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Frigg or Frigga was, in Norse mythology, said to be "foremost among the goddesses," 1 the wife of Odin, queen of the Æsir, and goddess of the sky. One of the Ásynjur, she is a goddess of marriage, motherhood, fertility, love, household management, and domestic arts. Her primary functions in the Norse mythological stories are as wife and mother, but these are not her only functions. She has the power of prophecy although she does not tell what she knows 2, and is the only one other than Odin who is permitted to sit on his high seat Hlidskjalf and look out over the universe. She also participates in the Wild Hunt (Asgardreid) along with her husband. Frigg's children are Baldr, Höðr and, in an English source, Wecta; her stepchildren are Hermóðr, Heimdall, Tyr, Vidar, Vali, and Skjoldr. Thor is either her brother or a stepson. Frigg's companion is Eir, the gods' doctor and goddess of healing. Frigg's attendants are Hlín (a goddess of protection), Gna (a messenger goddess), and Fulla (a fertility goddess). It is unclear whether Frigg's companions and attendants are simply different aspects of Frigg herself (cf. avatar). According to the poem Lokasenna Frigg is the daughter of Fjorgyn (masculine version of "Earth," cf. feminine version of "Earth," Thor's mother), her mother is not identified in the stories that have survived.She weaved clouds

AttributesEdit

In Scandinavia, the constellation called "Orion's Belt" in English is known as "Frigg's Distaff" (Friggerock). Some have pointed out that the constellation is on the celestial equator and have suggested that the stars rotating in the night sky may have been associated with Frigg's spinning wheel. 3 She is said to have woven or spun the clouds.

Frigg's name means "love" or "beloved one" and was known among many northern European cultures with slight name variations over time: e.g. Frea in southern Germany, Frija or Friia in Old High German, Friggja in Sweden, "Frigga" in English, and Frika in Wagner's operas. 4 It has been suggested that "Frau Holle" of German folklore is survival of Frigg. 5

Frigg's hall in Asgard is Fensalir, which means "Marsh Halls." 6 This may mean that marshy or boggy land was considered especially sacred to her but nothing definitive is known. The goddess Saga, who was described as drinking with Odin from golden cups in her hall "Sunken Benches," may be Frigg by a different name.

Symbols associated with Frigg:
Keys
Distaff
Drop spindle (spinning wheel)
Mistletoe

Stories about FriggEdit

The Death of BaldrEdit

The most famous story about Frigg has her in the role of mother. Frigg especially loved her son Baldr, and with a mother's concern she set about trying to protect him after he had a prophetic dream of his own death. She had everything in the world promise not to harm him, but did not extract a promise from mistletoe. The gods soon made a game of throwing things at Baldr and watching them bounce off without hurting him. In Snorri Sturluson's version of the story, Baldr's brother Höðr is blind and can't join in on the fun. Loki made a dart out of mistletoe and put it into Höðr's hand, offering to guide his aim so he can participate in the game of throwing things at Baldr. Rather than bouncing off, the dart kills Baldr.

Even though Frigg must have known that Baldr was doomed, both through one of Baldr's prophetic dreams and her own foreknowlege, she tries to alter his fate. Even after he dies she doesn't give up and tries to arrange to have him ransomed from the underworld. According to some versions of the story, mistletoe became sacred to Frigg as a result of its failure to give Frigg its oath.

The Winnilers and the VandalsEdit

In this story, Frigg is shown in the role of wife, but one who knows how to get her own way even though her husband thinks he is in charge. The Winnilers and the Vandals were two warring tribes. Odin favored the Vandals, while Frigg favored the Winnilers. After a heated discussion, Odin swore that he would grant victory to the first tribe he saw the next morning upon awakening-- knowing full well that the bed was arranged so that the Vandals were on his side. While he slept, Frigg told the Winniler women to comb their hair over their faces to look like long beards so they would look like men and turned the bed so the Winniler women would be on Odin's side. When he woke up, Odin was surprised to see the disguised women first and asked who these long bearded men were, which was where the tribe got its new name, the Langobards. Odin kept his oath and granted victory to the Winnilers (now known as the Lombards), and eventually saw the wisdom of Frigg's choice.

