Weekly Deity: Freya


Freya, also spelled Freyja and Frea, is a goddess of the Nordic pantheon and is rather well-known.  Her personality is fairly benevolent.

Attributes

Freya appears as a beautiful woman, usually blond, blue-eyed, and voluptuous.  She is either depicted by herself or in her chariot, which is drawn by cats, and accompanied by flying love spirits (in later paintings these look a great deal like cherubs or baby Cupids).

Mythology

The beauty of Freya was such that she was wooed and pursued by all living creatures.  She would fly over the earth in her chariot and sprinkle the morning dew and summer sunlight behind her.  Her golden hair held spring flowers, which would fall to earth and bloom.  Her tears turned to gold when they touched the earth, or to amber when they touched the sea.  She was said to search for her husband, Odur or Od, and she wept those tears for him, but never found him.  Considering the similarity of the names, in some traditions her husband was actually Odin, but in others he was not.  Her sacred animal was the cat, which also pulled her chariot.  Cats signified Freya’s warmth and affection, but cats are also very independent animals, and can be loners.

Her twin brother was Freyr, the god of sunlight, rain, fruitfulness, and peace.  The twins were children of the god Njord and were members of the Vanir.  The Vanir were the gods who came before the Aesir and their leader Odin, a younger branch of deities that eventually took over when they won the war between the Vanir and the Aesir (similar to the Greek myths of the war between Zeus’ set of gods and the previous set including Titans, Cyclopes, and more).  When the war ended, Freya, Freyr, and their father Njord went to live with the Aesir in Asgard as a token gesture of friendship, and there they stayed.  Freya liked gold as well, and had a prized necklace made of gold.  She won this necklace by sleeping with its four makers, the Brisings.

Freya was not only a goddess of fertility but of magic, love, and, in some part, of the dead.  At the end of battles, she was said to split evenly the souls of the heroic dead with Odin.  Those souls she gained went with her to her hall, Sessrumnir, while the others went with Odin to Valhalla.  Her knowledge of sorcery consisted of the spells and charms of the Vanir, which some traditions say she taught to Odin, who then surpassed her as a magician.  She was the first to teach the warrior Aesir the arts of magic.  In her tradition, magic was useful but it could be dangerous, and granted the user foreknowledge, power over life, death, love, and intelligence.  Freya was also in some ways a goddess of love and lust because of her love and devotion for her husband, but also the fact that she won her prized possession by sleeping with four other people.  Her fantastic beauty gained her a great deal of both love and lust and she had hordes of admirers.

Light Side

Freya is mostly Light.  She makes things grow, she nurtures both love and lust, she is loyal and devoted and intelligent.  Her intelligence and the fact that she actually uses her intelligence allows her a good balance and the ability to weigh right and wrong, which it seems that she does.  She is balanced between her Light and Dark aspects, which is no bad thing.  Her Light does seem to outweight the Dark on the surface, but she is actually a good balance between life and death, fertility and barrenness, love and lust, devotion and duty.  Her devotion to her lost husband is admirable, but in the course of searching for him she also accomplishes her duties as a fertility and love/lust goddess, and so there is little problem with her searching for a lost loved one (whereas Demeter gave up her duties when Persephone was stolen in order to get her daughter returned).

Dark Side

Like all things, Freya has strands of Dark as well, but they are harder to see in her.  Her intense devotion to her husband to the exclusion of other possible partners could be seen as a negative aspect as she has now made herself alone and has allowed herself to wallow in grief for so long.  In a human that would be very bad, as a soul can only live in grief for so long before the Light begins to fade.  Like a cat, she is independent, but without her husband she is something of a loner.  While this is not necessarily Dark, it could turn into a preference for being something of a hermit, which generally isn’t healthy.  Another aspect that could be considered Dark is that as a mother/fertility goddess she not only has the power to give life but take it away, as seen in her use of magic and her dividing of souls with Odin.  However, this is not so much an aspect of the Dark per se but a natural balance of gifts, and nowhere in the mythos, I believe, does it say that she actually kills anyone, she just splits the souls of the heroic dead with her king.

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2 responses to “Weekly Deity: Freya

  1. I really like the the details, I think it is one your better posts yet.
    I think that I would want to be friends with Freya, if I could meet her, I think we would get along swimmingly. 🙂

    To me, she sounds a lot like Isis. She even has a twin brother like Isis with Osiris.

  2. Wonderfully detailed! Great writing!

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