Chapter XVII
Fro Ing
(Freyr, Engus, *Fraujaz Ingwaz)
Freyr's competence (à la Nadel) was in the areas of fertility, peace, prosperity, sex, sacred kingship, battle and death. All of which areas are connected with the greater cycle of life: even prosperity, which is the result of a high fertility. The name Freyr (Anglo-Saxon Frea, Old High German Fro) is a title, meaning "lord" in the sense of the peacetime/judicial function of rulership: the Norse references to him as Yngvifreyr or Ingunar-Freyr have led to the conclusion that he is the same god as the Anglo-Saxon Ing/Gothic Engus, and thus many Troth folk who prefer to use Anglo-Saxon or general Germanic forms call him Ing. 
Freyr was known throughout the Germanic world, but different areas tended to focus on different deities as paramount. The area in which Freyr was most important was Sweden, specifically the southeastern part. 
The first evidence of worship of Freyr or a like deity comes from the Bronze Age: the rock-carvings from Östergötland, which show a phallic man with a sword and a boar. All the examples of this sort "are from Östergötland, and this restricted distribution corresponds in part to the distribution of place names containing the name Freyr. (de Vries, Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte, vol. ii, p. 201). They are commonest just to the north of Lake Mälaren, and consequently overlap with the Uppland group of engravings, among which the role and importance of the sword cannot yet be assessed; but they are fairly common as far south as Östergötland, after which they are distinctly rare in the south and west of Sweden" (Gelling and Ellis-Davidson, The Chariot of the Sun and other Rites and Symbols of the Bronze Age). 
There are several finds of what may be images associated with Freyr. The best known of these is the small silver figurine from Södermanland (Viking Age), where the god sits with chin on hand and a substantial erection. This was probably carried in a belt-pouch, like the silver image of Freyr that Ingimundr the Old was said to carry with him in Vatnsdæla saga. From the Celtic and Roman Iron Ages, there are also the phallic wooden figures found in the bogs of Denmark, which, if they do not represent this god himself, showed a deity of very similar character. 
The christian historian Adam of Bremen, writing just before A.D. 1200, describes the high temple at Uppsala thus: 
"in this temple, richly ornamented with gold, the people worship the images of three gods. Thor, the mightiest of the three, stands in the centre of the church, with Wodan and Fricco on his right and left. Thor, they say, holds the dominion of the air. He rules over the thunder and lighting, winds and rain, clear weather and fertility. The second deity, Wodan, that is to say, 'Rage', wages war and gives man courage to meet his foe. The third is Fricco. He gives to mortals peace and enlightenment, his image having a much exaggerated penis. All their gods are provided with priests, who offer the sacrifices of the people. When plague or famine threatens, sacrifice is offered to Thor; when war is imminent, to Wodan; when a wedding is to be celebrated, to Fricco"
(Lost Gods of England, p. 114). 
Branston then mentions that Fricco is the same as Frey(r), a generally accepted interpretation. The name, however, cannot be derived from "Freyr"; it is a common Old High German man's name, which may originally have been a manly derivation from the Proto-Germanic *Frijjo - Frija. Since Adam translated Óðinn by the German name Wodan, he may have subsituted a more German-sounding name for Freyr as well. 
Saxo Grammaticus, writing not long after Adam of Bremen, knew that Freyr was particularly associated with Sweden and with the kings of Sweden at Uppsala, as well as having a special religious role there. He describes Freyr as being the "satrap" of the gods, and introducing human sacrifice at Uppsala. Earlier, he mentions how the king Hadding had established the yearly feast which the Swedes called Freyr's-blót, when "swarthy" victims were given to the god. Freyr has the particular title "blótguð svía", "blessing-god of the Swedes", and Gunnars þáttr helmings shows the Swedish procession of Freyr's image in graphic detail; Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar also mentions that the Swedes called Freyr veraldar guð, "god of the world" (Flateyjarbók I, p. 402). 
The following of Freyr also appeared often among the Icelanders. For example, Gísla saga tells how Þórgrímr is said still to be in the howe, and "he was so dear to Freyr on account of his sacrifices to Freyr that Freyr would have no frost between them" - that is, the barrow-mound stayed green even in the snow. Hrafnkels saga Freysgoða recounts the story of a man who was specifically given to Freyr and shared all his best possessions with the god he loved, especially the horse Freyfaxi. 
