Norse Mythology tends to focus mostly on the gods. Mainly because a lot of what is written about Norse traditions, was done in a period where women had a lower standing than men. Still, there are writings on some main Norse goddesses, among them being Frigg.
Frigg is a principal Norse goddess, even though the much that’s written about her in Norse mythology are sparse casual accounts of her deeds and personality. What’s more, what is known about her is similar to goddess Freya. That is why it is normally difficult to tell Frigg apart from Freya. In this post, our focus will be on discussing Frigg, her powers, family, mythology, and her comparison to Freya.
Who is frigg in norse mythology?
Frigg is a Norse goddess who wears many hats but is mainly considered the foremost of the Norse goddesses. In terms of appearance, she is described as a strong-spirited and beautiful woman. Her calm nature is depicted in the soft backgrounds she is often pictured in either next to her husband, or on his throne. Many scholars believe that Frigg was an evolution of the Germanic goddess Frija. Frigg’s name, pronounced as FRIG, is said to have been derived from the feminine of Proto-Germanic word frijaz. The name Frija (Old High German) is also said to have been derived from that name. Therefore, the two names are linguistic siblings with the same origin.
Frigg lived in her hall in Fensalir, where she was tended to by her four handmaidens who were also Norse goddesses. Their names were Lofn, Hlin, Fulla, and Gna. Fulla was a virgin and Frigg’s favorite. She knew all of Frigg’s secrets and cared for her most prized possessions. One of those possessions was the ashen box called Eski, whose contents were unknown. There was also the set of falcon plumes that Frigg let other gods borrow, especially Loki, so they could shape-shift into a bird. Hlin, whose name means protector, was given the role of protecting the people on Frigg’s behalf, at least those that Frigg deemed worthy. Gna was the most trusted messenger. She was entrusted with the responsibility of running errands and carrying messages across the nine realms for Frigg. Lastly, Lofn was given power by both Frigg and Odin, to arrange and carry out unions among the men and women.
As for her roles, Frigg is said to have played a very important role in Norse mythology. As we mentioned, she wore many hats. She was considered the goddess of the sky and also the goddess of the moon in Norse mythology. Her main role, however, was as the goddess of the household and domestic arts. She was associated with fertility in terms of motherhood, many women who wanted to give birth were said to turn to her for help. Aside from motherhood, she was also associated with marriage and love. Being the goddess of the household, Frigg is said to have span wool from the cloud sheep to make clothes for the gods. It is also believed that she had the important role of passing around the mead horn during feasts.
Frigg’s powers, however, went beyond the household. She was the only one able to sit on her husband’s throne in his absence. She was also called upon by rulers during negotiations, to ensure that they went smoothly and were beneficial to both parties. Frigga also had the power to see the fate of all beings. She is even said to have known the fate of her son and husband but couldn’t do much to change it.
Overall, Frigg is thought to be the most important Norse goddess. Being the goddess of the household, she was probably the most venerated deity in the Viking era. Friday is said to be her day because it’s believed to have been derived from the word Frigedaeg, meaning Frigg’s day.
Being an important figure in the Norse pantheon, Frigg has played important roles in some of the Norse Myths that paint her as both an intellectual and wise leader, as well as a loving mother. One of those tales is the Grimnismal, a poem in the Poetic Edda. The following are two myths about Frigg:
Frigg in the Grimnismal
Also known as the Ballad of Grimnir, this tale begins with two brothers, Geirröth and Agnar, the sons of a mighty king called Hrauthung. One day the two sons were out fishing when a sudden storm cast them out to sea. At the time Odin and Frigg were sitting in Odin’s throne room where they could see all worlds simultaneously. They were said to shapeshift into a peasant farmer and his wife, who found the two brothers washed up onshore.
The peasant farmer cared for Geirröth and his wife for Agnar, hence become their foster parents. After some time, the farmer sent Geirröth back to his father’s kingdom. There he discovered that the king had died and the people pleased with his return, made him the new king. Agnar on the other hand went ahead to build a family with a giantess in a cave.
