Freyja

March 21 - April 30

Moons of Flourishing

Symbols: Boar, Cats, Falcon, Gold, Amber, Honey

Botanicals: Daisies, Spring Flowers, Ripe Grain, Apples, Strawberries

Stones + Metal: Amber, Orange Calcite, Gold

Colors: Gold, Yellow, Orange, White

Element: Fire

Freyja is a captivating, magical, and multifaceted goddess of the Norse pantheon, the renowned pre-Christian, pagan culture of the Vikings and ancient Germanic tribes. Norse mythology was widespread across a vast territory of Northern Europe including Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland, the Germanic lands, Holland, and Anglo-Saxon Britain. Freyja is described in several ancient Norse texts: the Prose Edda, the Poetic Edda and the Heimskringla. These texts were compiled and attributed to Snorri Sturluson, a 13th century Icelandic historian, poet, and politician, most likely undergoing some degree of metamorphosis through the lens of Christian monotheism. She is also mentioned in several other medieval Icelandic and Scandinavian sagas. The longstanding significance of her cult can be seen in the preponderance of places and plants named after Freyja throughout Norway and Sweden.

Freyja is a goddess of love, fertility, sexuality, wealth, prophecy and magic. She is also associated with war, although she is not a goddess who specifically goes into battle herself. 

The name Freyja actually means “Lady” or “Mistress” in old Norse, and is thought to have originally been a title that superseded a more ancient personal or localized name of the goddess. Freyja has many epithets, including Gefn (“the giver”), Hörn (“flaxen,” probably in reference to her golden blond hair), Mardöll (“sea shaker” or “sea-bright”), Sýr (“sow”), and Valfreyja (“lady of the slain”).

Freyja is closely associated with numerous animals, namely pigs and boars, cats, and falcons. Pigs are sacred to her, an animal that is also a strong symbol of fertility, as evidenced by Freyja’s epithet, Sýr. Pigs were sacrificed to her in the traditional blood offerings called blót. She was said to ride a boar named Hildisvíni (battle swine), who was believed to be her servant and lover, the mortal Óttar in disguise. Freyja’s chariot, a gift given to her by Thor, is pulled by two blue-gray cats. It’s hard to imagine domestic cats pulling a full size chariot, but some say they could have been lynxes or other mid-sized wild cats. It’s also possible that in earlier lore her chariot was pulled by boars, and that the association with cats arose later with the medieval Christian writers, as cats were closely associated with women and witchcraft. Freyja’s association with falcons or birds of prey comes from her famous cloak of falcon feathers, a magical object that gave its wearer the ability to fly and shapeshift. The goddess was known to generously lend this magical cloak out to her kin at times when the need arose.

Freyja embodies divine passion as expressed through sex, magic, and death. As a goddess of love and fertility, she is well known for her libidinous exploits in the Norse myths. In ancient times the concept of “love” was more clearly aligned with sexuality, passion, and the life force rather than necessarily with emotional fidelity. These passions ultimately refer to the mysteries of life and death, forging a link to the practice of magic, or seiðr in old Norse.

Freyja is also strongly associated with wealth and specifically gold; she is often depicted with long flowing locks of gold or red-gold hair. Her most iconic possession was a precious gold or amber necklace called Brísingamen, which is known as a symbol of her power. 

Divine Lineage

Freyja was sister and counterpart to her brother Freyr, both siblings born of their father, Njörðr, a sea god. Their mother is never named in the extant stories, but it’s thought her mother is probably Nerthus, an early Germanic earth goddess who was the female counterpart and sister-wife to Njörðr. Freyr was a god of virility, wealth, and good weather, invoked for prosperity and a good harvest. Freyja, Freyr and Njörðr belong to an elder tribe of gods called the Vanir. The Vanir are described in many ways like the Greek Titans, being associated with the earth, fertility of the land, wealth, wisdom, prophecy and seiðr. Seiðr, like so many ancient shamanistic practices, involved seeing in the future, contacting the dead, and using ritual and magic to affect the outcome of events foretold. 

