Frija and Other Goddesses
"Motherly Frigga, you who miss Balder, you who bear the world's woe in your embrace, You who comfort Odin, you who nourish all things..."
(Grieg, Edvard, from the operatic fragment Olav Tryggvason)
(Frigg, Frige, Fricka, *Frijjo)
Except for Hella, Frija was (so far as we know) the most widely known of the early Germanic goddesses. Her name appears in Old Norse, Anglo-Saxon, and on the continent; as chief among the goddesses, it was her name that was used for the sole feminine weekday as a translation for "Venus" - from which we get the modern English "Friday". She is Wodan's wife not only in the Old Norse materials, but in the Continental Origio gentum Langobardorum, where she likewise uses her wits to trick him into giving victory to the menfolk of a woman who had prayed to her for help.
Frija's background before her wedding to Wodan is almost unknown. In Lokasenna she is called "Fjörgynn's maid", but nothing is told of Fjörgynn himself. He may be a manly twin to the womanly Fjörgyn - a name which is given to Thonar's mother Earth. In this case, it is possible that Frija herself, like many of the goddesses and mothers of gods, was firstly one of the etin-kin. However, it is also possible that Fjörgynn was an earlier Germanic god, whose borrowed name survived among the Baltic peoples as the god Perkunas and perhaps as a Gothic *Faírguneis. The name may be related to a word for "oak"; the Baltic Perkunas was a thunder-god, so that Fjörgynn/*Faírguneis might well have been a forerunner of Thonar (Karl Helm, Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte II, pp. 40-41). The problem is made more complicated by the fact that the word usually interpreted here as daughter, "mær", can also mean "wife" or even perhaps "lover", which readings may even be more likely, given that Loki is using the description to start off an attack on Frija's chastity.
Frija's own name comes from an Indo-European root meaning "beloved", and is probably related to the modern English word "frig" through this root, though neither is derived from the other. De Vries also mentions the possibility that the goddess' name could derive from the Germanic frî-, encompassing the meaning of "belonging to the sib, protected" (Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte II, p. 305), which seems more characteristic of the goddess.
Of all the goddesses, Frija is the most motherly. In his lament "Sonatorrek", Egill Skalla-Grímsson uses the kenning "Frigg's descendants" as a general term for all the dwellers in the Ases' Garth; she is the closest thing to an All-Mother the Northern folk know. When she appears in myth, her works are twofold: to care for and protect her children or favourites, and to keep the bonds of society strong. In this she is often set against Wodan, who has his own favourites and who is little concerned with the bonds of society.
Although Frija is a goddess of social order, she is sometimes accused of unfaithfulness to Wodan. In Gesta Danorum, Saxo accuses her of submitting to a servant's embraces in order to get him to take the gold from the statue of "Othinus" for her own jewelry, whereupon the god departs in a fit of pique at the double insult to his image and his bed. Aside from Saxo's obviously euhemeristic use of statues and servants, the basic idea - Wodan's woman giving her body to someone of lesser status for jewelry - is suspiciously similar to that of the Sörla þáttr account of Freyja sleeping with the four dwarves for Brisingamen. This has sometimes been suggested to imply that Frija and the Frowe were originally the same goddess. However, Saxo does not seem to have known of Freyja's existence, and given his tendency to moralize at every turn (especially about the gods) it is unlikely that he could have left such a fruitful field as Freyja's sexuality unploughed. Further, the reference to one deity despoiling the shrine of another is almost certainly not authentic: whatever the original mythological basis may have been, Saxo must have seriously altered it. It seems likeliest that, if there is any relationship between the two myths, Saxo simply attributed his highly diluted version of the story to the goddess he knew as Óðinn's wife.
In Lokasenna, Loki accuses Frigg of sleeping with Óðinn's two brothers, Vili and Vé. According to Ynglinga saga, Óðinn has been away so long that his two brothers take his realm and Frija with it; in Saxo's Gesta Danorum, it is told that the god was actually exiled by the other deities. In this tale, Frija appears as the queen whose person is one and the same with rulership: she is wedded to the god who holds the realm, whoever that may be. Infidelity does not come into the question. Frija's association with Venus, which has sometimes been used to support depictions of her as being lustful and/or originally the same goddess as the Frowe, stems directly from the Germanic translations of the weekdays, in which "Venus" was the only goddess offered for translation; there is no reason to take it as showing anything about Frija's character.
Frija has no direct battle-aspects - she does not, like the Frowe, go to the battlefield to choose the slain - but she is able to ward those who do go to fight, her blessings keeping them whole and safe. She can also bless and ward one at the beginning of any dangerous faring, as she does for Wodan at the beginning of Vafþrúðnismál with the words, "Heill (holy/lucky/whole/healthy) fare you, heill come you back, / heill be you on the way." One of her few by-names is Hlín, "Protectress". Under this name, the linden, which was the wood used for Germanic shields, may be seen as holy to her. Frija may also shape the turning of the battle by her spinning from afar, and by the way in which she moves the warriors to go or stay. A human reflection of this aspect appears in Laxdæla saga (ch. 49): the heroine Guðrún, having brought her husband to kill her beloved Kjartan, greets him after the deed with the words, "Great morning-work has taken place today: I have spun twelve ells of yarn and you have slain Kjartan". Her earthly spinning shows forth the way in which she has worked to spin the dooms of the men around her, and perhaps (though this is not stated in the saga) worked with the craft of her spinning to make sure the battle went as she wished.
Frija's own dwelling-place is called "Fensalir", "Fen-Halls". This hints that she may be one of the goddesses who was worshipped in the boggy and marshy places of the northlands, and that gifts to her should be cast into the waters. H.R. Ellis-Davidson mentions that "In Scandinavia, locks of hair, gold rings, and various women's ornaments have been found at offering places in use before the Viking Age, and also traces of flax, together with instruments for beating it...but...such objects as cheese or bread would leave little trace in earth and water" (Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe, p. 117). Though Frija is not one of the Wans, her might clearly overlaps with theirs in this way.
Frija is a goddess of human fruitfulness, called upon for the getting and bearing of children. As the careful housewife and mother, who knows whether children can be fed and clothed with the resources at hand or not, she might also be called upon to lend her spiritual help to ensure the success of earthly means of fertility control and family planning. Frija is never spoken of as making the fields fruitful - her realm is within the walls, the realm of the home and hearth and all those who dwell there. Her only tie to agricultural fruitfulness comes through her Continental shape as Perchte/Holda/Fru Gode, leader of the Wild Hunt (together with Wodan). Although Frija is not a goddess of riches in general, those who want help in buying a house, making home repairs, or taking care of their families would likely do well to call upon her.