Odin and Frigg continued to watch the two from afar. Odin would always praise Geirröth, whom he raised, and criticize Agnar, who was Frigg’s foster. Unable to take her fosterling being rebuked, Frigg would, in turn, criticize Geirröth, by saying he was the type of King who would mercilessly torture his guests. Odin did not believe and so the two made a wager that Odin would go to Geirröth’s in disguise and find out the truth.
Desperate to win, Frigg sent a maiden to Geirröth, to tell him that a wizard would soon come to his court to bewitch him. Soon enough, Odin, disguised as a traveler name Grimnir, arrived at the court. When introducing himself, Grimnir only gave up his name and nothing more. Believing he was the wizard, Geirröth had him tortured by setting him between fires for 8 nights, so he could tell the truth. Geirröth’s youngest son eventually presented Grimnir with a horn of ale, which he drunk while telling the tale that became the core of Grimnismal.
It’s not clear what happened from there, concerning Frigg’s and Odin’s wager but it is clear that Frigg won the wager. She was able to outsmart Odin and prove she was a fierce foster mother who would do anything to defend her fosterling.
The Grimnismal is not the only place where Frigg is seen to outsmart Odin. There is another tale told of two conflicting outsiders, where Frigg took hold of an opportunity to outsmart her husband and end the conflict. The two conflicting parties were Germanic tribes known as Vandals and Winnilers. While Frigg favored the Winnilers, Odin was on Vandal’s side.
During an argument between Odin and Frigg over the two tribes, they each gave reasons as to why they were right and the other was wrong. To end the argument, Odin swore that he would grant victory to the first tribe he saw the first thing the next morning. He only said this because he knew the Vandals were the tribe visible through the window from his side of the bed. Frigg knew this too, and so when Odin was asleep, she told the Winniler women to wear their hair like beards. She then switched the bed so Odin was facing the opposite direction. When Odin woke up, he was shocked by what he saw, asking Frigg who the long beards were. Still, he kept his promise and granted the Winnilers victory. Later on, he even admitted that Frigg was right to outsmart him.
Frigg’s origin or early childhood is not clear. It is not written anywhere about who her parents are or whether she had any siblings. Some myths depict Frigg as the daughter of the giant Fjorgynn, although the feminine form Fjorgyn is also said to be Thor’s mother. Some people, however, speculate that Frigg is Freya, meaning that she would be Vanir, the daughter of Njord and sister to Freyr. These are, however, speculations and the two are seen as distinct deities in Norse mythology. What is certain though, is that Frigg is a wife to Odin and a mother to Baldur and his blind twin Hoor. Frigg is also said to be the mother of Bragi.
Frigg, Wife of Odin
Frigg’s husband is Odin, the All-father and one of the most popular gods in Norse mythology. He is often associated with knowledge, royalty, poetry, healing, sorcery, battles, and death. Always with him, are his animal companions, the two wolves Freki and Geri, and two ravens, Huginn and Muninn. He also always carries around his spear Gungnir.
As Odin’s wife, Frigg is automatically the queen of Asgard and all Aesir deities. As such she is considered to be the most powerful Asynjur (Aesir goddess). That is why in most of the artwork done in the 19th and 20th centuries, she is depicted in commanding poses. As we mentioned before, she is the only one allowed to sit on Odin’s throne in his absence, which enables him to move around and tends to the 9 realms.
In her role as a wife, Frigg is said to be a faithful and honorable wife. There is, however, a tale told of her promiscuity when Odin was banished from Asgard. It was said that she would sleep with Odin’s two brothers until his return. She is still, however, considered the goddess of love and marriage.
Frigg, Mother of Balder
In the Prose Edda, the story of Gylfaginning is one of the most famous stories in Norse mythology, that depicts the string bond Frigg had to her favorite child, Balder, the god of light. He was the most beautiful and loved by all in all the nine realms for his kindness. The story later features her as a grieving mother who would go to the ends of the world to recover her son.
