From Iceland — Gods of Iceland: Eir, the Healer

Gods of Iceland: Eir, the Healer

Gods of Iceland: Eir, the Healer

Published November 29, 2021

Photo by
Lorenz Frølich/Wikimedia Commons

Strengths: Heals the sick and wounded
Weaknesses: The awesome responsibility of being a war medic
Modern analogue: Florence Nightingale

Very little is known about this goddess, but what little we’ve been able to piece together from the Poetic and Prose Eddas, she must have served a vital function amongst the gods. While many were involved, directly or indirectly, with the propagation of violence, Eir stands out as a healer.

Her primary abode was the top of a mountain called Lyfjaberg, or “healing mountain”. There, the sick and injured could climb the mountain and be cured by her. In fact, it is attested that once a year, she and her staff would hold a ceremony to pre-emptively cure the entire community of any diseases that might befall them in the year to come. This is certainly no mean feat, and is probably why Snorri Sturluson named her a particularly important goddess.

Unfortunately, given that this community was prone to violence and war, it also rested upon her to visit the sites of battle. There, it fell on her shoulders to decide who would live and recover from the violence, which we can’t imagine felt great, as someone devoted to healing others.

Today, her name lives on in the Fire Emblem franchise, God of War, and also in an east Reykjavík nursing home that bears her name. Unfortunately, all attempts to find Lyfjaberg itself have turned up with nothing. Maybe it was closed due to overcrowding.

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