How Freyja is the same and different from Frigga

Freyja travels in a chariot drawn by cats. Photo by Alfred Hutter.

Freyja travels in a chariot drawn by cats. Photo by Alfred Hutter.

Frejya has other associations besides the boar, fir, and falcon. As hinted before, she is linked with the sun and through her sun connection with the cycle of the year. Some other associations with Frejya include spring flowers, butterflies, the myrtle tree, the cuckoo, the swallow, cattle, and goats. Her magical symbol is the vulva. She shares many attributes with the goddess Frigga, including again the sun, fire, the element of gold, the ability to influence dwarves, possession of magical jewelry, the apple tree, and the falcon. Like Frigga she has numerous maiden attendants. Both goddesses are associated with love, marriage, midwifery, fertility, and abundance. Both rule important death realms.

Frigga has some associations not normally mentioned in connection with Frejya. She is the goddess of the birch tree and her special symbol is the chalice. She is linked with the heron. Her association with motherhood is more strongly emphasized, and her possession of special keys underscores her matronly qualities. Frigga is considered more of a queenly goddess than a maidenly one. She has many magical qualities, but the most important are prophecy and the power of silence. Her silence may signify that there were powerful taboos against revealing aspects of her cult to outsiders. Frigga is goddess of weaving and keeper of the spinning wheel. Spinning and weaving are tasks that today are glossed over and dismissed, but they were extremely important in the ancient world. Frigga spins thread with a sky wheel, and as commander of the wheel of the sky she controls weather.

Frigga's bird is the heron. Photo by Laslovarga.

Frigga’s bird is the heron. Photo by Laslovarga.

In Western understanding of pantheons there are two contradictory and equally wrongheaded tendencies. The first is to subsume deities with the same attributes or functions under a single godhead. According to this tendency Frejya and Frigga as goddesses of love, fertility, death, and the sun must be the same goddess. The second tendency is to divide attributes and functions between deities. By this logic, Frejya is goddess of maidens and Frigga of marriage; Frejya possesses the apple while Frigga controls gold. To recognize the problems with conceiving of deities in this fashion, we need to go back to Greek mythology and how our understanding of that mythology has evolved and bled into other pantheons.

So next week I will be discussing certain aspects of Greek mythology — but trust me, this is very pertinent to understanding Frigga and Frejya.

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.