Who is Freyja?
According to the book The Rites of Odin by Ed Fitch (ISBN 0-87542-224-1), Freya was the sister of Freyr. Especially in early times, she was very all-encompassing in her attributes, and seemed to have inherited many of them from various personifications of the Great Goddess who far preceded the Gods of Valhalla. Freya is famed for her great beauty, and indeed is often known as "The Fair One".
In the earlier days she also rewarded good housewives, though in later times Frigga has become more the patron of the home.
Freya is quite independent, being chief of the Valkyries, the demi-goddesses who select the noble and heroic dead and carry them to the Realm of the Gods. Some of the legends say that a quarter or even a half of the dead go to Freya. She is patroness of women who attain wisdom, status, and power, since the Valkyries had been ordinary women, then priestesses, and after being Valkyr became Norns, the Great Goddesses who weave the fates and histories of people and of nations.
Freya is the Daughter of Time, as well as the patron and protectress of the human race. On her breast she wears "the jewel whose power cannot be resisted," Brisingamen.Brising meaning fire, specifically the fire of the enlightened mind and men meaning jewel. In ancient times the winter constellation which we today know as Orion was at that time called "Freya's Gown" by the Norse and Teutons, and the sword belt in Orion was called "Freya's Girdle."
She is as strong, beautiful and wise as any of the "Eldest Ones."
***According to Norse Mythology - The Myths and Legends of the Nordic Gods by Arthur Cotterell, Freyja is the daughter of the sea god Njord and sister of Freyr. She is an important fertility goddess and a member of the Vanir, one of the 2 branches into which the Germanic gods were divided. After a war the Vanir seem to have been supplanted by the younger Aesir, who were led by Odin. When peace was agreed between the two sides, Njord went with Freyr and Freyja to Asgard, where they lived with the Aesir as a token of friendship.
***According to another source: The Magical Pantheons (ISBN:1-56718-861-3) is says Freya, a triple goddess, had many attributes. She was considered a goddess of fertility and of wealth, but also a goddess who went to the land of the dead (or underworld), in the guise of a falcon. She would return from the underworld with prophecies. From a Kabbalistic perspective, the journey of Freya resembles the journey through Daath. Though she has some Venusian qualities, she also has some Jovian traits as well. She was the guardian of feminine magic who was always ready to unleash magical forces if it please her. Freya was a skilled warrior, as well as a goddess of love. This seems to correspond well with the name for Chesed-Gedulah (Greatness).
page 107 - "Freyja kept up the sacrificing, for she alone lived on after
the gods. (Ynglinga Saga 10)"
page 108 - "In Scandinavian tradition the main goddess appears to be Freyja, sister and perhaps als obride of Freyr; the names of these two Vanir deities are really titles, meaning "Lord" and "Lady", and Snorri tells us that Freyja had many other names. There is also the goddess Frigg, wife of Odin and therefore Queen of Heaven, who figures in the myths as the weeping mother, lamenting the fall of her son Balder and later that of Odin, her 'second woe' as Voluspa expresses it. It seems as if these two figures with similar names may indeed be two aspects of the same deity. Sometimes it is Freyja who is paired off with Odin in the tales and she too is represented as a weeping goddess, shedding tears of gold; her tears serve as a favorite poetic symbol for gold in the kennings. Why Freyja weeps is not altogether clear; she is said to be searchign for her husband, of whom we know nothing, but since he is called Od he may be a doublet of Odin."
page 108 - "Addional names given by Snorri to Freyja are Mardoll, suggesting a link with the sea; Horn, thought to be related to horr, 'flax'; Gefn, which like Gefion is related to the verb 'to give'; and Syr, 'Sow'. All these names are relevant for the understanding of her cult, for she was connected with water and the sea, and flax was an important crop for which her blessing was sought; she was regarded as a giving goddess, bringing bounty to the fields, animals and mankind, while the sow was the female counterpart of Freyr's symbol, the golden boar.
page 109 - "Again Freyja is associated with precious metals; her tears are of gold, and she is a giving goddess, bringing prosperity and riches like her brother Freyr and her father Njord."
