I was going to do a post on whether Frigg and Freyja are the same goddess, but it seems that this is a much-rehashed controversy. So I decided to provide links to some of the more interesting pages I found, and let readers see for themselves. I’ve added some links on Friday and folklore to keep up the alliteration and for interest.
Are Frigg and Freyja the same goddess?
Wikipedia on the common origin hypothesis (as they grandly call it)
Norse Mythology for Smart People
Brit-Marie Näsström – sees them as originally identical
Stephen Grundy – says no given current evidence
Ingunn Ásdísardottir (pdf) also says no, and like Grundy thinks they may have merged over time
Fuck Yeah Norse Mythology
What Frigg Knew – paper by Judy Quinn notes that Freyja reveals what she knows, as a seidkona, but Frigg does not speak about her knowledge of the future
Schmoop on Frigg: points out that the Baldr myth is specific to Frigg.
Frigg and Friday
Online Etymological Dictionary
Jacob Grimm also says Frigg, although he thinks that Frigg and Freyja were the same goddess, under different names
LiveScience makes no commitments on the Frigg/Freyja issue
Days of the Week in German – for the modern version
Early Germanic Names for the Days
Frigg and Folklore
Orion’s Belt called Frigg’s Distaff (although sometimes called Freyja’s Girdle)
Galium verum or Lady’s Bedstraw associated with Frigg. Apparently it was used as a sedative in childbirth. (The Eddic poem Oddrunargratur or Oddrun’s Lament features a prayer to Frigg and Freyja for help in childbirth.)
The Germanic goddess Frigg comes across as the ideal wife and mother in most accounts – Norse myth focuses on her grief for Baldr and her wfely strategems for getting Odin to favour her side in disputes. However, there are two stories that show Frigg in a very different light – were they attempts by Christian writers to discredit her, or is there more to the story?
This is the first of a series of posts on Frigg, the wife of Odin and the mother of Baldr. Unlike her husband, she plays very little part in the tales, and unlike Freyja no Eddic poem commemorates her deeds. Later medieval writers made Frigg and Odin into a kind of northern Jupiter and Juno (Simek: 94), and while Odin and Jupiter have little in common, the two queenly goddesses certainly resemble each other.
We all know the Norse creation myth. In the beginning was ice and fire, then the fire thawed the ice enough to form a place where beings could emerge and life begins to form. Eventually some of the younger generation, led by the god Odin, killed the very first being, the giant Ymir, and made the world from his body.
Ymir, the first being in Norse myth, is the first creator, who gives life to a number of beings, and a giant who is more serviceable dead than alive. (Odin and his brothers make the world out his body.) There is a real tension in the Ymir story between these two views of him, reflecting the ambiguous attitude of Norse myth towards giants in general. Continue reading
When the Roman poet Lucan wanted to show the savagery of Gaulish religion, he used the bloodthirsty cults of three Gaulish gods to make his point: Taranis, Toutatis and Esus. While the first two had well-established cults in Gaul and Britain, Esus is more elusive.
Kvasir was the Norse god whose blood became the first mead, a drink that made a poet out of those who imbibed it. This drink, blood fermented with honey, was the motive for several murders, and wound up in the hands of the god of poets and inspired ecstasy, Odin.
The story of Kvasir is one level another John Barleycorn story – he dies to make mead, just as Barleycorn did to make beer. But there’s clearly more to the story, given that mead bestowed wisdom, just as Kvasir had while alive. He shared freely with all he met, and died for it.
Celebrity feuds are the meat and drink of modern gossip columns. But what do you do when it’s two gods duking it out? The Greeks had plenty of god feuds, as you might expect, including Poseidon vs. Zeus, and Hera vs. Hercules. And the Norse had a god feud of their own, involving their two most important gods: Odin and Thor.
Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman, W.W. Norton, 2017.
Earlier this year I reviewed Carolyne Larrington’s The Norse Myths, a lavishly illustrated introduction to the Norse myths for a popular audience. While Larrington’s book is more scholarly and objective, Gaiman’s book is laid out as a series of stories; retellings rather than analysis.
Odin and Freyja are the “stars” of the Norse pantheon. The most famous god of the warlike Aesir, and the (only) goddess of the Vanir, they are surprisingly alike. Both are magicians, both gather the slain, and both take an interest in mortals.