|Goddess of Love, Beauty, and War|
|About Lady Freya||Prayers||Reference Guide||Articles|
An overview of the Goddess Freya and related elements of her mythology
Freya (Lady) The goddess of love and fertility
Freya was the daughter of the Vanir god Njord and the sister of Frey. Freya came to Asgard with her brother and father after the Aesir/Vanir War ended in an eternal peace treaty. Freya’s home in Asgard was in the region known as Folkvangr in a hall named Sessrumnir.
Freya was married to Od, but this mysterious character (whose name means “roamer”) disappeared. Freya was said to roam the Earth looking for him and shedding tears that turned to pure gold. Freya and Od had a daughter named Hnossa, which means “jewel.” Freya was exceedingly beautiful, and many fell in love with her, including giants, dwarfs, and humans.
Like most of the Vanir, Freya had a talent for witchcraft. It is said that when she came to Asgard, she instructed the gods in the magical arts of Seid. Freya also had a warlike side and shared Odin’s love of battle. It is said that she and Odin divided the slain human heroes between them so that some went to Odin’s Valhalla while others went to Sessrumnir.
Freya’s boar, the gold-bristled Hildisvini, was a symbol of war. Its name means “Battle Boar.” Freya possessed a boar chariot and a chariot pulled by two gray or black cats. She also had a falcon skin that she sometimes donned to fly away. She lent the falcon skin to Loki, the trickster god, in the stories “Idunn’s Apples” and “The Theft of Thor’s Hammer”. Her most precious possession was the Brisinga men.
Freya, Ottar, and the Giantess Hyndla
Freya, goddess of love and fertility, was loved by many, including the human male Ottar. In the Lay of Hyndla from the Poetic Edda, Freya transforms Ottar into the shape of her boar, Hildisvini, and visits the giantess Hyndla in her cave. Hyndla is a powerful seeress. Freya cajoles and bullies Hyndla into telling Ottar all about his ancestors from far back so he may win a wager with another mortal. In Viking times, it was very important to know one’s lineage; proof of it was often used to settle disputes over land and other property. One of Ottar’s ancestors turned out to be sigurd, the hero of the Volsunga Saga, so he was sure to win his bet.
Once Hyndla had finished reciting the list of Ottar’s ancestors, she wanted to leave Freya and her “boar.” Freya used witchcraft to persuade Hyndla to brew some “memory beer” for Ottar, so he would remember every detail of what Hyndla had told him. Freya caused flames to dance around the giantess until she gave Ottar the brew.
Freya and the Golden Necklace
Freya had an enormous greed for gold and jewelry of all kinds. One day she went to the cave of the black dwarfs Alfrigg, Berling, Dvalin, and Grerr. These master craftsmen had made a golden necklace of outstanding beauty. Freya knew at once that she would do anything to get the necklace that the dwarfs called the Brisingamen.
She offered the dwarfs gold and silver, but as Dvalin pointed out, they already had all the precious metals and gems of the underworld for the taking. Freya began to weep golden tears. At last Dvalin said they would give her the necklace if she would agree to spend a day and a night with each of the dwarfs. Freya was so overcome with greed that she gave herself to the company of the four ugly little creatures for four days and four nights. When she went back to her palace at Folkvangr, she was wearing the Brisingamen around her neck.
Now Loki, the mischief maker, had followed Freya to Svartalfheim, the home of the dwarfs, and had seen everything that had happened. He ran to tell Odin. Odin was furious when he heard the story. He asked Loki to take the necklace from Freya and bring it to him.
Loki had a hard time getting into Freya’s sleeping chamber at Sessrumnir, her palace, for all the doors and windows were tightly shut. At last the shapeshifter turned himself into a small fly and entered the room through a hole as small as a needle’s eye. Loki saw that Freya was wearing the necklace around her neck, with the clasp underneath her so he could not reach it. Never at a loss, Loki turned himself into a flea and bit the goddess on her cheek. She turned restlessly in her sleep and exposed the clasp. Quickly Loki turned back into his own shape, removed the necklace, unlocked the door, and crept out.
When Freya discovered her loss, she ran to Odin and told her story, weeping bitterly. Cold with anger at Freya’s tale of greed and lust, Odin said he would retrieve the jewel for her only if she would agree to stir up a terrible war between two powerful chieftains on Earth. He demanded killing and bloodshed. Afterward Freya should bring the slain heroes back to life. Freya willingly agreed to the terms, for like Odin, she had the gift of sorcery and a lust for battle and heroes. Then Odin sent for Heimdall, the watchman of the gods, and told him to go after Loki and bring back Freya’s trinket.
Loki turned himself into a seal and swam to a rock near Singastein, but a moment later Heimdall, too, had become a seal. The two fought a fierce battle. In the end Heimdall, with the necklace in his hand, led the dripping Loki out of the water and back to Odin.
The story of the Brisingamen is from the 10th century skaldic poem Husdrapa and the Sorla Thattr, found in the 14th-century manuscript Flateyjarbok (Book of the Flat Island ).
Folkvang Folkvangr; People Field; Field of the Folk
The part of Asgard that belonged to the goddess Freya. The meaning of the word Folkvangr suggests a battlefield. To this great section of Asgard, Freya welcomed her half of the slain human heroes who died each day. The other half went to Odin’s Valhalla.
In Folkvangr, Freya built her hall, Sessrumnir. Freya’s portion of Asgard is first named in Grimnismal, a poem in the Poetic Edda, and described by Snorri Sturluson in Gylfaginning.
Brisinga men Brising’s Necklace
The golden necklace made by the dwarfs Alfrigg, Berling, Dvalin, and Grerr and coveted by the goddess Freya. Freya was the Vanir goddess of fertility, and a necklace is often a fertility symbol. When she saw the dwarfs making the necklace under their stone, she bargained with them for it. This part of the necklace’s story is told in the Sorla Thattr.
Freya lent the Brisinga men to Thor to help him retrieve his hammer, Mjollnir, from the rime-giant Thrym. This story is told in the poem Thrymskivitha, which is part of the Codex Regius of the Poetic Edda.
It is not made clear in the mythology who the Brisings were, but some experts believe the name refers to the dwarfs themselves.
A race of gods and goddesses who lived in Vanaheim. They were the original gods, more ancient than the Aesir. They were gods of fertility. Chief among them were the twin deities Frey and Freya. After the war with the Aesir, Frey, Freya, and their father, Njord, and possibly Heimdall went to live in Asgard, home of the Aesir. After that war, all the gods were referred to as Aesir.
The Vanir gods brought peace and plenty to Asgard. They also brought their knowledge of seid, magic and witchcraft, and instructed the Aesir in its practice. The Vanir were worshipped for centuries in northern lands.