Lotte Motz

                    Lotte Motz

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 experience.


Lotte Motz c 1963-2000


(1963) "Female 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." Frühmittelalterliche Studien 7 (1973) pp. 100-117.

(1973) "Withdrawal and Return: A Ritual Pattern in the Grettis Saga" , Arkiv förnordisk filologi 88 (1973), 100 -117.

(1973) 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), 93-127.

(1975) "The King and the Goddess: An Interpretation of Svipdagsmal", Arkiv förnordisk 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), 46-60.

(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, Arkiv förnordisk filologi 93 (1978), 145-148.

(1979) "Driving Out the Elves: A Euphemism and a Theme of Folklore", Frühmittelalterliche Studien 13 (1979), 439-441.

(1980) "The Rulers of The Mountain: A study of the Giants of the Old Icelandic Texts", The Mankind Quarterly 20 (1979-1980), 393-416.

(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", Arkiv förnordisk filologi 95 (1980),168-182.

(1981) "Gerðr: A New Interpretation of the Lay of Skirnir", Maal og Minne (1981), 121-136.

(1981) "Giantesses and their Names", Frühmittelalterliche Studien 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), 237-256.

(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: Kümmerie 1983 (=GAG 379)

(1984) "Giants and Giantesses:A Study in Norse Mythology and Belief", Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteran Germanistik 22 (1984), 83-108.

(1984) "Gods and Demons of the Wilderness: A Study in Norse Tradition", Arkiv förnordisk filologi 99 (1984), 175-187.

(1984)  "The Winter Goddess: Percht, Holda and Related Figures." Folklore 95:2 (1984) pp. 151-166.

(1984) "Trolls and the Æsir: Lexical Evidence concerning North Germanic Faith". Indogermanische Forschungen (1984), 179-195.

(1985) "Oðinn and the Giants: A Study in Ethno-Cultural Origins". The Mankind Quarterly 25 (1985), 387-418.

(1985) Review of Dvalinn: The Relationship of Friedrich von Schwaben, Volundarkviða and Sorla þattr, by Edwin Bonsack. Scandinavian Studies 57 (1985),77-79.

(1986) "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.

(1987) "Old Icelandic Giants and their Names", Frühmittelalterliche Studien 21 (1987), 295-317.

(1987) "The Families of Giants", Arkiv för nordisk filologi 102 (1987), 216–236.

(1988) "The Storm of Troll-Woman" Maal og Minne (1988), 31-41.

(1988) "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.

(1989) "The Divided Image: A Study of the Giantesses and Female Trolls in Norse Myth and Literature", The Mankind Quarterly 27 (1989), 463-478.

(1991) "The Conquest of Death: the Myth of Baldr and its Middle Eastern Counterparts", Collegium Medievale 4 (1991), 99-116.

(1991) "The Cosmic Ash and other Trees of Germanic Myth", Arv 47 (1991), 127-141.

(1992) "The Goddess Nerthus: A New Approach", Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteran Germanistik 36 (1992), 1-19.

(1992) "The Goddess Freyja:Snorrastefna 1990, ed. Úlfar Bragason, Reykjavik 1992 (=Rit Stofnunar Sigurðar Nordals 1), 163-178.

(1992) "New Thoughts on an Archaic Artifact", The Mankind Quarterly 32 (1992), 231-240

(1993) "The Host of Dvalinn. Thoughts on Some Dwarf-Names in Old Icelandic, Collegium Medievale 6 (1993), 81-96.

(1993) "Gullveig's Ordeal: A New Interpretation, Arkiv för nordisk filologi 108 (1993), 80-92.

(1993) The Beauty and the Hag, Female Figures of Germanic Faith and Myth. Wien: Fassbaender, 1993 (=Philologica Germanica 15).

(1993) "þorr's River Crossing", Saga Book 23 (1993) 469-487.

(1993) "Supernatural Beings 1. Elves, Dwarfs and Giants", Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopaedia. New York 1993, 622-623.

(1993) "Svipdagsmal" Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopaedia. New York 1993, 629.

(1993) "Volundr", Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopaedia. New York 1993, 713

(1994) "The Magician and His Craft." Collegium Medievale (Oslo) 7.1 (1994; publ. 1995), 5-31. [23: Femø and Åsum bracteates.]

(1996) "The King, the Champion and the Sorcerer: A Study in Germanic Myth" (1996). Wien: Fassbaender, 1996 (= Studia Medievalia Septentrionalia 1)

(1996) "The Power of Speech: Eddic Poems and their Frames", Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteran Germanistik 46 (1996), 105-117.

(1996) "Kingship and the Giants", Arkiv för nordisk filologi 111 (1996), 73–88.

(1996) "Note on a Bracteate from Trollhättan", Collegium Medievale 9 (1996), 153-155.

(1997) "The Faces of the Goddess". New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

(1997) "The Germanic Thunderweapon", Saga-Book of the Viking Society, 24 (1997),329-350

(1997) "The Hammer and the Rod: A Discussion of þorr's Weapons", Germanic Studies in Honour of Anatoly Liberman. Odese 1997, 243-252.

(1998) "The Sky God of the Indo-Europeans", Indogermanische Forschungen 103 (1998), 28-39.

(1998) "The Great Goddess of the North" Arkiv för nordisk filologi 113 (1998) 29-57

(1998) "Oðinnn's Vision", Maal og Minne (1998), 11-19.

(2000) "The 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 Hunt".



Music:- Chariots of Fire Theme Artist: Richard Clayderman


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