In Norse mythology, Freyja (/ˈfreɪə/; Old Norse for "(the) Lady") is a goddess associated with love, sex, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death. Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a chariot pulled by two cats, is accompanied by the boar Hildisvíni, and possesses a cloak of falcon feathers. By her husband Óðr, she is the mother of two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi. Along with her brother Freyr, her father Njörðr, and her mother (Njörðr's sister, unnamed in sources), she is a member of the Vanir. Stemming from Old Norse Freyja, modern forms of the name include Freya, Freyia, and Freja.
Freyja rules over her heavenly field Fólkvangr and there receives half of those that die in battle, whereas the other half go to the god Odin's hall, Valhalla. Within Fólkvangr lies her hall, Sessrúmnir. Freyja assists other deities by allowing them to use her feathered cloak, is invoked in matters of fertility and love, and is frequently sought after by powerful jötnar who wish to make her their wife. Freyja's husband, the god Óðr, is frequently absent. She cries tears of red gold for him, and searches for him under assumed names. Freyja has numerous names, including Gefn, Hörn, Mardöll, Sýr, Valfreyja, and Vanadís.
Freyja is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; in the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, composed by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century; in several Sagas of Icelanders; in the short story "Sörla þáttr"; in the poetry of skalds; and into the modern age in Scandinavian folklore.
Scholars have debated whether Freyja and the goddess Frigg ultimately stem from a single goddess common among the Germanic peoples; connected her to the valkyries, female battlefield choosers of the slain; and analyzed her relation to other goddesses and figures in Germanic mythology, including the thrice-burnt and thrice-reborn Gullveig/Heiðr, the goddesses Gefjon, Skaði, Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr and Irpa, Menglöð, and the 1st century CE "Isis" of the Suebi. Freyja's name appears in numerous place names in Scandinavia, with a high concentration in southern Sweden. Various plants in Scandinavia once bore her name, but it was replaced with the name of the Virgin Mary during the process of Christianization. Rural Scandinavians continued to acknowledge Freyja as a supernatural figure into the 19th century, and Freyja has inspired various works of art.
The name Freyja transparently means (the) 'lady' and ultimately derives from Proto-Germanic *fraw(j)ōn. Freyja is cognate with, for example, Old Saxon frūa "lady, mistress" and Old High German frouwa (compare modern German Frau "lady"). The theonym Freyja is thus considered to have been an epithet in origin, replacing a personal name that is now unattested. As a result, either the original name became entirely taboo or another process occurred in which the goddess is a duplicate or hypostasis of another known goddess (see "Relation to Frigg and other goddesses and figures" below).
In addition to Freyja, Old Norse sources refer to the goddess by way of the following names:
|Name (Old Norse)||Name meaning||Attestations||Notes|
|Gefn||'the giver'||Gylfaginning, Nafnaþulur||The name Gefn likely means "she who gives (prosperity or happiness) and is generally considered connected to the goddess name Gefjon, but the etymology of the name Gefjon has been a matter of dispute. The root Gef- in Gef-jon is generally theorized as related to the root Gef- in the name Gef-n." The connection between the two names has resulted in etymological results of Gefjun meaning "the giving one". The names Gefjun and Gefn are both related to the Alagabiae or Ollogabiae, Matron groups.
Scholar Richard North theorizes that Old English geofon and Old Norse Gefjun and Freyja's name Gefn may all descend from a common origin; gabia a Germanic goddess connected with the sea, whose name means "giving".
|Hörn||'flaxen'(?)||Gylfaginning, Nafnaþulur||Appears in the Swedish place names Härnösand, Härnevi and Järnevi, stemming from the reconstructed Old Norse place name *Hörnar-vé (meaning "Hörn's vé"). In addition, the name Hörn also appears as the name of a troll woman in Nafnaþulur.|
|Mardöll||Potentially 'sea-brightener' by way of mar ('sea') combined with a second element that may be related to Dellingr, indicating light. The name may otherwise mean 'the one who makes the sea swell'.||Gylfaginning, Nafnaþulur||May be connected to the god name Heimdallr.|
|Skjálf||'shaker'||Nafnaþulur||Also the name the daughter of a Finnish king in Ynglinga saga. Due to necklace imagery in the Finnish Skjálf's tale (Freyja herself owns Brísingamen) a connection between the two names may exist.|
|Sýr||'sow'||Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál, Nafnaþulur||The pig was an important symbol of the Vanir and sacrificial practices (blót) associated with the group, particularly in association with Freyja and her brother Freyr.|
|Valfreyja||'Lady of the Slain' or 'Freyja of the Slain'||Skáldskaparmál|
|Vanadís||'the dís of the vanir'||Skáldskaparmál||The name "van-child" ('child of the Vanir') for "boar" may be connected.|
Völuspá contains a stanza that mentions Freyja, referring to her as "Óð's girl"; Freyja being the wife of her husband, Óðr. The stanza recounts that Freyja was once promised to an unnamed builder, later revealed to be a jötunn and subsequently killed by Thor (recounted in detail in Gylfaginning chapter 42; see Prose Edda section below). In the poem Grímnismál, Odin (disguised as Grímnir) tells the young Agnar that every day Freyja allots seats to half of those that are slain in her hall Fólkvangr, while Odin owns the other half.
