Freyr is one of the most important and greatly worshiped gods of the Norse religion. Matter of fact, he was among the most beloved deities in Nordic cultures and throughout Scandinavia because he was the god of peace, love, and fertility. In this write-up, we will learn more about him.
Freyr is described as the Norse god of fertility, peace, prosperity, sascral kingship, and virility. Additionally, he is associated with good harvest, good weather, and sunshine. While he is often portrayed as a handsome man wearing simplistic or farming clothes, he is also depicted as a god of glamor. He is accompanied by a magical golden-bristled boar which is known as Gullinbursti and he carries a powerful sword that can fight his enemies on its own.
Freyr is considered a member of the Aesir gods because he became a resident of Asgard after the Aesirr-Vanir war. He was Njord’s (the god of the sea) and Nerthus’ (Njord’s sister) son. Additionally, he was Freya’s twin brother and her husband when they were still at Vanaheim. Freyr kept sacred horses at his sanctuary in Trondheim, and he had invested all his time and resources in the horse cult.
He was given a chance to rule over the world of the light elves, Alfheim, by the Aesir gods. He owned a massive and magical ship known as Skidbladnir, which he could easily fold and carry in his pocket whenever he wasn’t planning to use it. He fell in love with a beautiful giantess known as Gedr, but he had to make very many sacrifices, which he regretted later on in his life. He had to give up his powerful sword and magical horse for love. The sword and the magical horse would have saved him at the Ragnarok, but he was blinded by love.
Freyr was also known as Yngvi. Norse mythology describes Yngvi as the forefather of the Yngling lineage, which was one of the legendary dynasties of Swedish kings. It is from the Yngling lineage that the earliest Norwegian kings descended. Additionally, ‘Yngvi’ is the true name of the Norse god Freyr, who was associated with fertility, sunshine, and rain.
According to the Íslendingabók, the Icelandic priest Ari Þorgilsson describes Yngvi king of Turkey as the father of Njodr (the god of the sea) and the father of Yngvi-Freyr(ancestor of the Ynglings). The Skjöldunga saga, on the other hand, claims that Odin (the god of war and head of Asgard) originated from Asia and conquered Northern Europe. Following conquest of the region, he gave Denmark to his son Skjöldr, which is why the kings of Denmark are known as Skjöldungs. Afterward, he gave Sweden to his song Yngvi, which is the main reason why the kings of Sweden are known as Ynglings.
In the Ynglinga saga by Snorri Sturluson and the Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus, Freyr is attested as a Swedish king. The Ynglinga saga further identifies that Yngvi-Freyr succeeded his father Njodr. The Historia Norwegiæ gives a different account however. It says that Ingui/Yngvi fathered a certain Neorth and was also the father of Freyr.
Additionally, if you look into the introduction to the Prose Edda, you will notice that Snorri claims that Odin reigned in Sweden and further states that Odin had a son named Yngvi, who became the King of Sweden after him. Also, he identifies that all the houses that came from Yngvi were named ‘Ynglings’. In his account, Snorri does not identify Yngvi and Freyr as the same diety, but he has mentioned that Freyr was Odin’s other son instead of Njordr’s son.
In the Skáldskaparmál section of Snorri’s Prose Edda, Sturulson talks about Halfdan the Old, the ancient king who fathered 9 sons whose names are all words that meant ‘Lord’ or ‘King’ in Old Norse. He also talks about 9 other sons who are regarded the forefathers of several royal lineages. One of the sons was Yngvi, from whom the Ynglings trace their ancestry.
Once again, Snorri mentions 4 other personages who weren’t necessarily sons of Halfdan but they fathered dynasties. Out of these 4 personages, was Yngvi who was the forefather of Ynglings.
In Snorri’s Heimskringla, particularly in the Ynglinga section, that was written in the 12th-13th century introduces another Yngvi, who was the son of Alrekr. Alrekr was a descendent of Yngvi-Freyr and had another son named Alf. Yngvi and Alf were the two brothers who shared the Swedish kingship.
