Instead, I decided to write about a Goddess Whom I find to be very mysterious and Whom I don’t know all that well: Fulla, whose name means ‘Fullness,” “Bounty” or “Plenty.” Fulla is most often described as a handmaiden, possibly sister of the Goddess Frigga. According to the Edda, as Frigga’s Handmaiden, Fulla is entrusted with carrying her casket, looking after Her shoes, and being privy to Her secrets. This is no small set of duties. Essentially, this means that Fulla is Frigga’s primary companion, retainer, counselor, and aide, one who looks after the resources and finances (i.e. the casket) of the Mistress of Asgard. Frigga is a Power Broker, a Queen, a very mighty Goddess equal to Odin in power (in fact, when the Two tangle, inevitably it is Frigga who emerges the victor, often by trickery). Moreover, the lady of the hall was, in many respects, the equivalent of a Fortune 500 executive: an incredibly focused and competent manager as well as a wielder of wealth and influence. It follows then that Her primary attendant would also have tremendous power and influence of Her own in the courts of Asgard.
Scholar Rudolf Simek describes Fulla thusly: “Fulla is a virgin who has flowing hair and wears a golden band around her forehead. This allusion to the golden band refers to an old kenning for gold in which Fulla’s name occurs. Fulla is also used by the skalds in kennings for ‘woman.’” (Simek, p. 96).
Simek (along with many other scholars) believes that Fulla is identical to the Goddess Volla who is mentioned in the Second Merseburg Charm (ibid). (Certainly Their names mean the same thing). In her book “Asyniur,” Sheena McGrath, drawing on Grimm’s “Teutonic Mythology,” notes that Fulla survived in folklore under the name “Abundia,” or “Habundia,” and as such, women would leave pots in their larders open so that She might eat and drink should She visit during the night. By doing so, they ensured prosperity for their homes. (McGrath, p. 62). This implies that Fulla might have been viewed as a Goddess of abundance, wealth, prosperity, harvest, and maybe even household management.
We also know that when Hermod traveled to Hel in order to attempt to negotiate Baldur’s release (unsuccessfully), Baldur’s wife Nanna, also in Helheim, sent a ring to Fulla as a gift. This would indicate that a friendship exists between these two Goddesses. Furthermore, if Fulla is Frigga’s sister, that makes Her Baldur’s aunt.
Alice Karlsdottir elaborates a bit on Fulla’s traditional imagery, explaining in her book “The Magic of the Norse Goddesses” that the gold band Fulla wears round her forehead symbolizes nobility and Her unbound hair indicates Her unmarried status. (Karlsdottir, p. 133). She also speculates that like Sif, Fulla’s long and flowing hair can be viewed as being symbolic of the ripening grain, which would tie nicely into Her role as Habondia, Goddess of the earth’s bounty.
For contemporary Heathens who honor Fulla, it seems that Her primary mystery lies in Her guardianship of Frigga’s jewel casket. This is the repository of Frigga’s power, of the wealth and blessings that are Hers to bestow at will. It indicates a powerful degree of trust in Fulla that the latter Goddess would be entrusted with such a responsibility. I personally suspect that Fulla is also Frigga’s eyes and ears, Her spy if you will. The former would tie in nicely with Fulla’s connection to Earth’s fertility and fruitfulness, the latter with Her nightly visits to various households (how better to spy on how well or poorly resources were managed by individual ladies of the house, after all?).
Many Goddesses of fertility and abundance also had strong connections to sexuality. Karlsdottir points out that the feet have connotations of fertility and often appear alongside other fertility symbols. Moreover in both Germanic and Celtic lore apparently, according to Karlsdottir, the word “foot” was often used as a euphemism, believe it or not, for ‘penis.’ (Karlsdottir, p. 134). This amuses me greatly, I might add.
Fulla also functions as Frigga’s messenger several times in the lore. While there is a messenger Goddess amongst Frigga’s Handmaidens (the Goddess Gna), apparently some messages were important enough to warrant the induction of Her foremost aide. In two of the cases, Fulla employs trickery to help Frigga best Odin and Karlsdottir draws a thought-provoking comparison of Fulla being to Frigga what Loki is to Odin: a right hand man, or factotum, so to speak. (ibid).
D. Kate Dooley, in her book “The Spindle Hearth,” approaches Fulla as a Goddess of hidden lore and suggests calling on Fulla to help strengthen one’s belief and faith and practice. Fulla may then be approached as a Goddess who guards sacred mysteries, opening the door to initiation and epiphany, to powerful personal gnosis when the time is right. This would make Her a knowledge keeper, with wisdom and knowledge Her wealth and the blessings She bestows.
While not much is really known in the lore about Fulla, other than what I’ve already mentioned, from these sparse clues, we can infer that She is a Goddess of power and wealth, abundance, treasure, and maybe even sacred mysteries. I would go so far as to posit that, given Her relationship to Frigga, if one wanted to gain Frigga’s blessing, or wished to approach Her, but for some reason felt unable to do so directly, Fulla might be approached as intercessor.
Hail to Fulla,
Keeper of Secrets.
Hail to the Retainer
of the Lady of Asgard.
Hail to the Fulla,
Shrewd and canny,
cunning, and elegant
in the acquisition of power.
Hail to Fulla,
Bless us this month,
with a greater understanding
of all that You hold
as Your mysteries.
- D. Kate Dooley, “The Spindle Hearth.” Asheville, NC: Yarrow Press, (2006).
- Alice Karlsdottir, “Magic of the Norse Goddesses.” Smithville, TX: RunaRaven Press, (2003).
- Galina Krasskova, “Exploring the Northern Tradition,” Franklin Lakes, NJ, (2005).
- Rudolf Simek, “Dictionary of Northern Mythology,” Cambridge, UK: D.S. Brewer, (1993).