Frija's magic is that of spinning and weaving, which were deeply important to the Northern folk; and it is through this craft that her deeper ways may most easily be learned. The woman's spindle was the weapon matching the man's sword, for it was a tool of great might with which the wise spinner could wreak long-lasting weal or woe, and the Spindle is as much Frija's sign as the Hammer is Thonar's or the spear Wodan's.
The Eddas do not mention Frigg as a spinner, but the Swedish name "Friggerock", Frigg's Spindle (or Distaff), for the constellation which southerners named "Orion's Belt", shows very clearly that spinning was one of this goddess' greatest works. In this connection, de Vries also mentions the Norwegian belief that chains may not be cut through on a Friday ("Frigg's Day") because this will make the weaving unsuccessful (Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte II, p. 304). Frigg's working as spinner and weaver ties in with her character as the one who "knows all ørlög / though she says it not herself" (Lokasenna 30). In this way, her spinning is very like that of the Norns.
In German folklore, spinning is one of the greatest border-deeds - a deed of might which draws the sight of the great holy ones. This is especially the case in regards to the southern German goddess Perchte or Berchte ("the Bright One"), who, as spoken of below, is likely to be Frija herself. This goddess makes sure that spinners work hard during the year, but leave off on the eve of the Yule-season's twelfth day. In Teutonic Mythology (I, 274-275) Grimm quotes Börner's Folktales of the Orlagau for several instances in which Perchta has been offended and gives the offenders empty reels to fill in an hour's time. Interestingly, she is easily satisfied - in one case, with tow-wrapped reels over which a few lengths of thread have been spun; in a second, with a few rounds spun on each reel and cast into the brook that ran past the house. What matters most here is clearly the holy act of spinning as a gift to the goddess, which restores the frith between herself and humans. As with Frigg in Norse mythology, the German spinning goddess appears as the enforcer of the social norms which also strengthen the oneness of the Middle-Garth with the other realms of being: the needful work of the year and the needful rest and rejoicing of the Weihnachten (German "Holy Nights" are alike in worth, and the one who flouts either gains the wrath of the goddess. The German Holda is said to be the giver of flax to humans, who taught us the crafts of spinning and weaving. Grimm tells us that, "Industrious maids she presents with spindles, and spins their reels full for them over night; a slothful spinner's distaff she sets on fire, or soils it...When she enters the land at Christmas, all the distaffs are well stocked, and left standing for her; by Carnival, when she turns homeward, all spinning must be finished off, and the staffs are now kept out of her sight" (Teutonic Mythology, I, 269-70).
As the spinner, Frija appears in Austria under the thinly Christianized guise of "St. Lucy" or Spillelutsche, "Spindle-Lucia", who, like Perchte, punishes those who have not spun during the year or have spun on her chosen feast-days. This "santeria"-identification of Frija and Lucy appears also to have been applied in Denmark, where St. Lucy's Night (December 13) was both a night of oracles and the night on which the year's spinning should cease (Liutman, Traditionswanderungen Euphrat-Rhein II, 652-57). In Sweden, the prettiest girl of the house traditionally appeared as "Lussi" or the "Lussi-Bride" between 1 and 4 AM on Lucy Day. The chosen maid, dressed in white with a red scarf and a crown decorated with crow-berries and nine burning candles, would walk among the men to wake them up with a life-bringing drink of gløgg (spirits with herbs, honey, syrup, or sugar, sometimes set on fire); or she might bring that very holy Scandinavian drink of new times - coffee - and pastries (Feilberg, Jul I, p. 169). As Ostara brings light and life to the outside world at her feast, the bringer of light and life to the household in the depths of winter is likeliest to be Frija, the keeper of the home and the fires of the hearth.
A figure which may be Frija the Spinner also appears on several bracteates: on the bracteate from Oberweschen, she holds a full-wound drop-spindle; on the bracteates from Welschingen and Gudme II, she holds something that may be a distaff.
As both spinner and mother, Frija may also be seen as the queen of that host of lesser "norns", or idises, who set the ørlög of a child at birth. Though Freyja's name "Vanadís" ("Idis of the Wans") has led many to think of her as the chief of the idises, it seems more likely that this is Frija's role, as these womanly ghosts are basically motherly wights and work for their children in the ways that are most usual for Frija (see "Idises").
German folklore does not mention Frija, but the names Perchte/Berchte and Holda ("the Gracious One") sound suspiciously like titles given to the goddess to keep from speaking her name - either from christian suppression or from fear of drawing the attention of her wilder side. "Holda" is especially likely to be a title, as both "holde" and "unholde" were used in Middle High German as generic terms for, respectively, well- and ill-meaning spirits. These figures of German folklore have much in common with the Frija we know from Norse myths. Their social function and role as spinners has already been spoken of. Like Frija, they have watery homes: the German Holda is particularly said to dwell in wells or lakes, and newborn babies are supposed to be fetched out of "dame Holle's pond". Both Holda and Berchte make their rounds with the ghosts of unborn or young children in their train, which also fits in well with Frija's role as the Northern mother-goddess.
The German folklore may also cast some light on sides of Frija that have not survived in Norse myth - most particularly, her place in the Wild Hunt. On the Continent, the Hunt is not only led by Wodan or Wod, but by Holda, Perchte, or "Frau Gode" (Mrs. Wode) - Wodan's wife. Here the goddess appears in her wildest shape, swinging her whip as the folk run masked and screaming through the fields with the ghosts running among them. The ritual elements of the Wild Hunt/Perchtenlauf are spoken of under "Yule". For now, it is enough to say that here, we may also see Frija, not only as Wodan's quiet spouse and homemaker, but also as his female counterpart in all the wild rites of the Yule season, when all the year's spinning is done and she has put off her apron and unbound the ties of ordinary life for the appointed time.
All workings having to do with home and hearth fall under Frija's rule. The most ordinary tasks such as cooking and cleaning are holy to her, and a well-made meal or a well-scrubbed kitchen are sure to bring her blessing. She is also the one who brings frith and joy within the wedding: Friday, though it is thought unlucky for most things in Germanic folklore (perhaps because Christianity was particularly hostile towards goddesses?) was still thought the best of days for a marriage. Indeed, we see that even when Frija strives against Wodan, it is not by force that she wins her will, but by subtle workings.