The poem Skírnismál talks about how Freyja wooed his bride and made huge sacrifices for love. Also, it is in this poem that we get to know about how he often sat on Odin’s high seat when he wasn’t in Asgard. We also learn about the role of Skirnir in the story, which eventually determined Freyr’s death. The loss of Freyr’s sword is keenly felt at the battle at the end of the world (the Ragnarok), where was killed with a single stroke using Surtr’s fire-bladed sword. The Voluspa, which is the most renowned version of the Eddic poems, gives us a full account on the final confrontation between Freyr and the flame giant-Surtr during the Ragnarok.
Additonally, Freyr is mentioned severally in different poems of the Poetic Edda. The information found in the poetic Edda is entirely consisted with all the information given in the Prose Edda. It is also important to note that each collection of poems has important details that aren’t found in the other.
Another poem known as Grímnismál, which features miscellaneous information about the Norse gods talks about how the Aesir gods gave Freyr the chance to rule over Alfheim, as a tooth gift. This account further explains the connection between the Vanir and the light elves. We also learn about Freyr’s treasures from this poem.
In the poem Lokasenna, we learn about how the Aesir gods knew about the incestuous relationships between the Vanir gods. Here, Loki criticizes the Vanir gods and goddesses and out rightly claims that Njord and his sister gave birth to Freyr and Freya, and that Freya and his sister had a sexual relationship together. However, the god Tyr intervened and spoke up to defend Freyr.
Freyr and Gerd
Norse mythology describes Gerdr (also spelled as Gerd, Gerth) as a goddess, a mountain jotunn, and the wife of the god Freyr. She is described as one of the most beautiful beings to have lived in the world of the giants. She was the daughter of Gymir and Aurbroda. While not much is said about her parents, what we know is that her father was very wealthy. Further, Norse mythology identifies that Gedr is a fertility goddess who was especially associated with the earth and its elements. The giantess is attested in the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, written by Snorri Sturulson in the 13th century; and the Poetic Edda, which was compiled in the thirteenth century from already existing traditional sources. She is also attested in the poetry of the skalds.
In these literally works, Freya (the god of fertility, virility, and abundance) saw Gedr from a distance and was immediately love struck by her shimmering beauty. He had never seen such a beautiful creature and could not stop thinking about her beauty and the shimmering effect that she had. He was almost obsessed with her and didn’t want to lose the chance to be with her. So, Freyr decided to send his servant Skírnir to where Gerd and her father lived (in Jotunheim, the world of the giants) to tell her about Frey’s love for her and to meet her at a fixed location.
He asked his servant to woo Gerd through a promise. He gave Skirnir a horse that would go through the magic ring of fire found around Gymir’s home and a special sword that had the ability to fight giants on its own. When Skimir got to Gedr, he asked her to say that she loved Freyr in exchange for marvelous treasures and other precious gifts. Gedr, however, refused and said that she had enough glad and could never love anyone from the Vanir tribe of gods and goddesses.
When Skirnir saw this, he turned to threats. He carved several runes on a stick and told the giantess that he would send her to the world of frost giants where she would suffer greatly to find food and a man’s love. After a series of threats by the servant, however, she was forced to yield to Frey’s demands. She decided to meet Freyr, but at a location of her choice, which was in Baari, but only after 9 days. After Skirnir – Frey’s servant, returned with Gerd’s response, Frey expressed passionate grief about the fact that he wanted the meeting to happen sooner.
Other myths claim that Freyr married Gedr after the Aesir-Vanir war, when he was sent to live among the Aesir in Asgard. To win Gedr’s hand in marriage, however, he was asked to give up his sword. His sword was known as the Sumarbrander, and it was so magical and powerful enough to fight on its own if a wise being wielded it. While it was a tough decision, he decided to give up his sword to his messenger and vassal Skirnir and married the beautiful giantess –Gedr, with whom he lived a long happy life in the realms of the Light eleves (Alfheimr), which he ruled over. He never gets the chance to pick up his sword again and had to find improvised weapons to fight any wars. There was a time when he had to fight the jotunn Beli using an antler. Also, he lost the battle at the Ragnarok because he did not have the power to fight.