The story begins with Balder having a nightmare, where he foresaw his death. Frigg also had the same dream and became preoccupied with protecting her son. To do that, Frigg traveled to all the nine realms asking every living thing to take an oath that they would never harm or assist in harming Balder. Because Balder was loved, every living thing conceded and promised. As a result, Balder became invincible. Everything that was thrown at him would simply bounce off with scratching him or even leaving a mark. Eventually, the gods made a sport of it and would throw dangerous objects at Balder and watch them bounce off.
Loki, the impish trickster in The Norse pantheon was always seeking to cause trouble. He, unfortunately, came to discover that Frigg had overlooked the mistletoe when seeking every living thing’s oath. To be sure, he disguised himself as a woman and approached Frigg with the question. Not knowing his true identity, Frigg disclosed that she did overlook the mistletoe plant. She thought it was a humble and innocent plant that couldn’t have harmed Balder.
Excited by his discovery, Loki went out in search of the mistletoe plant. He fashioned a dart from it and went back to wear the gods were hurling things at Balder. He found Hoor, Balder’s blind twin, and convinced him to take part in the game, promising to help him. With Loki’s help, Hoor threw the dart at Balder, piercing him through the heart and killed him.
The entire nine realms fell into grief following Balder’s death, especially Frigg who was devasted and overwhelmed with sorrow. Still, she was unwilling to accept her son’s death. Balder’s soul was in Helheim as opposed to Odin’s Hall in Valhalla since he didn’t die in battle. She sent Hermod to Helheim to bargain with the goddess Hel, for his soul. Hel agreed to release Balder’s soul, only if every existing thing would weep for him. Upon getting the message, Aesir messengers were sent to all nine realms to ask all existing things to weep for Balder, even inanimate objects like stones. Because he was most loved, everything in existence did weep for Balder except one giantess named Thökk who lived in a remote cave. It is believed that Thökk was Loki in disguise who refused to cry so he could condemn Balder to remain in Hel forever. Some myths however foretold that Balder would rise again after Ragnarok to continue ruling in his father’s place, although there is no proof of that.
Although Frigg was an ideal mother to Balder, she doesn’t seem as loving towards her other sons. Although she punished Loki by chaining him to a rock where a venomous snake dripping venom to his face, her son Hoor who had been tricked, paid by death. Frigg is also said to constantly criticize Bragi’s bravery, believing that Balder was her bravest son.
Frigg and Freya
In all of Norse Mythology, the two goddesses Frigg and Freya seem to be the most difficult to distinguish between. They share many similarities that lead to their names being used interchangeably. The biggest similarity is that they are both depicted as the Volva a seeress and sorceress of seiðr magic. Freya is known to be the master of seiðr and the one who taught Odin the art of seiðr. Frigg on the other hand is said to be the seer of the fate of all beings, which is part of seiðr magic. This is depicted when she can foretell the fate of both her son and husband and her attempts to change it.
Another reason the two are both said to be the Volva comes from its origin. In the Viking Age, the Volva was a sorceress whose status was ambiguous. She would travel from place to place performing acts of seiðr magic in exchange for food, lodging, or other compensations. During the Migration Period, which came just before the Viking Age, the Volva was known as the Veleda, according to Tacitus, the Roman historian, and held a more institutional role. At that time, the core societal institution was a Warband, which was led by a chieftain and his wife who was considered the Veleda. Her role was to use divination to foretell the outcome of a plan of action and use active magic to influence the outcome. She also served a special cup of liquor to the Warband during feasts (one of Frigg’s roles as the goddess of the household).
In the Old English poem, Beowulf, such a woman is described and her name is Wealhþeow. She was the wife of king Hroðgar, who led a Warband. Wealhþeow’s domestic actions are in line with the role of the Veleda. The story of Wealhþeow and Hroðgar is said to be an echo of the politic-theological conception based on the mythological model of the divine pair Frija, said to be a Veleda and Woðanaz who was a chieftain. The two deities were said to later evolve into Frigg/Freya and Odin. The reason Frigg and Freya are said to have the same husband is that Freya’s husband Odr has a similar name to Odin. Both names come from the same word and share the same meaning. What’s more, both Odin and Odr are described as missing husbands. Odin is said to constantly be away from Asgard for long periods, in his quest for knowledge. Freya is also described as the weeping goddess who is always roaming in disguise in search of her husband. It may sound a bit far-fetched, but one can see the link there.