Freyja’s husband is Óðr, a mysterious figure who is scarcely described in the sources, but whose name and qualities are nearly identical with those of Odin, chief god of the warlike Æsir, the tribe of gods that came to dominate the Norse pantheon as we know it. Óðr means “ecstasy, inspiration, furor.” This is the same root as “Odin,” who is known for his wisdom, passion, and yearning for esoteric knowledge. Although Freya is known for her sexual license, she is also described as being devoted to her husband, so much so that she wept golden tears whenever he was away on his mysterious sojourns. It was said her tears that fell on the earth became gold, and the tears that fell into the sea became beads of amber. Here again is Freyja’s association with gold and amber as with her famed necklace, Brísingamen. 

With Óðr, Freyja had two daughters called Hnoss and Gerseme. Both names mean “treasure,” further affirming Freyja’s association with gold and wealth.

It is also speculated that the character of Gullveig from the poem Völuspá in the Poetic Edda may also be a manifestation of Freyja. The Völuspá, or “Prophecy of the Völva,” recounts the creation of the world through its destruction in the battle of Ragnarök and ultimately its rebirth, as told to Odin by the völva narrator.

In the poem, the völva goes to the hall of the Æsir and foretells the coming war with the Vanir and the fate of the gods therein. She recounts the story of Gullveig (variously translated as “Gold-Drink” or “Gold-Draught”), a woman who came to the hall of Odin and was slain three times with a spear and then burned, each time being reborn. Upon her third rebirth she became a völva herself and was known henceforth as Heiðr

The treatment of Gullveig at the hands of the Æsir was thought to prompt the infamous war with the Vanir, which ultimately concluded in a truce with Freyja, Freyr, and Njörðr joining the Æsir in Asgard.

Priestess, Völva, Goddess 

Following the episode with Gullveig, the Vanir and the Æsir went to war. The fighting was long and arduous, until eventually the two tribes came together to negotiate terms of peace. They agreed to exchange hostages, and Njörðr, Freyr, and Freyja were offered up from the Vanir and were ever after considered honorary members of the Æsir.

Once assimilated into the Æsir, Odin appointed Freyr and Njörðr as priests over sacrifices and Freyja was made the priestess of sacrificial offerings to ensure the health and fertility of the land. It is as this priestess that Freyja introduced the practice of seiðr (pronounced "saythe") to the Æsir.

Freyja was a völva, the preeminent Seeress and Sorceress of the Vanir. The völva’s sacred role was to foretell the future, especially regarding various battles and conflicts, and to work ritual magic, or seiðr, specifically directed to affect the outcomes of the predictions. Seiðr was considered a “womanly art,” previously only practiced by the Vanir. Freyja’s expertise in this ancestral sorcery was deeply valued by her new Asgardian kin, and it’s said that she taught her arts of witchcraft to the Æsir, or at least to its women. 

Odin’s insatiable thirst for knowledge compelled him to study seiðr under Freyja, his newly won royal priestess. While it is thought that Freyja indeed had knowledge of the runes, her true magic was more chthonic in nature, which involved journeying to the Otherworld and speaking with the dead, amongst other feats. 

Freyja is also known as Vanadís, or the dís of the Vanir. The dísir were supernatural female beings in the Norse mythos, a kind of ancestral deity, ghost, or spirit. These spirits could be invoked for protection, fertility, or other magical needs. 

Freyja’s Sexual Sovereignty

Freyja seems to occupy both the role of devoted wife and promiscuous lover, as well as being the object of lust for various beings of power. 