In the poem Lokasenna, where Loki accuses nearly every female in attendance of promiscuity or unfaithfulness, an aggressive exchange occurs between Loki and Freyja. The introduction to the poem notes that among other gods and goddesses, Freyja attends a celebration held by Ægir. In verse, after Loki has flyted with the goddess Frigg, Freyja interjects, telling Loki that he is insane for dredging up his terrible deeds, and that Frigg knows the fate of everyone, though she does not tell it. Loki tells her to be silent, and says that he knows all about her—that Freyja is not lacking in blame, for each of the gods and elves in the hall have been her lover. Freyja objects. She says that Loki is lying, that he is just looking to blather about misdeeds, and since the gods and goddesses are furious at him, he can expect to go home defeated. Loki tells Freyja to be silent, calls her a malicious witch, and conjures a scenario where Freyja was once astride her brother when all of the gods, laughing, surprised the two. Njörðr interjects—he says that a woman having a lover other than her husband is harmless, and he points out that Loki has borne children, and calls Loki a pervert. The poem continues in turn.
The poem Þrymskviða features Loki borrowing Freyja's cloak of feathers and Thor dressing up as Freyja to fool the lusty jötunn Þrymr. In the poem, Thor wakes up to find that his powerful hammer, Mjöllnir, is missing. Thor tells Loki of his missing hammer, and the two go to the beautiful court of Freyja. Thor asks Freyja if she will lend him her cloak of feathers, so that he may try to find his hammer. Freyja agrees:
Loki flies away in the whirring feather cloak, arriving in the land of Jötunheimr. He spies Þrymr sitting on top of a mound. Þrymr reveals that he has hidden Thor's hammer deep within the earth and that no one will ever know where the hammer is unless Freyja is brought to him as his wife. Loki flies back, the cloak whistling, and returns to the courts of the gods. Loki tells Thor of Þrymr's conditions.
The two go to see the beautiful Freyja. The first thing that Thor says to Freyja is that she should dress herself and put on a bride's head-dress, for they shall drive to Jötunheimr. At that, Freyja is furious—the halls of the gods shake, she snorts in anger, and from the goddess the necklace Brísingamen falls. Indignant, Freyja responds:
- Benjamin Thorpe translation:
- "Know of me to be of women the lewdest,
- if with thee I drive to Jötunheim."
- Henry Adams Bellows translation:
- "Most lustful indeed should I look to all
- If I journeyed with thee to the giants' home."
The gods and goddesses assemble at a thing and debate how to solve the problem. The god Heimdallr proposes to dress Thor up as a bride, complete with bridal dress, head-dress, jingling keys, jewelry, and the famous Brísingamen. Thor objects but is hushed by Loki, reminding him that the new owners of the hammer will soon be settling in the land of the gods if the hammer isn't returned. Thor is dressed as planned and Loki is dressed as his maid. Thor and Loki go to Jötunheimr.
In the meantime, Thrym tells his servants to prepare for the arrival of the daughter of Njörðr. When "Freyja" arrives in the morning, Thrym is taken aback by her behavior; her immense appetite for food and mead is far more than what he expected, and when Thrym goes in for a kiss beneath "Freyja's" veil, he finds "her" eyes to be terrifying, and he jumps down the hall. The disguised Loki makes excuses for the bride's odd behavior, claiming that she simply has not eaten or slept for eight days. In the end, the disguises successfully fool the jötnar and, upon sight of it, Thor regains his hammer by force.
Freyja is a main character in the poem Hyndluljóð, where she assists her faithful servant Óttar in finding information about his ancestry so that he may claim his inheritance. In doing so, Freyja turns Óttar into her boar, Hildisvíni, and, by means of flattery and threats of death by fire, Freyja successfully pries the information that Óttar needs from the jötunn Hyndla. Freyja speaks throughout the poem, and at one point praises Óttar for constructing a hörgr (an altar of stones) and frequently making blót (sacrifices) to her:
Freyja appears in the Prose Edda books Gylfaginning and Skáldskaparmál. In chapter 24 of Gylfaginning, the enthroned figure of High says that after the god Njörðr split with the goddess Skaði, he had two beautiful and mighty children (no partner is mentioned); a son, Freyr, and a daughter, Freyja. Freyr is "the most glorious" of the gods, and Freyja "the most glorious" of the goddesses. Freyja has a dwelling in the heavens, Fólkvangr, and that whenever Freyja "rides into battle she gets half the slain, and the other half to Odin [...]". In support, High quotes the Grímnismál stanza mentioned in the Poetic Edda section above.
High adds that Freyja has a large, beautiful hall called Sessrúmnir, and that when Freyja travels she sits in a chariot and drives two cats, and that Freyja is "the most approachable one for people to pray to, and from her name is derived the honorific title whereby noble ladies are called fruvor [noble ladies]". High adds that Freyja has a particular fondness for love songs, and that "it is good to pray to her concerning love affairs".
In chapter 29, High recounts the names and features of various goddesses, including Freyja. Regarding Freyja, High says that, next to Frigg, Freyja is highest in rank among them and that she owns the necklace Brísingamen. Freyja is married to Óðr, who goes on long travels, and the two have a very fair daughter by the name of Hnoss. While Óðr is absent, Freyja stays behind and in her sorrow she weeps tears of red gold. High notes that Freyja has many names, and explains that this is because Freyja adopted them when looking for Óðr and traveling "among strange peoples". These names include Gefn, Hörn, Mardöll, Sýr, and Vanadís.