The most specific Freyr-beast is the boar, which is one of the fertile early farm animals. Here we see a clear tie between Freyr and fruitfulness, which is mirrored in Freyja's heiti Sýr, "sow". At the funeral of Baldr, it is told how, "Battle-wise Freyr rides first on his gold-bristled boar to the hill (pyre) of Óðinn's son, and leads the hosts" (Úlfr Uggason, "Húsdrápa" 7). Snorri also tells us that one of the gifts forged by the dwarves at Loki's behest was Freyr's boar Gullinbursti (Gold-Bristled) or Slíðrugtanni (Cutting-Tusked), which could "run over air and water, night and day, better than any horse, and it would never be so dark at night or in mirk-worlds, that it would not be bright enough where he fared, his bristles gave off such light". Vatnsdæla saga gives us a tale of holy swine as showing the will of Freyr: Ingimundr the Old (who carried the Freyr-image with him), lost some of his swine and did not find them again until a boar named Beigath was with them. Ingimundr and his people drove the swine to the lake now called Swine Lake, where they meant to pen them, "but the boar jumped into the lake and swam across it, but became so tired that his cloven feet came off him. He got to the shore at Beigatharhvól and died there. Now Ingimundr felt happy in Vatnsdale." This was clearly a sign of the same sort as that given to Þórólfr Mosturskeggi in Eyrbyggja saga when he trusted the pillars carved with the image of Þórr to guide him to the place the god meant him to live: the finding of the swine and the boar's strength and endurance showed the blessing of Freyr and Freyja (The Chariot of the Sun, p. 54). Similar stories are told about the swine-herds of Steinólfr the Short and Helgi the Lean, who put a boar and a sow aboard at a certain cliff, and came back three years later to find that the herd had grown to seventy. 
The boar was also a beast of battle, and it is probably as such that Freyr rides it as leader of the hosts: Beowulf speaks of the boar-crested helms of the warriors, and such helms were actually found in the Migration Age Anglo-Saxon burials of Sutton Hoo and Bentley Grange. "Hildisvín" (Battle-swine) and "Hildigöltr" (Battle-boar) were names for helmets; Freyja's boar was also called "Hildisvín". Jöfurr, "boar", was an Old Norse "glory-name" for warriors and princes; the boar was clearly one of the noblest of beasts as well as one of the most warlike. 
Lastly, the boar was a holy animal. The Yule-oaths were sworn on the best boar of the herd, which was then given to Freyr and/or Freyja (according to Heiðreks saga) as the Midwinter sacrifice. Here we see Freyr (and Freyja as well, since the two cannot be parted) as the one whose might brings the world of humans together with the worlds of the god/esses and ghosts. Images of a man with a boar are found on some Migration Age bracteates, and these may be connected with the cult of Freyr. 
Freyr also appears to have been connected with horses. He was the owner of a horse called "Blóðughófi", "Bloody-Hooved". Sometimes this has been read as suggesting an injury to the horse's leg, such as that which formed the model for the Zweite Merseburger Zauberspruch (see "Balder"); it is also possible that the name describes Freyr's riding forth in battle, as his own heiti Atriði suggests. The saga of Hrafnkell Freysgoði tells how Hrafnkell dedicated a horse (Freyfaxi) to Freyr, which only he and Freyr were allowed to ride. Such horses seem similar to the holy horses described by Tacitus in Germania ch. 10: the "white horses, never soiled by human use" who are "yoked to a sacred chariot and accompanied by priest or king or other head of state, who observe their neighing or snorting. No other divination has greater faith placed in it, not only by the ordinary people but by the kings and priests; they are the servants of the gods, but the horses their confidants". Another horse named Freyfaxi appears in the Vatnsdæla saga, where the sons of Ingimundr, worshippers of Freyr, attended a horse-fight. To EllisDavidson, it seems likely that horse-fights were associated with the cult of Freyr. (Ellis-Davidson, 1964:98). In Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar (Flateyjarbók), it is told how the christian king carried out his attack on a Trondheim hof by riding the stallion of a herd that was dedicated to Freyr. 