In the Prose Edda, one of the most notable tales finds Freyja coveted by a giant, one of the jötnar, another race of supernatural beings that often caused trouble for the gods. The giant offers to build a fortress for the Æsir that could withstand any intrusion from the realm of Midgard (Earth). As payment for this task, the giant demands the sun, the moon–and as if that weren't enoughFreyja’s hand in marriage. Presuming he would fail at this task, the gods agree to the deal adding their own condition that the fortress must be completed by the first day of summer. The giant counters this by asking for the assistance of his stallion, Svadilfari

The giant and his stallion worked hardily together on the fortress, and as summer approached swiftly the Æsir worried that the task would be completed on time and they would lose Freyja to the Jötunheimr (home of the jötnar). So the gods of Asgard schemed to sabotage the project they had agreed to. They sent the trickster god Loki disguised as a mare to distract the jötnar’s stallion from their work. This sent the giant into a rage, whereby Thor stormed in and destroyed the giant with his hammer, Mjöllnir. In this way, Freyja was saved from being bartered in marriage to the jötnar, but not without a cost. Although Loki’s gambit to distract the giant’s horse ensured their victory, he was impregnated by the stallion while in the mare’s form, ultimately giving birth to Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse that would become Odin’s renowned steed. The Norse were certainly not without a sense of humor!

Freyja (C.E. 1905) by John Bauer

In the poem Þrymskviða, Thrymskvitha (or Thrym), the king of the jötnar and master of Jötunheimr again schemes to make Freyja his bride. The story begins with Thor awakening to find his hammer, Mjöllnir missing. He sends Loki to recover it, who borrows Freyja’s cloak of falcon feathers to fly to the realm of the giants. When he arrives, Thrym demands Freyja’s hand in ransom for the hammer. When Loki returns to explain where Mjöllnir was hidden and how it could be returned, Freyja flies into a rage, shaking the palace of the gods with such fury that her sacred necklace Brísingamen falls to the ground. Of course, she flatly refused to be traded for the magic hammer. The Æsir then hatched a slapstick plan to dress Thor as Freyja and send him to Jötunheimr to retrieve his tool. 

Dressed in bridal attire (including Brísingamen) with Loki disguised as Freyja’s maid, Thor journeys to Jötunheimr and proceeds with the plan to marry Thrymskvitha. Thrym is understandably suspicious, watching his bride-to-be eating and drinking ravenously, and clearly behaving out of character for the beautiful Freyja, but continues with the marital proceedings. When Mjöllnir is laid in the lap of the bride to sanctify the marriage, Thor throws off his disguise, strikes Thrym, beats the assembled jötnar, and lays waste to the hall.

Once again Freyja maintains her autonomy in this tale, despite the whims and machinations of her fellow gods and rivals. 

In later Christianized accounts, Freyja is depicted as licentious and vain, presumably in an attempt to diminish her role as Goddess and wife (or beloved) of Odin, and to satirize the religion of the old gods.

In the Sörla þáttr, a late 14th century narrative, Freyja is described as having been a concubine of Odin (rather than his wife), “the fairest of women of that day.” Freyja had her own bower in Odin’s palace, and whenever she left her quarters, the door would be magically locked against any intruders. One day while strolling the city, she came upon four dwarves who were forging a majestic necklace of gold. Freyja greatly desired the necklace and offered the dwarves money and untold treasures for it, but they were cunning and bargained that she could only have the necklace if she gave herself to each of them for a night. With some capitulation, Freyja agreed to the bargain and after four nights sleeping with each of the dwarves, she returned to her bower triumphant with the splendid necklace, called Brísingamen.

Valfreya, Lady of the Slain

Although Freyja is endowed with beauty, passion and an allure that seems to spark wars, she herself does not actually ride into battle in the Norse lore. Instead, she inspires warriors in their campaigns, favors and protects them, and of course, works seiðr to ensure their victories. 

Freyja has her own domain in Asgard separate from her bower in Odin’s palace, a dwelling in the heavens called Fólkvangr, which means “Field of People” or “Field of Armies.” Within this realm, Freyja’s sacred hall was called Sessrúmnir,  or “Hall with Many Seats.”

