Perchta, Berchta or Bertha (English) is a protective goddess. Her name means Bright, Shining or Epiphany. In the above photos we can see her dual nature as a beautiful bringer of light and conversely, a ferocious protector against evil.
Perchtenlauf is an ancient Pre-Christian ritual where young men dress in costumes with frightening "Perchta masks" going from house to house frightening away the evil spirits of Winter that wander the countryside seeking to harm humans. This procession was traditionally done on the winter solstice. This is the longest night of the year where the sun shines the least. It is also the beginning of when the Sun begins its return trip and shines for longer periods bringing the warmth of Spring. Perchta was summoned on this night to frighten away the long cold winter and make room for the brightness of spring. Hundreds of years ago when the threat of death during the cold winter months was very real for the Teutonic tribes people, it was necessary for people to be given hope of the coming spring. Perchta was the goddess who fought back against the darkness of winter not only in the external world but in the hearts of humans. The ritual of Perchtenlauf no doubt has roots extending into pre-historic ice age shamanic rituals of the proto-Teutonic people. Surprisingly, the ritual of Perchtenlauf has been continuously practiced in the Alps up until the present.
Perchta shows dual faces at this time. To the faithful, she appears as a beautiful goddess of light who blesses humans with health and prosperity. To the evil hearted, deceitful and wicked, she appears as a ferocious demon with horns and fangs. In this depiction, she is strikingly similar to the east Indian goddess Durga who alternately appears as the nurturing mother of all and the frightening Kali Ma who devours demons and drinks their blood.
The East is the direction of Lightning. This power is used by Thunor to fight against the mindlessness of the Giants who threaten to trample humans underfoot. During spiritual warfare, the power of the East is summoned to banish evil.
Perchta as a bringer of Divine light and a fierce protector of humans against evil is well placed in the East. Prayers, sacrifice and ritual to Her can bring great power and great comfort.
If you feel threatened by spiritual or human evil, face East and call on Mother Perchta for protection. She is swift to help her children in times of danger.