you protect and oversee
in household tasks,
in spinning and in lore,
reproving those who
sometimes lax may be,
rewarding diligence and industry.
with one foot of a bird,
you walk, attended by
both goose and swan.
Through the pale birch wood
oftentimes you glide,
wearing a cape of
softest feathered down.
And further on
down through the years of time,
the children’s stories you will keep and tell
with rhyming wisdom
to delight their hearts —
the Mother Goose,
of whom we know so well.
And in the wild procession of the gods
across midwinter’s darkest midnight sky,
you ride, a psychopomp, to all lost souls
who with you, in the wild hunt fly by.
On this twelfth night of our Yuletide
on this night of illumed epiphany,
we think of you, as one, remembering
Bright Berchta — and your true identity.
~ Rebekah Myers, Berchta
copyright © by Rebekah Myers, 1/6/22
Art: Emily Balivet, “Birch Witch”