The Völsa þáttr of St. Óláfr's saga (Flateyjarbók) tells of a family which had a preserved horse-phallus as a holy item; this has also been associated with Freyr, for obvious reasons. The phallus, from a horse killed at the autumn slaughtering, was taken by the farm-wife, who preserved it with linen and leeks and enchanted it so that it grew great and stood by itself. It was given the name Völsi, and at the evening feasts, it was passed about from person to person with the repeated refrain, "May the Mörnir take this blessing!" "Mörnir" seems to mean "etin-women"; the singular is used twice for Njörðr's wife Skaði in Þjóðólfr ór Hvíni's Haustlöng, implying the sacrifice of manly fruitfulness to the darker womanly powers, as is in fact hinted at both in the wooing of Gerðr and the account of Skaði's wedding (see "Skaði and Gerðr"). Because of Freyr's own surrender of sword and horse to bring about his wedding, the rune Ingwaz has often been interpreted as the sacrifice of manhood, and its shape as showing the castrated male. However, no matter how often Freyr gives his might of fruitfulness to his bride, more power always springs forth from him; it is more likely that the shape of Ingwaz shows the manly seed-sack, often emptied and often refilled with the god's strength. 
After Freyr gave away his sword for the sake of winning Gerðr (see below), he had to fight with a stag's antler at Ragnarök. The stag is thus thought of as one of Freyr's beasts. Like the boar and the stallion, it is among the most male of animals. It also suggests a special closeness between Freyr and the powers of the wild, though usually when he is spoken of in Norse sources, it is because of his social and agricultural functions. However, in modern times, Freyr is often seen as being a god of the wood and its beasts. Freyr's use of the stag's antler has also been seen by some as suggesting that he may be something of a Norse equivalent of the Celtic Cernunnos (Horned One), whom the Anglo-Saxons knew as Herne the Hunter. Though all the Wans are particularly associated with ecology and the responsible relationship between humans and the natural world, as the warder of the woodland's frith and well-being, Freyr would most especially be a god of the ecology. 
According to Lokasenna, Freyr has two servants, a married couple named Beyla (perhaps "bee" or "cow", "cow-keeper" - difficult etymology) and Byggvir ("barley"). The latter may perhaps bear some relationship to the British "John Barleycorn"; his connection with Freyr is clear. If Beyla does indeed mean "bee", the two of them could be read as the givers of the basic materials for brewing - grain for ale, honey for mead. 
In the natural world, Freyr is the giver of sunlight, fair winds and light rain and all that is needed for the crops to grow. His might is known in the bright and warm weather of a good harvest-time; as lord of the Light Elves, he is especially associated with the air as well as the earth. 
Ships were also affiliated with Freyr. He had the magical ship Skíðblaðnir ("assembled from pieces of thin wood" - see "Njörðr/Nerthus"), made for him by the same dwarves who crafted Óðinn's spear and Sif's gold hair. This ship could be folded up and carried in his pocket, or be put down and grow to be large enough to hold all the gods and goddesses. It has a favorable breeze whenever it is used, and can sail over land as well as sea. As spoken of earlier ("The Bronze Age") the ship is the symbol of death and rebirth; both of which functions are clearly in Freyr's domain. Death and rebirth are often seen as a journey, into the unknown; and before modern charts and navigation, sea travel, or at least ocean travel, must have seemed that way at times. Ynglinga saga, however attributes the ship to Óðinn, which is interesting, considering that both the Prose Edda and Ynglinga saga were written by Snorri Sturluson. However, Snorri was not always consistent between these two works; it is possible that he knew two different traditions, one of Óðinn as the ferryman between the worlds (see "Wodan") and one of Freyr as ship-god and/or death-god. The ship is also a sign of fruitfulness, and the Wanic processions were carried out both in a ship and in a wain. 
The so-called Peace of Fróði (mentioned in Saxo), a sort of Norse Golden Age when frith (fruitful peace) ruled throughout the Northlands, was attributed to Freyr by the Swedes. Both Turville-Petre (Myth and Religion, pp. 160-170) and de Vries (Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte II 182-86) also identify this King Fróði with Freyr. Here we see Freyr as the frith-god, the keeper of the peace, and as the image of the best of all possible rulers. This frith was also a great part of his holy places, where weapons and outlaws could not be brought nor blood shed. Víga-Glúms saga shows Freyr as being particularly angered by the Óðinnic Glúmr, who did all these things in Freyr's holy places (Turville-Petre, Myth and Religion, pp. 69-70). Freyr's might is, as seen with the oath-boar, that of bringing the worlds together in frith and making sure that all goes rightly: from this work of his stem holiness, wisdom, and earthly fruitfulness. 