Freyja plays a part in the events leading to the birth of Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse. In chapter 42, High recounts that, soon after the gods built the hall Valhalla, a builder (unnamed) came to them and offered to build for them in three seasons a fortification so solid that no jötunn would be able to come in over from Midgard. In exchange, the builder wants Freyja for his bride, and the sun and the moon. After some debate the gods agree, but with added conditions. In time, just as he is about to complete his work, it is revealed that the builder is, in fact, himself a jötunn, and he is killed by Thor. In the meantime, Loki, in the form of a mare, has been impregnated by the jötunn's horse, Svaðilfari, and so gives birth to Sleipnir. In support, High quotes the Völuspá stanza that mentions Freyja. In chapter 49, High recalls the funeral of Baldr and says that Freyja attended the funeral and there drove her cat-chariot, the final reference to the goddess in Gylfaginning.
At the beginning of the book Skáldskaparmál, Freyja is mentioned among eight goddesses attending a banquet held for Ægir. Chapter 56 details the abduction of the goddess Iðunn by the jötunn Þjazi in the form of an eagle. Terrified at the prospect of death and torture due to his involvement in the abduction of Iðunn, Loki asks if he may use Freyja's "falcon shape" to fly north to Jötunheimr and retrieve the missing goddess. Freyja allows it, and using her "falcon shape" and a furious chase by eagle-Þjazi, Loki successfully returns her.
In chapter 6, a means of referring to Njörðr is provided that refers to Frejya ("father of Freyr and Freyja"). In chapter 7, a means of referring to Freyr is provided that refers to the goddess ("brother of Freyja"). In chapter 8, ways of referring to the god Heimdallr are provided, including "Loki's enemy, recoverer of Freyja's necklace", inferring a myth involving Heimdallr recovering Freyja's necklace from Loki.
In chapter 17, the jötunn Hrungnir finds himself in Asgard, the realm of the gods, and becomes very drunk. Hrungnir boasts that he will move Valhalla to Jötunheimr, bury Asgard, and kill all of the gods—with the exception of the goddesses Freyja and Sif, who he says he will take home with him. Freyja is the only one of them that dares to bring him more to drink. Hrungnir says that he will drink all of their ale. After a while, the gods grow bored of Hrungnir's antics and invoke the name of Thor. Thor immediately enters the hall, hammer raised. Thor is furious and demands to know who is responsible for letting a jötunn in to Asgard, who guaranteed Hrungnir safety, and why Freyja "should be serving him drink as if at the Æsir's banquet".
In chapter 18, verses from the 10th century skald's composition Þórsdrápa are quoted. A kenning used in the poem refers to Freyja. In chapter 20, poetic ways to refer to Freyja are provided; "daughter of Njörðr", "sister of Freyr", "wife of Óðr", "mother of Hnoss", "possessor of the fallen slain and of Sessrumnir and tom-cats", possessor of Brísingamen, "Van-deity", Vanadís, and "fair-tear deity". In chapter 32, poetic ways to refer to gold are provided, including "Freyja's weeping" and "rain or shower [...] from Freyja's eyes".
Chapter 33 tells that once the gods journeyed to visit Ægir, one of whom was Freyja. In chapter 49, a quote from a work by the skald Einarr Skúlason employs the kenning "Óðr's bedfellow's eye-rain", which refers to Freyja and means "gold".
Chapter 36 explains again that gold can be referring to as Freyja's weeping due to her red gold tears. In support, works by the skalds Skúli Þórsteinsson and Einarr Skúlason are cited that use "Freyja's tears" or "Freyja's weepings" to represent "gold". The chapter features additional quotes from poetry by Einarr Skúlason that references the goddess and her child Hnoss. Freyja receives a final mention in the Prose Edda in chapter 75, where a list of goddesses is provided that includes Freyja.
The Heimskringla book Ynglinga saga provides a euhemerized account of the origin of the gods, including Freyja. In chapter 4, Freyja is introduced as a member of the Vanir, the sister of Freyr, and the daughter of Njörðr and his sister (whose name is not provided). After the Æsir–Vanir War ends in a stalemate, Odin appoints Freyr and Njörðr as priests over sacrifices. Freyja becomes the priestess of sacrificial offerings and it was she who introduced the practice of seiðr to the Æsir, previously only practiced by the Vanir.
In chapter 10, Freyja's brother Freyr dies, and Freyja is the last survivor among the Æsir and Vanir. Freyja keeps up the sacrifices and becomes famous. The saga explains that, due to Freyja's fame, all women of rank become known by her name—frúvor ("ladies"), a woman who is the mistress of her property is referred to as freyja, and húsfreyja ("lady of the house") for a woman who owns an estate.
The chapter adds that not only was Freyja very clever, but that she and her husband Óðr had two immensely beautiful daughters, Gersemi and Hnoss, "who gave their names to our most precious possessions".
In Egils saga, when Egill Skallagrímsson refuses to eat, his daughter Þorgerðr (here anglicized as "Thorgerd") says she will go without food and thus starve to death, and in doing so will meet the goddess Freyja:
- Thorgerd replied in a loud voice, "I have had no evening meal, nor will I do so until I join Freyja. I know no better course of action than my father's. I do not want to live after my father and brother are dead."
In the first chapter of the 14th century legendary saga Hálfs saga ok Hálfsrekka, King Alrek has two wives, Geirhild and Signy, and cannot keep them both. He tells the two women that he would keep whichever of them that brews the better ale for him by the time he has returned home in the summer. The two compete and during the brewing process Signy prays to Freyja and Geirhild to Hött ("hood"), a man she had met earlier (earlier in the saga revealed to be Odin in disguise). Hött answers her prayer and spits on her yeast. Signy's brew wins the contest.
