The Norse people had a particular set of beliefs that helped them define who they were and understand the world around them. They worshipped different gods and goddesses, who significantly influenced the social patterns and development of the region. The gods and goddesses married amongst themselves and had children. In this write-up, we will be looking into the lives of two sisters – Hnoss and Gersemi, who were the children of the Norse goddess – Freyja, and her mysterious husband, Odr.
Gersemi is the daughter of Freyja, the Nordic goddess associated with beauty, love, sex, fertility, gold, war, and seidr (a powerful form of magic), and Odr, her mysterious husband. More often than not, Norse tales claim that Gersemi has similar characteristics as her sister, Hnoss, who is another daughter of Freyja.
In Nordic culture, the name ‘Gersemi’ means ‘treasure’, which is described as something that is considered precious. Her name is a derivative of the unattested Old Norse noun gersamr, which is often compared with the Old Swedish ‘gärsimi’ and the Icelandic ‘gersemi’, which meant valuables, jewels, or treasure; and the Danish word ‘gjørsum’, which described a special fine that was imposed on manslaughter. Her name was always used to describe anything lovely, valuable, or precious among the Scandinavian people.
Even though she was a goddess, she did not indulge in any Godly activities, so we may not mention much about her. To be more specific, she is only mentioned in passing to all things that are cherished and held in high esteem in Scandinavia.
She was regarded as the Nordic goddess of beauty and personal adoration, and material possessions. While she isn’t well-attested in the Icelandic sagas and the Snorri-Edda without reference to her sister, her beauty is emphasized in chapter 10 of the Heimskringla, Ynglinga saga. Snorri Sturluson describes Gersemi and Hnoss as the daughters of Freyja, who were very beautiful, and further insisted that the most precious treasures were called by their names, just like we mentioned earlier.
Additionally, Gersemi had physical and physiological characteristics that were nearly identical to her sister, Hnoss. The only difference was that she had bluer eyes, and her hair had a golden brown tone. Her hair seemed to resemble gilded treasure, and it was the epitome of her name and embodiment. Unlike her sister, she is said to have been a lot noisier and out of control than her sister. Also, she had a constant craving for attention, and her exuberant behavior was unmatched.
Hnoss is also one of the daughters of Freyja, and her mysterious husband Odr. According to Norse mythology, she is the identical sister of Gersemi. She is regarded as the goddess of lust and desire. Additionally, Gylfaginning claims that Hnoss is so lovely and beautiful, which is why anything beautiful and valuable is regarded as treasure from her name. Some Scandinavian scholars have even translated her name as ‘gem’, ‘riches’, or ‘jewel’. In the Prose Edda, Snorri affirms that any beautiful thing among the Norse people was called hnossir, which simply meant ‘treasure’. To add to that, the Old Norse name Hnoss is etymologically and semantically comparable to the Old Danish word ‘noss’, which means ‘sweetheart’ and ‘nuse’, which means infant, as well as the Icelandic word ‘hnoss’, which means nipper.
Just like her sister, she wasn’t involved in any Godly or any social activities, and not much is said about her. However, it would be important to go over a few attestations of Hnoss.
In the Beguiling of Gylfi, she is portrayed as the gorgeous daughter of Freyja and Odr. Generally, goddess Freyja is highest in rank next to Frigg, the wife of Odin and the queen of Asgard. She was married to a mysterious man, Odr, and they had a daughter, Hnoss. Considering her beauty, the gods and goddesses who lived in Asgard named anything beautiful and precious after her.
In Skáldskaparmál, she is explicitly mentioned as the daughter of Freyja, again. The bulur identifies that Freya should be referred to as and that she should be identified as the mother of Hnoss. Also, in Chapter 10 of the Ynglinga saga, Hnoss and Gersemi are attested as Freyja’s daughters and are described as identical figures.
According to the 12th-century skald Einarr Skúlason, Hnoss is described as Freyr’s niece and Freyja’s glorious child. She is regarded as the gold-wrapped glorious child and that the child was a valuable treasure in Freyja and Odr’s life. Also, it is said that Hnoss bears her mother’s eyelash-rain; in simpler terms, her mother’s tears.
Hnoss and Gersemi
As mentioned in all parts of this article, Hnoss and Gersemi are the daughters of the Nordic goddess Freya and her mysterious husband Odr. Unfortunately, very little is known about the two sisters, except the fact that they were identical twins with a few physiological and physical differences. Generally, the only source of information we have about the two sisters is in Snorri’s Prose Edda that was written in the 13th century, and it only talks about who they are and what they looked like.
In the first part of Snorri’s prose Edda, this is called Gylfaginning, directly talks about Freya, her position in Asgard, and her daughters. This is where we derive the fact that Freya is the highest rank next to the queen of Asgard, Frigg. Also, Gylfaginning tells us that Hnoss is the name of Freya and Odr’s daughter. It further explains Hnoss’ beauty and how her name was used to describe treasures.
Her sister – Gersemi, on the other hand, is only mentioned once in the Poetic Edda. Here, we learn that their names mean the same thing, and they possess the same characteristics. For this reason, there is often the clash that the two sisters may be the same; however, it is not easy to distinguish. One thing you are sure to notice is that there isn’t any literary source that mentions Gersemi without her sister, Hnoss, because they often did everything together.