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freyja. i am drawn to her because of her association of cats and creativity/art and because she is norse.


Freyja From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia •

In Germanic paganism and its subset, Norse paganism, Freyja (sometimes anglicized as Freya) is a major goddess, sister of the fertility god Freyr and daughter of the sea god Njörðr. She is described as the fairest of all goddesses,[1] and often seen as a Norse fertility goddess. Because the best documented source of this religious tradition, the Norse Mythology, was transmitted, romanticized or demonized [2] by Christian medieval historians, the actual role, heathen practices and worship of the goddess are uncertain. While there are some sources [3] suggesting that Freyja was called on to bring fruitfulness to fields or wombs, in the Eddas, she was portrayed as a goddess of fertility, love, beauty, and attraction. People prayed to her for happiness in love.[4]

Freyja was also a goddess of war, battle, death, magic, prophecy, and wealth. She is cited as receiving half of the dead lost in battle in her hall Fólkvangr, whereas Odin would receive the other half. Frigg and Freyja are the two principal goddesses in Norse religion, and described as the highest amongst the Asynjur.[5] Freyja is the goddess most honoured after or along with Frigg; her worship seems to have been even the more prevalent and important of the two.[6] In Droplaugarsona Saga, it is described that in a temple at Ölvusvatn, Iceland, statues of Frigg and Freyja have been seated upon higher thrones opposite those of Thor and Freyr. These statues were arrayed in drapery and ornaments of gold and silver. In Heimskringla, it is written that many temples and statues of heathen deities were raided and destroyed by Olaf Tryggvason and Saint Olaf during the Christianization of Scandinavia. In History of the Norse Kings, Freyja is also presented as a mythological Princess of Sweden. Her father Njörðr is seen as the second mythological King of Sweden, and her brother Freyr is the third. Freyr and Freyja's mother is Njörðr's sister (who is maybe Nerthus[7]), as it is a custom of the Vanir and allowed by their laws.[8]

Other Sagas

According to the Ynglinga Saga: "Njörðr's daughter Freyja was priestess of the sacrifices, and first taught the Æsir the magic art, as it was in use and fashion among the Vanir. While Njörðr was with the Vanir he had taken his own sister in marriage, for that was allowed by their law; and their children were Freyr and Freyja. But among the Æsir it was forbidden to intermarry with such near relations." After the deaths of Odin, Njörðr, and Freyr: "Freyja alone remained of the gods, and she became on this account so celebrated that all women of distinction were called by her name, whence they now have the title Frú (Frau in German); so that every woman is called frú (frau in German), or mistress over her property, and the wife is called the house-Frú (Ehefrau in German). Freyja continued the blood-sacrifices. Freyja had also many other names. Her husband was called Óðr, and her daughters Hnoss and Gersemi. They were so very beautiful, that afterwards the most precious jewels were called by their names." In Egils Saga, when Þorgerðr threatened to commit suicide, she said: "No supper have I had, and none will I have till I sup with Freyja. I can do no better than does my father: I will not overlive my father and brother." In Hálfs Saga, Queen Signy, wife of King Alfrek, prayed for the help of Freyja in an ale-brewing contest. Her opponent, Geirhild, however, had the help of Odin, who gave her his drools as yeast. And so Signy lost. As written in Harbardsljod, while Odin was popular with warriors, Thor was popular with peasants, but Freyja was especially popular with noblewomen, who expect go to Fólkvangr in the afterlife. Freyja and her husband Óðr represent the common situation of noble families in old Scandinavia: due to harsh environments and war campaigns, the man often goes away long journeys, the woman is left in charge of the house and has considerable powers (as also written in the Prose Edda, Gylfaginning (35)). A part of the Húsdrápa poem relates the story of the theft of Brísingamen by Loki. When Freyja found her necklace missing, she enlisted the help of Heimdallr to search for it. Eventually they found the thief, who turned out to be Loki who had transformed himself into a seal. Heimdallr turned into a seal as well and fought Loki. After a lengthy battle, Heimdallr won and returned Brísingamen to Freyja. The rivalry of Loki and Heimdallr for Brísingamen is an important event, as they are destined to fight again and slay each other at the end of Ragnarök. This myth, which takes place at the sea, is maybe related to the origin of Freyja's name "Mardöll" (Sea-Bright), the bright here is maybe the glittering of the stolen Brísingamen (brísinga means "glittering, twinkling, flaming"). In Heimdallr's name, the word dallr (light) is masculine of döll, and heim means "earth" or "land" (cf. Vanaheim, Alfheim). This is maybe one of the lost tales of Freyja's journey in search for her husband (as Snorri wrote: "She has a great variety of names, for having gone over many countries in search of Óðr, each people gave her a different name".) [15] In Gesta Danorum is another story of a beautiful woman named Sýr (Latinized as Syritha) seeking for Óðr/Óttar (Latinized as Otharus). Sýr is also wanted for marriage by a giant, who was later slain trying to woo her.[15] [16] In King Olaf Tryggvason's Saga, following King Olaf Tryggvason's orders, to prove their piety, people must insult and ridicule major heathen deities when they are newly converted into Christianity. Freyja is named among those major deities. The indigenous Norse deities are eventually demonized under Christian rule.