In Sörla þáttr, a short, late 14th century narrative from a later and extended version of the Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar found in the Flateyjarbók manuscript, an euhmerized account of the gods is provided. In the account, Freyja is described as having been a concubine of Odin, who bartered sex to four dwarfs for a golden necklace. In the work, the Æsir once lived in a city called Asgard, located in a region called "Asialand or Asiahome". Odin was the king of the realm, and made Njörðr and Freyr temple priests. Freyja was the daughter of Njörðr, and was Odin's concubine. Odin deeply loved Freyja, and she was "the fairest of woman of that day". Freyja had a beautiful bower, and when the door was shut no one could enter without Freyja's permission.
Chapter 1 records that one day Freyja passed by an open stone where dwarfs lived. Four dwarfs were smithying a golden necklace, and it was nearly done. Looking at the necklace, the dwarfs thought Freyja to be most fair, and she the necklace. Freyja offered to buy the collar from them with silver and gold and other items of value. The dwarfs said that they had no lack of money, and that for the necklace the only thing she could offer them would be a night with each of them. "Whether she liked it better or worse", Freyja agreed to the conditions, and so spent a night with each of the four dwarfs. The conditions were fulfilled and the necklace was hers. Freyja went home to her bower as if nothing happened.
As related in chapter 2, Loki, under the service of Odin, found out about Freyja's actions and told Odin. Odin told Loki to get the necklace and bring it to him. Loki said that since no one could enter Freyja's bower against her will, this wouldn't be an easy task, yet Odin told him not to come back until he had found a way to get the necklace. Howling, Loki turned away and went to Freyja's bower but found it locked, and that he couldn't enter. So Loki transformed himself into a fly, and after having trouble finding even the tiniest of entrances, he managed to find a tiny hole at the gable-top, yet even here he had to squeeze through to enter.
Having made his way into Freyja's chambers, Loki looked around to be sure that no one was awake, and found that Freyja was asleep. He landed on her bed and noticed that she was wearing the necklace, the clasp turned downward. Loki turned into a flea and jumped onto Freyja's cheek and there bit her. Freyja stirred, turning about, and then fell asleep again. Loki removed his flea's shape and undid her collar, opened the bower, and returned to Odin.
The next morning Freyja woke and saw that the doors to her bower were open, yet unbroken, and that her precious necklace was gone. Freyja had an idea of who was responsible. She got dressed and went to Odin. She told Odin of the malice he had allowed against her and of the theft of her necklace, and that he should give her back her jewelry.
Odin said that, given how she obtained it, she would never get it back. That is, with one exception: she could have it back if she could make two kings, themselves ruling twenty kings each, battle one another, and cast a spell so that each time one of their numbers falls in battle, they will again spring up and fight again. And that this must go on eternally, unless a Christian man of a particular stature goes into the battle and smites them, only then will they stay dead. Freyja agreed.
Although the Christianization of Scandinavia sought to demonize the native gods, belief and reverence in the gods, including Freyja, remained into the modern period and melded into Scandinavian folklore. Britt-Mari Näsström comments that Freyja became a particular target under Christianization:
- Freyja's erotic qualities became an easy target for the new religion, in which an asexual virgin was the ideal woman [...] Freyja is called "a whore" and "a harlot" by the holy men and missionaries, whereas many of her functions in the everyday lives of men and women, such as protecting the vegetation and supplying assistance in childbirth were transferred to the Virgin Mary.
However, Freyja did not disappear. In Iceland, Freyja was called upon for assistance by way of Icelandic magical staves as late as the 18th century, and as late as the 19th century, Freyja is recorded as retaining elements of her role as a fertility goddess among rural Swedes.
The Old Norse poem Þrymskviða (or its source) continued into Scandinavian folk song tradition, where it was euhemerized and otherwise transformed over time. In Iceland, the poem became known as Þrylur, whereas in Denmark the poem became Thor af Havsgaard and in Sweden it became Torvisan or Hammarhämtningen. A section of the Swedish Torvisan, in which Freyja has been transformed into "the fair" (den väna) Frojenborg, reads as follows:
- Det var den väna Frojenborg
- hon tog så illa vid sig
- det sprack av vart finger blodet ut
- och rann i jorden ner.
In the province of Småland, Sweden, an account is recorded connecting Freyja with sheet lightning in this respect. Writer Johan Alfred Göth recalled a Sunday in 1880 where men were walking in fields and looking at nearly ripened rye, where Måns in Karryd said: "Now Freyja is out watching if the rye is ripe". Along with this, Göth recalls another mention of Freyja in the countryside:
- When as a boy I was visiting the old Proud-Katrina, I was afraid of lightning like all boys in those days. When the sheet lightning flared at the night, Katrina said: "Don't be afraid little child, it is only Freyja who is out making fire with steel and flintstone to see if the rye is ripe. She is kind to people and she is only doing it to be of service, she is not like Thor, he slays both people and livestock, when he is in the mood" [...] I later heard several old folks talk of the same thing in the same way.
In Värend, Sweden, Freyja could also arrive at Christmas night and she used to shake the apple trees for the sake of a good harvest and consequently people left some apples in the trees for her sake. However, it was dangerous to leave the plough outdoors, because if Freyja sat on it, it would no longer be of any use.
Several plants were named after Freyja, such as Freyja's tears and Freyja's hair (Polygala vulgaris), but during the process of Christianization, the name of the goddess was replaced with that of the Virgin Mary. In the pre-Christian period, the Orion constellation was called either Frigg's distaff or Freyja's distaff (Swedish Frejerock).
