|Goddess of Love, Beauty, and War|
|Original Stories about Freya||Myths about Freya||Fairy Tales||Humor|
1. How Gold Came to Be Hidden in the Rocks
Freya was the daughter of Njord and Skadi. She was the goddess of beauty. She had golden hair and blue eyes. She had a commanding figure, and was clad in flowing robes. She wore a corselet and helmet, and carried a shield and a spear. She rode in a chariot drawn by two large gray cats. She admired brave men, and liked nothing so well as to reward a deed of valor. She visited battlefields, to choose, from the slain heroes, those who should be her guests at Folkvang, her palace in Asgard. The other slain warriors were taken to live with Odin in his great hall, Valhalla.
Folkvang was always filled with heroes and their wives and sweethearts. Northern women often rushed into battle, or fell upon swords, or were burned on the funeral pyre with their beloved dead, hoping that their courage and devotion would win Freya's favor, so that they might enjoy the society of their husbands and lovers in Folkvang.
Freya was married to Odur, god of the summer sun. They had two daughters, who were so beautiful that all lovely and precious things were called by their names. All beautiful creatures were said to belong to Freya. Butterflies were called Freya's hens. Freya was always happy when she had her family together. But her husband, Odur, was too fond of travel. He always spent the winter in the Southland. This was a source of great grief to Freya. Once he left home without saying where he intended to go. Freya was heartbroken. She wept constantly. All nature wept with her. Hard rocks softened when her tears fell upon them. They opened their stony hearts to receive every shining drop, and hid it as pure gold. The sea treasured her tears, and threw them back upon the shore as clearest amber.
After long waiting, Freya went in search of her husband. She wandered through every part of the earth, weeping as she went. The earth kept her tears as fine gold. This is the reason that gold is found in all parts of the world.
2. Why Northern Brides Wear Myrtle
Freya found the missing Odur far away in the sunny Southland. He was sitting under a flowering myrtle tree, watching the fleecy clouds change color in the rays of the setting sun. He was well and happy, and did not think how lonely his beautiful wife must be in the dark winter of the frozen North. But when she stood before him, he was glad to see her ; and she was almost beside herself with joy.
Hand in hand, they returned to the Northland. Birds sang and flowers bloomed along their pathway, and spring followed their footsteps. Freya wore a garland of myrtle leaves; and to this day Northern brides wear myrtle wreaths instead of orange blossoms.
Freya was fond of ornaments and jewels. One day, when passing through the land of the dark elves, she saw four dwarfs at work on a wonderful necklace. It was called Brisingamen. It was an emblem of the fruitfulness of the earth. It was made of the most precious gems, which sparkled like stars. She begged the dwarfs to give her the beautiful necklace.
They said it should be hers if she would promise to grant them her favor forever. This was a great deal to ask ; but the necklace was a masterpiece of art, and priceless in value. So she promised all they asked, and they clasped the necklace about her neck. She wore it night and day. Once she lent it to Thor, when he went to the land of the giants; and once she lost it; but she always regarded it as her choicest treasure.
4. Heimdal Saves Brisingamen
The gods had just finished the rainbow bridge, which they built to connect Asgard with Midgard and Urdar Fountain. This bridge was made of fire, air, and water. These three things can still be seen in the rainbow ; fire in the red, air in the blue, and water in the green. All the gods except Thor passed over the bridge every day, on their way to their council chamber at Urdar Fountain. Thor was still obliged to harness his goats to his iron chariot and drive in the old way, because they all feared that his heavy tread and the heat of the lightnings, which always attended him, would destroy the beautiful bridge. They feared also that the giants would take advantage of the new bridge to force an entrance into Asgard. So they decided to appoint a guard for the rainbow bridge.
Heimdal was the son of the nine wave daughters of AEgir, ruler of the sea. His nine mothers fed him on the strength of the earth, the moisture of the sea, and the heat of the sun. He grew very fast and could do many remarkable things. He could hear the grass growing in the fields, and the wool on the sheep's backs. He could see at a distance of one hundred miles, as clearly by night as by day. He needed less sleep than a bird. He was very beautiful, and had gold teeth, which flashed when he smiled. He was always clothed in pure white, and carried a glittering sword.
The gods decided to take Heimdal to Asgard, and then they appointed him to be guard of the rainbow bridge. They built him a palace on the highest point of the bridge, and gave him a golden-maned horse called Gull-top, and a wonderful trumpet called Giallar-horn. The trumpet was to be used only when he saw the enemies of the gods approaching. Then he would know that the Twilight of the Gods was near at hand, and the sound of the trumpet would arouse all creatures in heaven and earth and the land of the mist.
One night Heimdal was disturbed by the sound of footsteps in the direction of Freya's palace. He soon found that the noise was made by Loki, who had just changed himself into a fly, in order to enter Freya's chamber window. Once within her room, he resumed his usual form, and tried to take the precious necklace, Brisingamen, from her neck, as she lay asleep. Her head was turned so that he could not reach the clasp without waking her. He stepped back and muttered magic runes. He began to shrink, and shrank and shrank until he shrank into the size and shape of a flea. Then he made his way under the cover and bit Freya's side until she turned in her sleep. He became Loki again, unclasped the necklace, and stole away.
Heimdal mounted Gull-top and galloped over the rainbow bridge. He met the robber just outside the gates of Asgard, and drew his sword. Quick as thought, Loki became a faint blue flame. Heimdal changed himself into a cloud, and poured torrents of rain upon the flame. Then the flame became a great white bear, which drank up the water. The cloud became a bear also, and the two bears fought until Loki slipped into the water in the form of a seal. Heimdal became a seal, and pursued Loki until he gave up the necklace, which was sent back to Freya so quickly that she never knew it had been stolen.
But Heimdal had been badly hurt in his struggle with Loki. Iduna came and bound up his wounds, and healed them with a golden apple.