Freyr does not scorn fighting: he is called "leader of the host of the gods" (Skírnismál 3), and not only did he slay his brother-in-law, the etin Beli, but Snorri mentions that he could have killed the giant with a single blow of his fist (a reference which has led some modern Ásatrúar to think that Freyr might be called on as a particular patron of martial artists). However, his battles seem to be, like Þórr's, against the foes of the gods - most especially against Surtr, the greatest force of destruction at Ragnarök. To humans, Fro Ing is more often a giver of frith. Even in war, the use of the boar-helms can be contrasted with that of Wodan's spear: the spear-hallowing acts as a curse to slay the foe, the boar-image hallows and wards the one it crowns, so that he comes safe and whole from the battle. Eric Wodening adds that rather than being a god who loves peace so much he is unwilling to fight, Frea is a god who loves peace so much he is willing to fight to keep it; thus Frea is in many ways the divine equivalent of a policeman or "peace officer". Evidence of this function of Frea can be found in the fact that the Anglo-Saxons called the bands of men charged with enforcing the law in Dark Ages England "frithguilds". A policeman not only enforces the law, but protects his charges as well, and Frea does this too. 
Bede tells us that the Anglo-Saxon high priest was not allowed to carry weapons, or ride any horse other than a mare; and when Coifi turned against the god/esses of his folk, he desecrated the hof by riding up to it on a stallion and casting a spear into it. Similarities have often been seen between these rules and Freyr's giving away his own horse and sword to win Gerðr; the frithgarth is also typical of the Wanic cult, so it may be that Coifi was first a priest of Ing. 
Mention has already been made of one type of Fröblót, or sacrifice to Freyr, and that is of swine. Oxen were also sacrificed to Freyr, as in Víga-Glúms saga in which Þórkell brought an ox to Freyr's holy place with the request that Glúmr, who had driven him from his land, should in turn be driven out. The ox bellowed and dropped down dead, showing that Freyr had taken the gift and would fulfill Þórkell's request. 
Sacrifices to Freyr took place at certain times more often than others. One time which they were done was on midsummer's night, when weddings were performed: "sacrifices to Frey among the Swedes took place at the same time as marriages. (Adam of Bremen, IV:27.) Doubtless on such occasions swine were sacrificed. They were the most prolific of domestic animals and therefore a most fitting sacrifice, on such occasions dedicated to Frey and Freyja. Again, we may satisfactorily explain why weddings were set on the "winter nights": That was the time to perform the sacrifice to Frey" (Barthi Guthmundsson, Origins of the Icelanders, p. 57). 
Another practice associated with Freyr is the procession of his idol in a chariot through the fields. In the Flateyjarbók, part of the saga of King Olaf Tryggvason, is preserved the tale of Gunnarr helming. In the tale it is told that the statue of Freyr is taken around to bless the fields during autumn, accompanied by his "wife", a priestess. Gunnarr wrestles with the wooden image of Freyr, overcoming the god and taking his place. The Swedes were delighted at the god's lively eating and drinking, more delighted when the god's wife became pregnant, as that was the best of signs. This tale was clearly meant by the christian tellers to poke fun at the gullible Heathen Swedes, but it is just as clearly based on real memories of Freyr's procession - and perhaps also hints at the possibility that a human man could have housed the god's might for a little while in the holiest rituals. The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem also tells us that "Ing was first seen by men among the East Danes, till he, after that, went over the sea again: his wain ran after him - thus the warriors named the hero." As spoken of further in "Njörðr/Nerthus", this procession may be the most typical characteristic of the Wanic cult. 
Burial in a howe without burning is associated very strongly with Freyr. (Ellis, Road to Hel, p. 78). Euhemerizing Freyr to a mortal king in Ynglinga saga, Snorri tells us that when he was buried in that manner, others copied his example: "But after Freyr had been laid in a howe at Uppsala, many chiefs raised howes as often as memorial stones in memory of their kinsmen", and later mentions that "Freyr [was] buried secretly in a howe, and it was said to the Swedes that he lived", and the Swedes kept paying taxes to him, which they poured into holes in the mound. 
