DEEPER UNDERSTANDING & CONTEMPLATION OF OUR QUEEN-MOTHER FREYJA
AND HOW SHE RULES OVER THE WAINS' SHARE IN THE FEAST:
The Matrimony of Freya (Frigg) & Oð/Odin (Ygg);
[And the Subsequent Accord Reached in the Aesir/Vanir War]
“Confounding stanzas were they—one-and-twenty and further—to scholar or skald, to master or novice… So long, did those voluspiac meanings slumber, and stand, in mystery, unquestioned, and taken at face. Lo, they are the gem, bursting with truth—a bright gift—endowed to us through wisdom, conveyed by account of Gods, of Goddess—of all-being, of consulation, and cosmic law!”¹
An enigmatic quote, concerning certain inscrutable stanzas within Voluspa… What are we to interpret? What do stanzas 21-24 fittingly explain about this war between Aesir and Vanir? What is certain and clear, is that the Voluspa is a vastly fragmented written retelling, and that it has been most certainly interpolated. The forgoing is a sophisticated effort to accurately understand both existent and contemplated Eddaic lore & myth.
I ween the first war in the world was this,
When the Gods Gullveig did gash with their spears,
In the halls of Har burned her—
Three times scalded they the thrice reborn,
Ever and anon: even now she liveth.
Heith she was greeted where to homes she came,
The wise seeress, and magic she plied—
Cast spells where she could, cast spells on the mind:
To wicked women she was welcome ever.
Then gathered together the gods for counsel,
The Holy Hosts, and held converse:
Should the Aesir a truce with tribute purchase,
Or should all gods share in the feast.
His spear had Odin sped over the host:
The first of feuds was thus fought in the world;
Was broken in battle the breast of Asgard,
Fighting Vanir trod the field of battle.
What follows is an elucidation of these four stanzas (21-24), which is neither enigmatic, nor elaborate… To the contrary, it is straightforward, and based upon information found throughout the Eddas, as well the known related religious lore and practices of pre-christian Indo-Europeans. It is also a genuine foundation for an evident clarification (and comprehension) of the explicit Origins, Identities, Relationships, and Natures of the ancient Aesir/Vanir deities, as well as how we regard them in a spiritual context…
Our understanding begins with the first line of stanza 21: we are told of a war—“the first war”—between the gods of the Aesir & Vanir. Line two informs us that the question of this war pertains to an incident² involving “Gullveig…” (this is a known kenning and/or persona of the Vanir goddess Freya), “…in the Halls of Har” (“Har” being cognate with the Germanic “Honor,” and also a kenning for the Aesir lord Odin).
Freya is described in line four as “the thrice reborn,” which is a known kenning, and also an acknowledged pre-christian description of the ancient and impressive persona of the Triple-Goddess, found throughout early branches of Indo-European faith and lore (Rig Veda, Zed Avesta, Edda, & many others). Historians and anthropologists have expounded upon the meaning of the Triple-Goddess, defining it as a primal representation of the three distinct chapters of female vigor and being: the Virgin, the Mother, and the Crone; also, an explicit depiction of three female phases: pre-menstruation, menstruation, and menopause. These same tripartite aspects are also found in the Lokasenna (e.g., Gefjon—the virgin, Freya—the bachelorette, and Frigga—the wife).
Stanza 22 (lines two & three) attribute shamanic, supernatural powers to Gullveig/Freya: “The wise seeress, and magic she plied—cast spells where she could, cast spells on the mind:” Line four further explains the admiration of said powers among mortal women (those who are, like the speaker of the Voluspa, probably seeresses/priestesses themselves). The word “wicked” in this line presents certain disagreement with the spirit of Voluspa, and is most likely a mistranslation, or worse, an intentional corruption via ideas held by the later christian translators.
Stanza 23, line four, affirms, “share in the feast”, which is a known kenning for—as well as an ancient heathen expression meaning—“meet in battle.” Other, more contemporary transliterations, express this as meaning, “share in the sacrifice,” or, more explicitly, that the gods of the Vanir and the Aesir would share in the recognition and “votive adoration” [ostensibly ridiculous for deities of valor] by their mortal adherents (in the same way as heathen warrior clan chieftains would sponsor and share feasts with their troops as a show of the chieftain’s ruling tribal status). This will be expounded upon further in this treatise…
Is it really so far-fetched that a synthesis of the two differing Aesir & Vanir sociopolitical structures could be—and was—achieved through matrimony? This author, as well as many of my learned colleagues confidently postulate that yes [!], these two religious tribal systems mended the breach of war through marriage of the Aesir chief—Odin/Wotan—with that of the Vanir Queen (or Princess)—Freya/Frigga—and that the kin of Freya (her brother, Prince Frey, her father, King Njorth, and the sea-lord Aegir) were adopted into the Aesir pantheon & lore.