15th century account

Written by two Christian priests in the 15th century, the Icelandic short story Sörla þáttr is an attempt to humiliate pagan deities, praise Christianity, and immortalize the Christian King Olaf Trygvason. The story borrows parts of Heimskringla (of how heathen deities are euhemerised), parts of the poem Lokasenna (of Gefjun sleeping with a boy for a necklace), parts of the Húsdrápa poem (of Loki stealing Brisingamen), and the eternal battle Hjaðningavíg. In the end of the story, the arrival of Christianity dissolves the old curse that traditionally was to endure until Ragnarök. "Freyja is said to be a human in Asia. She was the fairest woman at that time and was the favorite concubine of Odin, King of the Asialand. When this woman wanted to buy a beautiful necklace (no name given) from four dwarves (named Alfrig, Dvalin, Berling, and Grer) with gold and silver, they said they do not lack of gold, and demanded a night with her for each of them. She agreed, but a man called Loki somehow knew the deal, and he came to tell Odin. King Odin was very angry, he ordered Loki to steal the necklace. Loki turned into a fly to sneak into Freyja's bower and stole the necklace. When Freyja found her necklace missing, she came to ask King Odin. Odin said he would only return the necklace to her if she could put a curse on some Kings to cause an eternal war until the arrival of a great Christian Lord. She said it would be done and got that necklace back. Under the spell, the Kings fought and slew others but as soon as they fell down, they had to stand up and continue fighting. It is said that chaos lasted for one hundred and forty-three years. But in the end, the great christened King Olaf Tryggvason arrived with his Christian army, and whoever slain by a Christian would stay dead. The evil heathen curse was finally dissolved, and Christianity brought peace to the land. After that, the noble man, King Olaf, went back to his realm." [17] This late work of Christian monks is clearly unoriginal and does not represent an authentic pagan tradition. The Christian priests Jon Thordson and Magnus Thorhalson, who respectively wrote and revised this anti-pagan story, put this line in their manuscript: "May God Almighty and the Virgin Mary bless both the one that wrote and the one that dictated!" The story was later rewritten by some modern people, with most parts altered and removed to make it sound like an original myth.


19th century accounts

Rural Scandinavians remained dependent on the forces of nature, fertility gods remained important and in rural 19th century Sweden, Freyja retained elements of her role as a fertility goddess.[18] In the province of Småland, there is an account of how she was connected with sheet lightning in this respect:[18] Jag minns en söndag på 1880-talet, det var några gubbar ute och gick bland åkrarna och tittade på rågen som snart var mogen. Då sa Måns i Karryd: "Nu ä Fröa ute å sir ätter om råjen är mogen." [...] När jag som liten pojke satt hos den gamla Stolta-Katrina, var jag som alla dåtida barn mycket rädd för åskan. När kornblixtarna syntes om kvällarna, sade Katrina: "Du sa inte va rädd barn lella, dä ä bara Fröa som ä ute å slår ell med stål å flenta för å si etter om kornet ä moet. Ho ä snäll ve folk å gör dä bare för å hjälpa, ho gör inte som Tor, han slår ihjäl både folk å fä, när han lynna [...] Jag har sedan hört flera gamla tala om samma sak, på ungefär samma sätt.[19] I remember a Sunday in the 1880s, when some men were walking in the fields looking at the rye which was about to ripen. Then Måns in Karryd said: "Now Freyja is out watching if the rye is ripe" [...] 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 in the nights, 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.[20] In Värend, 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.[18] Moreover, it was dangerous to leave the plough outdoors, because if Freyja sat on it, it would no longer be of any use.[18]