The cult of the howe was deeply important to the Scandinavians, for it was from the burial mounds of his forefathers that a king got his authority. Together with Óðinn, Freyr was the great kingly deity of the North: he was both ancestor-god, fathering the Yngling royal line of Sweden, and mound-god. Together with Óðinn again (and in contrast to Þórr, who hardly ever received this backhanded distinction), Freyr was the god most often euhemerized as a king. One of the great royal treasures of the Swedes was an armring called Svíagrís, "Piglet of the Swedes", and this ring was probably the sign of Freyr's might passed down through the kingly line. 
We know only one major myth of Freyr - that recounted in the Eddic poem Skírnismál. Freyr had seen the etin-maid Gerðr (Snorri adds that this happened when Freyr was sitting on Óðinn's seat Hliðskjálf) and fallen in love with her, retiring from the company of the other gods in his sorrows. Skaði sends Freyr's manservant Skírnir to find out what is wrong; Freyr then sends Skírnir to woo Gerðr, but must give the messenger his horse and his sword so that Skírnir will be able to get past the trolls on the way and ride through the ring of fire surrounding Gerðr. Gerðr is reluctant at first, but when threatened with enchantment, yields and says that she will be wedded to Freyr. It is likely of pre-christian origin, as stated by Hollander. But as for whether or not Skírnír is an hypostasis of Freyr, as has been suggested many times, one can only guess. The name, Skírnír means "radiance," which is a title of Freyr; but nowhere else is it suggested that he and Freyr are the same. In fact, in Lokasenna 42, Loki tells how Freyr will be without his weapon at Ragnarök, because he gave it to Skírnír for his journey to seek out and obtain Gerðr in marriage for Freyr. Many have analyzed this story as an example of Hieros Gamos, of the marriage of heaven and earth for the fertility of the crops. Freyr, who is a solar deity, represents heaven; and Gerðr, who is a giantess, the earth. The shining hero's journey through a dark otherworld to win the maiden surrounded by flames appears elsewhere in the Eddas, notably in Svipdagsmál and Sigrdrífumál (where the maiden in question is an ex-valkyrie). This seems to be the typical model of the "Spring Drama": the woman may embody the powers of the sleeping earth, the man the sunlight that awakes and makes her fruitful. Although the Sun herself is a goddess, the might of her radiance is sometimes personified as a male, particularly with Freyr, who seems to be descended from the phallic sun-god of the Bronze Age rock carvings, if he was not actually that god. 
Certain geographic features are associated with Freyr. That a hill formation would be so is not surprising, considering Freyr's association with hill burial: "For the Frey worshipper Ingimund the Old it was, to be sure, no new thing that hillock or an elevation overgrown with woods was to be his homestead. Such spots our heathen forbearers called a holt (stony hill.) Frey had decided that Ingimund was to live by a holt, and so he does. In fact, he twice chooses a place of residence by a holt before finding the image of Frey in the hill, as is indicated by the names Ingimundarholt and Þórdísarholt. Ingimund worships holy trees, as did the people by the Baltic, and like the skalds Þórir snepil and Helgi Ásbjarnarson" (Guthmondson and Hollander, 1969:79). 
We know that Freyja is very much a goddess of magic, and it would be surprising if her brother, as well as being king, hallower, warrior, and bringer of fruitfulness, did not also have his own magical secrets. What has survived, however, is hints which, again, must be woven together, and there are true folk working to do this today. From his own understanding of Freyr, William Conrad Karpen writes of an aspect of the god that is less often considered: the possible shamanic practices of Freyr's priests in the old days. 
If you have seen anything written about Freyr, he was probably described as a fertility god. Well, yes, he is responsible for good harvests. Yes, he is responsible for the well-being of the land. Yes, he is usually depicted as ithyphallic (ithy = bone, phallus = penis; you figure it out). Does this make him a fertility god? If you ask me, to describe Freyr as a fertility god misses the point. The mysteries of Freyr as I have experienced them have to do with the process which transforms Desire into Pleasure into Plenty into Desire. But Desire lives only in the moment, it does not care about the Consequences. Desire does not manifest in order to bring Plenty or to procreate the species or anything else. Desire manifests itself only for the Pleasure of the moment. Freyr is a God of Ecstasy. 
