An Exploration- Part 1: Frija

Over the past few weeks, I have begun calling Frigg at my altar by more than one name. I have begun calling to her, rather, by three. From all of the readings I have done and my own communication with her, I understand and practice with these three names are the same entity.

The first name I call into sacred space is Frija.

Calling Frigg Frija has also helped reconcile the Frigg-Freya discrepancy that I’ve been holding, for at one point in time, both Frigg and Freya energies were one within Frija.

While mowing the lawn in mid-September, I mused the idea that Frigg and Freya, as we know them, have switched much of their roles. The powerful leader of the valkyrjur, with war and carnage at the forefront, using harsh magic to ensure who they chose to die in battle indeed died, who weave the destiny of the warriors using intestines for thread, severed heads for weights, and spears for beaters in their gruesome loom. This focus on war and death is the focus of an Aesir god. Yet, Freya is listed as Vanir- fertility-centric earth goddess. This description does not reconcile with the description of Freya as she is known today. She is aligned across cultures with The Morrigan and Badb.

The image of Freya has since been “santized” to not only highlight the pleasant qualities of her and her Valkeries but also perhaps to focus on the inter-cultural exchange which the Germanic travelers were establishing with trade routes through to the Middle East. With this sanitation, the Lore shifted from the magical weaving choosers of the slain and instead focused on love affairs with human men and merely assisting Odin with getting his favorite slain to Valhalla.

Frigg, alternatively, is seen as a loving wife and mother who watches over all domestic affairs. She is a weaver- of the clouds and of the fates of humans. She is able to best Odin in wits at least twice- once in the introduction of Longbeards and once when her chosen brother- the kind brother- eventually rose to the throne.

Both goddesses wear cloaks of falcon plumes for disguise and transformation. Both goddesses partake in the act of seidr, as volvas, which was commonly done by the warband cheifton’s wife at the beginning of the Migration period. Both women take on this role as the veleda. At this point in time, there was likely one large clan, who, with migration, broke off into two or more clans. With the migration, differing customs were developed. It was at this point, I believe, Frija, original warrior/mother goddess, broke off into two forms: Frigg and Freya.

When the Migration Period led to the Viking Age, and the warbands became leaderless groups, Odin was no longer cheiften, but rather wonderer and poet. The need for the veleda was also no longer necessary, and so the role was reinterpreted and eventually evolved to what we now see as Frigg- the Vanir-esque Aesir weaver wife of Odin, the wanderer, and Freya- the Aesir-esque Vanir warrior wife of Odr, the wanderer. Yes, both are beyond those aspects, but everything beyond those aspects (love, beauty, childbirth), they continue to share.

I struggle to wrap my mind around the fractured, split goddesses. I am unable to see the angst in Frigg, who is the wife of the god of war (and poetry) because so much of her surviving lore has to do with the death of Baldr. I am unable to really connect with Freya because so much of her surviving lore gives me the feelings of lustful anger. 

I can wrap my mind around the two, back as one. Witchlette, wise beyond her years, continues to confuse the two in name and in likeness, also understands Frija better.  I can easily see Frija, devoted mother, dependable wife, skilled seeress, powerful warrior. I can reconcile the two seemingly flipped personas back in their original form.

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Thought while mowing

I had discussed Frigg and Freya, their similarities and differences quite a bitAlmost to ad nauseum

When I first started my 30 days of Frigg devotional, I spent a lot of time on Norse Mythology for Smart People

The article about Frigg soends a lot of time, like I do, dissecting Frigg from Freya based on Frija. 

Germanic mythology acquired its basic form during the Migration Period, and is, accordingly, a mythology especially suited to the socio-political institutions and prevailing ways of life that characterized that era. The cornerstone of this schema is the divine pair Frija and Woðanaz, the veleda and the *xarjanaz (“warband leader”) respectively. During the Viking Age, the formal warbands of earlier times gave way to informal, often leaderless groups of roving warriors – the vikings. Since the warband was no longer a feature of the lives of the Norse people, the mythological structures that had accompanied it lost much of their relevance. Now that Odin was no longer thought of as the leader of the warband of the gods, nor Freya/Frigg its veleda, the opportunity arose for their roles to be reinterpreted. For unknown reasons, part of this reinterpretation evidently involved splitting Frija into two goddesses, a process that appears to have never been fully completed, but was instead interrupted by the arrival and acceptance of Christianity.

The other day, while mowing my lawn, I was thinking about Frigg, and how earthy she is. How gentle and loving she is. How Freya is a warrior. How Freya is more like the female Odin than Frigg. How Freya is the veleda. Freya, a Vanir, has the personality and likeness of an Aesir. Frigg, and Aesir, has the personality and likeness much closer to Idunn, a Vanir. 

Did Frigg and Freya switch personas when one became more dominant over the other? 

I shared these thoughts with my Circle on Friday night, and R, who Frigg/Holda has also called to, sees what I see. She is helping me as I continue to embrace E, my Salem Witch grandmother, and release the ideal of being kin to my gods. Yet, she continues to remind me that I am. I call them by their Nordic names, but I am kin to their German faces. I am kin to Thunar. I am kin to Holda. To Woden. 

