Few can compare with the goddess Freyja. One of the most famous goddesses of Norse mythology, Freyja has appeared in many stories including the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda, as well as many sagas. She bears many similarities to the Greek goddess Aphrodite and the Roman goddess Venus, and has been known for her beauty throughout the centuries.
The modern Scandinavian word for Friday is fredag in Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish, meaning Freyja’s day.
Freyja: Norse Goddess
Freyja’s associations include sex and war as she rules over the paradisal field of Folkvangar, where half of all warriors who die in battle go. The other half of warriors go to Valhalla, and given the importance of Valhalla in Norse mythology, this ought to give us some sense of Freyja’s power, majesty, and importance in the Norse pantheon.
She also bears a similarity to the goddess Frigg, and some mythologists argue that they both descend from another unknown goddess. Regardless of this potential connection, Freyja stands apart as a potent force of sexual energy, beauty, and death.
Working with Freyja
Freyja belongs to the group of Norse gods known as the Vanir, gods who are tied to the earth as opposed to the other group of gods called the Aesir (connected with power and war). As one of the Vanir deities, Freyja’s associations connect her to nature and the wilds, as well as fertility and the harvest. Her deep connection to sexuality made her desirable in the eyes of many, including the giants.
- Myths of Freyja
- Symbols of Freyja
- Names and Epithets of Freyja
- How to Worship Goddess Freyja
- Further reading
Myths of Freyja
The giant Thrym once stole Thor’s hammer and refused to return it unless he could claim Freyja for his own bride. Naturally, none of the gods wished to relinquish the presence of Freyja to any so crass as the giants, so it fell to Thor and Loki to resort to trickery in order to retrieve the hammer.
After much debate among the gods of Asgard, they sent Loki to scout out Thrym’s lair. Loki discerned the location of Thor’s hammer and returned to Asgard. He suggested that Freyja should dress as a bride and journey to Jotunheim—the land of the giants—but Freyja was outraged at this suggestion. “All shall see me as driven by lust should I travel with you to the giant’s home,” was her response.
The gods then dressed Thor up as Freyja, cloaking him in her bridal dress and fine jewelry. Sullenly, Thor accepted the vestments, though Loki reassured his half-brother by reminding him what would happen if he failed to retrieve his hammer from the giants.
Thor’s disguise worked! Thrym’s lust for Freyja’s beauty was so complete that he lowered his guard in anticipation of his sexual conquest of Freyja. When Thor arrived at Thrym’s home, Thrym noticed his bride’s curious behavior. ‘Freyja’ ate and drank like the World Serpent itself, and Thrym could not believe his eyes. Thor eventually retrieved his hammer and Freyja kept her honor intact. Freyja’s beauty was so well-known that it could be weaponized in the various ploys and schemes of the gods, and she nary had to lift a finger.
Freyja’s unbridled sexuality also came under fire by Loki himself at some point. Loki, in one of his characteristic fits of rage, accused several of the Norse goddesses of untoward sexual acts, including Freyja. He claimed that Freyja had slept with all of the gods and elves at the gathering. This brought the ire of Freyja, who returned Loki’s accusation with barbs of her own. The resulting contest is known as a ‘flyte’, an exchange of insults often but not always conducted in verse. Most of the gods took Freyja’s side, noting that Loki himself was not exactly the paragon of sexual purity. Regardless of the trickster’s accusations, Frejya did not suffer the Christian hang-ups surrounding sexuality that followed soon after the conversion of Scandinavia.
Freyja could use her wiles to get what she desired. She once slept with four dwarves to procure a beautiful necklace known as the Brísingamen. The dwarves did not wish to part with the priceless necklace, but the five came to an agreement that Freyja would lay with each for a day and a night, and in so doing she claimed a prize that not even a mountain of gold could have paid for.
Unfortunately for Freyja, Odin enlisted the aid of the trickster god Loki to steal the hard-won necklace away from her. Loki transformed himself into a fly, found a gap that allowed him to slip into Freyja’s enchanted home, and found his way to Freyja’s bedchambers. Unable to remove the necklace from around her neck without waking her, Loki turned into a flea and bit Freyja. She moved her hand to unconsciously slap at him, granting Loki the opportunity to swipe the necklace and return to Odin.
The story ends several different ways, many of them with Freyja demanding the necklace back from Odin, and Odin demanding some impossible task or act of repentance for her lack of fidelity to her husband, Odr. Evidently, she retrieved the Brísingamen at some point, as she lent it to Thor to complete his disguise in the earlier tale of Thrym and the stolen hammer.
Analysis of the Myth
Freyja’s sexuality often attracts the more monstrous aspects of the psyche, as the giants frequently use tricks against the gods of Asgard in an attempt to ransom Freyja into their bedchambers. One such giant built the walls of Asgard under a disguise. He claimed that no giant could breach the walls he’d constructed, and demanded Freyja as payment for his efforts. As wild and free as Freyja’s sexual energy is, she despises attempts such as this to secure her love, and often conspires to destroy those who would use such deceitful tactics to spend a night with her.
Freyja’s presence also underwent many changes, especially as Christianization of Scandinavia occurred. The new religion of Christianity had the Virgin Mary as the feminine ideal. The Virgin Mary, with her lack of sexuality and chaste birthing of Jesus, was almost the exact opposite of everything that Freyja’s raw and untamed sexuality represented. This naturally caused friction between the traditional beliefs of the common folk and the newly adopted beliefs of the nobility.
Many plants bearing Freyja’s name were renamed to bear that of Mary’s, but Freyja did not disappear entirely. Like many Goddesses, she remained in the hearts and beliefs of those that were close to the land, and her power continued to be invoked in rural parts of Scandinavia.
Freyja remains a powerful goddess. Sex and death are two of the most important aspects of the human condition and life itself, if not the most important aspects, and Freyja’s power extends over both. She inspires unquenchable lust as well as bears the souls of worthy warriors into her paradise. Freyja’s heavenly field of Folkvangar is noteworthy because she gets the first pick of the fallen warriors. Not even the king of the gods, Odin, has such a high honor.
Symbols of Freyja
The Brisingamen necklace is probably the most significant symbol of Freyja. Considered to be her greatest treasure, this amber necklace was crafted by four dwarfs with such artistry that it glittered like a constellation of stars in the night sky. It is said that when she appears wearing nothing but her Brisingamen, she is utterly irresistible to anyone. The Brisingamen necklace became an emblem of the fruits of the heavens and earth.
The Chariot: Freyja is said to appear driving a chariot pulled by two cats, thought to be the ancestors of the Norwegian Forest Cat, which befits Her title as “Mistress of Cats”. When the god Balder was cremated, Freyja rode to the event in her cat-drawn chariot. According to D.j. Conway, after the Norse people converted to Christianity, Freyja became a witch and her cats became black horses possessed by the devil.
Hildisvíni, the Boar or battle-pig: Freyja rides on her boar Hildisvíni. In one of the tales, the boar is really Óttar the Simple, a protégé of Freyja. She disguises him as a boar by means of magical transformation (shapeshifting)
Coat of Falcon Feathers: In the Prose Edda, Freya has a coat of falcon plumes that she and other gods use for shapeshifting into a falcon and flying. Goddess Frigg also possesses a set of falcon feathers that are used for the same purpose. This adds to the speculation that Freya and Frigga may have originally been the same Goddess.
Names and Epithets of Freyja
Freyja means ‘lady’ in Old Norse, and the word is closely related the Saxon word frua and the Old German frouwa, all of which mean lady. Simply put, Freyja’s name as Lady gives her an archetypical presence that encompasses the feminine, much in the same way her brother’s name Freyr encompasses the masculine. Freyja is considered to have been an epithet in origin, replacing a personal name that is now unknown.
Other names given to Freyja are:
- Gefn (The Giver)
- Mardöll (Sea Brightener or ‘the one who makes the sea swell’)
- Valfreyja (Lady of the Slain)
- Skjálf (Shaker)
- Sýr (Sow)
- Goddess of the Vanir
- Goddess of Love
- Goddess beautiful in tears (when upset, Freyja would weep tears of gold).
How to Worship Goddess Freyja
The best way to work with Freyja or other Celtic goddesses is to read the poems and tales that showcase her skills and abilities. Invoking her into your own sacred space can be effective as well. Draw a picture of her, give her an epithet (title) and make an offering of mead and honey on your altar. Find more offerings to Freyja below.
Pay careful attention to her appearance; it can give you a clue to which of her many aspects you are encountering, and thus have a clue as to what aspects of your life she may want to get you working on. While Freyja can assume any shape she pleases, she tends to appear as an attractive, fair-haired woman with a large necklace, often accompanied by one or two cats.
Correspondences & Associations of Freyja
Freyja’s associated symbols are cats, as she has a chariot pulled by felines. She also has a love of beautiful jewelry, as well as gold. Ultimately, Freyja’s fierce and sexual nature can be a vital component to any practice, and she maintains a deep connection with the earth, the crop, and the seed.
She is the goddess of things that grow and things that die, as well representing the parts of ourselves that resonate with a love of beauty both natural and crafted. Despite her wild sexuality, there’s a part of her that represents true love, embodied by her tears of red-gold when she searches for her lost husband, Odr.
Freyja’s dominion extends into the realm of prosperity as well. Alongside her twin brother, Freyr, they oversee harvests and other forms of wealth. That Freya weeps tears of gold symbolizes her deep connection to prosperity, although it would seem to imply a degree of sorrow involved. She is sometimes rumored to have taken her brother as a lover, shirking sexual norms and embodying the wildness of nature Herself.
Freyja also has connections to death. Some speculate that she may be a leader of the Valkyries. At the very least, the Valkyries bring fallen warriors to their resting place, including Freyja’s dominion of Folkvangar.
- Themes: Northern lights, snow, spinning wheel, sword, war, Fridays.
- Colors: Black, silver, white, red, and green.
- Animals: Cats, pigs, horses, and falcons.
- Gems: Amber, rose quartz, citrine, moonstone.
- Genealogy: Sister of Freyr. Daughter of Njörðr. Wife of Ódr. Mother of Hnoss.
Approach Her with respect and transparency, as any honest seeker would do with any deity. The best way to work with Freyja is through her mythology. You are encouraged to read her myth and invocation, write poetry or prose for her, or make an offering on an altar dedicated to her.
Offerings to Freyja: Mead, honey, wine, chocolate, fine perfumes, jewelry, cat figurines, candles, incense.
“Freyja, Of the many names, Join us.
Freyja, Of the golden tears, Join us.
Freyja, Daughter of Njord, Join us.
Freyja, Wife of Od, Join us.
Freyja, Sister of Freyr, Join us.
Freyja, Mother of Hnoss, Join us.
Freyja, Claimed by Thrym, Join us.
Freyja, Driver of cats, Join us.
Freyja, Goddess of Fertility, Join us.
Freyja, Who shares the slain with Odin, Join us.
Freyja, Who taught the Aesir Magick, Join us.
Freyja, Lender of Falcons’ Flight, Join us.
Freyja, Mistress of Brisingamen, Join us.
Freyja, Mistress of Folkvang, Join us.
Freyja, Mistress of nature, Join us.
Freyja, Your servant _______ calls you! Come to me now.”
Freyja Love Spell
The following love and attraction spell is an example of a Neopagan Freyja spell:
You will need: A green candle, a pink candle, strawberry oil, strawberry incense, and a small ceramic cat.
- Mark the candles with a heart and the Runes Berkano, Gebo and Mannaz.
- Start the spell on a Friday. Charge the cat statue and say the following chant:
“Kitty, kitty, hark to me.
A lover I would have, you see
Across the sky him/her espy,
Send him/her to me by and by!
Hurry forth, cat so furry
Bring him/her here! Hurry! Hurry!”
3. Let the candle burn out during the evening. Be sure to do the spell where it won’t burn down your dwelling. Place the cat on your sunniest windowsill. Repeat every Friday until successful. Then thank the cat (and Freya) and put the statue on a shelf or cabinet.
- Krasskova, Galina. 2005. Exploring the Northern Tradition
- John Lindow. 2002. Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs
- Patricia M. Lafayllve. 2006. Freyja, Lady, Vanadis An Introduction to the Goddess