The birch is the tree which Ásatrúar most associate with Frija. In Northern folklore, this tree is seen as a fair white maiden for reasons which should be clear. It is used for cleansing both body and soul, especially in the sauna. In Leaves of Yggdrasil, Freya Aswynn mentions that in Holland, naughty children got birch branches from "St. Nick" (who goes about in a big cloak with a staff and a wide hat in that country); and birch branches were also placed above the door of a newly-wed-couple's house to bless them with fruitfulness (pp. 68-69). Dianne Ross suggests that in our times, runic inscriptions invoking the Birch Goddess could be carved into limbs and the limbs tied to the child's crib or stick horse.
Other trees which may be associated with Frija are linden ("basswood" in America), as told above, and beech, because its name "book-tree" links it with the rune perthro, the well of Wyrd, and Frija's role as a seeress. Her herbs are motherwort, mugwort, yarrow, and all those herbs which work on the female system and organs. Flax has already been spoken of; we will mark that linseed oil is often applied to runic talismans after the runes have been carved and reddened, suggesting, again, the relationship between Wodan and Frija. In Mecklenburg, on Woden's Day (Wednesday), all work in flax or having to do with sewing or linseed was avoided, lest Woden's horse trample it down!
Although there is no Norse record of any animals of Frija, the goose is most associated with her in modern times. Dianne Ross has argued convincingly for seeing the traditional "Mother Goose" as the last reflection of Frija. The geese also had a special relationship with the frowe of the hall: in "Sigurðarkviða hin skamma", it is told how Guðrún's distress over Sigurðr's death was mirrored by the rattling of her cups in the cupboards and the crying out of her geese. Wagner has Frija's wain drawn by sheep or rams (Die Walküre), and suggests, "Sacrifice sheep for Fricka, so that she will give a good marriage" (Götterdämmerung). Since the sheep is the source of the spinner's wool, it seems reasonable to see it as tied to Frija's might in much the same way as flax is. The cow, the source of milk and life from early days, might also be associated with Frija. Milk is surely the drink most traditionally given to the little wights of the home, and in modern times, it has been found that Frija herself may be toasted and blessed with milk just as well as with alcohol (unlike her husband, say...).
Colours associated with Frija in Ásatrú practise today are light blue and white. Several folk have felt in modern times (independently of one another) that her favourite jewels are made of silver and polished rock crystal, a combination of which many women of the Migration and Viking Ages were certainly fond. Many Germanic women of the Migration Age also went about with a sphere of silver-framed rock crystal dangling from the front of their belts; the center of that fashion seems to have been the Rhineland, though they are common in Alamannia and have been found as far south as the Lombardic area of Northern Italy and eastward to Hungary. These crystal balls were often worn cradled in the bowl of a (often perforated) silver spoon (Owen-Crocker, Dress in Anglo-Saxon England, p. 58). It is generally accepted that they were amulets of some sort, perhaps used for scrying; the specific identification of them with Frija is based on modern intuition, extrapolation from her role as a seeress, and the fact that these amulets were also a particular mark of womanly status.
Although there is no historical evidence for it, those who wish a ritual gesture to use as a sign for Frija (as the walknot is traced for Wodan, the Hammer for Thonar, or the sun-wheel for the Wans) might use a spiral to symbolize the turning and winding of the spindle.
Together with Frija, there are the many goddesses whom Snorri lists in the Prose Edda. Some seem to be handmaidens or hypostases of Frigg; others appear independently. Very little is known about these goddesses except the names which Snorri gives us; however, more and more work is being done with them now to rewin the lore which is lost forever from the sources our forebears left us. This would not be acceptable in academic or re-enactment circles, but our troth is not a matter of pure historical recreation: it is a living and growing religion.
Sága is mentioned in Grímnismál 7 as having one of the great halls in God-Home, Sökkvabekkr ("Sunken Benches"), where "cold waves ripple above; there Óðinn and Sága drink through all days, glad, out of golden cups". This hall has often been compared to Frija's Fen-halls - especially since Fensalir is not mentioned in the Grímnismál list - and Sága herself taken as another side of Frigg. She has her own personality, however. Her name is not the same word as the Icelandic "saga", but it is closely related; she is clearly the goddess of story-telling, who remembers old tales. It is meaningfull that her hall is underwater: the streams of the Well of Mímir must flow around it.
There are some who think that Sága is likely to be the patron goddess of Iceland, where all the songs and stories of Scandinavia were written down and kept safe through the many years to our time. It is sure that she has been kinder to Iceland than any other deity has been in the last few centuries; her gifts have been their greatest comfort and their greatest pride.
Those who wish help in writing stories should call on Sága and Wodan together, filling two golden cups with mead and sipping from one in one deity's name while leaving the other cup for the other.
Eir (also Iær, Aer) is mentioned once by Snorri and appears once in Svipdagsmál. Snorri tells us that she is "the best of healers"; in Svipdagsmál, she is one of the maidens on a mountain called "Lyfja" ("to heal through magic" - de Vries,Wörterbuch, p. 369 ), of which it is said that it "has long been a pleasure for the sick and wounded; every woman will become whole if she climbs it, though she has a grievous illness". The other women also have names suggesting works of weal, such as "Hlíf" ("Protection"), "Blíð" ("Blithe"), and Fríð ("beautiful, peaceful") and it is said of them that they offer help to those who sacrifice to them.
According to de Vries (Wörterbuch, p. 97), Eir's name is originally derived from words meaning "honour" or "worship" (related to modern German Ehre); it is lso seen as the Old Norse noun eir, "graciousness - mildness - help". Related to it is the verb eira, "to care for; to help or please". There is also a word eir meaning "copper"; though this word is not etymologically related to the goddess-name, the healing might of copper rings and bracelets has long been known in folk-medicine, so that this metal might well be thought of as particularly hers.
More and more folk are becoming interested in Eir, and surely her healing might is much needed in the world today. Eir is clearly the particular patron of all those who work with any form of health-care or healing, but anyone who needs healing should call on her. KveldúlfR Gundarsson's personal opinion is that Eir is likely to be a goddess who prefers the gentler and slower "alternative" methods of healing, such as aromatherapy, herbalism, and massage, together with emotional counselling and balancing; that her way of healing only uses the more drastic medical means such as surgery and antibiotic treatments in acute cases when the condition is too dangerous or extreme for the patient to heal safely without intervention, and even then, the greatest care is given to such things as nutrition and the patient's spiritual and emotional state. Gefjon mentions that Eir is by no means a foe of technology when it is rightly applied - all healing tools belong to her - but her focus is on prevention more than cure, care and tending to encourage natural healing rather than unnecessary drastic intervention (as opposed to the necessary sort, of which she is also the patron).
