In Germanic Paganism, Nerthus (High German), Nerþuz (Proto-Germanic) is a goddess of fertility and an incarnation of the Mother Earth.
In Germania, Tacitus records that the remote Suebi tribes were united by their veneration of the goddess at his time of writing and maintained a sacred grove on an (unspecified) island and that a holy cart rests there draped with cloth, which only a priest may touch. The priests feel her presence by the cart, and, with deep reverence, attend her cart, which is drawn by heifers. Everywhere the goddess then deigns to visit, she is met with celebration, hospitality, and peace. All iron objects are locked away, and no one will leave for war. When the goddess has had her fill she is returned to her temple by the priests. Tacitus adds that the goddess, the cart, and the cloth are then washed by slaves in a secluded lake. The slaves are then drowned.
The name Nerthus is generally held to be a Latinized form of Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, a direct precursor to the Old Norse deity name Njörðr. While scholars have noted numerous parallels between the descriptions of the two figures, Njörðr is attested as a male deity. Various scholarly theories exist regarding the goddess and her potential later traces amongst the Germanic peoples, including that the figure may be identical to the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr mentioned in two Old Norse sources.
In the God of War series
Pre-God of War
During the Aesir-Vanir War, Nerthus took part on the conflict on the side of her people, the Vanir. However, she became one of the endless casualties of the war after she was killed in combat by Magni and Modi, two Aesir warriors and sons of Thor.
Powers & Abilities
- Immortality: As a goddess, Nerthus was immortal, but still could be killed by powerful beings and was slain in battle.
- Seiðr Practitioner: While unknown to the degree of her skill as a Vanir goddess she used the magic of Seiðr.