In Heimskringla, Freyr is described as the king of Sweden and Gedr, his wife. The two are euhemerized as the founders of the Yngling dynasty. They had a son named Fjolnir, who took up the Swedish throne after Freyr passed on and continues their bloodline. Additionally, Gedr is said to have inspired works of art and literature and was greatly loved by the Swedish people.
Freyr and Freyja
Freyr and Freyja are the most beloved, well-renowned and powerful twins in Norse mythology. They were originally from the Vanir tribe of gods and goddesses but they lived among the Aesir wars/. After being exchanged as hostages to mark the end of the Aesir-Vanir war, they became among the main dieties in Norse religion and were subordinate to Odin and Thor. Let us expound on their role in Norse mythology.
Freyr, as mentioned earlier was the son of Njord (the god of the sea). Initially, he was one of the foremost of the Vanir gods and goddesses, but had to go and live among the Aesir in Asgard after the Aesir-Vanir war. He retained his important status when in Asgard. Because of his expertise in magic, the Aesir appointed him as a ceremonial priest. As time went by, he gained a higher status and was only subordinate to Odin and his son Thor.
Considering his high rank, he would sometimes sit on Odin’s throne when he wasn’t in Agard, but eventually he had to pay for this as it wasn’t his role as a god. Every time he sat on Odin’s throne, he could easily see across all the 9 realms of Norse mythology. It was during this time that he set his eyes on the most beautiful giantess, Gedr. He got depressed when he learnt that he couldn’t have the giantess. Because his servant and messenger, Skirnir, was worried about Freyr’s condition; he went to speak to him. Freyr confided in his servant and told him that he loved the giantess but neither Gerda’s father nor Njord (Freyr’s father) would approve their union. In the end, Freyr had to send Skirnir to Jotunheim to the land of the giants and bring Gerda to him.
Should Skirnir be successful in the process, Freyr would give him a special sword, which, when drawn would victoriously fight any powerful enemies on its own. He also promised to give him his magical horse which was unaffected by any flames, no matter how hot. Skirnir was successful and eventually, Freyr and Gerd got married. However, much later, Freya regretted giving his sword and magical horse to his servant.
Even after giving out his most precious treasures, he still hand more. The first famous one was the Gullinbursti, his boar. The boar could run over sea, air, and land, and no animal except Odin’s 8-legged steed- Sleipnir, could keep up with it. Additionally, Freyr’s boar had golden fur, which lit up the way when they were in total darkness. Gullinbursti drew Freyr’s chariot, which he rode to Balder’s (Frigg’s son) and to the Ragnarok.
The other treasure that Freyr possessed was the Skidblandir, his impressive ship that was crafted for him by the dwarves. The ship was large enough to carry all the Norse gods and goddesses, fully armed. However, if Freyr didn’t want to use it, all he needed to do was dismantle it and put it in his pocket.
When the Ragnarok comes to pass, there isn’t any amount of passion that could help the weaponless Freyr. He would attacked by the fire giant Surt. While Freyr was able to somewhat frustrate the fire giant with a few fighting skills that he learnt while in Asgard, he eventually succumbs to the fire giants’ fire-bladed sword and dies on the spot.
Freyja was considered one of the most beautiful Norse goddesses, such that when she cried, she wouldn’t weep just normal tears but golden ones. She, like her twin-brother Freyr, was involved in the exchange of hostages that ended the Aesir-Vanir war in Norse mythology. While in Asgard, she tutored the Aesit in the magic that was practiced in Vanaheim, the land of the Aesir.
Every race of beings in Norse mythology admired Freyja’s beauty and tried to get close to her so that they would get access to Valhalla. Also, another being stole Thor’s hammer (the Mjolnir) and claimed that they wanted goddess Freyja as the ransom price. However, Freya was too free with her favors and didn’t ask for anything in return from the other beings.