Place names in Norway and Sweden reflect devotion to the goddess, including the Norwegian place name Frøihov (originally *Freyjuhof, literally "Freyja's hof") and Swedish place names such as Frövi (from *Freyjuvé, literally "Freyja's vé"). In a survey of toponyms in Norway, M. Olsen tallies at least 20 to 30 location names compounded with Freyja. Three of these place names appear to derive from *Freyjuhof ('Freyja's hof'), whereas the goddess's name is frequently otherwise compounded with words for 'meadow' (such as -þveit, -land) and similar land formations. These toponyms are attested most commonly on the west coast though a high frequency is found in the southeast.
Place names containing Freyja are yet more numerous and varied in Sweden, where they are widely distributed. A particular concentration is recorded in Uppland, among which a number derive from the above-mentioned *Freyjuvé and also *Freyjulundr ('Freyja's sacred grove'), place names that indicate public worship of Freyja. In addition, a variety of place names (such as Frøal and Fröale) have been seen as containing an element cognate to Gothic alhs and Old English ealh ("temple"), although these place names may be otherwise interpreted. In addition, Frejya appears as a compound element with a variety of words for geographic features such as fields, meadows, lakes, and natural objects such as rocks.
A priestess was buried c. 1000 with considerable splendour in Hagebyhöga in Östergötland. In addition to being buried with her wand, she had received great riches which included horses, a wagon and an Arabian bronze pitcher. There was also a silver pendant, which represents a woman with a broad necklace around her neck. This kind of necklace was only worn by the most prominent women during the Iron Age and some have interpreted it as Freyja's necklace Brísingamen. The pendant may represent Freyja herself.
A 7th-century phalara found in a "warrior grave" in what is now Eschwege in northwestern Germany features a female figure with two large braids flanked by two "cat-like" beings and holding a staff-like object. This figure has been interpreted as Freyja. This image may be connected to various B-type bracteates, referred to as the Fürstenberg-type, that may also depict the goddess; they "show a female figure, in a short skirt and double-looped hair, holding a stave or sceptre in her right hand and a double-cross feature in the left".
A 12th century depiction of a cloaked but otherwise nude woman riding a large cat appears on a wall in the Schleswig Cathedral in Schleswig-Holstein, Northern Germany. Beside her is similarly a cloaked yet otherwise nude woman riding a distaff. Due to iconographic similarities to the literary record, these figures have been theorized as depictions of Freyja and Frigg respectively.
Due to numerous similarities, scholars have frequently connected Freyja with the goddess Frigg. The connection with Frigg and question of possible earlier identification of Freyja with Frigg in the Proto-Germanic period (Frigg and Freyja origin hypothesis) remains a matter of scholarly discourse. Regarding a Freyja-Frigg common origin hypothesis, scholar Stephan Grundy comments that "the problem of whether Frigg or Freyja may have been a single goddess originally is a difficult one, made more so by the scantiness of pre-Viking Age references to Germanic goddesses, and the diverse quality of the sources. The best that can be done is to survey the arguments for and against their identity, and to see how well each can be supported."
Like the name of the group of gods to which Freyja belongs, the Vanir, the name Freyja is not attested outside of Scandinavia, as opposed to the name of the goddess Frigg, who is attested as a goddess common among the Germanic peoples, and whose name is reconstructed as Proto-Germanic *Frijjō. Similar proof for the existence of a common Germanic goddess from which Freyja descends does not exist, but scholars have commented that this may simply be due to lack of evidence.
In the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá, a figure by the name of Gullveig is burnt three times yet is three times reborn. After her third rebirth, she is known as Heiðr. This event is generally accepted as precipitating the Æsir–Vanir War. Starting with scholar Gabriel Turville-Petre, scholars such as Rudolf Simek, Andy Orchard, and John Lindow have theorized that Gullveig/Heiðr is the same figure as Freyja, and that her involvement with the Æsir somehow led to the events of the Æsir–Vanir War.
Outside of theories connecting Freyja with the goddess Frigg, some scholars, such as Hilda Ellis Davidson and Britt-Mari Näsström, have theorized that other goddesses in Norse mythology, such as Gefjon, Gerðr, and Skaði, may be forms of Freyja in different roles or ages.
Freyja and her afterlife field Fólkvangr, where she receives half of the slain, have been theorized as connected to the valkyries. Scholar Britt-Mari Näsström points out the description in Gylfaginning where it is said of Freyja that "whenever she rides into battle she takes half of the slain", and interprets Fólkvangr as "the field of the Warriors". Näsström notes that, just like Odin, Freyja receives slain heroes who have died on the battlefield, and that her house is Sessrumnir (which she translates as "filled with many seats"), a dwelling that Näsström posits likely fills the same function as Valhalla. Näsström comments that "still, we must ask why there are two heroic paradises in the Old Norse view of afterlife. It might possibly be a consequence of different forms of initiation of warriors, where one part seemed to have belonged to Óðinn and the other to Freyja. These examples indicate that Freyja was a war-goddess, and she even appears as a valkyrie, literally 'the one who chooses the slain'."
Siegfried Andres Dobat comments that "in her mythological role as the chooser of half the fallen warriors for her death realm Fólkvangr, the goddess Freyja, however, emerges as the mythological role model for the Valkyrjar [sic] and the dísir."
Gustav Neckel, writing in 1920, connects Freyja to the Phrygian goddess Cybele. According to Neckel, both goddesses can be interpreted as "fertility goddesses" and other potential resemblances have been noted. Some scholars have suggested that the image of Cybele subsequently influenced the iconography of Freyja, the lions drawing the former's chariot becoming large cats. These observations became an extremely common observation in works regarding Old Norse religion until at least the early 1990s. In her book-length study of scholarship on the topic of Freyja, Britt-Mari Näsström (1995) is highly critical of this deduction; Näsström says that "these 'parallels' are due to sheer ignorance about the characteristics of Cybele; scholars have not troubled to look into the resemblances and differences between the two goddesses, if any, in support for their arguments for a common origin."