Vili and VeEdit

In this story, Frigg has the role of sacred queen much like the role of queens during certain periods in ancient Egypt, where the king was king by virtue of being the queen's husband. As the story goes, Odin went wandering for a very long time without coming back. Finally, everyone assumed he was dead or otherwise never going to return. After quite some time had passed, Frigg "married" Odin's two brothers, Vili and Ve, who ruled in Odin's place. Eventually, Odin came back to rule and Frigg returned to his side as his wife.

Connection between Frigg and FreyaEdit

Frigg is the highest goddess of the Æsir, while Freya is the highest goddess of the Vanir. Many arguments have been made both for and against the idea that Frigg and Freya are really the same goddess, avatars of one another. 7 Some arguments are based on linguistic analysis, others on the fact that Freya wasn't known in southern Germany, only in the north, and in some places the two goddesses were considered to be the same, while in others they were considered to be different. 8 There are clearly many similarities between the two: both had flying cloaks of falcon feathers and engaged in shape-shifting, Frigg was married to Odin while Freya was married to Odr, both had special necklaces, both had a personification of the Earth as a parent, both were called upon for assistance in childbirth, etc. On the other hand, they sometimes appear at the same time in the same text.

There is also an argument that Frigg and Freya are part of a triad of goddesses (together with either Hnoss or Iðunn) associated with the different ages of womankind. The areas of influence of Frigg and Freya don't quite match up with the areas of influence often seen in other goddess triads. This may may mean that the argument isn't a good one, or it may tell us something interesting about northern European culture as compared to Celtic and southern European culture.

Finally, there is an argument is that Frigg and Freya are similar goddesses from different pantheons who were first conflated into each other and then later seen as separate goddesses again. (See also Wikipedia entry for Frige.) This is consistent with the theological treatment of some Greek, Roman, and Egyptian deities in the late classical period.

MaidservantsEdit

Frigg had 11 maidservants: Fulla, Hlin, Gna, Lofn, Vjofn, Syn, Gefjon, Snotra, Eir, Var, and Vor, who helped the goddess in her role as goddess of marriage and justice. They are sometimes considered to be various aspects of Frigg herself rather than distinct beings. Other times 12 maidservants are listed.

NotesEdit

  1. Sturluson, Snorri. Prose Edda, Gylfaginning.
  2. Sturluson, Snorri. Prose Edda, Skáldskaparmál. "She will tell no fortunes, yet well she knows the fates of men."
  3. Krupp, E. C. (Jan. 1996). The thread of time. Sky and Telescope. 91(1), 60.
  4. Claims of a connection between Frau Holle and Frigg can be traced back at least to Jacob Grimm. However, some recent scholarship suggests that the linguistic evidence connecting Frau Holle with Frigg is based on a mistaken translation from Latin. Smith, John B. (Aug. 2004). Perchta the Belly-Slitter and Her Kin: A View of Some Traditional Threatening Figures, Threats and Punishments. Folklore. 115(2), 167, 169.
  5. Simek, Rudolf (1993). Dictionary of Northern Mythology, page 81. Trans. Angela Hall. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer.
  6. Simek, pages 93-94. Also: Lindow, John (2001). Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs, pages 128-130. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  7. Davidson, Hilda Ellis. (1998). Roles of the Northern Goddess, page 10. London: Routlege. Also: Grundy, Stephen, Freyja and Frigg, pages 56-67; Nasstrom, Brit-Mari. Freyja, a goddess with many names, pages 68-77. Billington, Sandra & Green, Miranda (Eds.) (1996). The Concept of the Goddess. London: Routlege.
  8. Welsh, Lynda. (2001). Goddess of the North, page 75. York Beach: Weiser Books.

External links Edit


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