Receiver of half the slain

Snorri writes in Gylfaginning (24) that "wherever she rides to battle, she gets half the slain" (Faulkes translation). But Freyja and the Valkyries certainly do not actively participate in fights of humans, they just go to where battles occur and guide the fallen to heaven. And though Freyja receives some of those warriors slain on the battlefield, there is no record of how that occurs. Does Freyja pick them herself? Or do Odin or the Valkyries decide? There are no answers to these questions in surviving tales. It is said in Grímnismál: The ninth is Fólkvangr, where bright Freyja decrees where in the hall warriors shall sit: Some of the fallen belong to her, And some belong to Odin. In Egil's Saga, Thorgerda (Þorgerðr), threatens to commit suicide in the wake of her brother's death, saying: "I shall not eat until I sup with Freyja". This should be taken to mean that she expected to pass to Freyja's hall upon her death. Any greater associations with Freyja and death are not supported. The oral tradition explains that Odin's warriors are "the offensive", or those who dedicate their life to fighting. Freyja’s warriors are "the defensive", or those who only fight to protect their families, clans or goods. The historian Else Roesdahl noticed that a difference between the two cultures in regards to burials containing weapons. In those in Norway the buried warriors had defensive shields, and in Denmark they had only offensive weapons.[21]


[edit] Possessions Freyja,

depicted in a painting by J. Penrose.Surviving tales regarding Freyja often associate Freyja with numerous enchanted possessions. [edit]

Jewelry Brísingamen (Necklace of Flame) is Freyja's famous necklace reputedly made of gold and amber. The necklace is thought to represent the sun's fire and the circle of day and night. According to the notes of Saxo Grammaticus, Brísingamen was among the items given to the gods by Alberich. In some mythological writings, Brísingamen is assigned to Frigg. In Skáldskaparmál (31), it is written that women in heathen times often wear "stone-necklaces" as a part of a woman's apparels, to indicate their social status. That is the reason why woman is periphrased with reference to jewels and agates. Frigg and Freyja are the foremost heathen goddesses, therefore they are portrayed as having precious necklaces. Necklaces also seem to be the favorite gifts in heathen times. When Hildr came to ask her father, King Högni, for peace, she offered him a necklace Skáldskaparmál (49). In Völuspá, the seeress refused to talk until Odin gave her some golden necklaces. [edit] Cloak Freyja owns a cloak of falcon feathers, which can give her the ability to change into the guise of any birds, and to fly between worlds. It is called "hawk's plumage", "falcon skin", or "falcon-feathered cloak" in different translations. The same magical cloak was also assigned to Frigg in some tales. [edit]

Cat-drawn Chariot A depiction of Freyja riding a cat-driven chariot and flanked by Italian Renaissance-inspired putti by Swedish painter Nils Blommér.Freyja often rides on a chariot drawn by a pair of large cats. She rode this chariot to Baldur's funeral. These cats are called Gib-cats in the Prose Edda. They are often thought to be Norwegian forest cats.[22] Cats are sacred to Freyja, just as wolves are to Odin. "When a bride goes to the wedding in fine weather, they say 'she has fed the cat well,' not offended the favourite of the love-goddess." She is considered a warrior goddess among her many roles. The chariot also is a warlike attribute and often given to exalted deities only.[23] This does not mean that every exalted Germanic deity must have a wagon, but most of them have special rides. Odin and Heimdallr have horses, Thor has a chariot drawn by goats, Freyr has a boar, but Freyja has both chariots and boar. Minor goddesses such as Gefjun and Idunn do not even have a palace or hall mentioned. [edit]

Boar Freyja also rides a golden-bristled boar called Hildisvini (Battle-Swine) which appeared only in the poem Hyndluljóð. Later we are told that the boar is her protégé, Óttar, but it seems that Óttar was temporarily disguised as Hildisvini, not that Hildisvini is Óttar. The boar has special associations within Norse Mythology, both relative to the notion of fertility and also as a protective talisman in war. In Skáldskaparmál (14), Freyr is described as riding on another golden-bristled boar, Gullinbursti, which may be one and the same with Freyja's. The battle-bold Freyr rideth First on the golden-bristled Barrow-boar to the bale-fire Of Baldur, and leads the people.



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