If we apply the logical simile of mortal man, to that of deity, we find an appropriately notable (and historically documented custom) followed by ancient Indo-Europeans (dated from as early as about 2500-BCE, and continuing well into the early 18th-century)… Long standing wars between empires (nations, and/or tribes), are healed diplomatically, through the matrimony between the ruling-class of respective combatants. Each (respective bride and groom) sharing in the governance and wealth of his/her counterpart, as well as over the jointly combined populace and state. When this is applied to an armistice (and agreement), the victor extracted from the conquered a grant (or “dowry”³), namely a portion of the conquered empire (soldiers, citizens, beasts, lands, etc.)…
Once married into a royal family, it was the Right of the bride to take possession from a Lord a Dowry, as well as a possession of her husband’s “Sir,” or family name—hence, Freya did incorporate Ygg’s (a well known Surname for Odin4) into her own, transforming Freya to Frigga (or something closely resembling Frey-ygg-a)… This logic becomes apparent and easier to follow the deeper we look!
Let us examine the aspect of a dowry, given in exchange for a co-regency of gods Aesir & Vanir… If Freya was, in fact, wed to Wotan, what was her reward? Much as in times of old—as well as in contemporary times—the recompense was HALF of the husbands wealth, in other words, HALF of Aesir lord Odin’s afterlife kingdom: Grimnismal, Stanza 14, “…where Freya chooses whose seats shall have in her hall; half of the slain are hers each day, and half are Odin’s sworn [own]. “In this way all the spoils of souls lost in battle are divided up between All-father and Freya, and both gods of Aesir & Vanir “Share in the feast.”
Another woe awaiteth Hlin [Frigga/Freya],
When forth goes Odin to fight the Wolf,
And the slayer of Beli [a known kenning for Frey] to battle with Surt:
Then Frigg’s [Freya’s] husband will fall lifeless.
The above cited Stanza 52 of the Voluspa gives us the most tangible and conclusive evidence of who Frigga (Freya) is through her relationship to both Odin and Frey—her “second sorrow” (after that of the death of her son Baldur)—occurs during the battle of Ragnarok, when her “Joy will perish…” Why? Because of the loss, not only of her husband, Odin, but also the loss of her brother, Frey!
A deeper-look at the obscure evidence which supports the matrimony of All-Father and Freya is found by scrutinizing specific books of the Elder Edda—two of which: Voluspa & Hyndluljod… In Stanza 29 of the Voluspa, Freya is referred to as “Oð’s Maid,” (Oð is cognate with Odin, and found in various kennings referring to Wotan/Odin). One example found at the end of Hlyndluljop “you [Freya] ran to Oð, ever looking,” (this almost sounds like Hera peering over Zeus’s neck). Another instance includes a Skaldic kenning which describes Freya as “Oð’s bed friend.” It is also noticeable that Oð is a cognate with (as well as doublet of) Odin’s name (Similar to the names Ull and Ullin—Od and Odin).
1 Folda Lither, (a heroic heathen “truth bearer”—burned at the stake November 9, 1514 ACE. Born April 20, 1488, Folda’s mother Greta Mater, was hung shortly thereafter in 1495 ACE).
2 the subject of which must be further detailed at length in another chapter, which is based upon a self imposed shamanic test, similar to Odin’s self-sacrifice upon the tree—stabbed, as was Gullveig, by a spear.
3 or a “share in the feast”, as stated in Voluspa, Stanza 23.
4 The name “Ygg” for Odin/Wotan is found nearly a dozen times in the Stanzas of the Elder Edda, including: Voluspa, Stz’s 28, 29 & 62; Vafthruđnismal, Stz 5; Grimismal, Stz’s 9 & 55; Hymiskviđa, Stz 2; Fafnismal, Stz 43… It is also found in many Eddaic kennings pertaining to All-Father, including “Yggdrasil,” meaning “Odin’s Steed.”
Maria Kvilhaug offers some of her own reflections of the Holy High Goddess Freya, many quite enlightening...
Mythology & Folkore surrounding the character "Freya"
as humorously told by an Eddaic Dwarf
THE HEATHEN CONCEPT
An Eddaic, Heathen Understanding
of the Creation Mythos
The anthropological conception of the creation mythos and human existence contained in the Völuspa is as follows: Man consists of seven primary elements, beginning with the lower and coarser and ending with the highest and noblest:
The earthly [inorganic] matter of which the body is composed.
