Freya, the Lady, from Scandinavian Stories
Freya, Ancient Goddess and Wild Woman of the North
Freya is best known in popular imagination as a beautiful and seductive Goddess, a well-proportioned strawberry blonde with a taste for Love. She is this, but there's a lot more to Freya!.
She is Goddess of Love, and of Prophesy, while at the same time she is the Lady of the Battlefield, a Warrior Goddess ruling over the Valkyries and claiming her portion of the battle-slain.
These are the aspects of the Great Mother Goddess, the ruler of Life and Death.
Without death, there is no life.
How I met Freya
I didn't know her name until I was 15, but she was with me before that. Perhaps all of us are born with a hard-wired impulse to hero-worship, a longing to believe in something greater than our mundane existence, an ability to suspend belief. All I know is that the day Freya fell out of a school textbook, I knew her. And I had found her name.
It wasn't the concept of divinity I found, no goddess was revealed to me but instead the abstraction of Freya, the reflection of steadfastness, a source of strength, courage and self discipline in an intensely feminine form that was absent in the Virgin Mary of my Catholic childhood.
Be true to yourself, said Freya. I would have done better to remember her words.
In this illustration, Freya stands beside her dragon-headed chariot with her hand to her heart, in the grave stance of the Oath-Maker, cats at her feet. She holds the Great Wheel and her weapons are close to hand.
To yourself be true
Freya teaches us about not breaking faith. She tells us again and again to be faithful. Not necessarily marital fidelity, as these small matters are of no concern to her as long as you are faithful to yourself.
The virtue of Freya is the willingness to be true to your beliefs, your principles, your family, friends and community. This is the concept of not breaking faith.
Her Message in Modern Times
Freya, the Lady of the Battlefield, leads the spirits of not only those who die in battle, but those who have lived with purpose and devotion. Those who have loved and have been true and loyal.
Freya teaches us that we can still fight, even when all the odds are against us. She knew she couldn't save her son but that didn't stop her from trying.
She will reward you if you are loyal to your principles.
Is she Freya or Frigg?
In the late Viking Age, Frigg and Freya were only nominally distinct
They must have once been the same figure, they're practically the same except for the name. I see these two as the one deity and so have included aspects of Frigg , in particular the story of Baldur..
An introduction to the complex Freya from an acknowledged scholar. If you don't know much about the Goddess of the North, this book is for you
Many are the stories of Freya
The highest ranking Goddess of the North
In the old days before the forcible and bloody Christianisation of the North, Freya was the highest ranking amongst the Asynjur, the Goddesses of the Norse Mythology.
Many are the stories of Freya, of her wild adventures, of her Battle Maidens, the Valkyries and of her valiant efforts to protect her son, but Freya is always just herself, the epitome of steadfastness. She loves life, and loyalty.
- The Grim Tale of Baldur the Beautiful
Baldur was so beautiful every white blossom was called by his name, and every song from every bird was sung in praise to him. His story, however, has no happy ending
Baldur the Beautiful
Freya is a loving Mother.This tale,often told as a story of Frigg, is included as I believe the two figures are the same.
The ability of Freya to see the future in her weaving caused her great pain and sorrow - as she foresaw the death of her dearly loved son, Baldur the Beautiful.
Even though Freya knew that Destiny could not be changed, the sorrowing Lady made all things promise that they would never harm Baldur. Sadly she overlooked one. The insignificant mistletoe.
Although she is known as a Fertility Goddess, the riddle poetry of the Skalds show her to be more a Goddess of Riches, who can weep tears of gold. Her daughters, Hnossa and Gersemi, are Treasure and Gold.
Freya certainly has a taste for gold and jewels and gained her beautiful necklace, Brisangemen, by sleeping with four dwarves. But that's a story for another day when the children aren't listening.
Bring Freya into your Home
Stunning little sculpture of Freya to grace your home. The statuette captures her beauty and her direct gaze, the essence of her steadfastness.
I have one of these lovely little Freya figures on my mantelpiece, it's a delight to look over at her when I start my day, a reminder to myself to stay on the right track to achieve my goals.
Bronze, cast in resin, it's beautifully detailed and even has a cat at her feet!
When you see a Valkyrie before battle, know then, that you will die, for their primary duty is to choose the bravest of those who have been slain, gathering the souls of dying heroes.
Valkyries! They gallop across the skies over bloody battles, bright armour gleaming in the sun, distributing death lots among the warriors.
On great white steeds you see them, urging on the Champions, their cries weaving with the clash of weapons and the screams of the dying. They wheel through the ranks of the fallen and judge the bravery of each man.
For Valkyries conduct the souls of slain heroes to Valhalla, the great hall of Odin All-Father.
Valkyries choose carefully amongst the slain warriors, allowing only the souls of the bravest to enter heaven. If a Viking warrior falters in his fight, if he is struck down while fleeing, he is not worthy.
There is no joyous welcome into the Great Hall of Valhalla for the coward, instead the cold underground awaits him, a desolate afterlife presided over by the goddess Hel.
Valkyries ride forth on their errands with their shining armour glistening and sparkling in the night sky. You can see this eerie flickering light today in the Aurora Borealis.
Next time you look up at the Northern Lights give a greeting to the Battle Maidens. Raise your glass as they gallop past attired in scarlet corselets and gleaming helmets, with shields and spears held aloft.
The Valkyries will stop their wild rides at Ragnorak, when the world ends.
Freya and the Norns Spin our Fate
The star constellation Orion is named Friggajar Rockr, Freya's spindle. The spindle is a powerful symbol of female wisdom, virtue and industry.
Viking Age housewives spun and wove all the cloth, and, in the hands of Freya and the Norns, the spindle becomes a symbol of strong magic.
Spinning is essentially female and in English 'spinster' still means an unmarried woman. Older legal terms are tied up with spinning, such as the 'spear side' and the 'distaff side' to distinguish the inheritance of male from that of female children. Descendants from the Spear Side were, by law, the legitimate heirs.
The distaff became a synonym for Woman herself, as in the French proverb. 'The crown of France never falls to the distaff.'
The Great Wheel
At Winter Solstice, the sun dies and time stops. Then, as Freya spins the Great Wheel, in its original name - the Jul (Yule), once again the sun is reborn.
Her hand holds the spindle, she takes a handful of wool to her wheel, winds it about her distaff, and spins the web of fate for all of us, for Gods and Men.
A modern interpretation of the ways of the Northern past. Suitable for the general public
Gods of the North - Video
Stirring music accompanies a slide show of the better known Northern deities.
Which Norse Deity are you?
A fun quiz
(I come out as Freya, followed closely by Bragi. Oh my!)
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© 2008 Susanna Duffy