Into the modern period, Freyja was treated as a Scandinavian counterpart to the Roman Venus in, for example, Swedish literature, where the goddess may be associated with romantic love or, conversely, simply as a synonym for "lust and potency". In the 18th century, Swedish poet Carl Michael Bellman referred to Stockholm prostitutes in his Fredman's Epistles as "the children of Fröja". In the 19th century, Britt-Mari Näsström observes, Swedish Romanticism focused less on Freyja's erotic qualities and more on the image of "the pining goddess, weeping for her husband".
Freyja is mentioned in the first stanza ("it is called old Denmark and it is Freja's hall") of the civil national anthem of Denmark, Der er et yndigt land, written by 19th century Danish poet Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger in 1819. In addition, Oehlenschläger wrote a comedy entitled Freyjas alter (1818) and a poem Freais sal featuring the goddess.
In late 19th century and early 20th century Northern Europe, Freyja was the subject of numerous works of art, including Freyja by H. E. Freund (statue, 1821–1822), Freja sökande sin make (painting, 1852) by Nils Blommér, Freyjas Aufnahme uner den Göttern (charcoal drawing, 1881), and Frigg; Freyja (drawing, 1883) by Carl Ehrenberg (illustrator), Freyja (1901) by Carl Emil Doepler d. J., and Freyja and the Brisingamen by J. Doyle Penrose (painting, 1862–1932). Like other Norse goddesses, her name was applied widely in Scandinavia to, for example, "sweetmeats or to stout carthorses". Vanadís, one of Freyja's names, is the source of the name of the chemical element vanadium, so named because of its many colored compounds.
Starting in the early 1990s, derivatives of Freyja began to appear as a given name for girls. According to the Norwegian name database from the Central Statistics Bureau, around 500 women are listed with the first name Frøya (the modern Norwegian spelling of the goddess's name) in the country. There are also several similar names, such as the first element of the dithematic personal name Frøydis.
In Norse mythology, Brísingamen (or Brísinga men) is the torc or necklace of the goddess Freyja. The name is an Old Norse compound brísinga-men whose second element is men "(ornamental) neck-ring (of precious metal), torc". The etymology of the first element is uncertain. It has been derived from Old Norse brísingr, a poetic term for "fire" or "amber" mentioned in the anonymous versified word-lists (þulur) appended to many manuscripts of the Prose Edda, making Brísingamen "gleaming torc", "sunny torc", or the like. However, Brísingr can also be an ethnonym, in which case Brísinga men is "torque of the Brísings"; the Old English parallel in Beowulf supports this derivation, though who the Brísings (Old Norse Brísingar) may have been remains unknown.Freya (comics)
Freya is a fictional Asgardian appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics, based on the Norse deity of the same name.
Within the context of the stories, Freya is the Asgardian goddess of fertility. She appears as a supporting character of Thor.Frigg
In Germanic mythology, Frigg (; Old Norse), Frija (Old High German), Frea (Langobardic), and Frige (Old English) is a goddess. In nearly all sources, she is described as the wife of the god Odin. In Old High German and Old Norse sources, she is also connected with the goddess Fulla. The English weekday name Friday (etymologically Old English "Frīge's day") bears her name.
Frigg is described as a goddess associated with foresight and wisdom in Norse mythology, the northernmost branch of Germanic mythology and most extensively attested. Frigg is the wife of the major god Odin and dwells in the wetland halls of Fensalir, is famous for her foreknowledge, is associated with the goddesses Fulla, Lofn, Hlín, and Gná, and is ambiguously associated with the Earth, otherwise personified as an apparently separate entity Jörð (Old Norse "Earth"). The children of Frigg and Odin include the gleaming god Baldr. Due to the significant thematic overlap, scholars have proposed a particular connection to the goddess Freyja.
After Christianization, the mention of Frigg continued to occur in Scandinavian folklore. In modern times, Frigg has appeared in modern popular culture, has been the subject of art and receives modern veneration in Germanic Neopaganism.Frigg and Freyja common origin hypothesis
Due to numerous similarities, some scholars have proposed that the Old Norse goddesses Frigg and Freyja descend from a common entity from the Proto-Germanic period. Regarding a Freyja-Frigg common origin hypothesis, scholar Stephan Grundy comments that "the problem of whether Frigg or Freyja may have been a single goddess originally is a difficult one, made more so by the scantiness of pre-Viking Age references to Germanic goddesses, and the diverse quality of the sources. The best that can be done is to survey the arguments for and against their identity, and to see how well each can be supported."Unlike Frigg but like the name of the group of gods to which Freyja belongs, the Vanir, the name Freyja is not attested outside of Scandinavia, as opposed to the name of the goddess Frigg, who is attested as a goddess common among the Germanic peoples, and whose name is reconstructed as Proto-Germanic *Frijjō. Similar proof for the existence of a common Germanic goddess from which Freyja descends does not exist, but scholars have commented that this may simply be due to the scarcity of evidence outside of the North Germanic record.Fólkvangr
In Norse mythology, Fólkvangr (Old Norse "field of the host" or "people-field" or "army-field") is a meadow or field ruled over by the goddess Freyja where half of those that die in combat go upon death, while the other half go to the god Odin in Valhalla. Fólkvangr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. According to the Prose Edda, within Fólkvangr is Freyja's hall Sessrúmnir. Scholarly theories have been proposed about the implications of the location.Gefjon
In Norse mythology, Gefjon (alternatively spelled Gefion or Gefjun) is a goddess associated with ploughing, the Danish island of Zealand, the legendary Swedish king Gylfi, the legendary Danish king Skjöldr, foreknowledge, and virginity. Gefjon is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; in the works of skalds; and appears as a gloss for various Greco-Roman goddesses in some Old Norse translations of Latin works.
