Perchta or Berchta was once known as a goddess in Southern Germanic paganism in the Alpine countries. Her name means "the bright one". Perchta was at first a benevolent spirit. In Germanic paganism, Perchta had the rank of a minor deity. That changed to an enchanted creature (spirit or elf) in Old High German - such as Grimm describes - but she was given a more malevolent character (sorceress or witch) in later ages.