Freyja, Goddess of Love and War

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.

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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, 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 and Her Chariot

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.

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 and the Dwarves

Freyja was associated with magic and divination, particularly Seidr, 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.

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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).

Goddess Guide – Freyja
Pantheon – Freyja
Goddess Freyja
Thalia Took – Freyja
Wiki – Freyja

© A Year And A Day (2013)

Heathenry

Heathenry, or Germanic Neopaganism, centres on Scandinavian, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon deities and mythology. Heathens are largely polytheistic and follow a reconstructionist viewpoint, which aims to recreate the religion of ancient people through study of archaeological and historical records. These records include Old Norse texts (such as the Prose and Poetic Eddas, and the Icelandic Sagas), Germanic folklore, and archaeological evidence.

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Wyrd

Wyrd is an Anglo-Saxon term for fate or personal destiny.

Wyrd is an Old English noun from the verb weorþan, meaning “to come to pass, to become”.  Wyrd has cognates in Old Saxon wurd, Old High German wurt, Old Norse urðr, Dutch worden (to become) and German werden.

The term wyrd developed into the modern term weird.  In Elizabethan times, this meant “having the power to control fate”, such as the Weird Sisters, the Three Witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

In Norse mythology, the Wyrd Sisters refers to the three Norns, or Fates, the Goddesses of Destiny.  There is Urðr (Wyrd) (“that which has come to pass”), Verðandi (“what is in the process of happening”) and Skuld (Should) (“that which should necessarily be”).  Together the three Norns weave Fate or ørlǫg, the layers of the past.

Wyrd has also been included in some modern-day Rune sets as the “Blank Rune”, the rune of Fate.  Seeing the wyrd rune in a casting could suggest that an important choice is about to be made, which could change your life forever.

Wyrd does not refer to the “inexorable fate” of the ancient Greeks.  Wyrd is not an end point, but something continually happening around us at all times.  Our past affects us continually. Who we are, where we are, and what we are doing today is dependent on actions we have taken in the past and actions others have taken in the past. Every choice we make in the present builds upon choices we have previously made.

“Through wyrd may force us into circumstances we would never have freely chosen for ourselves, we always have some choice about how we react in those situations. And how we choose to react will always make a difference, if not to the world at large, then at least to our own ørlög.”  (What is Wyrd)

Wyrd Wiki
Wyrd: The Role of Fate
What is Wyrd

© A Year And A Day (2012)

Runes

Runes are letters in an ancient Germanic alphabet used from about 150 to 1100 CE, prior to the common usage of the Latin alphabet.  The word ‘rune’ is thought to come from a Middle English word that means “secret writing”. 

Runes are also known as futhark/fuþark or futhorc/fuþorc based on the first six letters of the runic alphabet.  The three best-known runic alphabets are the Elder Futhark (Norse, Germanic tribes, c. 150–800), the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (c. 400–1100), and the Younger Futhark (Scandinavian modification c. 800–1100).

The runes are broken into three groups of eight, called aett (aettir), meaning ‘family’.  The First Aett is also known as Freyja’s Aett, the Second as Heimdall’s Aett, the Third as Tyr’s Aett.

In Norse mythology, it is thought that Odin hung upside down from a tree for nine days, after which he learned the secret of the runes and became their master (translated from the poem Havamal in the Poetic Edda).

Since each letter has a specific meaning, runes are also used in divination and magick.  Cunningham says that “runes are symbols that, when drawn, painted, traced, carved or visualized, release specific energies”.  Runes are commonly drawn or carved on wood, clay, stone or other natural objects.

Modern day rune sets are made out of 24 letters, 25 if you include the blank or Wyrd rune, which symbolizes fate or the unknown.

Wikipedia – Runes
The Complete Idiots Guide to Wicca & Witchcraft (Zimmerman)

© A Year And A Day (2012)