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Mary Undoer of Knots

Celebrating the Feast of Zisa


Stevie Miller is an Urglaawer, spirit worker, artist, and author from Pennsylvania. She has been studying, practicing, and writing about Heathenry and related paths for over 20 years. Stevie blogs about Deitsch culture, language, and spirituality at Grundsau Burrow (http://grundsauburrow.wordpress.com).

If you’re an Urglaawer today’s a day you might get all tied up in knots. It’s the feast day of Zisa! (I know, that was a terrible joke! You’ll have to forgive my love of punnery.)

Zisa is a Goddess well-loved in Urglaawe, but very little known in other traditions of Heathenry. This may be because of the very localized nature of Her worship, and the difficulty of obtaining detailed information on Continental Germanic deities. She is the patron Goddess of the city of Augsburg, originally named Zizarim after Her. This patronage is very old indeed–we know about it because of a famous battle in the first century BCE, where the Romans attacked the Swabian tribe just before Her feast day. It was a terrible miscalculation for the Romans because all of the tribe’s best warriors were gathering to honor their Goddess. The Romans were defeated, and the anniversary of the battle continues to be commemorated on the Goddess’ feast day of September 28th.

The Coat of Arms of Augsburg depicting Zisa’s pinecone.

With some 1300 years separating Zisa from the time of the Eddas, as well as Her worship being centered on Her city, very little information has survived about Her. We can see some of Her nature in Her symbols. Her pinecone, which has been incorporated into the arms of the city of Augsburg, is a symbol of Her protective nature: the bristling layers of the pinecone protect the delicate seeds inside, as Zisa protects Her people. Depictions of Zisa have also been restored in Augsburg’s city hall. Many places in the region are named for Her, and the Church of St. Peter am Perlach was built over Her temple grounds at Zisenburg in Augsburg. The day of the week that we call Tuesday was called Zistag among the Suevi, not because of Ziu, but because of Her, and this name was later banned by the Church because of its popularity and pagan origins.

Mary Undoer of Knots
Mary, Undoer-of-Knots, by Johann Georg Melchior Schmidtner, circa 1700.


When Christianity arrived in Augsburg, Zisa went under the guise of Mary

Undoer-of-Knots (sometimes “Untier” instead). In this role, She loosens the knots and tangles of troubles from our lives, smoothing the way to happiness and well-being. This thread-based imagery speaks directly to other instances we have of Goddesses influencing Wurt and Urleeg by activities like spinning and weaving.

In Urglaawe, Zisa is seen as the consort of Ziu, or, as you might better know Him, Tyr. She can influence Urleeg to assist you, but will only do so if your cause is just, much as Ziu is known for His influence over justice. On Her feast day, September 28th, called Zisasege, we celebrate with traditional German and Deitsch foods. Some nice touches to include her symbolism are cooking with pine nuts, and making “tangled” foods such as funnel cakes, to represent the

A sculpture of a pinecone, used by the author to represent Zisa.

problems She straightens out in our lives. Ritually knotting and unknotting cords can be used to petition Her for assistance, and knotted cords can be used as offerings to Her. Some worshipers like to place pinecones on the altar, or wear pinecone charms as a symbol of devotion. Sometimes the image of Mary Undoer-of-Knots is also used as a representation of Her since these figurines and prayer cards are widely available. The image of Her from earlier in this piece hangs in a church in–you guessed it–Augsburg.

Happy Zisasege, and hail Zisa!

Find out more about Zisa (and get some reading recommendations) at:

The Urglaawe Blog
Celto-Germanic Culture, Myth, and History
And, my own blog, Grundsau Burrow

2016 Huginn's Heathen Hof