Freyja | Freya – Norse Goddess of Beauty and Fate

Freyja is one of the major Norse goddesses. She is principally associated with beauty, fertility, love and seidr magic. Although …

Freyja is one of the major Norse goddesses. She is principally associated with beauty, fertility, love and seidr magic. Although a Vanir deity, she is an honorary member of the Aesir.

Short Facts

Tribe: Vanir

Goddess of: beauty, battle, destiny, fate, fertility, gold, love and seidr 

Daughter of: Njordr and Hertha

Wife of: Odr

Mother of: Hnoss and Gersemi

Sister of: Freyr

Other names: Freya, Freyia, Freja, Gefn, Horn, Mardoll, Syr, Vanadis, and Valfreyja

Freyja responsibilities

Seidr magic – the ability to see and shape the future, agriculture, beauty, cats, destiny, eroticism, fate, fertility, flowers, love, reading runes, sensuality and wealth

Associated Animals with Freyja

A lynx

Freyja weapon/domain of power

Her brilliant necklace Brisingamen, her chariot pulled by two cats, her boar Hildisvini, her cloak of falcon feathers, her meadow Folkvangr, and her hall Sessrumnir

James Doyle Penrose, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The divine hostage

Freyja is a major Vanir goddess, associated with many things, but particularly with seeing and shaping the future, love and fertility. Her name means lady or mistress in Old Norse. She is the daughter of the Vanir god Njordr and the twin sister of Freyr. Her mother’s identity is a mystery to many scholars and is simply called the unnamed wife of Njordr. Some sources however suggest that Hertha is the mother of Freyja and Freyr.

After the Aesir-Vanir war, peace was established between the two divine forces. In order to strengthen that treaty Njordr and his children, Freyr and Freyja agreed to be exchanged with other Vanir hostages. They were quickly accepted into the ranks of their former enemies as honorary members and became invaluable to the gods of Asgard.

Freyja ruled the heavenly field Folkvangr. She often rode her chariot – pulled by two white cats – into battle to claim her share of the dead. She would select half of the slain and carry them to her splendid hall of Sessrumnir. The other half were chosen by the Valkyries and brought to Odin’s hall of Valhalla.

The goddess of love

According to many sources and texts, Freyja was an important deity in the Norse mythos. She is mentioned many times in the Poetic and the Prose Edda described as a beautiful goddess, lusted after by many mortals and gods. Compared to others, Freyja was a kind and compassionate goddess, fond of love songs and generally matters of the heart.

Freyja wore a gleaming necklace called the Brisingamen and was frequently accompanied by a loyal boar called Hildisvini. Her true power however lay in her uncanny ability to see and shape the future (seidr magic). That enabled her to help more effectively those in need. Freyja also possessed a magical cloak of falcon feathers that allowed the wearer to assume the form of a bird and hence fly.

Although loved by many, Freyja gave her heart to only one god, Odr. The two of them had two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi, who took after their mother in beauty and manner. Freyja’s love though was not as rosy as one could imagine. Odr was constantly away and that made the goddess so unhappy she shed tears of red gold. Not only that, but during Odr’s absence, Thrym, the king of the Jotunns, tried hard, but in vain, to make Freyja his wife.

Freyja’s lust and sorrow

Despite it’s not explicitly stated, there’s a tale that sheds some light on the cause of Freyja’s sorrow. When Loki brought the dwarves of Svartalfheim to Asgard Freyja was fascinated by the gifts they gave to the Aesir. She couldn’t stop dreaming about gold and quickly sought to gain a brilliant gift for herself. Freyja journeyed across Midgard until she reached a cavern. Inside, she found four dwarven smiths working on a magnificent golden necklace. Freyja immediately asked to purchase it, but the smiths told her they didn’t need any gold or silver. The goddess however was determined to acquire that necklace and said to them how she would get it. The four dwarves answered that if she spent one night with each of them then the necklace would be hers. Freyja agreed, and in that shameful way obtained her precious ornament.

Yet, the mischievous Loki had followed Freyja and witnessed what had transpired in that cavern. He returned to Asgard before Freyja and informed Odin of her disgraceful deed. Odin Allfather ordered Loki to bring him the Brisingamen necklace. When Freyja found out about this, Odin said that he would give it back if she accepted her punishment. Freyja agreed and received the Brisingamen back, but not without a heavy cost. Odr, her beloved husband, had learned of her dishonorable act and abandoned her. Freyja was devastated and it’s unclear whether she searched Odr because she loved him or because she wanted his forgiveness.

Freyja and the gods of Asgard

In her dealings with the other gods, Freyja is brought up in many tales. In the Lokasenna poem, Freyja verbally fights Loki and fends off his insults with her father, Njordr intervening and accusing the god of mischief of being a sick person.

Freyja fighting with gods.
Lorenz Frølich, via Wikimedia Commons

In the Thrymskvitha poem, Freyja assists Thor, who has lost his powerful hammer Mjolnir by the Jotunn king Thrym. She lends her falcon feathered cloak to Loki, who flies to Thrym’s domain and learns that if Thor wants his hammer back then Freyja must agree to marry Thrym. Thor tells Freyja to dress up for the wedding, but Freyja becomes so angry that all of the halls in Asgard are shaken by her rage. Instead, it is Thor who ends up dressed as a bride, posing to be Freyja; a plan devised by Loki. In the end, the two gods manage to trick Thrym and Thor successfully gains back his hammer Mjolnir.

In Gylfaginning, Freyja is mentioned in the tale concerning the birth of Sleipnir; the eight-legged steed of Odin. And in Skaldskarpamal, Freyja lends again her magical cloak to Loki.

Frequently Asked Questions

Aren’t Freyja and Frigg two different names for the same deity?

Many scholars have argued about Frigg and Freyja being one entity, but the real answer here is that both of these goddesses are said to have originated from an even older deity. Whatever the case, the old texts set Frigg and Freyja as two different figures, each with its own great importance to the Norse pantheon.

Is Freyja a benign goddess?

On most occasions, Freyja is a force of good, helping mortals and gods with their love quests, making things bloom and generally beautifying parts of the world. Now, how can the goddess of love be an evil being? Well, she is certainly not a bad deity, but considering the anthropomorphic attributes the gods have, Freyja is affected by her emotions and passions as well. It has been said that she would curse lands with blight if she was offended or even kill the warriors she would later choose to take to her hall in Folkvangr.

How great is Freyja?

Although a Vanir, Freyja is one of the greatest among the gods of Asgard. It was Freyja who demonstrated and later taught the seidr to the Aesir gods. It was Freyja who would select the first half of the dead warriors in the battle to escort her back to Sessrumnir; Odin’s Valkyries came after Freyja was done. If that doesn’t make up for a great goddess then surely nothing else does.

Why Freyja betrayed Odr?

There is more here than meets the eye. Freyja is a great and lovely goddess. Her passion for gold however becomes her worst enemy in the end. She gains the Brisingamen and loses the love of her life. Scholars, who tend to identify Odr as a different presence from Odin, suggest that Odin’s wrath is reasonable towards Freyja. Whether it’s Odin or Odr, Freyja’s disgraceful deed is a stain on the soul that won’t go away. So, Odin punishes her hard, and Odr, feeling forever betrayed, leaves her. The moral of this story is that if someone doesn’t control their passions they end up alone and sorrowful.

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Vasilis Megas

Vasilis Megas (a.k.a. Vasil Meg) lives in Athens, Greece. He is a Greek- and Norse Mythology enthusiast. Vasilis has written and published 16 books - mostly fantasy and science fiction - and he is now working as a content writer, journalist, photographer and translator.