Whenever the Norse warriors went into battle, it was said that Freyja chose half of the slain to reside with her in Sessrúmnir, while Odin received the remaining half at Valhalla. Here Freyja’s role is aligned with that of the Valkyries (“chooser of the slain”), another class of supernatural female beings associated with fate, like the dísir and the Norns. We also see Freyja’s status as war goddess also reflected in the name she gives her sacred boar, Hildisvíni (“battle swine”).

Freyja's Spring

In my mandala, Freyja rules the period from the Spring Equinox to the eve of Beltane. I call this period the Moons of Flourishing (which includes any full or new moons that occur within the time frame), referring to the flourishing of lush green spring foliage and the first flush of spring blooms. In California this period begins much earlier in the calendar year, and here in Maine it really begins in earnest closer to Beltaine...so my cosmological calendar is flexible according to the whims of Nature. Although Freyja is a goddess of fire, light and fertility, she's also no stranger to the lands of cold and darkness in the North. But whatever the weather, she brings the sunshine into my world.

I decided to dedicate to Freyja after researching her for our Via Carmen Pythia training as a goddess of seiðr and prophecy. Doing this deep dive into her lore was so inspiring, it ignited a spark in me to connect to my old world Germanic roots. This is one of my family lineages that I'd previously not felt a deep kinship with, so I appreciate how Freyja has kindled that ancestral relationship for me. 

A few months before I moved to Maine last year, I was able to attend the spring Oracular Seiðr put on by Hrafnar in Berkeley. I was inspired to attend more Hrafnar events, and squeezed in as many as I could before departing California in early November. It was a blessing to be able to meet the group, experience their magic, and to learn from the elders in person, even for a short time. This experience was such a gift, and in the spirit of the rune Gebo, I hope to reciprocate in some small way in my own practice. 

One of the last Hrafnar events I attended in person was a Harvest Blót in September of 2023, honoring Freyja and her brother Freyr, which featured a ritual dance around the Wheat Mare for prosperity. I asked her for help securing the sale of my east bay house, and within 2 weeks it was in escrow. Since then, Freyja has been remarkably helpful in securing financial matters and bringing in surprise sources of income. 

A friend recently shared with me a money mantra that I adapted to use with Freyja, and so far it has proven quite valuable (pun intended). Within a week of chanting the mantra, my husband’s company gave all its employees a $2/hour raise. Several other new opportunities for me have also arisen during Freyja’s season, right in line with the Moons of Flourishing

Feel free to use this mantra for your own work, or adapt it to suit your needs:

Money, abundance, health and happiness
Come to me swiftly, easily, honestly
Open the door to income and increase
And may it harm none to bring me relief

In other matters, as I find as I work with Freyja that she encourages me to practice self-care and to treat my body with respect, kindness, and reverence. And she does love luxury! I picked up a secondhand yellow burnout velvet shawl for her, and overdyed it a beautiful golden amber color. While I was elbow deep in dye, I threw in an off-white piece of raw silk I had in my fabric stash. It came out a beautiful matching shade of golden amber, and I sewed it into an altar cloth for her. I may eventually embroider the edges with runes in golden thread…nothing like a little extra bling for Freyja.

Practices to honor Freyja

  • Work with runes for self reflection and divination 
  • Practice trance journeys and spirit communication
  • Beautify your environment and yourself
  • Develop a generous and sensuous self-care regimen
  • Plant the seeds, both literal and metaphorical for a good harvest

Sources and Further Reading (not an exhaustive list by any stretch)

https://norse-mythology.org/

https://earthandstarryheaven.com/

Freyja, Lady, Vanadis: An Introduction to the Goddess by Patricia M. Lafayllve

Freyja, the Great Goddess of the North by Britt-Mari Näsström 

Norse Goddess Magic by Alice Karlsdottir (not Freyja specific, but Frigg and the Asynjur)

Taking Up the Runes by Diana Paxson

 


  If you are interested in my offerings for Freyja, you can find my devotional candles here.