Freyr is not the only god of ecstasy, of course. There are others like Dionysos, Shiva, Oberon, Herne, and Cernunnos, and it is perhaps more than coincidental that they are all associated with wild animals, especially horned ones, with death and the spirits of the dead, with sexual pleasure, and quite often with sexual ambiguity. Freyr is associated with the stag, the wild boar, and the horse. Freyr rules over Álfheim (Elf-Home), the realm of the mighty ancestors, and is associated with burial mounds (Davidson, Gods and Myths, p. 100). In fact, the Vanir...are often referred to as álfar (elves). He is usually depicted with a rather large, erect penis, and his priesthood at Uppsala, Sweden, appears to have cross-dressed. 
In connection with these links between ecstatic gods, shamanism, and transvestite priesthoods, it is perhaps not going too far astray to mention Timothy Taylor's theory that the Gundestrup Cauldron was forged by a group of transvestite silversmiths from Transylvania: 
The beardless ("Cernunnos") figure may, for example, be a ritual specialist. Indeed, he may belong to the same group, guild, or caste as the five silversmiths (who made the Cauldron), for metalsmithing was an important ritual occupation...They might ...have resembled the Enarees of Scythia...Biologically male but dressed as women, the Enarees interpreted omens and settled disputes for the Scythian aristocracy. Such specialists are attested across Eurasia in the Iron Age, not just the shamans of Scythia and the yogis of India, but the seers of Thrace, the druids of Gaul, and a few centuries later, the bards of Ireland. In Ireland the biologically male bard who praised the king in song was described as female, in opposition to the ruler's maleness" (p.88). 
Taylor goes on to suggest that the "Cernunnos" figure on the Cauldron is of ambiguous gender, having neither beard nor breasts. The figure does, however, wear a pair of antlers. Tayler, in the course of demonstrating a cultural continuity with certain Hindi traditions, also notes that the figure's position is similar "to one still practised in rural India by low-caste sorcerers...Moreover, the posture is intended to channel sexual energy" (p.89). He goes on to link the figure's attributes - ambiguous gender and connection to animals - to the shamanic rapport with the female, the male, and the animal realms. 
Freyr was also associated with sexual ambiguity. Saxo Grammaticus' hero Starkaðr fled Freyr's temple at Uppsala because of the "effeminate gestures", the "unmanly clatter of bells", and the "clapping of mimes upon the stage" (Saxo, VI, 185, p. 228). Tacitus describes a similar phenomenon among the Naharvali, a Germanic tribe: 
The Naharvali proudly point out a grove associated with an ancient worship. The presiding priest dresses like a woman; but the deities are said to be the counterpart of Castor and Pollux. This indicates their character, but their name is the Alci. There are no images, and nothing to suggest that the cult is of foreign origin; but they are certainly worshipped as young men and as brothers.
(Tacitus, p. 137; emphasis mine) 
The phrase that Mattingly translates as "dresses like a woman" is muliebris ornatus, which Davidson translates as "decked out like women" (p. 169). In relation to these twin gods, Davidson mentions several pairs of brother kings, one of which is Alf ("elf" - Freyr is the ruler of Alfheim or Elf-home) and Ingvi (one of the names of Freyr). She goes on to say that the Alcis "have been sought among the Vanir, and it has been suggested that Njord and Freyr are their descendants, or Freyr and Ull" (p. 170). According to the "Lokasenna", Njörð is Freyr's father rather than brother, but it is also perhaps significant that Njörð and Freyr were almost always toasted together. While not much can be conclusively stated about these cults, cross-dressed priesthoods were in any case not unknown among the Germanic tribes, and it appears that at least one of them was devoted to Freyr (in Anglo-Saxon Paganism, pp. 96-97, David Wilson also cites Grave 9 from Portway, in which a distinctively male skeleton was found buried in women's clothing with female grave-goods, and suggests a relationship between this find and the priests of the Narhavali - KHG). 
