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Freyja - Norse Goddess of Love
Freyja is the Norse goddess of love. She is associated with beauty, fertility, gold, witchcraft, war, and death.
Freyja's family are members of the Vanir. Her father, Njoror married his sister and they had two children, Freyja and her brother, Freyr. The Vanir is one of the Nine Worlds and the home of the Vanir -- these gods of Vanir are all associated with fertility and wisdom, and have the ability to see the future.
Snorri Sturlson (1179 - 1241), an Icelandic historian, poet, and politician, was the author of the Prose Edda. The Prose Edda is a book of poetic language and narrative of Norse mythology, written around the year 1220. In an excerpt from Gylfaginning, Sturulson mentions the family of Freyja:
The Prose Edda
of Snorri Sturulson, year 1220
Translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur (1916)
XXIV. ... begot afterward two children: the son was called Freyr, and the daughter Freyja; they were fair of face and mighty. Freyr is the most renowned of the Aesir; he rules over the rain and the shining of the sun, and therewithal the fruit of the earth; and it is good to call on him for fruitful seasons and peace. He governs also the prosperity of men. But Freyja is the most renowned of the goddesses; she has in heaven the dwelling called Sessriaamnir, and wheresoever she rides to the strife, she has one-half of the kill, and Odin half, as is here said:
Fiaalkvangr 't is called, | where Freyja rules
Degrees of seats in the hall;
Half the kill | she keepeth each day,
And half Odin hath.
Her hall, Sessriaamnir, is great and fair. When she goes forth, she drives her cats and sits in a chariot; she is most conformable to man's prayers, and from her name comes the name of honor, Freyia, by which noblewomen are called. Songs of love are well-pleasing to her; it is good to call on her for furtherance in love."
Odin, from the gods of AEsir, takes Freyja as his wife after the war between the two groups. They had two beautiful daughters, Gersemi and Hnoss (Norse for "treasures"), "who gave their names to our most precious possessions."
Odin and his wife Freyja are both mighty warriors. Freyja rules over her heavenly afterlife field Fiaalkvangr and there receives half of those that die in battle, whereas the other half go to the god Odin's hall in Valhalla. Within Fiaalkvangr is Freyja's hall, Sessriaamnir. Freyja assists other deities by allowing them to use her feathered cloak, is invoked in matters of fertility and love, and is frequently sought after by the jotunn, Norse Giants, who wish to make her their wife. Freyja's husband is often in battles and far away from her. She cries for him with tears of red and gold, and searches for him.
The Heimskringla, one of the Old Norse kings' sagas, was written by Snorri Sturluson about 1230. The book provides an account of the origin of the gods, including Freyja. In chapter 4, Freyja is introduced as a member of the Vanir, the sister of Freyr, and the daughter of Njoror and his sister. After the AEsir and the Vanir War ends in a stalemate, Odin appoints Freyr and Njoror as priests over sacrifices.
Freyja becomes the priestess of sacrificial offerings and it was she who introduced the practice of witchcraft to the AEsir, which previously was only practiced by the Vanir.
When Freyja's brother Freyr dies, Freyja becomes the last survivor among the AEsir and Vanir. Freyja keeps up the sacrifices and becomes famous. The saga explains that, due to Freyja's fame, all women of rank become known by her name. Any woman who is the mistress of her property is referred to as Freyja. Any woman who owns an estate is referred to as hiaasfreyja ("lady of the house").
Freyja by J. Doyle Penrose (1862-1932)
Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Freya_by_Penrose.jpg
For more reading on ancient Mythology:
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