II. Rune Associations The rune card is from Sylvia Gainsford with Howard
Rodway's The Rune Vision Card deck (ISBN 1-84333-023-7).
According to Gainsford and Rodway Runes are divided into three distinct groups called aetts. Numbers 1 - 8 belong to the Goddess Freya/Frejya (same goddess different spellings). Fehu is the 1st rune of the 1st aett.
The goddess Freya is depicted with her falcon wings. The feathers grow from her arms, held forward to protect yet reveal her nude feminine form. Freya embodies the sensuality of the lover and mistress, whereas Frigg (card number 14) represents the good wife and mother. Decorating Freya's neck and breast is a gold necklace, an emblem of the stars and the fecundity of the earth. Freya hovers in flight in a sky of soft clouds in which a swallow flies high in the foreground. Beneath the goddess's wings is a spring and flower of the elder, Fehu's tree. Emerging from the clouds is the profile of a grey tabby's cat's head, white whiskers spread forward, its bright-yellow eye gazing ahead. Grey cats are always associated with Freya. At the top right hand corner of this scene is the rune Fehu which is shown in red, the correct colour for this symbol.
According to The Rune Mysteries by Silver RavenWolf and Nigel Jackson
Freyja (Frau Frie, Farujo) - is the Golden Bride of the Vanir, and is the Supreme Goddess of the Northern Mysteries, mistress of the inner seith-fire and the religion of Wikkerie (Witchcraft). She is quite similar to Odinn, as she follows the shamanistic ways, possesses psychic abilities, and can shapeshift. As the goddess of love, she governs sexual attraction and emotional interaction, and blesses them with herr Venusian energies.
Freyja embodies the quality of Sacred Heat and the warmth of the love that unites all opposites in the world. She often appears in a wanton role in the myths. She is the Otherworld Goddess to whose abode souls travel to be renewed after death. In mediaval German tradition, she is Frau Fri, or Dame Venus, whose sacred mountain, the Venusberg, was the entrance to the Elven realms, and the geomantic Vulva of the Earth.
She is associated with the lynx, the extinct Caspian Tiger, and the witches' cat. Freyja is said to wander at night accompanied by silver-gray hares. Hers is the sacred necklace of gold called the Brisingamen, the circle of sunfire whose round is the solar year. She also possesses a shamanic Feather-Skin for traveling in the form of a hawk. Freyja rules the constellations of the Lady's Wain (Ursa Minor) and Freyja's Girdle (Belt of Orion). This Goddess favors amber, and some say that the famed Brisingamen necklace consisted of both amber and gold. Keeping with The Rune Mysteries card deck the card associated with her is Feoh: Cattle, Gold.
Divinities (associated with this card):Freyja, Audhumla, Surt, Niord (Freya's Father), Frey (Freya's Brother).
Stone: Carnelian, green tourmaline, amber.
Color: Golden red
Totems: Cow, linnet, boar, horse
Lore: This is the rune of fertility and wealth, cattle and gold, which are the riches of the land and the people. Feoh represents moveable weath, and sometimes, sexual energy. At one time, cattle provided a living for tribal members, and were considered a form of barter. For the peoples of the Northern Way, how many cattle one owned reflected that person's wealth and status within the community. As time progressed, cattle were replaced by inanimate material objects such as gold and silver.
Feoh is the primeval golden fire of creation, and represents the all- pervading fertile force of the goddess Freyja. This is the world fire, energizing and initiating the creative process, but which, if blocked or constricted, can become destructive.
Depicted on the rune card of Feoh are the flames of Muspal-fire streaming down from the sky of the southern Fire World. These are the primal fires that bring about creation and new beginnings, that gave birth to the genesis of the worlds. Golden and amber droplets also descend upon the earth, representing the precious tears shed by the fertile goddess Freyja. The amber tears are the essence of all abundant wealth.Amber also represents the wealth of magickal spirituality in the world of the adept magickal individual.
Freyja wears a magickal necklace of amber, called Brisingamen. In the Witan- Witch Tradition (an many other Witchcraft traditions as well) amber is worn by the High Priestess or 3rd degree initiate to signify her capabilities as a magickal practitioner and leader.
