Frau Gaude, the Boar Hound Goddess, roams the streets during the Twelve Nights of Christmas and especially on Christmas Eve, accompanied by a pack of hell hounds with glowing eyes. She used to ride in an old-fashioned carriage. These days she may drive a hearse or an SUV. People are advised to keep their doors and windows shut. Otherwise, one of her dogs may slip inside to sit beside the fire (or the radiator, as the case may be—not having a fireplace won’t protect you). If the dog is left alone, all will be well. If someone tries to dislodge the dog, or shoo it away, Gaude’s puppy will tear the person to pieces. And that’s not the worst of it.
People have attempted to kill the canines, but they’re spirit dogs: they don’t die. Instead, the dog transforms into a rock that returns to life as a dog every midnight. It doesn’t matter if the rock is removed from the home; the dog returns howling at midnight. Every howl is an individual curse directed at the family in the house. (Curses include illness, accidents, and general disasters.) The only one with the power to remove these curses (and the dog!) is Frau Gaude, but she only performs curse removal services on Christmas Eve.
Frau Gaude heads her own Wild Hunt or travels in Berchta’s entourage. She is a pre-Christian Germanic dog goddess, originally a psychopomp and spirit of healing. By only removing curses on Christmas Eve, Frau Gaude may be attempting to reassert her veneration. Alternatively it’s a ploy by old devotees to excuse continued devotions. No one can blame you for attempting to remove a curse, but if you’re busy petitioning Frau Gaude on Christmas Eve, clearly you’re not at midnight mass.
Frau Gaude rewards those who do her a good turn with gifts of prosperity. She is also known as Frau Wode, essentially Mrs. Woden (Odin). Speculation as to her true identity runs rampant. Odin likes the ladies, and she may be his local wife. However, some suspect that she’s really Odin in drag.
ALSO KNOWN AS:
Frau Gode; Frau Wode
Among the spirits who travel in her entourage are Frau Gaude’s twenty-four daughters who may appear in the guise of dogs or women. At least some of her hunting hell hounds are believed to be enchanted young women, transformed into dogs by wicked sorcerers.
Give Frau Gaude offerings comparable to Berchta; also offerings on behalf of dogs, her own or boar hounds in general.
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.