Introduction to March (Hrethmonath)
In Saxon times March was marked by the triumph of the spring goddess over the winter.
We know from Bede that the goddess honoured this month was Hretha as this is mentioned in his 'on the computation of time'.
References to the work in the fields are taken from 'The Good Reeve' a late Saxon farming handbook. We do not know for sure who Hretha (later known as Erce) fort to defeat 'winter', but from the study of similar Germanic folklore I propose that it may have been the winter goddess Hella. The word 'songal' means 'a handful of corn'. Galdors are spells cast in song.
Hrethmonath, be winters end,
Hella's coldness, to hell thee send.
Hretha has won, cold winter's fight,
Day art longer, then darkest night.
First fields full ploughed, harrowed and sown,
Last corn songal, art cast and thrown.
Fertile fields, now made complete,
Barley, peas beans, cabbage and leek.
Yon meads be ploughed, and crop now set,
Labours of thine, tuff toil and sweat.
To thee Hretha, we doth thee bring,
Our offerings, for coming spring.
The goddess of, winter’s battle,
Wakes up pastures, for our cattle.
She who conquers, winter's cold spell,
Returns Hella's, spirit to hell.
Rejoice ye all, the spring goddess,
Least long last lost, thine agelessness.
Thee doth Hretha, springtime us bring,
And to help thee, galdors we sing.
Copyright Andrew Rea December 2012