Tribute to the works
of Lotte Motz (Aug 16th 1922 - Dec 24 1997)
Lotte Motz, née
Edlis was born in Vienna in 1922 She was a Jew who escaped to the
United States in 1941. She obtained her Phd in German and philology
in 1955 at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and moved to Oxford
in 1959. In 1971, she returned to America and gained an appointment
in the German Department at Brooklyn College, City University of New
York. Illness forced her to return to Oxford and abandon her
successful teaching career. Lotte Motz's field of work was
originally Icelandic and Germanic Mythology and Religion. She wrote
four books and well over 50 articles related to Northern Mythology.
Lotte Motz was a passionate seeker of truth and justice. Quite
possibly her greatest strength as a scholar was that she was never
afraid to attack the icons of scholarship if she felt the truth lies
elsewhere, being the very first scholar to challenge the truth
behind the goddess Nerthus in Tacitus Germania. Her popularity as a
speaker always filled lecture halls wherever she read. She was both
witty and enthusiastic and projected her insights to her audience
always with great passion and conviction. She leaves a daughter Anna
and a grand-daughter Hanna.
In The Faces of the Goddess
, Lotte Motz sets out to test this hypothesis by examining the real
female deities of early human cultures. She finds no trace of the
Great Mother in their myths or in their worship. From the Eskimos of
the arctic wasteland, whose harsh life even today most closely
mirrors the earliest hunter gatherers, to the rich cultures of the
sunny Fertile Crescent and the islands of Japan, Motz looks at a
wide range of goddesses who are called Mother, or who give birth in
their myths. She finds that these goddesses have varying origins as
ancestor deities, animal protectors, and other divinities, rather
than stemming from a common Mother Goddess archetype. For instance,
Sedna, the powerful goddess whose chopped-off fingers became the
seals and fish that were the Eskimos' chief source of food, had
nothing to do with human fertility. Indeed, human motherhood was
held in such low esteem that Eskimo women were forced to give birth
completely alone, with no human companionship and no helpful deities
of childbirth. Likewise, while various Mexican goddesses ruled over
healing, women's crafts, motherhood and childbirth, and functioned
as tribal protectors or divine ancestors, none of them either
embodied the earth itself or granted fertility to the crops: for
that the Mexicans looked to the male gods of maize and of rain. Nor
were the rituals of these goddesses nurturing or peaceful. The
goddess Cihuacoatl, who nurtured the creator god Quetzalcoatl and
helped him create humanity, was worshipped with human sacrifices who
were pushed into a fire, removed while still alive, and their hearts
were cut out. And Motz closely examines the Anatolian goddess Cybele,
the "Magna Mater" most often cited as an example of a powerful
mother goddess. Hers were the last of the great pagan mysteries of
the Mediterranean civilizations to fall before Christianity. But
Cybele herself never gives birth, nor does she concern herself with
aiding women in childbirth or childrearing. She is not herself a
mother, and the male character figuring most prominently in her
myths is Attis, her chaste companion. Tellingly, Cybele's priests
dedicate themselves to her by castrating themselves, thus mimicking
Attis's death--a very odd way to venerate a goddess of fertility.
To depict these earlier goddesses as peaceful and nurturing mothers,
as is often done, is to deny them their own complex and
sophisticated nature as beings who were often violent and vengeful,
delighting in sacrifice, or who revelled in their eroticism and were
worshipped as harlots. The idea of a nurturing Mother Goddess is
very powerful. In this challenging book, however, Motz shows that
She is a product of our own age, not of earlier ones. By discarding
this simplistic and worn-out paradigm, we can open the door to a new
way of thinking about feminine spirituality and religious
Characters of the Laxdoela Saga" Monatshefte [University of
Wisconsin]55.4 (April - May 1963), 162 -166.
(1973) "New Thoughts on Dwarf-Names in Old Icelandic."
7 (1973) pp. 100-117.
"Withdrawal and Return: A Ritual Pattern in the Grettis Saga" ,
filologi 88 (1973), 100 -117.
Review of "Kings, Beasts and Heroes" by Gwyn Jones. Medieval
Scandanavia 6 (1973) , 208 - 211.
(1974) "Of Elves and Dwarfs", Arv 29/30 (1973/1974),
(1975) "The King and the Goddess: An Interpretation of
filologi 90 (1975), 133-150.
(1976) "Burg-Berg, Burrow-Barrow", Indogermanische
Forschungen 81 (1976), 204-220.
(1977) "The Craftsman in the Mound", Folklore 88
(1977) "Snorri's story of the Cheated Mason and its Folklore
Parallels", Maal og Minne (1977), 115-122.
(1978) "The Hero and his Tale". Response to Whitaker,
filologi 93 (1978), 145-148.
(1979) "Driving Out the Elves: A Euphemism and a Theme of
13 (1979), 439-441.
(1980) "The Rulers of The Mountain: A study of the Giants of
the Old Icelandic Texts", The Mankind Quarterly 20
(1980) "Old Icelandic Völva:
A New Derivation", Indogermanische
Forschungen 85 (1980), 196-206.
(1980) "Sister in the Cave: the Stature and the Function of
the Female Figures of the Eddas",
filologi 95 (1980),168-182.