There was a time when she wanted to own the greatly coveted Brinsgamen necklace. So, she slept with the 4 Norse dwarves who crafted the marvelous piece of jewelry. Odin later asked Loki to steal the necklace from Freyja and bring it to him. In order to get the necklace back, she had to submit to Odin’s wishes. She needed to stir up as much hatred and war on Earth so that Odin can have more slain warriors to add to his army that was intended to fight at the Ragnarok.
Although she wasn’t a warriors, she greatly helped the Aesir during their battles against the frost and firs giants. She willingly risked her golden falcon, which allowed her to take the shape of a bird. When the giant who had stolen the Mjolnri ordered Freya to become his bride so that Thor can get his hammer back, Freya instead, dressed Thor in her favorite bridal clothes and added the brinsgamen necklace to his neck. This made his disguise look a lot more authentic and Thor’s plan eventually succeeded and he got his hammer back.
Just like her borther, she was temperamental and had to be restrained from seeking revenge upon the god of mischief (Loki) for the murder of Balder. At the Ragnarok, neither she, Loki, nor her brother survived the battle. So, in the end, she had to join her mysterious husband, Odr, among the dead.
According to Norse mythology, Odr was among the most mysterious characters and was the husband of goddess Freya. Freya was considered one of the most beautiful goddesses in all the nine worlds and was desired by all the creatures of Norse mythology, including the gods, giants, dwarves and elves. Many people tried to propose to goddess Freya and looked for all ways possible to win her over as their bride. However, none of their efforts worked until she met the mysterious man, Odr, who won her heart immediately. He and Freya got married and they were greatly in love. Freya was always joyful, happy, and smiling every time Odr was by her side, but it didn’t last too long. They had two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi. Most scholars claim that the two daughters were so beautiful that every lovely and precious was called by their names.
Unfortunately, there was a time when Freya betrayed Odr. She spent about 4 days and nights with the dwarves because she wanted to claim the Brisingamen necklace. However, she wasn’t alone. Loki was in the room with her and saw everything that she did. When the goddess went back to Asgard with the Brisingamen necklace around her neck, Loki went and told Odin about Freya’s betrayal of Odr. Odin then told Odr about the betrayal, but Odr didn’t believe anything Odin told him and asked Loki to bring the necklace to him for examination.
At the time, Odin was so angry to an extent that one of his eyes was burning. It wasn’t easy for Loki to get into Freya’s great hall, so he had to shapeshift into a fly. After ensuring that Odr’s two daughters and Freya’s maids were asleep, he flew around Freya’s neck and unlocked the clasp on the necklace, and took it to Odr.
Immediately Odr got a hold of the Brisingamen necklace, he decided that he would leave Freya, which left her devastated and heartbroken. Odr didn’t tell her a thing about where he was going and just vanished. Freya drowned in her sorrows and cried for her husband every night. Her eyes were constantly red and had golden tears running down her cheeks. Amid her sorrows, she went to ask Odin about her husband’s whereabouts. Unfortunately, Odin couldn’t trace where Odr was, so Freya decided to travel across the 9 worlds in search of Odr. Her tears carried the most precious stones that the dwarves in Svartalfheim craved for, but she couldn’t give them.
Even after Freya traveled across the 9 worlds, she could not find her husband, who had mysteriously disappeared and abandoned her and their children forever. Freya carried that pain in her heart for a long time.
Freyr God of War
As we mentioned earlier, Freyr was considered an Aesir (a god of war) because he was sent to live in Asgard permanently. According to Norse mythology, there are two tribes of gods and goddesses; the first tribe being the Aesir and the second one being the Vanir. The two tribes are quite different from each other. The Vanir were more elderly and entirely pacifistic, while the Aesir gods were more warlike and directly represented the strength found in natural elements. Despite their differences in character, the two tribes seamlessly coexisted with each other and lived in peace. However, there was a time when they had some kind of tension between them that entirely affected their relationship.
Freya, the Vanir goddess of beauty and fertility, was a master of Sedir, which was considered the worst yet most powerful form of magic in Norse culture. She regularly wandered across the 9 realms in search of clients for her Seidr services. She disguised herself as Heidr when she was getting closer to Asgard, and when the Aesir gods and goddesses learned about her magical prowess, they immediately sought her services.