The Prose Edda and Heimskringla both report that Gefjon plowed away what is now lake Mälaren, Sweden, and with this land formed the island of Zealand, Denmark. In addition, the Prose Edda describes that not only is Gefjon a virgin herself, but that all who die a virgin become her attendants. Heimskringla records that Gefjon married the legendary Danish king Skjöldr and that the two dwelled in Lejre, Denmark.
Scholars have proposed theories about the etymology the name of the goddess, connections to fertility and ploughing practices, the implications of the references made to her as a virgin, five potential mentions of the goddess in the Old English poem Beowulf, and potential connections between Gefjon and Grendel's Mother and/or the goddesses Freyja and Frigg.Gersemi
In Norse mythology, Gersemi (Old Norse "treasure") is the daughter of Freyja and Óðr, and sister of Hnoss.Gullveig
In Norse mythology, Gullveig is a being who was speared by the Æsir, burnt three times, and yet thrice reborn. Upon her third rebirth, Gullveig's name becomes Heiðr and she is described as a knowledgeable and skillful völva. Gullveig/Heiðr is solely attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional material. Scholars have variously proposed that Gullveig/Heiðr is the same figure as the goddess Freyja, that Gullveig's death may have been connected to corruption by way of gold among the Æsir, and/or that Gullveig's treatment by the Æsir may have led to the Æsir–Vanir War.Hildisvíni
Hildisvíni (“battle swine”) is Freyja's boar In Norse mythology.
The story of Hildisvíni appears in Hyndluljóð, an Old Norse poem found in Flateyjarbok but often considered a part of the Poetic Edda. In the poem, Freyja is searching for the ancestry of her protégé, Óttar. Freyja rides on her boar Hildisvíni, who is in fact Óttar in disguise. They meet Hyndla who is a seeress. Freyja succeeds in forcing Hyndla to tell Óttar about his ancestors.
Snorri Sturluson also records that among boar-names for helmets was Hildisvíni, the helmet of Áli. This helmet was among the things that were taken by the Swedish king Adils after his victory at the Battle on the Ice of Lake Vänern.Hnoss
In Norse mythology, Hnoss (Old Norse "treasure") is the daughter of Freyja and Óðr, and sister of Gersemi.Hyndluljóð
Hyndluljóð or Lay of Hyndla is an Old Norse poem often considered a part of the Poetic Edda. It is preserved in its entirety only in Flateyjarbók but some stanzas are also quoted in the Prose Edda where they are said to come from Völuspá hin skamma.
In the poem, the goddess Freyja meets the völva Hyndla and they ride together towards Valhalla. Freyja rides on her boar Hildisvíni and Hyndla on a wolf. Their mission is to find out the pedigree of Óttarr so that he can touch his inheritance, and the lay consists mostly of Hyndla reciting a number of names from Óttarr's ancestry. The poem may be a twelfth-century work, through Bellows believed the material of which the poem was compounded must have been older.Njörðr
In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with the sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.
Njörðr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, in euhemerized form as a beloved mythological early king of Sweden in Heimskringla, also written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century, as one of three gods invoked in the 14th century Hauksbók ring oath, and in numerous Scandinavian place names. Veneration of Njörðr survived into 18th or 19th century Norwegian folk practice, where the god is recorded as Njor and thanked for a bountiful catch of fish.
Njörðr has been the subject of an amount of scholarly discourse and theory, often connecting him with the figure of the much earlier attested Germanic goddess Nerthus, the hero Hadingus, and theorizing on his formerly more prominent place in Norse paganism due to the appearance of his name in numerous place names. Njörðr is sometimes modernly anglicized as Njord, Njoerd, or Njorth.ODINUS
ODINUS (Origins, Dynamics, and Interiors of the Neptunian and Uranian Systems) is a space mission concept proposed to the European Space Agency's Cosmic Vision programme. The ODINUS mission concept proposes to expand the Uranus orbiter and probe mission to two twin orbiters— dubbed Freyr and Freyja, the twin gods of the Norse pantheon. Their primary mission would be to study Neptune and Uranus with one orbiter each. If selected, ODINUS would launch in 2034.Seiðr
In Old Norse, seiðr (sometimes anglicized as seidhr, seidh, seidr, seithr, seith, or seid) was a type of sorcery practiced in Norse society during the Late Scandinavian Iron Age. The practice of seiðr is believed to be a form of magic relating to both the telling and shaping of the future. Connected with Norse religion, its origins are largely unknown, although it became gradually eroded following the Christianization of Scandinavia. Accounts of seiðr later made it into sagas and other literary sources, while further evidence has been unearthed by archaeologists. Various scholars have debated the nature of seiðr, some arguing that it was shamanic in context, involving visionary journeys by its practitioners.
Seiðr practitioners were of both sexes, although females are more widely attested, with such sorceresses being variously known as vǫlur, seiðkonur and vísendakona. There were also accounts of male practitioners, known as seiðmenn, but in practising magic they brought a social taboo, known as ergi, on to themselves, and were sometimes persecuted as a result. In many cases these magical practitioners would have had assistants to aid them in their rituals.
