Now if these Patron Goddesses existed in only one of the Sagas I would chalk it up to the imagination of the storyteller. But Thorgerd Holgabrud and Irpa appear in Njal's Saga, and Thorliefs Thattir Jarlskalds as well ! And Thorgerd Holgabrud also makes solo appearances in Skaldskaparmal, Faereyinga Saga, and Harthar Saga ok Holmverja. In several of these illuminating stories the two are referred to as "sisters".
In Njal's Saga, which I may condense someday and put on my site, a man named Hrapp plunders a temple owned by Haakon and Gudbrand, and steals a seated statue of Thorgerd, a gold ring from her, and the linen cloth she is wearing. The bastard, ( sorry, but anyone who steals from a temple should be called no less) also steals a gold ring from a statue of Thor, and a ring from Irpa's statue. In Skaldskaparmal, Thorgerd Holgabrudr, ( the spellings are different it seems with each translation ), is listed as a troll wife. That might be why the Jomsvikings called her an ogress, which is an unusual name to call any Goddess. In Faereyinga Saga, Thorgerd gives Haakon a ring which she holds. Haakon then in turn gives the ring to Sigmund and tells him he must never part from it. In Harthar Saga ok Holmverja, Grimkell Bjarnarson, who is a Godi, goes to Thorgerd's temple to ask for a sucessful marriage for his daughter. Thorgerd angrily tells him he will soon die which angers the Godi. Bjarnarson then burns down her temple in a fit of rage. Thorgerd gets the last laugh, so to speak, because while eating dinner Grimkell dies. I like this because it shows that she is also a seeress, and knows that which will come in the future.
I am not really sure how I feel about the idea of Patron or Guardian Goddesses. I am not sure how they fit in with the Disir who protect us, and also our Fylgja. Besides, in the Jomsviking Saga I do not like the fact that it is a Jarl who calls the Patron Goddesses. This to me makes it sound like they only can be summoned by the elite ruling class. I prefer Gods like Thor who are Gods of the common man. As I said earlier, however, if there was only one account of Thorgerd Holgabrud and Irpa I could dismiss them more readily than them appearing in multiple Sagas. She also is said to have had statues in two seperate temples which of course means that they were known to our ancestors, and were worshipped and sacrificed to. Though I have never " felt" personally a Patron Goddess, or God for that matter, I find it hard to dismiss them totally.
The only personal experience I have ever had where I felt protected by a God or Goddess was when I flew for the first time. I had never even been on a plane before, let alone for six hours on a flight to Iceland, and was scared to death. As we taxied down the runway to take off I grabbed a hold of my Thor's hammer, and the fear just melted away. Another curious thing that happened was that I became a little apprehensive on the bus on my way back to the airport to return home, but as I was sitting there in the bus it stopped raining, and a rainbow appeared parallal to the road as though it was showing me the way back home. Whether the rainbow was a coincidence or a Patron God or Goddess reassuring me I cannot say, but it was very calming at the time. Actually if you go to my facebook page you can see this picture of the rainbow I took from the bus window. ( Actually I will try to put it below.)
I do absolutely believe that something, or someone looks out for each and every one of us. Whether that entity is a Disir, a Fylgja, or a Patron God or Goddess is I guess for each individual to decide. My personal / patron / guardian Gods and Goddesses have been and will always be Odin, Freyja and Thor. They are the ones who first came to me, and they are the ones who have stuck with me in good times and bad times. Do I have a Patron God or Goddess ? i don't know . But I would like to find out !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !