Freja, Goddess of Love and Death
Mother. Lover. Warrior. Witch. Queen.
Freyja—who may have also been known as Frigg depending on where one gets their information—is the most renowned of all the Norse goddesses. She is one of the few deities that has a foot in the two divine clans of Norse mythology, the Aesir, and the Vanir. Her mother is unknown, though believed by some to be Nethys, but her father is Njord. Her twin brother is Frey. Her husband is none other than Odin himself. She is sometimes seen as a devoted witch and wise Queen, and sometimes she is depicted as a wild woman who likes nothing but lovemaking and thrilling pleasure, especially once she was viewed through the lens of ancient historians, who were often religious, for whom the ideal woman was virginal and lacked in her own sensual interests.
Freja, whose name means lady, was born to the Vanir tribe of gods. She is one of the few goddesses who might have had two husbands, one named Odr, who is the father of Hnoss and Gersimi, and Odin. Some sources believe these two gods are the same being, as Odin was known for having many names, though others point out that these two beings are very different. When the war between the Vanir and the Aesir was over, she and her brother were sent as peace offerings. There are poems about how Odin was struck by her incredible beauty the moment that he saw her.
Freja’s feathered cloak was given as a gift to just about any who needed it in matters of fertility and physical passion. Several giants attempted to steal it in a poorly conceived plan to make her their wife. Either way, it is believed that once someone found their way into Freja’s bed, they never wanted to leave it. She is a goddess that many can come to when their more physical desires have flagged, or they need confidence in the realm of seduction.
Usually, when someone thinks of the afterlife in Norse mythology, all anyone hears about is Valhalla, but this is not the only place that those who fell in battle might go. Only half the fallen went the Odin, the other half went to her. Sessrumnir is Freya’s home, which sits on the edge of Fólkvangr. Much of the history and stories surrounding this land have been lost, but it is clear from old stories and artwork that the dead were proud to be taken there, as Freja got to chose her warriors first. She believed that it was better to be honorable than it was to be bloodthirsty and her halls are filled with those who died fighting for what they thought was right, rather than for the love of battle itself.
Fólkvangr means the Field of the Army or the Battle Field. Freya is a goddess of battle and death, and she presides over half of the fallen warriors. Those who fall under her dominion get to spend their days living in this vast golden field, presided over by the most beautiful goddess of Norse mythology. According to modern historians, stone ships may have been used to bring warriors to this field.
Freya would ride into battle on a chariot pulled by giant cats. In this way, cats are sacred to this goddess. She also had, of all things, a battle pig named Hildisvini. She would take these both into battle, where she would use a sword, a spear, or magick to turn the tide of battle.
Aside from passion, Freja is most closely connected with the dominion of magick, and for a good reason. Fate played a massive role in the stories and lives of the Norse peoples. Siedr, Norse Magic, and ancient ritual healing traditions is the ritualistic practice of determining what fate is going to be and using spellwork to change this course. The völva used this ability for gods and people as a way of providing for themselves, or herself, it is difficult to know if the völva was a single sorceress or a group of them.
Freja was raised by this woman or this group depending on the source of information. She learned the ways of magick and practiced them with deadly accuracy. Her most telling gift was the gift of prophecy and the ability to weave the future to benefit herself. This was a gift that she taught human women and a skill that was expected of the wives of German chieftains. In this way, the female leaders of any clan were called veleda, and they were supposed to tell the future of battles and migration for their tribes and mimicked Odin and Freya, the leader of the gods, and his oracular bride.
Freja, and the women who embodied her, was known for her love of jewelry. She could tell how well a thing was crafted with a single look. Her most prized possession was a necklace named Brísingamen, whose name meant gleaming metal or flaming torch. The stories that surround it involve gods complimenting it, Loki trying to steal it, and bringing out the golden fire of Freja’s own hair. As a goddess who understood wealth and acquisition, only Freja herself could tell how grand the item was.
Freja is one of the most called upon goddesses in modern pagan practice, and it’s unsurprising. Here is a deity whose portfolio spans all the things that many modern witches care the most about; love, family, wealth, witchcraft, strength, and cats. Being picked by her is seen as a mixed blessing, and choosing her is as likely to lead you on a grand, though misunderstood, life.