Freya, Frejya, Freyia, Frøya, Frøjya, Freia
Freyja is a Norse goddess of love, beauty, fertility, crops, war, wealth, divination and magic. Famed for her great beauty, with blue eyes and golden hair, she has been referred to as ‘The Fair One’. She was the symbol of sensuality and was called upon in matters of love. Freyja was also known as The Lady (Frau), The Seer, Great Goddess, The Sage, Freyja of the Black Swordhand, Queen of the Valkyries and Mistress of the Slain.
Freyja is the daughter of the God of Wealth, Njord (Njörðr), and even though her mother’s identity is generally unknown, some say it was Njord’s sister or the earth goddess Nerthus. She is the twin sister of Frey/Freyr (‘The Lord’) and together they were the chief gods of the Vanir.
The Vanir were a group of gods and goddesses associated with the earth and sea, nature, fertility, sorcery and magic, and unseen realms. The other group of gods were the Aesir (Æsir), the gods of the sky and intellect, order and justice, power, wisdom and war.
The Aesir and Vanir went to war many times, but eventually called a truce. As a sign of peace and sacrifice, it was decided that Njord and Freyr would live with the Aesir in Asgard. Freyja left Vanaheim to join her father and brother, settling in Folkvang (Fólkvangr) in her palace Sessrúmnir (“the many seated”).
Freyja married the god Od (Óðr), who many argue is same god as Odin. This confusion has also lead to suggestions that Frigg and Freyja are the same Goddess as both were married to Odin. Her two daughters by Od are Gersimi/Gersemi and Hnossi/ Hnoss (‘Jewel’ and ‘Treasure’).
Freyja was the leader of the Valkyries, the Choosers of the Slain. The Valkyries were demi-goddesses who would ride over battlefields on winged horses, selecting noble warriors killed in battle. The souls of the slain warriors were divided between her and Odin; half go to feast in Odin’s hall in Valhalla, while the rest would go to Freyja’s hall Sessrumnir. Women warriors who were slain, as well as the wives and lovers of the male warriors, were also invited to go to Freyja’s hall.
The modern days of the week were named after Norse gods or their Saxon equivalents. Tuesday comes from ‘Tyr’s day’ (Tiu), Wednesday from ‘Odin’s day’ (Woden), Thursday from ‘Thor’s day’, and Friday from ‘Freya’s day’.
Freyja wore a beautiful gold and amber necklace named Brísingamen (“fire jewellery”). She received it from four dwarf brothers who traded the necklace in return for a night each with Freyja.
Freyja was associated with magic and divination, particularly Seidr (Seiðr), a type of trance magic which includes shape shifting and astral projection. She taught the magic of Seidr to Odin in exchange for his knowledge of the Runes. She also had a magical cloak of falcon feathers which allowed her to shape shift into a bird to travel into other realms. This cloak was often borrowed by Loki when he still worked to save the Aesir.
While Freyja was thought to have had many affairs, she loved her husband deeply. Od would go on long travels, and when he went missing she cried tears of red gold. She would transform herself into a bird using her magical cloak and set out to find him. Freyja had many different names she adopted when looking for Od amongst the strange people of other worlds.
Her sacred symbols include cats, boars, horses, ravens, the full moon, swords, daisies and primrose, and amber. She rode her gold-bristled boar Hildisvíni (“battle swine”) into battle. It is said that also she rode a chariot driven by two large blue cats, given to her by Thor.
Cats hold even more meaning as they are thought to travel to her lands in Folkvang after death, spending their afterlives frolicking in the fields around Sessrumnir. Cats were also thought to carry messages from Freyja (when they weren’t stopping for cat-naps).
© A Year And A Day (2013)