As much of the healing lore of our forebears was magical, we may well guess that Eir is a patroness of such magic - that her charms work on the soul and mind as well as the body, to bring about truly holistic healing. As a goddess who is both a spiritual and a physical healer, Eir is especially good to call on for those who need help in dealing with addictions.
Eir must also have been thought of as something of a shaman, since the Anglo-Saxon charm spells show us that many sicknesses were considered to be the workings of alfs, dwarves, witches, or even the Ases (Storms, Anglo-Saxon Magic); in fact, the word "elf-shot" is known in all the Germanic languages, and Hexenschuss, "witch-shot", is still used in rural Bavaria to describe serious pains in the bones and joints. The healer was one who knew not only the plants to help with such a sickness, but the way to magically prepare them and apply them so as to drive out the evil wights or the "shots" they had left in the patient's body - and who was able to deal with health-threatening wights in the soul-world as well as working in the Middle-Garth.
Gefjon (craftswoman of Gefjon's Arðr) adds, from her own work with Eir and her understanding of the goddess, that Eir does not see death as a great foe, nor life at all cost as a prize. She is a goddess of natural processes, which include the loosing given by death when the due time comes. Her care is less for length of life than for its quality.
The priestess Siegróa Lyfjasgyðja has worked with Eir (using the altered spelling Iær) and gotten much lore from her through trance and inspiration. Such lore must stand on its own worth; some may choose to heed it and some may not. It is certainly the only way left to find out more than the small scatterings which have survived from the time of our forebears, but of course, care must be taken to be sure that the myth-making or -discovering of today does not cloud our view of that which we know from the past. It must also be remembered that the god/esses have many aspects, and may appear in one way to one person and a different way to another. Both visions and understandings are equally true, and neither stands as the total definition of the deity.
According to Siegróa's personal revelations, Iær is an elder goddess, born from the ninth teat of the cow Auðumla, and the first of midwives who helped at the birth of the Æsir. She was once in conflict with the male gods, a conflict resolved by the works of Sif; she is now especially championed by Thonar and Höðr (on whom she has bestowed personal favours). As a Goddess of Healing, she cannot take revenge or become involved in bloodshed. To obtain the protection she could not afford Herself, she took refuge with Frigga and her women and lent Frigga her energies in Healing and wortcunning. She may be called upon when there is need, for she will never stint her aid to any, be they thrall or thane, Æsir or Overlord; and asks the same of her priestesses. Siegróa says that Iær wishes her priestesses to be chaste to aid the flow of the healing energies, and wants them to abstain from the flesh of animals, milk, alcohol, and fruit when they call upon her; also to be cleansed with smoke and sauna. Her healing-lore, as she has shown it forth, is especially concerned with the use of runes and herbs. Iær's holy colour is green; her runes are Berkano, Laguz, and Uruz, and her priestesses also wear Kenaz as light-bearers. Cows are especially holy to her, as is the raven; she seems also to have some connection with the birch-tree. Siegróa sees the goddess herself as being dressed in a dalmatic of white brocade, adorned with ropes of pearls and sometimes amber. Gefjon also sees green and white as her colours.
Both Gefjon and Siegróa perceive Eir as being somewhat slow to speak, though for different reasons. Certainly she seems to be a goddess who has little patience with needless jabber, who communicates only when she has something important to say - who, like Frija, watches in silent wisdom much of the time.
The runes which Gefjon feels to be closely tied with Eir are Laguz and Jera.
Gefjon is less well-known than Frija or the Frowe, but better-known than most of the goddesses. Snorri opens the "Gylfaginning" section of the Prose Edda with the story of how the Swedish king Gylfi rewarded a wandering woman who had entertained him with as much land as four oxen could plough in a day and a night. The woman, however, was the goddess Gefjon. From the north in Etin-Home, she brought four oxen who were the sons of herself and an etin, and set them before the plough, ploughing out the ring of land which is now the island Zealand. This tale dates back at least to the early part of the Viking Age, as Snorri quotes a fragment of it one of the first known skaldic poets, Bragi inn gamli. Gefjon is the patroness of Zealand, and near the statue of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen stands a huge fountain which shows the goddess whipping her four oxen onward, with water frothing around their feet and great bronze serpents writhing before them. In the version of the story which Snorri tells in Ynglinga saga, he adds that after this, Gefjon married Óðinn's son Skjöldr and they dwelt at Lejre, which is the ancestral seat of the kings of Denmark. Here, we may perhaps see the idea that the king is wedded to the goddess of the land - though Skjöldr himself (the same figure who is called Scyld Scefing in Beowulf) is as much an ancestor-god as a king. In Lokasenna 20, Loki also accuses Gefjon of laying her limbs over "the white youth who gave (her) a piece of jewelry".
Despite all this, Snorri also tells us that Gefjon "is a maiden and is attended by those who die maidens". The word maiden (ON mær) does not necessarily mean a virgin, but rather a young woman (mær can also mean "daughter" or even "wife"); there is no evidence that the Norse placed special value on virginity. Gefjon is clearly the goddess of young and shy women, however: in the Völsa þattr section of Óláfs saga hins helga, the young farmer's daughter, when she must take up the dried horse phallus Völsi, swears that "by Gefjon and the other goddess, I take the ruddy phallus because I must". It may seem strange to think of a goddess of fruitfulness as also the goddess of unmarried women; but a woman of the age between puberty and marriage embodies all the potential fruitfulness of which Gefjon, as a land-goddess and plough-goddess, is the warder and tender. It seems likely that she is the goddess who sees to it that women are not wedded before they are ready to be wives and mothers, or involved with men against their will; she is particularly the warder of teenaged maidens through all the difficulties young women face. She must also have been seen as a virgin herself at times; Mundal points out that "In translations of Latin legends the name Gefjun is rather consistently used to translate the name of the Roman goddess Diana" and suggests that she was much more important, at least in the last phase of paganism, than the literary sources seem to show ("Gods and Goddesses with Reference to the Female Divinities", p. 309).
Gefjon is also a seeress: in Lokasenna 21, Óðinn says of her that "I know that she knows all ancient ørlögs just as well as I do".