Keywords for this rune: Physical - money, wealth, sexual passion. Mental - sense of self-worth, ego. Spiritual - karma. The Rune Mysteries also list Cen (aka Ken or Torch) as under Freyja's dominion.
Color: Orange, amber
Totems: Lynx, falcon
Stones:Flint, smoky-quartz, fire-agate, amber
Lore: Cen is the rune of the brightly burning torch that lights up the hall in the evening, whose flames represent the safe, tempered fire of the hearth. Cen depicts the magickal-sexual heat of the goddess Freyja, which slumbers within ourselves, waiting to be kindled. This feminine power is termed Seid-fire or Seith-Fyr, and is the creative force of the Lady.... the word Shaman (once written as Flaman), means "keeper of the burning fires," or "keeper of the flame." The Cen rune is a magickal heat, begetting and shaping new creations, underlying all acts of art, craft, and magick.
In the design of the card, the Goddess Freyja is shown with her sacred cats, the classic familiars of traditional witches. She wears the falcon feather cloak that enables her to fly in falcon shape. Encircling her neck is the fire necklace, Brisingamen, forged by four dwarves show at work in their smithy, deep in the caverns. To gain this treasure, Freyja entered into a short marriage with each dwarf. The necklace embodies the circle of sacred fire, created as the sun passes through the four seasonal quarter.
Keywords: Physical - documents, letters, books or other recorded information, sexual power. Mental - Insight, success, creativity. Spiritual - Enlightenment. On a spiritual level, Cen represents the spiritual opening. In old Pagan religions, it was a symbol of royalty, aristocracy, and mystery, indicating that the spirits guided believers along their chosen path. Therefore, it was the emblem of the Witch Queen and Wizard King.
IIa. Other Rune ReferencesAccording to Northern Mysteries - Runes, Gods
and Feminine Powers by Freya Aswynn:
page 10 - "On a deeper level of kenning, Fehu is related to the Vanir deities Niord, Frey and Freyja. Niord is the god directly related to wealth. He is the god to invoke if you need help in extricating yourself from financial difficulties. Frey and Freyja are fertility deities directly connected with livestock and especially with the newly born cattle in spring. Freyja wears a necklace named Brisingamen, which is a symbol of fertility. Tradition tells us that this necklace is of gold or amber, both costly materials. Freyja had to earn her right to this necklace by sleeping with 4 dwarves, who represent the 4 elements of earth, air, fire and water which working together in balance, engender fertility. One of Freyja's nicknames is Syr which means 'sow'. A female pig is an excellent fertility symbol."
page 31 - "There are some German authorities, like Gorsleben, who state that the goddess Freyja has a connection with Kenaz (aka-Cen, Ken). It took me a long time to understand his reasoning. However, there is an obscure link with the feminine Mysteries which can be explained in the following way: Freyja teaches Odin seidr, which is a form of witchcraft and includes "sex magic".
page 53 - "The element related to this rune - Jera - is earth; the gods who are associated with it (apart from Baldur and Hodur, who have already been mentioned) are the Vanir twins, Frey and Freyja. The Jera rune is strongly connected with fertility, in particular the fertility of crops."
page 61 - "My research indicates that since Algiz has a female and male form, the twins also may be male and female. The assumption that these twins are male is probably due to the fact that most serious rune-workers have been male. They have overlooked the possibility that the twins could be Frey and Freyja. Alternatively, as this sign is one of the oldest of all the extant runes, it may even represent the original twin divinity, from which all others have been extrapolated. Other twin deities include Niord and Nethus, and Ziu and Zisa."
page 75 - "...Ehwaz....According to Scandinavian sources, Frey, the god of male fertility, was associated with the horse-cult, as was his sister Freyja, the patroness of volvas. They were said to wear horse-masks and supposedly had the ability to assume mare-shapes, in which they could roam about as 'nightmares'.
page 81 - "Laguz means sorcery, which is one of the rune's functions. Sorcery or seidr was, in particular, practiced in the Vanir cult; It is Freyja who introducted sorcery to the Aesir, teaching it to Odin. Laguz meaning lake, water or sea, interpreted according to modern occult thinking may reflect the astral substance.
