The many faces of Freyja

11 Nov

 Bilete

Freyja is the nordic goddess of love. She is also associated with war, life, death, rebirth. Her name means “lady” , and as such, is heavily connected with the feminine principle, the divine feminine. “Freyja” is the old-nordic name for this goddess, and other names which are in use today include Freya, Frejya, Freyia, Frøya, Frøjya, Freja and Freia. In Norway, the most common name for the goddess today is Frøya. In Sweden, she is referred to as Freja or Fröja. In Iceland, the old-norse name prevails, she is still called Freyja there.

 

As many names she has, as many faces. Some speculate as to whether she is one and the same as the goddess Frigg, or Frigga. Indeed, both are strongly feminine archetypes concerned with matters of love and birth. Freyja now, is perhaps more seen as an adventurous, risqué type whereas Frigga is seen more as a noble housewife, to her husband Oden.  But this polarization seems to me more a product of christian influence on the nordic mentality.

 

It would be easy to lump Freyja together with Mary Magdalene, who is viewed by christians as a sort of divine whore. In Snorri’s, and other post-christianization authors’ telling of various nordic legends, Freyja is told to have slept with four dwarves in order to obtain her impressive necklace the Brisingamen. This is a whorish endeavour just to obtain a material object, and for an ancient pagan god, seems a questionable thing to do. Many attribute this action to a symbolic ritual of sorts, where the dwarves should symbolize the four directions, north, south, east, west, as a completion of the turning of the wheel. Perhaps we must not take this act too seriously. Is the essence of this goddess a sort of sexual promiscuity for favours? Is she really such a whore?

At any rate, she is replaced in the mindset of the nordic people as a witch, and a promiscuous woman.

 

The goddess Frigga is seen as the ideal housewife, in christian retellings. She also knows the fate of all people, and has the glow of a true deity, of the true divine. She is pure and all-knowing, mercyful and respectable. It seems, this archetype and that of the virgin Mary could easily be melded one into the other.

 

Now, the critical mind must ask, “did these similarites happen because the christians found a way to graft these archetypes together, or did Snorri tell the old stories in a less than favourable way in order to make paganism less attractive and christianity more attractive?” We also must remember, these stories may be among the little recorded word we have on these gods, but we must not accept them as the final word. Christianity changed Europe forever. In the place of nature religions, comporable with the nature-harmonious lifestyle of that of the Native Americans, there was now a dominate-servitude religion in its place. Whereas before, the gods and goddesses were all around, in nature and within the human himself, divinity was now confined to a master structure: the priest, bishop, etc. If you wanted to pray, you needed the approval of some outside human. This removed the natural order of things and replaced it with a hierarchy, and an unnatural one.

 

Since this time, there has also been the dogmatization and redefinition of sex and love. They are no longer seen as parts of the same whole, by the masses, but by separate and exclusive things. Media and judeo-christian religion have separated the sensual and sexual nature of love, and reduced sex to a “sinful” act, or one only fueled by the need for “procreation” (as now science separate from spirituality would also define it)

 

Nature spirituality recognizes the connection of all things, that nature and mankind are part of each other, and that the gods are man and man are the gods. Redefining gods and archetypes for selfish means is akin to attempted control over mankind. If “god” is one omnipotent man in the sky, independent of the feminine principle, there will be no balance within the collective consciousness. The scales only tip toward the masculine, and at the same time, men suffer. They are not “allowed” to be real men, since the masculine principle is the “one god” in the sky. Atheists would have you worship science or the material, and the controlling elite would have you worship money and live in fear. If you find both the masculine principle and the feminine principle within nature, and within you, you can balance these forces appropriately, and recognize them for what they are.

 

We must take the nordic gods for their essence, and not for the details in their accounts. Find your own intuitive connection to them. Freyja is not exclusively sensual, she is a devoted wife to Od. And if she is simply another face of Frigga, then she also knows the web of fate woven for all of us, and is the mistress of wyrd, or destiny. She is sexually charged, but full of love. She misses her husband terribly, and searches for him. What energies lie behind these notions? Does this resonate as true, or is perhaps Freyja’s essence best captured when meditating quietly next to the femininely powerful birch tree?  She is the mistress of Seidr, of the intuition, of trance-induced vision quests. She is a shaman and a warrior. She is love and of sex. These are parts of the same whole. When they are reintegrated to the collective consciousness for their ESSENCE then, the nordic spirit will regain balance,and with it the collective spirit of all mankind.