In pre-Christian Norse mythology, seiðr was associated with both the god Oðinn, a deity who was simultaneously responsible for war, poetry and sorcery, and the goddess Freyja, a member of the Vanir who was believed to have taught the practice to the Æsir.In the 20th century, adherents of various modern pagan new religious movements adopted forms of magico-religious practice that include seiðr. The practices of these contemporary seiðr-workers have since been investigated by various academic researchers operating in the field of pagan studies.Sessrúmnir
In Norse mythology, Sessrúmnir (Old Norse "seat-room" or "seat-roomer") is both the goddess Freyja's hall located in Fólkvangr, a field where Freyja receives half of those who die in battle, and also the name of a ship. Both the hall and the ship are attested in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. Scholarly theories have been proposed regarding a potential relation between the hall and the ship.Sister-wife of Njörðr
In Norse mythology, the sister-wife of Njörðr is the unnamed wife and sister of the god Njörðr, with whom he is described as having had the (likewise incestuous) twin children Freyr and Freyja. This shadowy goddess is attested in the Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna, recorded in the 13th century by an unknown source, and the Heimskringla book Ynglinga saga, a euhemerized account of the Norse gods composed by Snorri Sturluson also in the 13th century but based on earlier traditional material. The figure receives no further mention in Old Norse texts.
The situation is further complicated in that narratives describing the birth of Freyr and Freyja contradictorily cite the birth of the siblings occurring either after or before Njörðr left Vanaheimr to live among the Æsir. In addition, Freyr is referred to as the "son" of Njörðr and the goddess Skaði in the Poetic Edda poem Skírnismál.
In his 1 CE work Germania, Tacitus describes rituals surrounding a deity by the name of Nerthus, a theonym that is etymologically ancestral to Old Norse Njörðr. However, the figure described by Tacitus is female. Based on this scholars have suggested a Proto-Germanic hermaphroditic deity or a gender aspectual pair (similar to Freyja and Freyr), identified the obscure Old Norse goddess name Njörun as a potential name for the otherwise unnamed goddess, and in some cases identified a potential reflex of a narrative about Njörðr and his sister-wife in Saxo Grammaticus's 12th-century work Gesta Danorum.Sörla þáttr
Sörla þáttr eða Heðins saga ok Högna is a short narrative from the extended version Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta found in the Flateyjarbók manuscript, which was written and compiled by two Christian priests, Jon Thordson and Magnus Thorhalson, in the late 14th century.
The narrative begins 24 years after the death of Fróði, and takes place in the 9th and the 10th centuries. It is a composite tale containing a story of how Freyja acquired a necklace from the Dwarves, how that led to a bloody war, and how Olaf Tryggvason brought peace to the land.
The story parallels elements of earlier stories such as Heimskringla (euhemerization of gods), parts of the poem Lokasenna (Loki's accusation of Gefjun sleeping with a boy for a necklace), parts of the Húsdrápa poem (Loki stealing the necklace Brísingamen), and the eternal battle Hjaðningavíg (various earlier sources). In the end of the story, the arrival of Christianity dissolves the old curse that was traditionally to endure until Ragnarök.
The story has been described as "post-classical" due to elements such as the descriptor of Loki as "cunning" without apparent irony, featuring Freyja and Loki as court retainers, and the open representation of Freyja's sexuality that it features. 19th century scholar Benjamin Thorpe referred to Freyja's role in the tale as "rather awkward".Vanir
In Norse mythology, the Vanir (; singular Vanr) are a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, and the ability to see the future. The Vanir are one of two groups of gods (the other being the Æsir) and are the namesake of the location Vanaheimr (Old Norse "Home of the Vanir"). After the Æsir–Vanir War, the Vanir became a subgroup of the Æsir. Subsequently, members of the Vanir are sometimes also referred to as members of the Æsir.
The Vanir are attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, both written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; and in the poetry of skalds. The Vanir are only attested in these Old Norse sources. Vanir is sometimes anglicized to Wanes (singular Wane).
All sources describe the deities Njörðr, Freyr and Freyja as members of the Vanir. A euhemerized prose account in Heimskringla adds that Njörðr's sister—whose name is not provided—and Kvasir were Vanir. In addition, Heimskringla reports a tale involving king Sveigðir's visit to Vanaheimr, where he meets a woman by the name of Vana and the two produce a child named Vanlandi (whose name means "Man from the Land of the Vanir").
While not attested as Vanir, the gods Heimdallr and Ullr have been theorized as potential members of the group. In the Prose Edda, a name listed for boars is "Van-child". Scholars have theorized that the Vanir may be connected to small pieces of gold foil found in Scandinavia at some building sites from the Migration Period to the Viking Age and occasionally in graves. They have speculated whether the Vanir originally represented pre-Indo-European deities or Indo-European fertility gods, and have theorized a form of the gods as venerated by the pagan Anglo-Saxons.Óðr
In Norse mythology, Óðr (Old Norse for the "Divine Madness, frantic, furious, vehement, eager", as a noun "mind, feeling" and also "song, poetry"; Orchard (1997) gives "the frenzied one") or Óð, sometimes anglicized as Odr or Od, is a figure associated with the major goddess Freyja. The Prose Edda and Heimskringla, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, both describe Óðr as Freyja's husband and father of her daughter Hnoss. Heimskringla adds that the couple produced another daughter, Gersemi. A number of theories have been proposed about Óðr, generally that he is somehow a hypostasis of the deity Odin due to their similarities.