The name Gefjon means "the giver", and is very like one of Freyja's heiti, Gefn. As a plough-goddess, she is surely a goddess of fruitfulness; Turville-Petre and Ellis-Davidson both compare her ploughing to the Anglo-Saxon plough-charm which begins "Erce, Erce, Erce, mother of Earth". Today, she is sometimes thought to embody the might of woman as the first source of food and life, perhaps being the Norse reflection of the archetype which the Celts expressed as the ever-full cauldron of food and drink. Although there is no similar cauldron in Germanic myth (with the possible exception of the one in Valhöll where the flesh of the ever-regenerating boar is seethed every day for the einherjar), the name Ketill (manly)/Katla (womanly), "kettle" or "cauldron", was very common among the Norse, and was probably of magico-religious origin: the manner of cooking sacrifices at the holy feasts was always by seething in a cauldron (see "Things and their Meanings"). The image of the ever-full cauldron might perhaps also be read from the name of Fulla (below).
According to Snorri, Fulla "is a maiden and fares loose-haired and with a gold band around her head; she bears Frigg's casket and looks after her shoes and stockings and knows secret rede with her." In its list of magically-skilled god/esses, the Zweite Merseburger Zauberspruch tells us, "then chanted Frija and Fulla her sister"; it seems that Fulla held a higher place in earlier knowledge than with Snorri. Snorri also mentions particularly, however, that the gifts Baldr's wife Nanna sent to the Ases' Garth from Hel included a linen robe and many gifts for Frija, and finger-gold for Fulla", so Fulla's special place beside Frija had not been wholly forgotten.
Her name, just as it seems, means "full", suggesting that she is a goddess of riches and fruitfulness. It can also be read as stemming from the Old Norse word for "cup" (full), hinting that she may be the bearer of a cup or cauldron. As the bearer of Frija's casket, she is responsible for the jewels of the other goddess - and, if the life of the god/esses mirrored human norms, as is thought likely, she would also be responsible for the gold and blessings which Frija wishes to give.
Frija's other women
Of the rest of the goddesses listed by Snorri, we know nothing except what he tells us. Sjöfn "greatly cares to turn the thoughts of humans to love, of men and maids; from her name affection is called sjafni...Lofn, she is so mild and good to call on, that she gets leave from All-Father or Frigg for folk to come together, women and men, although it is banned or denied. Vár, she listens to the oaths of humans and private speech which is contracted between women and men; for this reason these speeches are called "varar"; she also revenges those which are broken...Vör, she is both wise and enquiring, so that no part may be hidden from her; there is a saying, that a woman becomes aware (vör) of something, when she learns of it....Syn, she keeps the doors of the hall, and locks them before those who should not go in, and she is set as a defender at the Thing, before those speeches which someone wants to prove untrue. For this reason there is that saying, that a denial (syn) is set before that which someone wishes to say no to...Hlin, she is set to protect those humans who Frigg will save from certain dangers; for that reason there is a saying, that whoever saves himself finds a refuge (hleinir)...Snotra, she is wise and prudent; and from her whoever is wise, woman or man, is called snotr...Gná, Frigg sends her through various worlds on her errands. She has a horse, which runs over air and water, which hight Hófvarpnir (Hoof-Tosser). From Gná's name it is said, that that towers (gnæfi) which fares high up."
In modern times, Syn is seen as dressed in gray, with either a broom or a sword; for clear reasons, women often call on her as a warder in magical workings and for protecting their homes.
Hlin is given as a name for Frija herself in Völuspá, and is clearly an aspect of the goddess.
Snotra is now thought to be especially concerned with manners and proper behavior, and is good to call on when there is a chance that a feast might get too rowdy.
Gná, the ærial messenger, is the goddess to call on to make sure that important items sent by airmail get to their destination on time.
Iðunn is well known as the keeper of the apples of youth, which she feeds to the god/esses to keep them young and strong. The only tale of her is the one recounted in the skaldic poem Haustlöng (ca. 900) and the Prose Edda. To redeem himself from the clutches of the etin Thjazi (father of Skaði - see "Skaði, Gerðr, and other Etin-Brides"), Loki lures her out of the Ases' Garth and Thjazi, in eagle-shape, swoops down and snatches her. Without her, the god/esses quickly begin to fade; but they hold a meeting and find out that Iðunn was last seen with Loki, from whom they eventually get the truth. Loki then borrows the Frowe's falcon-coat and goes to find Iðunn, changing the goddess and her apples into a nut and flying away with them. Thjazi, as an eagle, pursues him, buffeting Loki with the wind from his wings. When Loki lands in the Ases' Garth, the other gods set a fire on the walls which singes Thjazi's wings and forces him to earth so that he can be killed.
Iðunn is clearly the embodiment of the might of new life, that which keeps the worlds strong and fruitful - a trait she shares with the other goddesses desired by etin-men, the Frowe and Sif. Her very name either means "the renewing one" or "the active one" (de Vries, Wörterbuch p. 283); a related word, "iðiagroenn" (renewed-green), is used for the new-born Earth after Ragnarök (Völuspá 59). Her tale is close in many ways to the "Spring Goddess" model of Gerðr, Menglöð, and Sigrdrífa: the shining hero must pass into Etin-home, defy or slay an etin, and cross a ring of fire to claim the maid. Some may raise their eyebrows at the idea of Loki as "shining hero", but not only is he likely to be a fire-being, but he actually seems to symbolically take Balder's place in the following tale of Thjazi's daughter Skaði. Turville-Petre also compares Loki's theft of Iðunn to Óðinn's theft of the mead of poetry (Myth and Religion, p. 187).
Both apples and nuts are signs, not merely of fruitfulness, but specifically of life springing forth again from death: their meaning of is spoken of more fully in the chapter "Things and Meanings".
Today, Iðunn is called on specifially as the goddess whose might brings the elder Troth forth "iðiagroenn"; for this reason, a form of her name is used for the Troth's official magazine, Idunna.
Colours associated with Iðunn are gold and light green.
Sif is the wife of Thonar, the mother of Wulþur (by an unknown father) and Trude. Snorri mentions in his prologue to his Edda that her parents are not known, but she is a prophetess. This probably comes from his false etymology of "Sif" as being derived from the Classical "Sibyl", but it is not unlikely that she, like other goddesses such as Frija and Gefjon, may also be a seeress.
Sif is best known for her long gold hair, around which the one myth in which she appears - Loki's cropping of it and the forging of the treasures of the gods - centers. It is often thought that her golden hair is the embodiment of the fields of grain, which, when ripe, look very much like long golden hair rippling in the breeze; in England, it used to be thought that the summer lightning was needed for the crops to ripen, which speaks of the relationship between Sif and Thonar.
