Goddess of the Month: Freyja

By Tinnekke Bebout

WHO IS FREYJA?

FreyaBL Freyja is one of the most important Goddesses in the Norse
pantheon. According to the Eddas, a group of epic poems from Iceland, She is the
Goddess of love, beauty, battle, magick, prophecy, wealth, and fertility.

Freyja is also the leader of the Valkyries, immortal maidens
who were choosers of those slain in battle who were worthy to go to Valhalla and
dwell with the Gods, and half of those chosen would go to Her to dwell in Her
hall Fólkvangr. She was often prayed to by people in love who wanted a happy
relationship or those who wanted to find true love.

Freyja was invoked at the spring planting for good weather and
a good harvest and by women in childbirth. The ancient Norse art of Seid, a form
of witchcraft practiced by women called völva or seiðkona, was
said to have been created by Freyja. In the Ynglinga Saga, it states
“Njörðr’s daughter was Freyja. She presided over the sacrifice. It was she
who first acquainted the AEsir with seiðr, which was customary among the
Vanir”. Some of Her other titles include:

Den Väna Solen – The Fair Sun
Vanadís – Fair Goddess
Mard̦ll РSea
Bright
Gefn – The Giver
Sýr – Sow
Valfreyja – Mistress of the
Chosen

Worship of Freyja

Sadly, due to the extreme militancy of the Christians as they
assimilated parts of Scandinavia, there is little knowledge of Freyja’s rites or
holy sites. There is an account in the Droplaugarsona Saga of the temple of
Ölvusvatn, Iceland having statues of Freyja and Frigg seated on high thrones
and wearing garments and ornaments of gold and silver.

Fortunately, those in modern Iceland, Denmark, and Norway have
not forgotten their Goddess entirely and the modern rites of the Asatru are
reclaiming the worship of all the Norse Gods in those countries – where they
have official sanction and recognition – as well as in the US.

There are many places named after Her, and some ideas of what
Her worship may have been like can be gleaned from the Eddas and other surviving
Norse literature. Few images of Her survive, but She is described as
flaxen-haired, blue-eyed, and extremely beautiful. There are many accounts of
Freyja wearing a falcon feather cloak and the celebrated necklace Brisingamen.
She was so associated with gold and gems that there are many references to those
things as “Freyja’s Tears”.

In one story from the book According to Norse Mythology –
The Myths and Legends of the Nordic Gods by Arthur Cotterell
Freyja is
described in this way:  “Freyja flew over the earth, sprinkling morning dew and
summer sunlight behind her. She shook spring flowers from her golden hair and
wept tears which turned to gold or to amber at sea.” She is said to ride in a
chariot pulled by lynxes or other wild cats depending on the account, and She
has a golden boar who accompanies Her. The constellation Orion was called
“Freyja’s Gown” and the belt of Orion was known as “Freyja’s Girdle”.

The Kennings of Freyja from the Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson (trans Thorpe)
(Icelandic circa 1300 CE) :

Gold is called Tears of Freyja:
Many a fearless swordsman
Received
the Tears of Freyja
The more the morn when foemen
We murdered; we were
present
Ródi’s Roof’s great Ice-Lump
For the Rain of Freyja’s Eyelids

Grows not less, my fair axe-head;
His age my lord so useth.
I
received the Ice of Wed Rims,
With Freyja’s golden Eye-Thaw,
From the
upright prince high-hearted;
We bear in hand the Helm’s Hurt.
Gold is
called Tears of Mardöll:
Where, mounted ‘twixt the carvings,
The Tear of
Mardöll lieth,
We bear the axe shield-splitting,
Swollen with Serpent’s
lair-gold.
The free-handed Lord gave,
The heroes accepted,
Sif’s
firm-grown tresses,
Ice of the bow-force,
Otter-gild unwilling,

Weeping of Mardöll,
Fire-flame of Órun,
Idi’s fine Speeches.

Gold is called Tears of Óðr’s Bride:
The shield, tempest’s strong
roof-ice,
With tear-gold is unminished,
The Eye-rain of Óðr’s Bride:

His age the King so useth.
Jewel is called Child of Hörn:
Hörn’s
Child, the glorious adornment,
I own, gold-wound a jewel
Most fair to
the shield’s rim
Fast is the golden Sea-Flame:
Gem is called Niece of
Freyr, Gold is called Tears of Hnoss’s Mother:
On the gem, Freyr’s Niece, the
tear-drift
Of the fore-head of her Mother
She bears; the Raven-Feeder

Gave me Fródi’s seed-gold’s fostering.
Gem is called Child of
Njörðr’s Daughter:
A defence of songs full goodly
He freely gave me,
neighbor
Of sea-scales: I praise gladly
Njörðr’s Daughter’s golden
gem-child.
Fair things are called Daughter of Freyja:
The awesome Stately
Urger
Of Odin, he who raises
The struggle stern, gave to me
The
courage-stalwart daughter
Of the Vana-Bride, my fair axe;
The valorous
sword-mote’s Ruler
Led Gefn’s girl to the Skald’s bed,
Set with the
sea-flame’s gold-work.

 

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