Freya

From Academic Kids

See Freya radar for German World War II radar. For the municipality, see Frøya, Norway.
See http://freshmeat.net/projects/freya/ for the Ragnarok Online server emulator.

This article uses English names. (Old Norse) names are given in italics in parentheses.

Missing image
Freya.jpg
Freya, in an illustration to Wagner's operas by Arthur Rackham.

Freya (Freyja), the sister of Frey (Freyr) and the daughter of Niord (Template:Unicode), is usually seen as the fertility goddess of Norse mythology. Freya means lady, female ruler, in Old Norse (cf. fru or Frau in Scandinavian and German). While there are no sources suggesting that she was called on to bring fruitfulness to fields or wombs, she was a goddess of intimacy whose tears were gold. She was also goddess of love, sex and attraction, and correspondingly became one of the most popular goddesses. Her popularity may be due to her willingness to lie with others. She may have been the same goddess as Frigg, and might be considered the counterpart of Venus and Aphrodite. It is likely that she is the most direct mythological descendant from Nerthus.

She was also thought to be the most desirable of all goddesses, owner of the attractive piece of jewellery Brosingamen (Brísingamen), which she bought from four dwarfs (Dvalin, Alfrik, Berling, and Grer) at the price of four nights of her love. Freya had excellent 'oral abilities', and her love had great value. This necklace is sometimes seen today as embodying her power over the material world; the necklace has been the emblem of the earth-goddess since the earliest times.

She was once married to Óðr, but he disappeared for some time. She cried golden tears afterwards. Óðr was one of Odin's (Óðinn's) names, and Freya does not seem to have been clearly distinguished from Frigg, the wife of Odin. They seem to have evolved from the same goddess. This seems to be contradicted by the description of Freya as a Vanir instead of an Áss. However, the Vanir Freyja would have become an Áss by marrying Odin. Moreover, Gefyon (Gefjun), who some claim was a synonym for Freya, belonged both to the Æsir (the plural of Áss) and Vanir.

Freya is wild: free with her sexual favours and furious when forced to do something against her will; the mistress of Odin and several other gods. According to Loki, in Lokasenna, she even let her brother Frey into her bed. She slept with dwarves and anything else that would pay her.

Contents

Freya's possessions

Freya was the driver of a wagon drawn by eight cats. She was Queen of the elves. Her chambermaids were Fulla, Hlín and Gná. Her palace was in Folkvang (Fólkvangr) and her hall was Sessrúmnir.

Along with the necklace, she owned a raven skin, or cloak of feathers which gave her the ability to change into any bird, that she lends to Loki in Þrymskviða, as well as her pig, Hildisvín (see below).

Freya as battle goddess

As a battle-goddess, Freya rides a boar called Hildisvín the Battle-Swine. She loved battle, and would laugh at it whilst in bed with her lover, Odin. In the poem Hyndluljóð, we are told that in order to conceal her protegé Ottar (Óttarr) the Simple, Freya transformed him into the guise of a boar. The boar has special associations within Norse Mythology, both relative to the notion of fertility and also as a protective talisman in war. Seventh century Swedish helmet plates depict warriors with large boars as their crests, and a boar-crested helmet has survived from Anglo-Saxon time and was retrieved from a tumulus at Benty Grange in Derbyshire. In Beowulf, it is said that a boar on the helmet was there to guard the life of the warrior wearing it.

Freya's slain

Freya chooses three-eighths of the slain on the battlefield whilst Odin gets the others, according to Grímnismál:

The ninth hall is Folkvang, where bright Freyja
Decides where the warriors shall sit:
Some of the fallen belong to her,
And some belong to Odin.

This association of Freyja with death is underlined in Egil's saga when his daughter, Thorgerda (Þorgerðr), threatens to commit suicide in the wake of her brother's death, saying: "I shall not eat until I sup with Freya".

Freya as a witch

Freya was a skilled practitioner of seiðr, a form of magic which Snorri relates in the Ynglinga Saga in his Heimskringla she introduced among the Aesir. Her magic was widely used in the seduction of men. It has been been widely speculated that Gullveig, a norse prostitute, was Freya under another name. If so, she was stabbed and burnt three times, but arose from the flame each time and transformed herself into Heiðr ("the Glorious"), mistress of magic, in a shamanic initiation (see mystery religion). This also started the war between the Æsir and the Vanir.

The giants are always trying to take Freya away from the gods, and it is clear that this would be a great disaster. She was obviously the embodiment of the female orgasm.

Other names

Forms of "Frey(j)a"

  • Freia
  • Frigga
  • Friia
  • Froya
  • Common Danish and literary Swedish form: Freja
  • Common Norwegian, and rural Swedish form: Frøya, Fröa

Other forms

  • Gefn (according to Snorri Gefyon/Gefjun is not the same as Gefn)
  • Heath
  • Vanadís

Sources

  • Grimnismál
  • Egils Saga
  • Snorri Sturluson, The Younger Edda
  • H R Ellis Davidson, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe
  • E O G Turville-Petre, Myth and Religion of the North
  • Jan de Vries, Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte, 2nd Edition (the seminal work of reference on Germanic and Scandinavian religion).

Template:NorseMythologyda:Freja (gudinde) de:Freya es:Freya fr:Freya nl:Freya ja:フレイヤ no:Frøya nn:Frøya pl:Freja sv:Freja

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