A formative vegetative [organic] force.
First gifts of Loder/Lothar.
Second gift of Loder/Lothar.
The Völuspa passages concerning this reads:
…determined Syr spoke,
at life’s command,
blessed are twain,
these tasks performed.
…found on the land
with little power,
Ask [ash] and Embla [elm]
Spirit they had not,
“ódr” they had not,
neither “lá” nor “læti,”
nor the form of the gods.
Spirit gave Odin,
“ódr” gave Hœnir,
“lá” gave Loder
and also the form of the gods.
These states of matter begin with the first two lowest factors, earthly [inorganic] material and the vegetative [organic] force. At this point Ask & Embla are no more than vegetation [growing trees]…
To this vegetative matter, Loder bestows the first high gifts of lá [meaning blood] and læti [meaning the way in which a conscious being moves & acts]; transforming Ask & Embla from vegetative state into animals…
Loder’s Second high gift was litr goda [“good composition”]. Bear in mind that the Germanic/Norse, like the Greek-Hellenes and Romans, conceived their gods in human form, and that human characteristics originally belonged to the gods, and were fashioned by their gods before human creation. These said peoples understood mankind to be created in effigiem deorum or litr goda: “in the likeness of gods.” This concept can be more explicitly understood in the abstract that an efni [an empty form, resembling the gods] gave humans shape and character to the earthly body, which is visible to the eye. In brief, Loder gave Ask & Embla the same shape [not substance] as the gods, as opposed to the prior form of animals…
From Hœnir, Ask & Embla received the higher gift of ódr. This word corresponds most closely to the Latin mens, the Greek nous, and is defined as that material which forms the kernel of human personality [its ego] and whose manifestations are understanding, memory, imagination, and will. These are conditions essential to the existence of every person.
From, Odin—highest of Aesir—adds the highest & noblest of gifts to the nature of humans, önd1: spirit, by which a human being becomes participator in the divine; not just in the representation of image and/or form. This gift is revealed in mankind as power of thought, courage, honesty, veracity, mercy and the humility of composure in accepting those misfortunes which cannot be averted by human ingenuity…
Finally, Freya imparted her most powerful blessing upon Ask & Embla: fertility, and the magnificent power of procreation, ensuring their continuity throughout the ages.
These seven elements, united into one human-nature, are constantly in reciprocal activity. The personal kernel of ódr, is influenced by önd, the spirit, and also by the animal, vegetative, and corporeal elements; whereas the personality—being endowed with will—is also in a reciprocal interface. If the spirit becomes superior to the other elements, it then penetrates and purifies not only the kernel of ego, but also the animal, vegetative, and corporeal elements as well. Subsequently, human nature becomes divine, and deserves divine honors. Through procreation metempsychosis is made reality; thoughts, feelings, experience, instincts, intelligence is transmitted through the chromosomes of fully developed male & female, into another new life, and continues anon. Thus, reincarnation, immortality, is achieved...
Two Extremely Unsimilar [Incompatible] Religious Beliefs and Theories:
The heathen concept is in direct opposition to that of the latter European christian concept of humans being merely two elements (e.g., the corporeal body and the imperishable soul). The pre-christian concept embraces a multi-complex of elements2; some lower, which can or cannot exist with or without the others3, and those of the high, higher, and highest, that can exist and evolve—interdependently or independently— but always dynamically.
1 the Solarlioð (Stz 52) speaks expressly to the seven nether worlds of existence “…without and within, I seemed to traverse all, the seven nether worlds…”; in relation to these are a total of seven elements/gifts from the gods… Aditionaly, in similarly related tales found in Hymiskviða: the “eight kettles” occurring during Thor & Tyr’s exploit (Stz 13); Thrymskviða: “ full eight leagues deep the ground beneath” (Stz 8); Lokasenna: “thou winters eight was the earth beneath” (Stz 23); suggests an “eighth” level of existence/being beyond the earthly/mortal “seven?” Could this eighth state be the transition from life to the underworld?
2 the two lower inorganic & organic elements can cease to exist, as well as the third and fourth state of life-blood & animation; while the three higher elemental states can continue to maintain their existence so long as the fifth state (the litr) is in place, the higher (fifth and the sixth), and highest (seventh) may persist, continue & evolve (or devolve) regardless of (or in regard to) one-another.
3 ancient heathens, aware of this primal concept of existence, insisted upon their corporeal bodies—blood and flesh—being destroyed by water, exposure, fire, or inhumation (the primal elements of water, air, fire, earth)… They knew the importance of the inorganic material (skeletal) and its relation to the visage of godhood…