As time went by, the Aesir started to realize that their levels of greed and quest for Seidr were starting to damage their values of honor, obedience, and kin loyalty. When this happened, they all blamed Heidr (Goddess Freya) for their individual shortcomings and greed. By the time all the gods in Asgard were affected by the Seidr, they named Freya Gullveig. The name Gullveig meant ‘gold digger/gold-greed’ and tried to get rid of her.
They tried to burn her 3 times, but every single time they did, goddess Freya was reborn from the ashes. This scared the Aesir and they concluded that the Vanir had even more magical powers than the Seidr. Their fears slowly turned into vigor and lots of tension. Eventually, the clash turned into a brutal battle between the two tribes of the gods. The Aesir used weapons and brute force during the war, while the Vanir settled for magic, particularly Seidr. Each of the gods wanted to emerge the victor in the war, but the war didn’t seem to stop.
Eventually, the gods were running out of resources and became weary from the way, so they decided to call a truce. Generally, the Norse believed that two opposing sides are to pay tribute to each other after every war. In respect to that rule, the two tribes decided to pay tribute to each other by exchanging. The Aesir gods sent Mimir and Hoenir to Vanaheim to live among the Vanir gods and goddesses, while Njord, Freya, and Freyr, were sent to Asgard to love among the Aesir gods.
The Vanir gods and goddesses who went to love in Asgard lived peacefully and were easily integrated into the Aesir family. However, Mimir AND Hoenir had a pretty difficult time in Vanaheim. Mimir could not function without Hoenir on his side and Hoenir was a slow-witted simpleton hence disregarded by the Vanir. Because of the flaws that the hostage Aesir gods had, the Vanir gods were convinced that they were duped by the Aesir.
To get back at the Aesir, the Vanir beheaded Mimir and sent his head to Asgard. However, that didn’t move Odin. Instead, Odin embalmed Mimir’s head with herbs and enchanted poems over his head so that Mimir could always advice Odin when needed be. This made the Vanir angrier, but they could not fight because their resources and energy were completely depleted from the initial war. So, the two tribes decided to spit on a cauldron as a way of pledging harmony between them no matter any challenges that arose in the future. To avoid wasting their saliva, they created an intelligent and gifted being known as Kvasir, who helped the Aesir and Vanir when in need.
The first thing that would come to mind when we look into the Viking age, is a period of war, piracy and surprise raids. However, that wasn’t entirely the case. A significant amount of the Norse people was greatly invested in agriculture. They heavily relied on hunting and gathering, they cultivated the lands in which they settled, and they kept animals. Because of this, they constantly prayed for plentiful harvest, prolonged periods of rain, and a peaceful environment. At the same time, they wanted to have active love lives full of peaceful moments and many children. For these reasons, they greatly venerated god Freyr who was associated with all these attributes. They considered the Vanir god Freyr a counterpart to the Aesir gods Thor and Baldr, who were associated with peace and fertility.
Freyr is often depicted with his boar by his side hence the boar is considered his sacred animal. The boar is associated with both war and fertility. Freyr’s golden boar “Gullinbursti” had a bristle that shone brightly in the middle of the night and guided Freyr whenever it was dark. Also, Freyr is associated with symbols such as pigs, which are closely related to the boar.
Also, he is associated with symbols such as farms, fields, harvest symbols, crops, pollen, seeds and unprocessed foods. The Norse people believed that they would receive abundance during harvest if they invoked the name of god Freryr.
Another symbol of Freyr is the sword , antler or horn. Most Icelandic sources claim that Freyr fights at the Ragnarok using the horn of an elk, which seemed a better alternative to a sword. Additionally, he often yields up his mighty sword during special events.
He is also associated with virile male animals, such as stallions, bulls, and stags, which directly represent his masculine nature. His presence was welcomes with merry so he is associated with festivals, feasts, and bawdy humor.
Another symbol of the fertility god, Freyr, is the phallus. He is portrayed with a large, erect phallus, which is often a representation of his sexual virility and fertility.