It should be noted that in Old Norse, the words ergi, argr, and ragr all referred both to receptive homosexual intercourse and to the practise of seiðr...Folke Ström points out: 
Both the law texts and the instances in the sagas seem to show that the component in the ergi complex which can be considered sexually obscene has exclusively to do with the female role in a homosexual act. In seiðr - the element in the ergi complex related to sorcery and magic - we find an analogous connexion with the fulfillment of a role that was regarded as specifically female. Thus we may conclude that it is the performance by an individual man of a role normally belonging to the female sex which constitutes perversity in his action and causes it to be branded as ergi; and this applies whether we have to do with a sexual relationship or with the carrying out of a magical function.
(pp. 9-10) 
Thomas K. Johnson has suggested that argr may be translated as 'eager for penetration', referring to sexual penetration in both women and men (when Loki calls Freyja a slut, he refers to her as argr) as well as to penetration by the gods, i.e., possession. This connection between passive homosexuality and certain spiritual practices is reminiscent of the berdache role in some American Indian tribes as well as the Siberian Shamans and the Scythian Enarees mentioned earlier in connection with the Gundestrup Cauldron. 
Going back to Saxo's description of the priesthood of Freyr at Uppsala, there is an interesting parallel to the English folk-plays which have survived to the present. All of the characters, male and female, are played by men, and these plays, including the mummers' plays, the wooing ceremony, the sword plays, and the plough plays, have remained more staunchly all-male than other British folk traditions (Brody, p.21). Brody links this phenomenon to the response of an old English mummer when asked if women ever take part in the plays: "'No, sir,' he replied, mumming don't be for the likes of them. There be plenty else for them that be flirty-like, but this here mumming be more like parson's work'" (p. 21). In fact, he states that the original purpose of these folk-plays, not entirely lost on their twentieth-century performers, is essentially of a magical nature: "As we look at the separate elements one by one, we shall begin to see them informing each other until the concept of magic as an essential, underlying purpose becomes inescapable" (p. 20). It seems quite likely that these plays are survivals of ancient pagan rituals. 
English folk-plays are most often performed between Christmas and New Year's, although sometimes at Easter or in the fall. Freyr's main sacrifice occurred at the winter solstice, and so this time of year would have been associated with his worship among the Scandinavians. Brody notes that the Wooing Ceremony, which is the most complete form, occurs only in four East-Midland counties - Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, and Rutland (p. 99). It seems more than coincidental that one of the strongest Scandinavian settlements in England was in the boroughs of Lincoln, Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, and Stamford (Jones, p. 421). Rutland, by the way, is quite tiny and is bordered on three sides by Lincolnshire and Leicestershire, and Derby and Stamford are inland and were more sparsely settled by the Scandinavians. The word "mummer" has been related to the Danish momme, or "mask", an etymology reinforced by the use of the term "guizer" in some parts of England to describe the mummers, which is derived from "disguiser" (Brody, p. 4; Chambers, p. 4). Further, the sword dance performed predominantly in the northeastern counties is thought to have originated in the folk-dances of the Danish settlers and resembles dances still performed in many parts of Germany (Spicer, p. 7). While the historical origins of these plays have been lost to us, it seems likely that they are related to certain Scandinavian traditions, including perhaps the cross-dressing priesthoods of Freyr and other gods. 
In all of the English folk-plays, of which the mummers' plays are one type, there is one or more female character played by men. In some, this character is entirely peripheral to the action of the play, but as Brody concludes, "There is good reason to believe that these two figures, the clownish Beelzebub and the 'female', once did have a direct connection with the central action of the ceremony and lost their place in to Hero-Combat, as they did not in the Wooing Ceremony and some Sword Plays, when the combat began to take place over the direct fertility elements" (p. 61). Brody suggests that the Fool/Beelzebub is the remnant of a central fertility figure in the rituals of ancient times. This character, as a result of the wooing action, dies, is reborn, and weds the "female", providing the substance of the fertility ritual that Brody believes the Wooing ceremony to be (p. 106). In many of the Wooing Plays, there are two female characters: Dame Jane, who claims to carry the Fool's bastard child, and the Lady, who initially rejects the Fool's advances but later weds him. In some plays, there is a Fool's Wife or else a Mother Christmas. Often the old woman carries a broom and is called Besom Betty. 
