On a chariot drawn by two large cats a beautiful lady with gilded locks and eyes clearer than future draws near to an open battlefield where many have recently fallen. The irresistible lady of amber and gold will guide half of the souls to the peaceful plains of Fólkvangr and the other half to the hall of the slain-Valhalla where they shall dine at a table with the wise King Odin now as the Einherjar (the army of one). This is Freyja, the Nordic-Germanic goddess of love, sex, and war.
The Lady in Gold is the most beautiful of the Vanir, the soothsaying gods of fertility and wisdom who hail from the ancient land of Vanaheimr. Fairer than fair Freyja is a sight to behold with hair like elven gold and a figure that only the gods could fashion, however, do not let her beguiling face fool you for Freyja is a fearsome warrior and even more powerful sorceress.
Who is the Freyja?
Freyja is the daughter of sea god Njörðr (pronounced n-yor-d) and the twin sister of Freyr the god of good harvest. Once a war hostage alongside her brother to the gods of Æsir during the Æsir-Vanir War Freyja and Freyr were used as leverage in the conflict with both pantheons of gods holding certain factions' captive.
During Freyja’s captivity by the Æsir the Hall of Odin ordered for the young goddess’ execution. She was speared to death and burned three times by the Æsir. Yet the three times she had died she was thrice reborn. Freyja could not be killed nor contained for she had mastered seiðr (pronounced: Say-Der) the magic of the Vanir. Thus, it is not Freyja that yields to death, but death that yields to Freyja.
The feuding pantheons of Gods eventually reconciled their dispute and unified their opposing sides into one and during this time Freyja and Freyr were released and allowed to travel between the lands of Asgard and Vanaheimr freely.
As a daughter of the Vanir, it has been theorized that Freyja and her family could be connected to the Jjötunn-other supernatural beings such as the giants, elves, and dwarfs, and for this reason it has been hypothesized that Freyja and many of the Vanir may actually be High Elves, which would describe their affinity for magic and prophecy as well as their deep connection to nature.
Freyja’s name translates to “The Lady '' which finds its roots in the old Proto-Germanic feminine noun of “fraujan” subsequently her brother Freyr’s name translates to “The Lord ''. Her name is moreso of a title and it is possible that her given name is actually Gullveig which means “Gold-Drunk”.
Freyja has many names and titles such as Gefin ”She who gives happiness”, Hörn- “flaxen”, and Mardöll "Sea Brightener” (perhaps in reference to her being a daughter of Njörðr).
Freyja Chooser of the Slain
After conquering death thrice Freyja had proven not only her magnificent power and bravery but also her ability to defy death. This mastery of death made Freyja a psychopomp which carries from the Greek word ψυχοπομπός which means “guide of souls”. A psychopomp is a being who is responsible for guiding newly deceased souls to the afterlife and it was Freyja’s job to choose from the most valiant of the fallen and lead them either to her domain in the fields of Fólkvangr or to Valhalla with Odin.
Because of this Freyja is associated with the realm of the dead and war. Her role has also been associated with that of the Valkyries-minor goddesses of war who are also in charge of guiding the souls of fallen warriors. Freyja is also referred to as Valfreyja (lit: “Lady of the Slain”) and in the poem Njals saga Freyja is seen as the head of the Valkyries.
Freyja the Seeress
Freyja is also a formidable sorceress who has the powers of divination and can divine the future as well as perform many other seemingly impossible feats. Freyja being a High Mistress of Magic even taught wise King Odin of Asgard the ways of seiðkona, and to this day Odin will still seek Freyja out for her ability to foretell the future. In this way Freyja is seen as the matriarch of spellcasting in many Pagan practices, and it should be noted that the term Pagan has historically been used to describe any kind of spiritual or religious practice that was not linked to Christianity.
Freyja is also referred to as a vǫlva or “staff-bearer” which bears Germanic etymological roots. A vǫlva through today's lens is comparable to a shamaness or a witch and they were all well versed in seiðr or “the art of binding”. Many priestesses who swore themselves to Freyja were typically referred to as vǫlva. These women bore a high status within their respective clans and in death were given elaborate and opulent burials which can still be found today scattered across Scandanavia. Some men could also become vǫlva but it was seen as highly unmasculine since it was a mainly female practice.
vǫlva would typically wear colorful garments or dresses (both male and female) alongside accessories made from cat fur and their iconic wand or staff. These wands would be intricately decorated and designed and were very important in the practice of seiðr.
Like Goddess Freyja a vǫlva was a Master of Medicine and could perform elaborate rituals to communicate with the spirits and foretell future events. These rituals involved female-sung music and a drum as well as hallucinogenic herbs that would help to put the vǫlva into a trance. When the apex of their trancelike state was reached the vǫlva was placed onto a highchair where they could be physically lifted into the spirit realm to commune with the dead. If the dead were pleased with the ceremony, they would warn the seeress of critical past or present events.
The vǫlva could also astral-project and assume the forms of various animals such as cats, birds, and rabbits. And on a more sinister note, A shamaness could also use seiðr to perform black magic, there are many stories of vǫlva using their powers to bind and tamper with the will of warriors in battle–either making them slow, ill, or completely disorienting them and indirectly leading them to their end.
For this reason, Freyja and her disciples are both revered and feared for their unrivaled supernatural abilities. Even the church feared these women and subsequently Freyja and sought to outlaw the practices of seiðr completely. Even the formidable Saintess Olga of Kiev was said to be a priestess of Freyja before converting to Christianity. This all simply goes to show that the daughters of Freyja are not fucked with.