page 111 - "The aett of Frey and Freyja is primarily related to practical and mundane matters. The 2nd aett, the aett of Hagalaz, principally corresponds to emotional matters and the 3rd aett may be used to inquire about esoteric matters.
page 131 - "Fehu - Wealth, luck, responsibility and creative energy are implied in Fehu. Its primary element is fire; its secondary element is earth (fire expressed through earth). The ruling gods are the Vanir, in particular Niord, Frey and Freyja. The gender of this rune is female. The power of Fehu gives the practitioner the initial pwoer to start a working. It contains the power of the creative and generative aspects of fire, as opposed to the destructive power of fire. It can be used to draw energy in for a given magical operation, and also as an energy to send, acting more or less as the moving force behind a working.
page 133 - "Kenaz means kinship, learning and teaching - the quest for knowledge and the passing on of this knowledge through successive generations. The practical magical use of this rune is in gaining occult knowledge from other planes. Kenaz can thus be used for astral or shamanic travel, either to the higher astral worlds or to the shamanic underworld. The way the rune is used in this context is as a beacon to light the way and enable a safe return to everyday consciousness. Kenaz also is linked with the element of fire, in its most beneficial form. Gods associated with this rune are Baldur, Heimdal and the Goddess Freyja. Kenaz can be used to expose all that is hidden.
page 139 - "Folkvang - Field of Warriors, nine castles belonging to Freyja. Here Freyja gathers her share of the slain warriors. Freyja is one of a pair of twins."
page 146 - "Inguz corresponds to the element of earth, fertility and the Vanir twins, Freyja and Frey. Therefore this rune goes in the West.According to Creed of Iron (ISBN:0-9678123-0-5) the rune associated with Freyja is Berkano (first reference to this rune I've come across).
III. Tarot Correlations Howard Rodway (see above for The Rune Vision Cards)
did a deck called Tarot of the Northern Shadows (ISBN 3-905219-12-3). Now
its interesting that this is the first reference I have that Freya is associated
with the High Priestess (which I think is a correct association) because
I've found that Freya is also associated with the Magician (Haindl's deck)
in Tarot (mainly because the Magician is linked to Peoh (Fehu) and Cen
(Ken) is associated with the number 6 card - the Lovers (Haindl's deck).
So, let's go through each one and see how they relate to Freyja.
Here's what Rodway says of High Priestess:
A wise woman. A teacher. A prophetic woman who gives sound advice. Wisdom. Perception. Intuition. A positive, guiding force and influence. Serenity. Learning. Illumination. Foresight. Psychic abilities. Natural forces. Artistic and creative abilities. Intelligence. Avoiding emotional ties. Emotionally in control. Sometimes showing a cruel or vindictive nature.
Moon and Water
IV. Miscellaneous AssociationsAccording to Silver RevanWolfe and Nigel
Jackson Freyja corresponds to Venus, and her sacred day is Friday.
Other accounts say that Friday is really Frigga's day as is Venus.
However, According to a book called Creed of Iron, Freyja is associated with Monday (Moonday - which ties in with the High Priestess Tarot card). The pale moon representing the female energy of Freyja controlled Moonday and the destinies of travellers at sea, who, by wearing white garments and ornaments of silver and pearl might guarantee a safe voyage (sic - this ties in with Niord being a God of the Sea and that he is Freyja's Father. Also, the moon controls the seas/tides so there is that association as well between Father and Daughter).
Also according to Creed of Iron Freya is associated with the number 9, the color Violet, the astrological sign of Cancer (sic-another water/Niord association). On page 118 it says the name 'moon' means 'the measurer' or one who metes out time with her phases and movements (sic - this reference ties into Freya as the Daughter of Time). The word 'mon-th' in its origin means 'a measurement of the moon.' Nine is the 'holiest of numbers and the root of psycho-cosmic powers; it lends to any purpose. It is the number of life eternal and death enduring. Nine transforms what it touches, yet it remains eternal within itself. Its use abounds in myth and legend, symbolized in the Knot of the Slain and the nine worlds of the Yggdrasill.
