A girl should undergo her woman-making during her first menses, if at all possible, or straight away following them.
Whereas the goal of a man-making is for a youth to prove his worth as a man, the goal of a woman-making is for a maiden to accept her worth as a woman. In the old days, for a woman to take part in society in the usual way - that is, to marry and have children - was at least as brave as for a man to dare battle. Childbirth in those days was highly dangerous and often painful; caesarians were not unknown, though they usually followed the woman's childbed death. While medical care has improved greatly, the risks are still there - and the maiden initiated today is more likely to give birth than the youth is to go to war.
Since Germanic literature tends to focus on battles and warlike deeds, and most of it was probably written by men (who were unlikely to know what women did in their mysteries) our sources for womanhood-initiations are much scantier than those for manhood initiations - indeed, they are almost non-existent. We cannot be absolutely certain that they existed as such; menstruation is hardly ever mentioned in the Norse sources, and when it is, it is in the context of troll-women such as Geirröðr's daughter, who swells a river into a flood by means of her menstrual blood and urine with the intention of drowning Þórr). This may suggest something of that particular relationship between women and the wild which Diana Paxson speaks of in her article on the Etins (see chapter), and if the awesome might of the great glacial rivers of Iceland is seen as stemming from a womb (albeit an etin-woman's), that suggests that the Germanic folk, like many traditional people, might have seen menstruation as a time when a woman was especially powerful, and hence dangerous. However, since there is no evidence for a strong menstrual taboo in either the sagas or more recent Scandinavian folklore, comparative lore cannot be taken too far. Under the conditions that prevailed in the North, in fact, the sort of menstrual seclusion which is common in traditional cultures in more tropical zones (Buckley and Gottlieb, Blood Magic) would have been highly impractical: a community simply could not have afforded to lose five days of women's work out of every month.
We know that women passed down lore while they were engaged in textile work by telling tales and singing the traditional spinning and weaving songs. Indeed, Hans Christian Andersson learned the basic stories which became his tales from going, as a small boy, to the knitting rooms with his mother and listening to the women talk as they knitted. Aside from this, we know little else.
However, we can guess that, like a man-making, a Germanic woman-making would concentrate on the seclusion of the candidate from the opposite sex; on her demonstration of the qualities fitting on a woman; on the passing of womanly lore, and finally on her re-integration into the general society. A sample model can thus be constructed.
Whereas much of the man-making took place outdoors, the woman-making would probably be in the house, from which men are barred from dawn onward. The maiden is surrounded by her kinswomen and the other women of the group, who help her to dress, brush her hair out, and so forth, while talking to her about the joys of womanhood and the beauty and might of the changes her body is undergoing. Rather than being isolated, the maiden is always with the other women, fully experiencing the female community.
If any of the women in the group know how to spin, weave, or knit, some part of the day should be spent doing that so that the maiden has a full spindle or a nice strip of work by evening. Other crafts that might be thought fitting to this special day are brewing, sewing, and cooking (particularly more traditional sorts of cooking such as bread-baking). A communal trip to a fabric store so that the maiden can choose fabric for ritual garb is a nice idea; so is going to the grocery store to buy food for the coming feast. Although the latter sounds rather mundane, one of the most deeply-rooted elements of the womanly is the giving of nourishment: the ordinary act of bringing home food and cooking a meal is a very spiritual act by which the maiden realizes her oneness with such goddesses as Gefjon and Fulla.
If any of the older women have warrior-training, and the maiden is interested in learning, this is also fitting to this day: though Germanic women usually only fought in times of the direst need, they were able to fight. Moreover, a grown woman, like a grown man, is expected to be fully free-standing, which means that those who are able-bodied, whether male or female, have no right to rely on another's strength to ward them in times of danger.
Healing was one of the particularly (though not exclusively) womanly skills; women were thought to be able to heal both through herblore and through magic. The maiden should be taught whatever of these matters the other women are able to teach her. If none of them are specialists in herbcraft or healing, much basic herbal and magical healing lore can be gotten from Mrs. M. Grieves' A Modern Herbal and Dr. G. Storms' Anglo-Saxon Magic, for starters.
Should there be a natural place nearby which is well-suited to womanly might (such as a cave, large body of water, or a grove or stone that the women of the group have claimed for their own), the maiden may be taken there for meditation on the wild might of womanhood: she should not be allowed to forget that she is a sister to Gerðr and Ran, as well as to Frija and the Frowe.
At sunset, the house should be darkened, lit only by firelight and candles; the women gather at the heart of the home to call the goddesses and idises. Different women may speak to the maiden in the names of the different goddesses they follow, giving her the rede and wisdom of those paths. If she has done any spinning, weaving, sewing, or knitting, she should now lay the piece on the harrow for Frija's blessing; as a warrior, the blessings of Skaði and Freyja are most fitting to her; as a healer, Eir; and so forth. The eldest woman there should give the maiden a silver spoon and a rock crystal sphere wrapped in silver which she can henceforth hang from her belt together. Other women may also have such gifts for her - things such as cauldrons, candle-holders, oils and recels (incenses) blended for magical and personal use, fine cloth, ritual jewelry. An amber necklace is the most fitting of gifts at this time, as are the paired "tortoiseshell" brooches which were the most distinguishing part of the Viking Age woman's dress. If one of the older women is a warrior and the maiden is interested in that learning, she may be given a sword or other weapon at this time.
The maiden's first duty as a woman may then be to fill a horn with drink and make her own blessing to the goddesses and idises. When she has done this, sprinkled and embraced the other women, and poured the blessing-bowl's contents onto the earth, the men may be called and told that it is time for them to come back to the house. The new-made woman should be ready with a full horn of drink to offer when the first of them (preferably her father or nearest adult male kinsman in the group) steps through the door.
When all the men have come inside and both men and women have seated themselves in a circle, the eldest woman then leads the new-made forth among them and announces that she now stands as a full-grown woman in the company of the idises, the goddesses, and her sisters on the earth. If she has not gotten a weapon earlier but is willing to bear one, it should now be bestowed on her by one of the male warriors. She then goes about the ring, pouring drink for each person there, who in turn makes a toast to her and gives her a gift (if they have not already during the earlier part of the rite), as if it were her birthday. At the end of the round, she is cheered and the feast goes on.
It will be noticed that the woman-making seems less traumatic than the man-making, with less emphasis on the sharp change of status, the death and rebirth elements, and so forth. This is because all of these things are already going on inside the woman's body. Whereas the man-making is a single intense spiritual/social change marking the slower process of physical change from boy to man, the woman-making is put forth as a somewhat slower and gentler spiritual/social change designed to integrate the single intense physical event which transforms a girl into a woman.