The deities of the Nordic pantheon have influenced Viking and Scandinavian civilization. Whether it be through their qualities, their power, or their admirable virtues, their influence is such that it continues to inspire us even today.
Although Thor and Odin are considered the two most influential Viking gods, there is a third deity who has largely shaped Nordic folklore. This is the fabulous Goddess Freya.
Goddess of love, beauty, and war: Freya has garnered the admiration of the Vikings, and more than one tale from Nordic and Scandinavian mythology is dedicated to her. Loved and adored by both men and gods, she was desired by all creatures of the nine worlds.
What is the origin and source of the adoration of this Nordic goddess? Which of her fascinating stories and legends have marked Viking civilization? So many questions to which you will find answers in this article on the spectacular Goddess Freya.
Goddess Freya is by far the deity that has most marked Scandinavian civilization. She is both the goddess of fertility, love, passion, and purity. Freya herself embodies desire. Her qualities, coupled with her exceptional beauty and elegance, make her the woman no one can resist. The one whom all creatures of the 9 realms desire and court.
Her apparent gentleness should not deceive you: Freya was a fierce warrior, the most powerful of the valkyries or war goddesses. According to legends, half of the enemy troops of the Aesir perished by her hand.
The Goddess Freya represents in Scandinavian and Viking civilization a respectable lady full of pride. An image she fiercely protected, for she has long been the object of desire of numerous lords and gods. Thus, she embodies the perfect balance between femininity, power, and grace.
The origin of Goddess Freya dates back well before the Viking Age, to a time called the great migration or "Völkerwanderung". The Germanic peoples, in search of better lands, migrated further north, to what would later become the land of the Vikings.
This period, which extends from 400 to 800 AD, is marked by numerous battles with other European peoples. At this time, the Norse were organized in tribes and groups with a village chief at their head. His wife assisted him in this task:
These women bore the name "Veleda," which would become "Völva" in the Viking Age. This refers to eminent magical women who practiced "Seidr."
This is the birth of the legend of Freya. The goddess of prosperity and fertility. The one who allowed the Viking civilization to come into being.
In Viking mythology, the pantheon of deities was divided into three great families:
According to the Poetic Edda: the god Odin threw his spear towards the realm of the Vanir to kill Gullveig, a malicious witch. This act of war manifested by the representative of the Aesir is the origin of the very first battle between gods, an endless war.
To end it, Vanir and Aesir made a truce, sealing it by exchanging hostages:
This is how the goddess Freya, originally from the Vanir, becomes a full-fledged Aesir. She brings love and prosperity by ending the war. She will also prove to be a considerable asset and of invaluable help to Odin.
To achieve her ends, the goddess Freya uses her greatest gifts: her beauty, her gentleness, and the power of love. Where the god Odin uses cunning and the god Thoruses strength, Freya uses the power of persuasion. Nothing and no one could resist her charm. She became the most respected and beloved goddess, and her name is used as an honorary title:
The goddess Freya had numerous believers and followers in the Scandinavian and Viking civilization, but also throughout Europe. Her legend and reputation were so great that a weekday was dedicated to her worship: Friday.
Friday is a day named in honor of Freya. Its appellation in English Friday, or in German Freitag, as well as its equivalent in various other European languages, also comes from the name of the goddess.
Freya has many other epithets. She was also known by the names of:
The goddess Freya was mostly known for being the goddess of love and fertility. A goddess invoked to bless marriages, births, and also for good harvests during harsh seasons.
However, her personality goes far beyond that. This deity proves to be much more complex than one might think. She has numerous other facets that are the origin of the adoration bestowed upon her for centuries.
The goddess Freya is said to be the origin of a divine magic: "Seidr". A divinatory art from the Norse religion that allows predicting future events, and changing them in favor of the one who performs it. It was Freya herself who transmitted this shamanic power to the Aesir gods and to men.
The goddess Freya is thus often compared to the archetype of the "Völva": the name given to women who master this power. They are witches and healers who played a crucial role in Norse civilization. Indeed, this magic could only be mastered by women, except for the god Odin.
Odin, being known for his thirst for power, desired to master "Seidr." Freya agrees to teach him, and Odin manages to control it, but partially, imperfectly. Nevertheless, it was enough to allow him access to the power of premonition and astral travel he aspired to.
The goddess Freya is above all a warrior, the first and the most powerful of the valkyries, and undoubtedly the most robust and courageous goddess. After settling in Asgard, she took up residence in a palace named "Sessrúmnir" located in the "Fólkvangr" property.
This palace welcomes the valiant warriors who died in battle: more than half of all warriors who lost their lives as heroes were destined to spend their afterlife there. The god Odin gave Freya the honor of choosing first the warriors she wanted to welcome into her abode. The other half goes to Valhalla to feast with Odin until Ragnarök.
According to legends, there are two theories about the role played by the warriors chosen by Freya:
Freya has the ability to influence the course of a battle by favoring one side. She can thus support the army of her choice and make it invincible thanks to her necklace "Brísingar": an all-powerful Viking necklace.
Despite all her warrior and magical skills, Freya remains above all the symbol of love, kindness, and generosity. She is a goddess who is loved and courted by all, including the giants or Jötunn, mortal enemies of the Aesir gods.
The goddess Freya is a valkyrie, a warrior goddess, but rarely carries weapons on her. She always loves to appear elegant and distinguished by wearing her most beautiful Viking ornaments:
Freya is a benevolent and altruistic goddess, celebrating and sharing love, not only among the gods but also among men. She has accompanied the Nordic peoples throughout the ages and watched over them with kindness.
That is why the Scandinavian people consider the goddess Freya as a source of all blessings. They are grateful for the fertility she brings, and they pay homage to her every year.
At every summer solstice, the Nordic people had a tradition of lighting numerous fires along their beaches in honor of Freya. Each fire symbolizes a bead from her necklace Brisingar. All these fires together form her brilliant torque.
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