The ancient Norse revered women just as much as they revered men, and one fine example of that is the goddess Freya. While Frigg was the wife of Odin the All-father, Freya was counted as an equal to him because they split the dead between them.
But in keeping with the glory of Freya, this article should not just be about comparing her to Odin, or even to her brother, Freyr, who served a similar role in the realm of fertility. Freya was a goddess in her own right– the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. But she was also the goddess of sex, battle, and pleasure.
It may surprise you to hear that Freya got the first pick of the dead over the All-father himself. Odin forfeited this right to her as a sign of kindness– for Freya is an entirely different breed of god than Odin. Odin rules the Aesir, and Freya rules the Vanir. These two factions of godhood were long at war, and this choice of the dead was part of a showing of friendship from the Aesir to the Vanir, when they agreed to rule Asgard and all the planes together.
We don’t really know what qualifications you had to go through in order to be selected by Freya– it’s one of those things that’s ubiquitously missing from Norse mythology. But we do know that Freya rules over the realm Folkvang, which is where she brings her dead warriors.
In Norse mythology, goddesses often come equipped with some pretty sweet swag. Freya is not neglected in this manner. In fact, she probably has the swiggiest swag of all the Norse goddesses. For one, she had a pretty cool hawk hood that allowed her to turn into a big ol’ bird when she put it on. She loaned this to Loki at some point, which we have highlighted in a previous tale.
Freya also had three kinds of animal companions: two cats which pulled her chariot, a golden boar named Hildisvini, and a mare, also called the night-mare. You can probably guess what riding the night-mare leads to.
But the horse was also a symbol of Freya’s unbridled sexuality. Contrary to many other cultures and religions at the time, the Norse believed a woman’s sexuality was a beautiful and powerful thing– and more importantly, it was her own business and no one else’s.
Freya's Necklace, Brísingamen
But more importantly, Freya had Brísingamen, a very powerful and important necklace. I’d like to tell you why it was powerful, but this being Norse mythology, we don’t really know. We do know that it was exceptionally valuable– Freya wanted the necklace so badly, she spent a night with each of the four dwarves that made Brísingamen in payment for it. Since Freya was the goddess of love (and in many ways, a goddess of feminine sexuality and power), this was an apt and valuable payment.
Freya and Frigg
We talked a little bit about this in our Frigg article, but there are a lot of sources that seem to claim that Frigg and Freya are the same goddess. They have a lot of imagery and symbolism that are the same; however, they are often seen in scenes together in the Poetic Eddas, such as in the Lokasenna, when Loki accuses them both of being disloyal to their husbands.
It could be that they are merely aspects of one another, and due to mistranslation or misremembering throughout hundreds of years of oral tradition, they split off from one another.
If you are looking for a symbol or goddess for your powerful, beautiful, female friends, or even for your powerful, beautiful, female self, Freya is your lady. Adorn yourself in amber, gold, and with symbols of cats if you wish to seek her favor.
Better yet, a customizable drinking horn bearing Brísingamen or any of Freya's other symbols might just be what the doctor ordered. Fill it with amber mead, and toast to this clever and powerful goddess.