Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wood Wives

Article by Ty Hulse

Wood Wives are female forest fairies who tend to be fairly small in stature, though at times they appear in pools of water and lakes within the depths of the forest and as such can be called wish wives for it's into such pools that people cast their votive in hopes of getting their wishes full filled. Even so old sacred forests are the favorite abode of the wood wives. For just as the deities were enthroned on trees within sacred groves so to do wise woman seek the same spaces. Some such as Veleda would live within rocks in the forest and some would fly through the murky forests to the seashore for a time but they always got homesick and returned to the forest. 
Other wood wives, such as those of the Saxons lived within caves in the forest, much as the nymphs of Greece, or the Rusalka of Russia would often do.

According to Jacob Grimm
In groves and on trees their appeared dominae, matronae, pullae clothed in white distinguishable from the more elvish tree wife or dryad who live is bound up in that of the tree. The Vicentina Germans worship a wood wife, chiefly between Christmas and the Twelfth day  the women spin flax from the distaff  and throw it in the fire to propitiate her. She is every bit like Holda and Berhta. As three bunches of corn are left standing at harvest time for Wuotan and Frau Gaue so to this day in the Frankenwald they leave three handfuls of flax lying in the filed for the Holzeibel (wood wives)

At times the wood wives might take away a man to be their husband, just as the dryad and nymphs do. In one Spanish ballad "De La Infantina" a shaggy woman carries off a man to her own country where she is enthroned as queen on a high rock. Eventually she lays aside her hairy covering and is named Sigeminne, which means the 'fairest in all the land."

Some wood wives do seem to have their lives tied up into trees however, for it is claimed that when someone twists a young tree until it breaks a wood wife dies. Still their relationship with people was often positive  for one of their biggest fears was the Wild Huntsmen who would capture them and skin them, than pin his trophy to a tree. Woodsman, feeling sorry for the little wood wives, would paint protective symbols on the sides of trees so the wood wives would be safe inside them.

Wood wives would also ask humans for bread, asking that the humans bake the bread without caraway or cumin seeds, for the wood wife does not like such new ideas. Those who bake such bread will meet with misfortune. Those who leave a plain loaf of bread where the wood wife requests, however, will be paid in wooden flakes or sticks which turn into gold when the person gets home.