The list of Norse gods and goddesses believed to have existed is almost endless. Forseti is considered to be one of the youngest Norse gods. He is among the fifth generation of Aesir deities, since Buri, the first Aesir to exist.
What is Forseti the God of?
According to the Poetic Edda, Forseti is said to be the son of Baldur, the god of light, and his wife Nanna. Hence Forseti is an Aesir, Norse god of the fifth generation. The name Forseti, pronounced as “for-SET-ee”, can be translated into different meanings. In Old Nose, it is used to mean “the presiding one”. In modern Icelandic and Faroese, Forseti’s name translates to “president”. Like the meaning of his name, Forseti is considered to be the god of Justice, a law speaker in Norse Mythology.
As the god of Justice, Forseti’s duty was to mediate and settle disputes amongst deities and humans, per the law. As referenced in the 15th stanza of Grimnismal in the Poetic Edda, Forseti was said to reside in Glitnir, where he settled all the disputes. The Glitnir was a shining hall made of silver and gold pillars, and whose light could be seen from a distance. His sacred symbol was a golden axe which he bears in all his depictions or illustrations. He was also known to constantly meditate to clear his mind and ensure it’s at peace. That way he could deliver clear judgment without any emotional links. His view over wrongdoing is that it is a complex multilayered issue that should be tackled based on established laws rather than emotional instincts. As a result, no one who ever came to Forseti was said to be dissatisfied with his judgment.
Aside from being known as the god of Justice, Forseti’s name is sometimes translated to “whirling stream” or “cataract”. This is due to Forseti’s connection with the Frisian god Fosite as referenced in the life accounts of St. Willebrord. Supposedly from an old source, Forseti is said to have once had a shrine at a spring between Frisia and Denmark, called Heligoland. Here was where the sea people were said to have worshipped him as Fosite.
There are several mythologies about Forseti that cannot be conclusively proved. This is because he isn’t referenced a lot in many of the old Norse. Aside from the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, Forseti is only mentioned in the accounts of St. Willebrord’s life. Aside from the reference in the Prose of Edda where Sturluson states that Forseti is the son of Baldur and Nanna, there are two other mythologies connected to Forseti. These two mythologies are found in Alcuin’s Life of St, Willebrord.
The first mythology talks about the sacred spring found on an island between Denmark and Frisia. The island was named Fositesland after the Frisian god Fosite. Fosite is believed to be Forsite as Adam of Bremen also refers to the island as Heligoland, the shrine said to be dedicated to Forseti. The sea people were said to worship Fosite by the spring, where they drew water from the sacred spring in silence. St. Willebrord is said to have defiled the shrine and the spring by, killing a cow there and baptizing people in the spring. This tale is repeated by Altfrid only in his version the saint was St. Ludger. Adam of Bremen also tells the same story only he refers to the island as Heligoland and not Fositesland.
The second mythology originates from the old Frisian laws. It talks about a ruler named Charlemagne in late medieval times. He wanted to compile written laws for his subjects, so he summoned the Asegas, who were the twelve law speakers who represented Frisians. Charlemagne demanded that they recite their people’s laws, but they failed to do so even after several days. As punishment, the ruler asked them to choose among three options, slavery, death, or being drifted in a rudderless boat. The twelve chose the latter, and as they were on the boat, they prayed for help. It is said that in answer to their prayers, a thirteenth man came wielding a golden axe that he used to steer the boat to shore. He then taught the Asegas the law they were meant to know before he disappeared. This thirteenth man was believed to be Forseti because the golden axe was his sacred symbol. Additionally, he was the keeper of the law, and considered patron of law speakers.
There are, however, many debates about these mythologies, especially about the Asegas. While some scholars hypothesize that the thirteenth man was Forseti, some hypothesize that it could have been the Christian Savior Jesus. This is because the twelve men were said to have prayed to their Christian God for help, not Forseti.
Forseti Powers and Abilities
As the god of Justice, Forseti has many powers and abilities. These abilities served to make him better at his role. For starters, he remembers every legal dispute ever had. He also could discern the truth from a lie and could compel anyone to be truthful. This ability, however, lasts for a day. Forseti was also highly intuitive and could perceive his name being spoken at any time. He could sense any legal dispute as soon as it arises. To help him settle disputes, Forseti can speak and read in all possible languages and can communicate with anyone 13 miles away.
As a cleric, Forseti is highly skilled at divination magic and can cast spells. He also holds the gift of foresight and true seeing. Additionally, he can willingly teleport and plane shift at any time, as well as, act as a shield, stone skin, or sanctuary for others. To top it off, he is skilled in swordsmanship, even though he is generally a peacefull and justice-seeking god. Forseti is also said to be a skilled hunter that his sword never misses a liar.
A summary of all his powers and abilities are as follows:
- Justice lordship
- Manipulation of order
- Enhanced intelligence
- Controller of peace
- Enhanced wisdom
There isn’t much written about Forseti, nor is he referenced in a lot of writings. As a result, there are a lot of contradicting writings about Forseti. None of them are conclusive nor have they been proven especially the connection between Frisian god Fosite and Forseti. Still, his legacy and abilities are well known.