Walpurgisnacht is known as May Eve or Beltane and according to Teutonic mythology the ceremonies of this pagen festival were held in honor of Frey and Freyja on April 30th. Also, Winter Nights October 14-15th is Freyja's feast. It marks the end of the harvest, brings focus to the bounty and honors the goddess Freyja. The cattle who could not make it through the winter were sacraficed and the meat eaten or preserved for the winter months.
Freyja: Goddess of Magic
by Phil Hine
According to Snorri Sturluson, author of the prose Edda, Freyja was "the most renowned of all the goddesses, and that she alone of the gods yet lived." This declaration implies that worship of Freyja had survived in Twelfth-Century Scandinavia. This essay serves as a brief introduction to Freyja, her lineage, attributes and domain, both exoteric and esoteric.
Freyja (like Odhinn) has many titles by which she is known. Freyja itself means "the lady." Her other titles include: Vanadis (Goddess of the Vanir), Vanabrudhr (Bride of the Vanir), Hörn (Mistress of Flax), Gefn (the giver), Syr (the sow), Mardöll (the Sea-bright) and Gullveig (the gold-greedy). Freyja is a member (perhaps the most prominent) of the Vanir, a race of fertility gods who at first fought with, then later, united with the Aesir.
Frejya is generally known as a fertility goddess. As the goddess of love, she is shown to be sexually attractive and free with her favours. She also had links with the dead; half of the slain she shared with Odhinn, and each day decided who would enter her hall Sessrumnir, which lay in Folkvang, 'the Field of Folk.' Freyja also was mistress of magic. She owned a falcon-skin which she would don in order to travel to the underworld, bringing back prophecies and knowledge of destiny. In addition to shape-shifting, she also was the goddess of seidhr and could magically control fire. She drove a chariot pulled by cats, and her totemic animal was the sow.
Freyja is a member of the Vanir, a pantheon of deities which are generally described as 'fertility' gods. There has been some speculation that the Vanir represent an agriculturally-centred, matrifocal people who were invaded, and later assimilated by the tribe who's gods were the Aesir. There is much evidence within the Norse Myths to show that the Aesir did not approve of Freyja's intimacy with her brother, Freyr - and also that Freyja and Freyr were the children of Njord by his un-named sister. Snorri tells us that brother-sister marriages were common amongst the Vanir, and this could well indicate a clash of tribal mores.
According to H. R. Ellis Davidson (Myths & Gods of Northern Europe), the Vanir were gods of increase - in the fields, among the animals, and in the home, and also gave men the power to link with the world of the unseen. She notes that the cult of the Vanir was likely to have included orgiastic and sacrificial rites.
In The Norse Myths, Kevin Crossley-Holland notes that the Golden Age which followed Odhinn and his brothers' creation of the worlds, was brought to an end with the war between the Vanir and the Aesir - the first war. Freyja seems to play a pivotal role in bringing these events about. Crossley-Holland recounts the tale that Gullveig "the witch" visited the Aesir, and "filled them with loathing" by her talk of her lust for gold. They seized her and "riddled her body with spears." Three times they hurled her into the flames, but each time she stepped out, whole and reborn. In awe, the Aesir named her Heidh (the Shining One). When the Vanir heard about the Aesir's treatment of Gullveig, they prepared for war, as did the Aesir. The battle raged without either side being able to gain the upper hand, so eventually the gods sued for peace, and agreed to exchange leaders as proof of their good intention.
As part of the agreement, the Vanir gods Njord and Freyr made their way to Asgard, and Freyja journeyed with them. The Aesir appointed Njord and Freyr as high priests to preside over sacrifices, and Freyja was consecrated as a sacrificial high priestess.
Edred Thorsson, in Runelore identifies Gullveig as an aspect, or title, of Freyja, as does Crossley-Holland.
This would certainly fit with Freyja's love of gold, and with the golden rainment which she adorned herself with. Moreover, Freyja is recognised as introducing to the Aesir the practices of Seidhr, acting as Odhinn's teacher in this regard. Crossley-Holland's recounting of the Gullveig myth makes it clear that this 'witch' was a seeress - "she enchanted wands of wood; she went into trances and cast spells." It is well-known that Freyja's cult involved the practice of Seidhr magic (of which, more later).