It is worth marking that in saga descriptions of women as attractive, the one physical feature which seems to define beauty is the woman's hair (most ideally, long, straight, golden hair such as Sif's) - other bodily characteristics are almost never mentioned. For instance Helga in fögr (the fair) is described with many superlatives as the fairest woman of Iceland, but the only thing said about her actual looks is that her hair was so long that she could completely wrap herself in it and was as fair as gold (Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu, ch. 4). Aside from that, descriptions of a saga-woman's physical beauty were wholly confined to her clothing (Jochens, Jenny, "Before the Male Gaze: the Absence of the Female Body in Old Norse"). Sif, with her gold hair, can thus be seen as the fairest of the goddesses and the very embodiment of the Norse ideal of female attractiveness. More than this, we know that hair was a very meaningful sign of both life-force and holiness among the Germanic peoples: for a man, it was particularly the emblem of a king, priest, or one dedicated to the god/esses; for a woman, it was the very symbol of her being. When Loki crops Sif's hair, it is not only an unmatched insult, it is an attack against the life-force of the Ases' Garth similar to the theft of Iðunn or the offering of Freyja in marriage to an etin: Sif's hair, Iðunn's apples, and the Frowe's womb are all embodiments of the same might. It may be significant that the etin Hrungnir, when boasting in the halls of the gods, threatens to carry away Freyja and Sif for himself; it is these goddesses (and perhaps Sif's daughter Trude, as spoken of below) that draw the interest of the manly wights of the Outgarth. Loki also expresses a certain claim to Sif in Lokasenna, saying that he has slept with her (and, again, no one can tell him that he is simply lying); it is not impossible that his cropping of her hair could have been a way of boasting of this deed.
It has also been suggested that Loki's deed could, on a natural level, be seen in the practice of slash-and-burn agriculture, and there may be some truth in this, though we must remember that it is this world which mirrors the worlds of the gods, not their world which is explained simply by happenings in ours.
The rowan is probably Sif's tree: as mentioned in "Thonar", we know that the Lappish version of the thunder-god, Hora galles or "Þórr Karl", had a wife named "Rowan", to whom the tree's red berries were holy, and that Þórr clung to this tree against the flood of Geirröðr's daughter. Turville-Petre concludes from this that, "Probably the wife of Thór was once conceived in the form of a rowan, to which the god clung", also making reference to the special reverence given to this tree from the settlement of Iceland to the present day (Myth and Religion, p. 98). We may also note that the rowan is first crowned with white - "fair" blossoms, then loses them, but in their stead gets bright red berries; since, as we will remember, the Germanic people often spoke of gold as being "red", this could likewise be seen as showing the cropping and replacement of Sif's hair. If Sif is indeed the rowan-goddess, this sheds a little more light on her relationship with Thonar and the way in which the two of them work together. The rowan is first and foremost a tree of warding against all ill-willing magic and wights of the Outgarth: next to the hallowing and battle-might of Thonar's Hammer, we thus have the hallowing and magical might of Sif's rowan. The two of them can be called on together as warders against all ill.
Sif is never seen as a warrior, nor are any weapons ever attributed to her, despite the image put out by a certain popular comic-book.
Her name is related very closely to the word "sib", the kin-group. This suggests that she is very much a deity of the clan and warder of the home and family, just as her husband is.
Laurel Olson, who works closely with Sif, mentions that:
She understands grief and loss from personal experience and is understanding in the extreme. She is (physical plane) wealth and prosperity, more so, I think, than Freya. She says she sleeps in winter beneath a grey and white cloak Frigga wove of rams' wool. She loves all things gold or golden coloured. She favours spring green, sky blue, berry red, autumnal gold (as opposed to yellow), and white.
As offerings she likes cooked barley with honey and butter, fresh berries or berry strudel, and spring flowers. She also likes gold jewelry and amber anything."
Trude is the daughter of Thonar and Sif. Her name means "Strength". She is listed among the walkurjas who bear ale in Walhall in Grímnismál 36; her name is also used in walkurja-type kennings, suggesting a battle-role, and was a very common second element in Germanic women's personal names such as Gertrude/Geirþrúðr.
Like the Frowe, Sif, and Iðunn, Trude is also desired by sundry wights of the Outgarth or underworld. In Alvíssmál, the dwarf Alvíss (All-Wise) has come up to the Ases' Garth in hopes of claiming her as his bride, and in Bragi's Ragnarsdrápa (early 9th century), the giant Hrungnir is called "thief of Þrúðr", which suggests that there may have been a different story leading up to the battle between Þórr and Hrungnir than the one Snorri tells. In Haustlöng, Thjóðólfr or Hvíni tells of the battle, but not its prelude; there are no older sources for Snorri's version, making it quite possible that the duel could have been motivated by the abduction of Þórr's daughter, rather than simply by the etin becoming drunk and disorderly in Ásgarðr. Snorri does in fact have Hrungnir threatening to carry off Freyja and Sif, but, out of ignorance or editorial policy, does not mention the theft of Þrúðr.
This role suggests that she, like the other goddesses who draw the desire of etins, is one of the female embodiments of the life-force of the cosmos. As she is the grand-daughter of Earth, daughter of Sif and Thonar, this is hardly to be wondered at. Being the daughter of one of the most beautiful of the goddesses, as well as the strongest of the gods, she must be both very fair and very mighty. Today, she is sometimes thought of as having lovely hair of a bright reddish-gold colour.
She and her two brothers Móði and Magni may also be seen as the bearers of Thonar's great gifts to humans: Strength, Bravery, and Main-Strength.
From his own workings and research, Larsanthony K. Agnarsson offers another perspective on this goddess, one which fits well with her role as daughter of Thonar and Sif:
Thruð is an obscure goddess and little is known about her other than (that) she is the daughter of Þórr and Sif. However, we in Skergard give her much more credit than that.
Thruð is one of the more prominent of the Asynjur in this modern day and age. She is the youngest goddess among the Asynjur.
The young gods and goddesses are very important in our modern world. Since the gods have evolved as we have, the youngest of them are more prominent in this day and age. This does not mean that the elder gods are fading from importance. What this does mean, however, is that the younger gods and goddesses are just as involved in our lives as their parents, if not more so.
As Sif represents the "Gatherer of Grains", Thruð represents the work behind sowing the fields and the labors of organized agriculture.
Before the coming of Thruð, mankind simply gathered berries and nuts to survive, ignorant of sowing fields, planting crops, or the inequity of modern agriculture.