Another similarity between Freya and Frigg is that they both own a set of falcon feathers that many Aesir gods borrow to shapeshift into the bird and fly when in a hurry. Some, however, describe Freya’s set of feathers as a falcon cloak that gods borrowed to fly. Both Frigg and Freya are also known as the goddesses of love, although Freya’s of a more sexual nature. The fact that little is known about Frigg’s origin insinuates that she could be Freya, who was married to Odin as a form of alliance between the Vanir and Aesir. This is, however, simply speculation.
Even with the similarities, however, the two remain two distinct deities given the differences they share. To begin with, Frigg’s name means beloved, while Freya’s is more of a title than a name and means lady. Animals associated with Freya are two cats and a wild boar, while Frigg is associated with a Stork. While Frigg’s Hall is in Fensalir, where the spirits of happily married couples dwell, Freya’s Hall is in Fólkvangar, where the spirits of half the heroes slain in battle dwell. Lastly in Lokasenna, when Loki accuses every female Aesir of promiscuity including Frigg, it is Freya who warns Loki to be careful of slandering Frigg as she knew the fate of all beings. This is further proof that the two were different goddesses, with Freya being the more promiscuous of the two.
What Are Frigg’s Powers?
Being the Queen of Aesir and someone who practices seiðr magic, Frigg is considered to be the most powerful Norse deity after Odin, her husband. The following are some of her powers and abilities:
- Superhuman strength, speed, and agility – Being a Norse deity, automatically means that she is stronger and faster than a normal human, and even other Norse deities. Her agility also allows her to balance and coordinate her body, so she moves with incredible grace and speed. This makes her an incredible warrior on the battlefield, even though she prefers not using physical force. It is also said that she is especially stronger and faster when she is home in Asgard.
- Superhuman durability – again being a Norse deity automatically means that her skin. Muscles, tissues, and bones are several times denser than a normal human’s. That means that she is invulnerable and not harmed by mortal weapons. Like every other Norse deity, she can only be killed by a god/goddess, divine beings, and mystical weapons.
- Manipulation of fate – using her seiðr magic, Frigg can change her fate as well as others. This is seen in how she tries to save her son, Balder, although she is unsuccessful because of Loki. The only fate that is beyond her power is said to be that of Ragnarok.
- Amokinesis – being the goddess of love, Frigg has divine power over emotions and desires. She is said to be able to use her divine authority to gain absolute control over one’s emotions or desires, and use it to her advantage. She is said to use charm speak, the use of her mesmerizing voice, to put one in a trance and influence their emotions.
- Bond manipulation – in this case, bond refers to familial bonds. Since anything related to family relationships is und her jurisdiction, she has the power to create or break such bonds.
- Precognition – through her seiðr magic, Frigg can see into the future. As such she is known as the goddess of prophecy and is said to know the fate of all beings, even though she doesn’t tell anyone what she sees.
- Multi-lingual – Frigg is said to be knowledgeable in all languages from all nine realms, the earth, and other alien languages. That means that she can communicate fluently and easily with every existing being.
- Animal control – like every deity, Frigg also has control and the ability to manipulate any animal associated or sacred to her. The stork is a good example.
- Divine form – being a goddess, Frigg can transform into her true godly form. Her divine form is said to be so powerful that it disintegrates any mortal being close to it. The last time she used her divine form was to defend her husband many centuries ago.
Frigg is seen as the representation of the family. She is the epitome of nurture, patience, and devoted love, even though her story is filled with sorrow. Despite not being incorporated in today’s pop culture like other Norse deities, she is still worshipped by practitioners of the Germanic neopagan beliefs commonly known as Heathenism.