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Knowing Freya. Part 1: Goddess of…?

There is a film I saw as a child about Noah and the flood. I can’t recall if this is something I saw on TV or if it was one of those VHS films produced by my parents church, but there is one scene in particular that has stuck with me. In it, Noah is going around preaching to the Polytheists about how there is only one true God. They respond by mocking him and saying something like: ”So, the same God made both elephants and camels and everything else?” And they find this to be a profoundly hilarious and ridiculous notion.

This scene illustrates perfectly one of the big misconceptions many in the Abrahamic faiths have about Polytheism: that Polytheists believe in more than one Deity because we can’t fathom that one God could have made everything and that we think every single thing that exists must have been made by one particular Deity.

While some Deities are credited for creating and/or ruling specific things, the idea that each Deity is the God/Goddess of X,Y,Z is a very simplistic way to look at things. The Divinities are multifaceted, just like humans and even more so.

With this in mind, the question of what Freya is the Goddess of becomes a bit more complex to answer. Freya is associated with many things but primarily love, sex, fertility, nature, seidr and war. But many other Deities are associated with these things. Odin, for example, is also a patron of war while his wife Frigga is a prominent practitioner of seidr. Sif, Thor’s beloved, is like Freya associated with the fertility of the fields.

When thinking about the creation and maintenance of the world from the perspective of Heathen cosmology, it often makes more sense to see it as a team effort rather than each Deity creating and controlling Their own thing.

Although Freya does rule Her own realm, Fólkvangr, so you could say that She is the Goddess of Fólkvangr. But there will be more about that aspect of Her in a future post in this series.

‘Freja’ by John Bauer

What is far more interesting when it comes to Deities are Their unique individual personalities. It tells you a lot more to look at Freya as a personality rather than specific things She is associated with.

How is She then, this great and ancient Goddess? From the lore and from the experience of many Heathens throughout history, we know that She is a fiercely independent Goddess who knows the importance of being true to yourself and following your own path. Compromising yourself might win you approval and acceptance by others, but giving up your freedom is too high a price to pay and Freya knows that.

She also knows that being true doesn’t mean being cold and unapproachable. The Edda tells us that She is the most inclined to listen to people’s prayers of all the Asynjor (the female Æsir) and She is also known to give a helping hand to other Deities, such as when She taught Odin seidr or when She lent Her falcon feather cloak to Thor.

Freya teaches us that one must love both oneself and others. That we should be compassionate but never let ourselves be controlled by people’s opinions. For this reason, She often appeals to those who walk unconventional paths which the majority society does not understand.

There is, of course, so much more to this Goddess and in this 15 posts series, I will write about many more aspects of the great Vanir Lady Freya!

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