As humanity continued to evolve, Sif taught Thruð the aspects of gathering nuts and berries, and from her grandmother Fjorgynn (Jord) she learned the ways of the soil. When Thruð came of age, she taught humans the importance of working with the Earth, that is, agriculture. She also taught mankind how to use what they grow, and how to grind grain to make flour for baking bread. Thus, Thruð is associated with the hearth, because she spends many hours there cooking, baking, and keeping the fire. As the fire-keeper and bread-baker, her colour is orange (not to mention that Red and Yellow make Orange; i.e. Þórr and Sif combined). What time not spent cooking, she spends in the fields, sorting the Earth from the stones and rocks.
Thruð is often seen as a large, strong woman whose hair is pulled back, but nevertheless messy. Her clothes are generally torn and dirty; as a labouring woman, she is too busy to notice her conditions.
Because of her strength, she is likened to a giantess. Rocks and stones that are sacred to her are the ones turned over with the plow.
Other colours which have been associated with Trude are bright red and gold.
This goddess also appears as one of the main characters in a charming work of Heathen educational fiction (early teenage-level, Danish language), Lars-Henrik Olsen's Erik Menneskesøn.
(Hel, Hell, Hölle, Halja, *Haljon)
This goddess was known to all the Germanic peoples, including the Goths: a Gothic word for "witch" was haljoruna - Hella-runester. She must have been the goddess of the underworld from a very early time, as her name is given to that land in all the Germanic tongues. The name itself stems from a root meaning "to hide": she is the concealer. Simek compares the description of the road to Hel as "down and to the north" to the burial mounds of European megalithic culture, which "always have their entrances to the south and the burial chamber to the north...also the north-south orientation is predominant in Bronze Age ship settings and Vendel and Viking Age ship graves". He strengthens his identification of Hel with these family cairns by pointing out that the Old Irish cognate to her name is cuile, "cellar", which is a reasonable development from the mound-covered rock-chamber (Dictionary, pp. 137-38).
Hella is a rather ambiguous figure in the Norse pantheon: as ruler of the Underworld, she has the status of a Goddess and queen; as Loki's daughter, sister of the Wolf Fenrir and the Middle-Garth's Wyrm, she appears as a demonic figure. The belief in Hella as ruler of the underworld is likely very archaic; the belief that she is part of Loki's monstrous family goes back at least to the ninth century, appearing in the skaldic poem Ynglingatal, where it says "I tell no secret, Gná-of-Glitnir (the horse-goddess - Glitnir, "glistening", is listed as a horse-heiti, and one goddess' name is often subsituted for another in kennings) has Dyggvi's corpse for her delight, for the horse-idis of the Wolf and Narvi chose the king, and Loki's daughter has the ruler of the folk of Yngvi as her plaything". Although it has been suggested that Hella as a person is late and perhaps even post-heathen (Simek, Dictionary, p. 138), her appearance in this poem makes it clear that she was firmly established as a free-standing personality in the Viking Age. It may be particularly noted that it is implied in Ynglingatal that the dead man will receive the personal favours of Hella, a theme which also shows up in Saxo's version of the Balder-story, where Balder dreams of the embraces of "Persephone" (Hella). Grimm, citing the great many Hella-based place-names of continental Germany, as well as her appearance as "Mother Hölle" in German folklore, is of the opinion that she may well have preceded many of the other deities, and perhaps even that the name and idea of the realm devolved from the goddess herself. As a matter of fact, the older the versions of the Germanic Goddess of Death are, the less "hellish" and more godlike she appears.
The Goddess Hel is sometimes represented as a personification of Death, with the Wolf and Serpent as Pain and Sin, respectively. This is another pretty mediæval (or even Victorian) sentiment - surely death, a natural part of the cycle of life, is not equivalent to sin (in the christian sense - in the original sense, as Gert McQueen has pointed out, "sin" meant only "being"). This is part of the need felt by some for all three of Loki's children to represent awful monsters of some sort. But Hel always stands out from the other two. Instead of being bound or imprisoned, Hel is given rule over her own realm. In the Baldr story, she stands as an equal with the Æsir, refusing to give in to their demands unless on her own terms. She is very possibly an older concept, that of the Death Goddess, which was stuck into a later myth-cycle in a convenient place, as happens to so many other deities. Death is too ancient and primal a concept to be such a late-comer into a pantheon.
As a goddess of death, Hel is not only the receiver of the dead, sometimes she comes herself to claim them. This is spoken of in the quote from Ynglingatal (above). During the Black Plague, which ravaged Norway and other parts of Scandinavia to an even greater degree than the rest of Western Europe, Hel was said to travel the countryside with a broom and a rake. In villages where some survived, she was said to have used the rake; if a whole community perished, she had used her broom.
However, generally she is simply the keeper of the souls of the departed, welcoming them into her house, which was viewed as a sort of inn for the dead, and holding them with an inexorable grip, on no account giving up anyone once she had them. This idea of the Death Goddess being unpitying and immovable, never giving back one she has taken, is certainly apparent in Hel's refusal to let Baldr go. The giantess Þökk in the Baldr story, who refuses to weep for him, is often supposed to be Loki, making double sure Baldr stays dead for his own evil reasons. But the claim could be made that she is Death herself, the one being who would feel no need to weep for Baldr. "What Hel has, she may keep", Þökk says. Hermóðr does not understand Hel's hidden meaning when she says all things must weep for Baldr to prove he was universally mourned. What she means, perhaps, is that all the worlds may wish Baldr back, but death herself will remain inexorable.
The ancient death Goddess was often pictured as having gaping jaws and a ravening wolfish nature (which is reminiscent of Hel's brother Fenrir, whose jaws, when open, stretched from Heaven to Earth). The Norse Hel is pictured as a woman of very stern demeanor and parti-coloured - sometimes half black or blue and half white, sometimes half corpse flesh and half living, by which, as Snorri puts it in his Edda, "she is easily recognized" (no doubt!). Sometimes it is suggested that her upper half is white/living and her lower half is black/rotting, but one may well suspect that this has more to do with the neuroses of modern society than with the beliefs of our ancestors; Karter Neal, who has done much work with this goddess, says that she always sees Hella's two halves as being right side/left side. An interesting point to bring up here is a passage from ibn Fadlan's descriptions of the Rus, where a corpse is buried temporarily in the frozen earth while preparations are made for the funeral; when it was dug up, the cold had turned the flesh black. The Norse were also surely aware of the phenomenon of livor mortis, which, after a few hours, causes the skin of whatever parts of the body are lowest to take on a bluish-purple hue. The dead are either described as helblár (Hel blue/black) or nábleikr, náfölr (corpse-pale).