I cannot help but wonder, though, why the female characters of a "fertility" ritual must be played by men. It suggests to me that something other than purely imitative magic is going on and that "fertility" is more than simply the mechanics of physical reproduction or the "polarity" between "male" and "female". Rather than understanding this role simply as an imitation of a woman, I think it helps to see it as an example of a third distinct gender, which among the American Indians is referred to as the "berdache". It is not as if real women were in short supply among the British (or Scandinavians, for that matter). Even if women were scarce in some circumstances, one would expect to see women once again playing the roles if the roles were simply circumstantial imitations of women. It seems more likely that the interaction in the "fertility" ritual was intended to be, not between a man and a woman, but between a man and a berdache. Perhaps the means of securing the fertility of the land was an ecstatic one since the berdache role is associated in many cultures, including the Scandinavian, with shamanism and ecstatic ritual. 
In most English folk-plays, there is some sort of combat in which one of the characters is killed. While most of the time, a doctor is called in to revive the slain character, in certain plays it is the man-woman: "At Haxby the Clown falls, Besom Betty runs into the ring, revives him, and leads him out. It appears to be a dumb show. At Askham Richard a Doctor is called to the Fool and fails. Besom Betty then says, 'A'll cure him', and does so by brushing his face with her broom" (Chambers, p. 131). One of the male characters, in some places the Fool, in other places Beelzebub, seems to be a fertility figure, with his phallic club, his death and revival, and his marriage to the Lady (Rudwin, p. 36; Brody, passim). The marriage of the Fool to the Lady suggests a possible interpretation of the relationship between Freyr and his cross-dressed priests. To my knowledge, Freyr himself is not portrayed or described as cross-dressing, but he is often described and portrayed as a fertility figure. Could it be that his cross-dressed priests were understood in some way to be his 'wives'? One does find stories in some tribes that the berdache were really married to their tutelary deities, and that any human husbands they may have are only secondary ones (Johansson, p. 1192), so this would fit in with other cross-dressing traditions. 
So we have the connections with the male and the female, which are so common among shamanic/berdache traditions. In the folk-plays, we also see a character called the Hobby Horse, which brings in the link with animals that is found in shamanic traditions. "In the plays of Dorsetshire, the hobby-horse serves yet another purpose...that of divination and prophecy. The horse has a long history of associations with ecstatic divination, not only in England, but all over the primitive Western world" (Brody, p. 64). It is perhaps not entirely coincidental that Freyr was associated with the horse. We also find the man-woman character present at the Abbotts-Bromley Horn Dance, in which dancers carry huge, centuries-old reindeer antlers. This man-woman is dressed in the Anglo-Saxon style, which is nearly identical to certain illustrations of the Bessie in chapbook mummers' plays printed in the 18th and 19th centuries. It may have been in part this type of symbolic connection between the male, the female, and the animal that made the Gundestrup Cauldron so desirable to some ancient Dane. 
Unfortunately, while there seems to be a good deal of information about Freyr, it is not enough in itself to build a living tradition. What we have done to effect that transformation, which continues to be an ongoing process, is to take all this book information and work with it in a magical context. We have used discussion, intuition, meditation, ritual, deity prossession, and inspiration to help fill in the gaps and to manifest in a concrete form that which we understand about Freyr. Gradually it has come to life. Gradually it has integrated itself into the whole Scandinavian spirit world. Gradually it has become part of our lives.
Colours associated with Fro Ing today are gold, green, and brown. Because of the reference in Saxo, many Freyr-godmen wear bells on or as part of their ritual garb. 
Fro Ing is particularly a god of joy and brightness, a god of enjoying being to its fullest. He is also a god of wholeness: he brings together body and soul, life and death, humans and god/esses, the earth and the worlds beyond, and sees to it that they work together rightly. As frith-god, he can also bring folk together for a single goal, and makes sure that they all get good from what they do beneath his sign. 
No single symbol is known for Fro Ing from the old days, but the Sun-Wheel is often used for him more than for any of the other Vanir; and indeed, many of the Bronze Age rock carvings show a phallic man with a sun-wheel body, sometimes carrying out a ritual wedding with a female figure. 
The bulk of the first part of this chapter was written by Helgi T. Dagsson ("Freyr: A God and Society"). 
William Conrad Karpen's article "Freyr: An Ecstatic God from Scandinavia" was originally published in Lavender Pagan Newsletter, issue 5 (Beltaine 1992). 
Also contributing: Eric Wodening, Elder-in-Training, from "God of the World", Idunna V, i, 18 (Rhedmonth 1993), pp. 13-14.