The ancient goddess Nehalennia
Nehalennia is a very ancient Vanic goddess. She is goddess of the ocean. She is related to hounds, trade, the sea, ships, and the harvest of the sea itself. She rules over passage from one state to another, such as the transitions from living to death (or my theory is the other way around too), and any journeys by water. She is an ancestor goddess of Njord, Freyja, and Freya. Her nature seems to be calming, gentle and providing, yet wild and untamed, in many ways like the character of the sea itself. She is seen to have very water like appearance. Some see her as very beautiful, with wide bright young eyes like a young girls, a perfect and lean figure, and wearing a hound necklace, being topless and wearing a very tiny mini skirt, and wearing a fishing net as a shawl. Her color is a blue green like the sea. I feel her runic energy for sure is laguz in a big way! Alternate spellings of her name are Nehelennia, and Nehalenni.
Some consider her a goddess of the dead, but I feel that isn’t exactly correct. She isn’t a Goddess that comes to claim the dead, but more one that helps them to safely make their journey to that realm. She basically rules safe passage from one place to another (either places being earthly places or even places as in states of being as in travel from the world of the living to world of the dead). This is more of a protecting and nurturing thing. Not harsh like for example Hel can be at times. Basically the historical offerings to her that have been found, they seem to have found were ones given in thanks for sailors making safe passage. Travel in general is associated in movement from one realm to another. This is connected with the rune laguz. This seems to be her energies. She is very connected to the goddess and female mysteries of helping beings pass from one state to another. Since women are the ones who give birth they rule over this aiding of beings coming from one realm to the other. Birth is a transition from the spiritual realm to the physical realm, in the same way birth is a transition from the physical realm to the spiritual realm. What is interesting also about birth and about the womb is it is a realm filled with water. This is very connected to the mysteries of wells or caldrons in the Norse cosmology. There are three important wells, and it is considered that wyrd (the Norse concept of fate or karma) for all beings flows through these wells. It is of course water that flows through wells so it seems wyrd and water are very connected. Since Nehalennia is a goddess that can be seen as the personification of water itself, it only makes sense that she rules over this mystery of the passage of wyrd or the passage from one state to another or even journeys or movement in general. Another rune connected with this mystery is perthro, but perthro may be considered the captured state of the flow of water in a sudden given moment. Yet Nehalennia seems to be more the open oceans, waters freely flowing without restriction, thus she is more related to laguz, not really to the parts of this process connected to perthro. Perthro is more the well structure itself, the vagina, laguz is more the water contained in it. A vagina is of course a very wet comforting place. ;) These mysteries are very Vanic in nature, since the Vanir are connected to both sexuality and to water and ships.
The drawing I have of Nehalennia is made by Amarina and used with her permission.
More about Nehalennia:
She is written about in Our Troth Volume 1, pages 394-395.
She is also in Exploring the Northern Tradition, page 118.
An invocation to Nehalennia:
Hail Nehalennia! Beautiful goddess of the hounds, trade, and the sea! Lost lady of the Vanir! Ancestor of Njord, Freyja, and Freyr!