Tuned in: Marc Cohn, Walk through the world with me.
May is the month of rebirth, love and fertility and a perfect time to introduce my readers to a goddess. In the last few months, I’ve showcased the Continental Germanic gods who share counterparts with some of the Scandinavian Norse gods and who are mentioned in my debut novel, On the Edge of Sunrise (2015). Loki, the trickster, and Thor, god of thunder, have found a perfect counterpart in the determined and beautiful goddess, Freya.
Fraujŏ(Germanic) Freya (Norse) is the goddess of physical love and fertility. Freya’s responsibility was to ensure that the reproductive urge never died. Freya was also considered the most beautiful of the goddesses. Freya, having been born in Vanaheim, was also known as Vanadis or Vanas. After the war between the Aesir and the Vanir gods, Freya, a Vanir, went to live among the Aesir as a peace offering. When she arrived in Asgard, the gods were so charmed by her that they ‘bestowed upon her the realm of Folkvang and the great hall, Sessrymnir.’
Freya goddess of love also had martial tastes and a connection to the dead. The ancient Northern races believed as ‘Valfreya’ she often led the Valkyries down to the battlegrounds where she selected half of the slain heroes. She rode in a chariot pulled by gray cats, her favorite animals and symbols of sensuality. Often Freya is depicted as wearing a corselet and helmet and carrying a shield and a spear. She would transport the slain heroes to Folkvang, where they were entertained. Freya would invite all pure maidens and faithful wives and reunite them with their lovers and husbands.
Freya had a sense of beauty and taste, and because of this, she was the proud owner of the necklace called, Brisingamen and a cloak of falcon feathers. She discovered the first treasure while visiting the underworld realm of dwarves. Freya spied a number of these little men creating the most beautiful necklace she’d ever seen. ‘Her vanity was as elevated as her libido, and she immediately coveted the object.’ She begged the dwarves to give her this treasure, which represented the stars, or the ‘fruitfulness’ of the earth. The dwarves demanded that she offer herself to them in payment. Reluctantly, Freya conceded and paid the price. Afterward, Freya hurried to place it around her neck. Its beauty enhanced her charms beyond her expectations and she wore it day and night.
Freya’s second treasure was her falcon cloak, which had the power to make the wearer fly. On occasion, she loaned it to the god, Loki, and wore it when she went in search of her missing husband, Odur.
“Freya one day Falcon wings took, and through space hied away; Northward and southward she sought her Dearly-loved Odur.”
Frithiof Saga, Tegnér (Stephens’s tr.) (Guerber)
Freya was considered not only the goddess of love but of fertility as well. In this way, it was only natural that she be attracted to the god who personified the sun, Odur. They had two daughters who all of Midgard considered extremely beautiful.
As the summer sun is known to do, Odur began to wander the world looking for adventure. Freya’s tears over her lost husband fell to earth and turned to gold. Freya, determined to find Odur, gathered up her falcon cloak and scoured the earth. Eventually, she found Odur in the southern lands ‘leaning against a myrtle tree.” Freya quickly fashioned a myrtle wreath and placing it on her head stepped before him ‘looking as lovely as the day they were wed.’ Because of Freya’s action it became a custom for Norse brides to wear wreaths of myrtle. Upon seeing Freya, Odur responded with warmth and happiness. In all his travels, he had never seen a woman so enchanting. Together they returned to Asgard, but in a leisurely fashion. As they travelled along the way, ‘the forces of nature celebrated Freya’s return to happiness by creating the magnificent flowers and vegetation of summer in the couple’s wake.’
The Norse loved Freya so much they dedicated a day of the week to her—Freya’s Day or ‘Friday.’ Held in such high regard, Freya’s temples were numerous, and were ‘long maintained by her votaries, the last, in Magdeburg, Germany, being destroyed by order of Charlemagne.’
Who is a lovely woman in your life? My lovely is Rachel my daughter, sweet and feisty, kind and pretty.
Guerber, H.A. Myths of the Norsemen: From the Eddas and Sagas / Roberts, Morgan J. Norse Gods and Heroes