The Tools of Freyja
Freyja has an arsenal of strange, enchanting tools and plucky animal companions by her side. Her most notable tools are her falcon feathered cloak of fertility and the infamous Brísingamen, a necklace of such great beauty that it enraptured all of Freyja’s desires, and she was willing to do anything to possess it.
Freyja, The Brisingamen, and the Dwarves
As stated previously the Brísingamen is Freyja’s most recognizable and infamous tool. Freyja came upon this beautiful and all-consuming necklace by way of the dwarves who were master craftsmen and artisans. Upon first sight of the arresting necklace Freyja simply “had to have it” and the dwarves were more than willing to let the goddess take the necklace but in order to repay them for their good will she had to spend a night with each of them. Thus, Freyja spent four days and four nights with each of the dwarves and as agreed upon she was allowed to take Brísingamen. However, trouble was brewing, and the trickster God Loki had happened upon Freyja’s infidelity for the Brísingamen and was in the mood to stir up some trouble…
Freyja’s Illusive Husband Óðr
Despite having taken many lovers in the course of her existence as the most desired in all the Nine Realms, Freyja has only ever truly had eyes for her husband the god of sunshine Óðr (pronounced O-der). Not much is known of Óðr and he is a highly debated and mysterious figure within Norse mythology as he is known mainly as Freyja’s illusive husband. He fathered two daughters with Freyja named Hnoss “treasure” and Gersemi “jewel”. Some have even theorized that Óðr is perhaps another version of the king of gods Odin, however many scholars have debunked this stating that narrative poems such as Poetic Edda and Prose Edda describe the two as completely separate figures.
Though Óðr is an obscure figure the cause for his absence is no mystery and is a direct cause of Freyja’s infidelity for the Brísingamen. The myth goes on to state that after spending four days and four nights in unholy union with the dwarves, Freyja returned back home to her husband Óðr in shame where she hid the necklace in deep remorse not only for her unfaithfulness but also for her insatiable lust for gold.
Loki, always scheming and never far behind, stole the necklace from Freyja while she was sleeping and presented the Brísingamen to a devastated Óðr, who was shocked and heartbroken that Freyja would betray their love for something as simple and silly as a necklace. Hurt, Óðr vanished without a trace into the Nine Realms and Freyja awoke–frigid, missing two treasures: the Brísingamen and Óðr.
Freyja’s Golden Tears of Sorrow
With Óðr gone Freyja was alone and her reputation was besmirched. All this pain and heartache caused by greed was destroying beautiful Freyja from the inside and out. Venturing to Valhalla, Freyja confessed to King Odin of her transgression and also of Óðr’s absence. Odin showed great compassion to the shaken and vulnerable goddess but there had to be penance. Taking the Brísingamen from a smug Loki, Odin placed the necklace on a red-eyed and remorseful Freyja. He then commanded her to wear the necklace for all eternity and to go search for Óðr.
Shedding bitter tears of golden amber, Freyja wanders the Realms in search of Óðr, and though she has not yet found him I myself have no doubt that the two will one day reunite and reconcile.
Freyja’s Loyal Cats and Faithful swine
Freyja is always seen being accompanied by the twin cats Bygul and Trjegul who pull her chariot and the boar Hildisvíni who are her familiars. Be sure to treat these animals with kindness as Freyja oversees their safety. To learn more about the enchanting history of cats check out our blog post on the Egyptian goddess of cats Bastet.
Symbols and Signs of Freyja
Common symbols of Freyja include cats, boars, falcons, ravens, ladybugs, as well as her Brísingamen necklace. The colors red, blue, and amber orange are especially synonymous with her.
Freyja can interact with us in many ways. Some of the ways she has made her presence known to me are through ladybugs/ladybirds appearing in strange places or during times when they are out of season. She can also be heard as a clear disembodied voice with a distinct Scandinavian/Germanic accent and if you present as female, she may refer to you by the old-timey German honorific fraulein (pronounced froy-lein) which is comparable to addressing someone as miss in English or mademoiselle in French.
Offerings to Freyja can be both humble or opulent and generally with her it is more the thought that counts, but she will accept either simple or grand gifts alike. All gifts to Freyja should be left out for her on Fridays as the day of the week is named in reverence to her.
Freyja’s favorite gifts and treats:
- Strawberries or strawberry flavored candy, treats, and desserts
- Apples or apple flavored candy, treats, and desserts
- Pork and ham
- Flowers, flowers, and more flowers! Freyja especially loves primroses and daisies!
- Love songs and sappy poetry anything that comes from the heart will catch Freyja’s fancy
- Jewelry especially gold and amber encrusted treasures
- Sweet wine, beer, and mead
- Catnip and cat toys for Bygul and Trjegul
- A bowl of milk for her cats which should be left out on Friday
- Stones and crystals such as amber, rose quartz, citrine, carnelian, and red agate to get you started
- Cannabis and other hallucinogenic herbs or mushrooms which the Vanir used heavily to achieve heightened states of being (just make sure it’s legal in your area to grow, purchase, and use!)
Freyja is a kind and generous goddess with a sing-song tone and her stories show her unyielding will and also her deep eternal love. She can help us to gain confidence in our spellwork and perception of self, demonstrating that beauty and strength are one in the same and that femininity can be fearsome.
She has many strengths and a few weaknesses, and many of her tales warn against losing yourself to greed and desire. But even with these few glaring shortcomings that pave the way to very real and lasting consequences Freyja shows that we are still worthy of being shown love and compassion in spite of our mistakes–so long that we seek to correct them and right our wrongs.