This two-coloured aspect can symbolize death's two sides - ugly and peaceful. It may be worth noting that those dead who do become helblár are usually those who walk as draugar after their deaths - the evil dead, in other words.
Leaving scholarly speculations for more mystical ones, I (Alice Karlsdóttir) have done a series of meditations on Hel over a few years, trying to find out what sort of deity she is, and have seldom seen her as two-coloured. She appears either all hideous (which seems to amuse her greatly as being a huge joke on everyone), or all beautiful, with very pale skin, hair, eyes, and garments, and always with her crown on. Death appears fearsome and ugly to the living, for we see it as an end to all we know and love, often accompanied by pain and fear. But if death is a part of life and the natural cycle of things, and if the soul continues in another life afterwards, might not Death appear beautiful to one who is dying, a welcome release from pain, a doorway to a new existence? When death is truly accepted and understood, it loses its hideous face. Perhaps this is what Hel's two-faced quality represents. There are as many references to beauty in her realm as ugliness. It comes down to whether we are going to be willing to accept death or not, but willing or not, we must face her sooner or later.
Hella's chief animal is the horse; the Scandinavian belief in the helhest is spoken of under "Soul, Death, and Rebirth". She is also seen as a three-legged white goat; another folk belief was that Hel had a huge ox which went from place to place during times of sickness and whose breath caused people to fall down dead.
Hella's colours are black or deep blue-black and white. Runes associated with her in modern times are Hagalaz, Berkano, and Isa.
At least from the beginning of the Iron Age onward, the Sun was always seen as a goddess by the Germanic folk, while the Moon was a god, her brother. While there is little surviving evidence for Moon-worship, there is more for worship of Sunna. In his article "Folklore in the Icelandic Sagas and the Blót of Guðrún Ósvífrsdóttir", Jón Hnefill Aðalsteinsson has shown that it is very likely that the passage in Laxdæla saga where it is described how Guðrún rose early on the day of the killing of Kjartan, "er sólu var ofrat" (normally translated as "when the Sun got up" - lit. "when the Sun was lifted or offered to"), actually tells of an offering to the Sun - originally probably made by Guðrún herself. He comments that "it is worth remembering that at the Conversion, people were for the time being permitted to sacrifice in secret, this not being considered a punishable offence unless witnesses were present...A sacrifice that took place before everybody else woke up would therefore not have been seen as an offence at this time" (p. 264). If he is correct, this would suggest that Sunna received offerings on special occasions: Guðrún wishes to talk her husband and brothers into killing the hero Kjartan and make sure that the slaying will be successful, and thus she makes a blessing to the Sun. The first brightness of dawn was often seen as a sign of sig: after Hákon the Great's blessing to Óðinn (Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar, Heimskringla), he sees two ravens, which he takes as an omen that he will have "dagrád til at berjask" - that is to say, "dawn", or victory, for his battling. When Guðrún's dawn blessing is thought of in this context, it suggests that Sunna herself may be seen as the one to whom sig-offerings are made.
Sunna is also able to bless the dying: in Landnámabók, it is mentioned that Þórkell Þórsteinsson "had himself borne out into the rays of the Sun in his Hel-sickness". Jón Aðalsteinsson sees the follow-up to this in which Þórkell "commended himself into the hands of that god who had shaped the sun" as a christian addition to an authentic tale of a Sun-worshipper's death (p. 263). She is, of course, the foe of all those wights who dog the dark death-paths - etins, trolls, and ill-willing ghosts - and the blessing of her light at death might have worked in much the same way as the little Þórr's-Hammers used as grave-amulets.
Sól is listed among the goddesses in Snorri's Edda: she has either two horses, Árvakr and Alsviðr, or one, Skin-faxi (Shining-Mane). The image of the horse drawing the Sun's wain goes back at least to the Bronze Age; the best-known example is the well-known Trundholm sun-wagon (spoken of under "The Bronze Age"). Parts of a like piece were found in the Tågaborg mound in Helsingborg (Gløb, The Mound People, p. 103).
The Old Norwegian Rune-Poem's lines, "(Sun) is the light of lands; I lout (bow) to the holy deeming" also suggest that the Sun was seen as a greater goddess than the myths show her to be, as do the various descriptions of her in the Elder Edda: she is skírleitt goð (shining-faced deity - Grímnismál 39), heið brúðr himins (glorious bride of heaven - Grímnismál 39), and skínandi goð (shining deity - Grímnismál 38, Sigrdrífumál 15). Jón Aðalsteinsson also cites Skúli Þórsteinsson's poem about the sunset: "Glens beðja veðr gyðju / goðblíð í vé síðan / kømr gótt, með geislum, / gránserks ofan Mána" - Glen's (the gleaming one's) god-blithe wife treads with her rays into the goddess' wih-stead; afterwards the mild light of gray-sarked Máni comes from above.
Finally, there are the many folk practices which suggest the worship of the Sun, such as the lighting of wheels and dawn-fires at (variously) Yule, Ostara, and Midsummer's (spoken of further in the chapters on those blessings), and the folk custom of rising early to "see the Sun dance" on Ostara, May Day, or Midsummer's. It is thus clear that the Germanic folk did worship the goddess Sunna, and probably that she was seen as more than a mere personification of the shining light in the sky: that she herself was, in fact, seen as the source of light, life, and sig.
Sunna's colour is gold, though she is sometimes also thought of in modern times as being white-clad. Those who live in more southerly climates, where she is not the mild maiden that she is in the North, also see her as an etin-maid or a furious sow in the summertime; in Runelore, Thorsson cites the German saying "Die gelbe Sau brennt" (the yellow sow burns) for an especially hot day.
Alice Karlsdóttir, from "The Lady Death", in Idunna IV, 4, #17, Yule-Month 1992 C.E., pp. 2-7 (nearly all of "Hella"; note that parts of this article are also reproduced under "Soul, Death, and Rebirth").
Stephan Grundy, from "Freya and Frigg" (Ellis-Davidson, H.R., ed., Images of the Goddess - forthcoming from Routledge; title may be subject to change)
KveldúlfR Gundarsson, Warder of the Lore, from "The Spinning Goddess and Migration Age Bracteates" (unpublished article)
Melodi Lammond (for Sága)
Larsanthony K. Agnarsson, Elder-in-training, "The Goddess Thruð", from Fjallabók #1.
Diana Paxson, Elder
Siegróa Lyfjasgyðja (for Eir)
Dianne Luark Ross, Elder, from "The Birch Goddess", Idunna vol. II, #2, October 1989