 

Find what personal connection you have to the gods. Question everything. Don’t accept Snorri as the one authority, nor any one else. There are many pagan writers out there, read them, question them, look them up, debate with them, forge new bonds, make new contacts, be creative, be thoughtful and continue on your quest for truth. No one else can know your personal truth but you.

 

Bilete

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7 Responses to “The many faces of Freyja”

  1. metalgaia November 12, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    It’s hard to gauge pre-christian attitudes towards sexuality I guess since so much of the lore has been lost or changed by Christians. I know there was a type of feminine sex magic among the Norse. This was a magic that Loki partook in and also accused Odin of partaking in (I know it was a very high insult for men to partake in feminine sex magic).

    Perhaps the fact that Freyja was a Goddess removed her from the boundaries and responsibilities of a normal human woman – giving her more liberty to have a vast array of lovers. Also, I guess since the Nordic religion was less polar than Christianity, certain behaviors could be questionable, but not necessarily evil. Perhaps Freyja’s promiscuity was questionable morally – but it does not make her evil or vile or anything like that. In the same way that Loki was mischievous, but not evil.

    Great piece. I learned a lot about the Norse Goddesses.

    • voiceofmyancestors November 12, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

      I wonder what the nordic ancestors really thought regarding sexuality. I mean, Seidr in itself should not be something “sexual” like sex magic, but something usually practiced by women, and thus it was considered strange that Oden also knew this, but it is said Freyja taught him this. Again, all of that written by a Christian so it is hard to know what was what. I do feel the essence of this is Freyja is of love, sensuality,sex, intuition, energy work, death, rebirth, and Oden very shamanic. I feel the details matter less than the heart of it all.
      Still, I find it hard to know what the pre-christians really thought of sex. The Celts were very open about it, but were the Norse just as open or more monogamous? I can’t accept Snorri as the last word.

      • metalgaia November 12, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

        I don’t know if they were strictly monogamous. I have heard that men could have concubines in their house hold (captured female slaves). I mean, most people in the ancient world had slaves at this point. But yeah, it is very difficult to guess what their sexual values were.

  2. metalgaia November 12, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    Reblogged this on Metalgaia and commented:
    The complex nature of the Norse Goddesses

    • voiceofmyancestors November 12, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

      I’m not so sure they did that, since again, we have our information from christianity which did their best to defame the pagan cultures. This dehuminzing behaviour of keeing slaves sounds like a christian attempt to characterize pagans as barbarians, as the viking era was very much blown out of proportion as being more warfare oriented than in fact it was. A balanced person will not need to keep slaves, and so depending on the time and their level of connection to nature and their focus on familiy as the main building block of culture/community, my feeling would be toward a higher level of love and respect in the context of marriage, which would psychologicaly translate to a higher level of respect for other human beings and nature, which would translate to an inability to have slaves.

      The time period where the Aesir were central to nordic culture was already something of a decline, we could say as warfare became more key to paganism, at least as it portrayed to us. (But again, we still have to be sleptical because our sources are Christian) Previously, farming and domestic life was more important, as evident by Vanir. An emphasis on Frøy and Frøya, and even the wife of Tor, Sif, puts more energy into the farming lifestyle which requires strong community, the nucleus of which is the family. In that level of community, too much promiscuity arguably complicates things: but that also depends on people’s attitudes towards sex.

      At any rate, the nordic tradition regarding ancient paganism is difficult in the sense that we don’t have pagan sources to refer to. Christians wish to make pre-christian Europe look like a dark wasteland full of savages and to demonize all gods and assign them characteristics that are more brutal than they likely were. So the more we muse, ponder, and refuse to accept dogma on any topic, the better off we are. We just don’t know beyond a doubt what was what, but I tend to think the christians were lying on a lot, even dear old Snorri.

      • metalgaia November 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

        Ah yes, that’s true. Self reliance was a big value, so perhaps slavery was rare. I guess it’s difficult to tell.

  3. voiceofmyancestors November 12, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    You’re right. All we can do is wonder, muse, and think about what might have been. (Since we are left with so little, really)

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