(1981) "Gerðr: A New
Interpretation of the Lay of Skirnir", Maal og Minne (1981),
(1981) "Giantesses and their Names",
15 (1981), 495-511.
(1981) "Aurboda-Eyrgjafa: Two Icelandic Names," The
Mankind Quarterly 22 (1981), 93-105.
(1982) "Giants in Folklore and Mythology: A New Approach",
Folklore 93 (1982), 70–84.
(1982) "The Chanter at The Door", The Mankind Quarterly 22
(1982) "Freyja, Anat, Ishtar and Inanna: Some Cross-Cultural
Comparisons", The Mankind Quarterly 23 (1982), 195-212.
(1983) "The Northern heritage of Germanic Religion", The
Mankind Quarterly 23 (1983),365-382.
(1983) "The Wise One of the Mountain: Form, Function and
Significance of the Subterranean Smith. A Study in Folklore". Göppingen:
1983 (=GAG 379)
(1984) "Giants and Giantesses:A Study in Norse Mythology and
Belief", Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteran Germanistik 22
(1984) "Gods and Demons of the Wilderness: A Study in Norse
filologi 99 (1984), 175-187.
(1984) "The Winter Goddess: Percht, Holda and Related
95:2 (1984) pp. 151-166.
"Trolls and the Æsir: Lexical Evidence concerning North Germanic
Forschungen (1984), 179-195.
and the Giants: A Study in Ethno-Cultural Origins".
The Mankind Quarterly 25 (1985), 387-418.
Review of Dvalinn: The Relationship of Friedrich von Schwaben,
þattr, by Edwin Bonsack.
Scandinavian Studies 57 (1985),77-79.
"New Thoughts on Volundarkviða",
Saga Book 22 (1986), 50-68.
(1987) "The Divided Image: A Study of the Giantesses and
Female Trolls in Norse Myth and Literature." The Mankind Quarterly,
27 (1987): 463-478.
"Old Icelandic Giants and their Names",
21 (1987), 295-317.
"The Families of Giants", Arkiv för nordisk filologi
102 (1987), 216–236.
"The Storm of Troll-Woman" Maal og Minne
"The Sacred Marriage - A Study in Norse Mythology, Languages and
Cultures. Studies in honour of Edgar C Polumn, ed. by Mohammad Ali
Jazayery and Werner Winter. Berlin, New York, Amsterdam 1988
(=Trends in linguistics: studies and monographs 36), 449-459.
"The Divided Image: A Study of the Giantesses and Female Trolls in
Norse Myth and Literature", The Mankind Quarterly 27 (1989),
"The Conquest of Death: the Myth of Baldr and its Middle Eastern
Counterparts", Collegium Medievale 4 (1991), 99-116.
"The Cosmic Ash and other Trees of Germanic Myth", Arv 47
"The Goddess Nerthus: A New Approach",
Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteran Germanistik 36 (1992), 1-19.
"The Goddess Freyja:Snorrastefna 1990, ed. Úlfar Bragason,
Reykjavik 1992 (=Rit Stofnunar Sigurðar
Nordals 1), 163-178.
Thoughts on an Archaic Artifact", The Mankind Quarterly 32
"The Host of Dvalinn. Thoughts on Some Dwarf-Names in Old Icelandic,
Collegium Medievale 6 (1993), 81-96.
Ordeal: A New Interpretation, Arkiv för nordisk filologi
108 (1993), 80-92.
Beauty and the Hag, Female Figures of Germanic
Faith and Myth. Wien: Fassbaender, 1993 (=Philologica Germanica 15).
"þorr's River Crossing", Saga Book
23 (1993) 469-487.
"Supernatural Beings 1. Elves, Dwarfs and Giants", Medieval
Scandinavia: An Encyclopaedia. New York 1993, 622-623.
"Svipdagsmal" Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopaedia. New
York 1993, 629.
"Volundr", Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopaedia. New York
(1994) "The Magician and His Craft." Collegium Medievale
(Oslo) 7.1 (1994; publ. 1995), 5-31. [23: Femø and Åsum bracteates.]
"The King, the Champion and the Sorcerer: A Study in
Germanic Myth" (1996). Wien: Fassbaender, 1996 (= Studia
Medievalia Septentrionalia 1)
"The Power of Speech: Eddic Poems and their Frames",
Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteran Germanistik 46 (1996),
"Kingship and the Giants", Arkiv för nordisk
filologi 111 (1996), 73–88.
"Note on a Bracteate from Trollhättan", Collegium Medievale 9
"The Faces of the Goddess". New York: Oxford University Press,
Thunderweapon", Saga-Book of the Viking Society, 24
"The Hammer and the Rod: A Discussion of
þorr's Weapons", Germanic
Studies in Honour of Anatoly Liberman. Odese 1997, 243-252.
"The Sky God of the Indo-Europeans",
Forschungen 103 (1998), 28-39.
"The Great Goddess of the North" Arkiv för nordisk filologi
113 (1998) 29-57
"Oðinnn's Vision", Maal og Minne (1998), 11-19.
Dwarf Litr and Concepts of the Soul" De Consolatione Philologiae:
Studies in Honour of Evelyn S. Firchow, ed. by Anna Grotans,
Goppingen 2000 (=GAG 682), 269-280.
Submitted:"Enslavement and Revenge" Unpublished Paper: "The Wild
Chariots of Fire Theme Artist:
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