Perhaps I am connecting to Frija herself through the face of Frigg. 

As I was reading through older posts, getting back to the start of this year and to the 30 day devotional, my crown was all tingly reading through where I’ve been and what I’ve learned, how far I’ve come. 

Goddess blessed. 

Hail Frigg. Hail Frija. 

I am woman

Freya and I don’t get along…at least certain aspects of Freya and I don’t get along. 
When I think of Freya, I think of all the energies she is that I am not. She is the counter to the energies of Frigg. She is seen by so many as the goddess of love and beauty and Frigg is completely overlooked. When I did my 30 Days of Frigg is when started to take issue with Freya, because so much information was about Freya and not about Frigg. 

But really, there isn’t that much information on Freya either. At least not when compared to Thor, Loki, Odin…

Historically, Frigg and Freya are both derived from Frija, proto-Germanic goddess. It would seem those following the Aesir interpreted her as Frigg and those following the Vanir interpreted her as Freya. When the clans came together, the two goddesses overlapped again, as they were once one entity. 

What drove me nuts and, frankly, pissed me off, was the idea that Freya was sexy and Frigg is not. Because Frigg is a mom and mom’s aren’t sexy. 

Nope. 

Frigg’s a MOLF. 

Freya uses sex to get what she wants.

Frigg doesn’t use sex, she enjoys it. 

So while I am much more aligned with Frigg, and while I still don’t want to embrace Freya as love/fertility/beauty, I am drawn to her as a warrior. 

That is one aspect Frigg and Freya don’t share. Frigg is strong, but in a different way. She stands up to Allfather when needed. She does all within her power to change the fate of Balder, even though she knew what would ultimately unfold for him. 

I have a temper, and I like to keep my temper in check. This is perhaps another issue I have with Freya. She is War. I cannot channel her for fear of losing my shit and going beserk. 

I feel more comfortable being a wife and mother than being a warrior. 

Most days. 

Joyful woman’s work

I read an intriguing piece a few days ago: Frigg has fallen out of favor in the modern era and Freya has taken her place. It’s all related to the duty of a woman and woman’s work. 

Through modern eyes, Frigg embodies the dutiful 1950s housewife who cares for her husband and children, makes sure all of the moving parts of the home are in place to allow all of the people of the home to function. While many modern households have partners who share the load of the physical housework, the mental housework- the coordination of all of the physical housework- still typically falls to the wife. The husband helps with the cleaning but the wife makes the schedule. The husband helps with the kids after the wife coordinates all activities. 

Freya, on the other hand, through modern eyes, is seen as the independent woman-like no need for a man, caring for herself with no interdependence. She is sexually liberated and does not have to answer to anyone about with whom she takes to her bed. 

Yet, neither does Frigg. Frigg has affairs, including those with Odin’s brothers. When Loki attempts to insult her by bringing up her infidelity, it is noted that in this time and space it is quite commonplace for both husbands and wives to take lovers. 

Frigg actually embodies what the woman’s movement pushed for- having it all. A loving family, a smoothly run household, and a life independent of the nuclear family. 

In today’s monogomous Western society, husbands and wives are less likely to take lovers. Of it does happen, it is even more likely done in secret and against the wishes of the other partner. 

In today’s constant on-the-go society, Freya may be enticing for some. She comes and goes as she pleases without regard for the time frame of anyone else unless she is currently in their company. But, from my experience, she is the one missing out. 

Frigg has it all, through joyful woman’s work. 

Sharing the myths

Witchlette has started her stay with me requests after we have sung her lullaby and kissed her goodnight. Last night, she asked me to tell her a story, specifically, “Deadpool and the zombies.”

I took advantage of her want for oration of stories, and shared with her a myths of the Norsemen. 

Below is the version I related to her of one of my favorites. 

Thor awakens one morning to find his hammer missing. He blames Loki, who swears he didn’t do it, but agrees to seek it out and share what he learns. Loki ventures out and finds the hammer in an ogre’s home. He speaks with the ogre who says he will return the hammer if Freya becomes his bride. 

Loki returns to Asgard and shares his findings: Mjolnir for Freya’s hand in marriage. Thor takes the news in stride, Tyr has done well with only one hand, surely Freya can give up one for the cause as well. Loki corrects him- he wants Freya to be his bride, something Freya admently refuses to do. 

Loki comes up with a plan. He transforms himself into a beautiful handmaiden and sews three of Freya’s dresses together to fit Thor’s frame. He covers his head, face included, in a veil thick enough to hide his bright red whiskers. As a finishing touch, Thor dons Freya’s special necklace to prove his false identity. 

Loki the handmaiden and Thor the bride travel to the ogre. They enjoy the wedding feast, where Thor eats his usual amount and consumes his usual amount of mead- helpings that are not appropriate for a dainty Freya. Loki explained it away as “Freya’s” want for the other, her excitement at becoming his wife, that she must eat to have strength. 

After the wedding feast, Mjolnir is presented to bless the union. As it is placed before “Freya” at the table, Thor stands, rips through the dresses, and smites all the ogres. 

Perhaps, if she asks tomorrow, I will share about the building of the wall.