It is interesting to note that it was not, presumably, Freyja's liking for gold itself which so stirred the Aesir, but perhaps the intensity of her avarice, or desire. Gods or acts of desire & transgression appear to be pivotal in myths of the fall from grace, or the ending of 'primal' or golden ages. It is possible that Freyja, as a goddess of erotic desire and ecstasy, could be viewed as both powerful, worthy of respect, and yet at the same time, somewhat distrusted.
Thorsson notes, in Runelore, that Freyja is a three-fold deity. She is a member of the Vanir, a goddess of Magic, and a goddess of warriors. Davidson remarks that it is possible to see Freyja as a Triple Goddess, with Frigg and Skadi.
In The North Myths, Crossley-Holland recounts the tale of The Necklace of the Brisings, the major myth in which Freyja plays the 'starring' role. The basic story is that Freyja crept out of her hall one night and quietly left Asgard, followed, unbenownst to her, by Loki. She found her way to the smithy of four dwarves - Alfrigg, Dvalin, Berling and Grerr. She lusted after a necklace of gold incised with wondrous patterns, which was the work of the dwarves. She offered to buy the necklace, but the dwarves would have no payment other than for them to lie with her for one night. Freyja accepted this, and afterwards, returned to her hall under the cover of darkness.
Loki made straight for Othinn's hall and told the High One what Freyja had done. Othinn, furious, ordered Loki to get the necklace from Freyja, which he did by shape-shifting into a fly, entering Sessrumnir, and stealing the necklace from Freyja as she lay asleep.
When Freyja woke the next morning and realised the necklace had been stolen from her, she knew that only Loki could have been capable of such an act and that moreover, he would have only done such a thing at Othinn's behest. She hurried to Othinn and confronted him about the necklace, whereupon the High One told her that she could only see it again under one condition - that she stir up war between two kings of men in Midgard, and that she use charms to give the slain new life, so that they could fight anew. Freyja agreed to this and her necklace was returned.
Crossley-Holland, in his notes on this tale, says that given Frejya's role as a goddess of war and death, it is possible that Othinn's final demand may well have been to her liking. It is generally agreed by scholars that the 'necklace of the Brisings' refers to the Old Norse word brisingr, meaning fire - referring to its brilliance. Ellis Davisdson notes that the necklace is a symbol often attributed to mother goddesses.
As for esoteric interpretations of this tale, Freya Aswynn, in Leaves of Yggdrasil, says that the dwarves represent the four elements and the necklace, the fifth, which can only arise from the integration of the four. Thorsson, in Runelore, gives the explanation that the necklace represents the four-fold cosmic cycle of generation and regeneration. Thorsson notes that she may have slept with one dwarf a night, or with all four simultaenously.
The Norse Myths, as recounted by Crossley-Holland, give us some strong clues as towards Freyja's magical abilities. In the myth of Gullveig, she displays her powers before the Aesir, surviving all their attempts to do away with her. In Hyndla's Poem, she surrounds the giantess Hyndla with a ring of fire.
Given her erotic character and her love of gold, I would infer that Freyja's magic also covered the powers
of enchantment - the casting of glamours and fascinations. I would point to two instances in The Norse Myths which would seem to support this idea: firstly, in The Building of Asgard's Wall, the giant-mason asks to take Freyja for his wife, in return for rebuilding the walls of Asgard. At this point, Freyja is described thusly:
The beautiful goddess sat bolt upright and as she moved the necklace of the Brisings and her golden brooches and armbands and the gold thread in her clothing glittered and flashed. None but Odin could look directly at her.
Secondly, in Thor's Duel with Hrungnir, she tries to beguile the giant who again, is threatening to abduct her:
Odin nodded and Freyja sidled forward. As she moved, all the jewels she was wearing flashed and glimmered, and Hrungnir tried to rub the stars out of his eyes. 'Drink again,' said Freya.
Freyja's cloak of feathers, which she used to enter the underworld is given to Loki on a couple of occasions - which in itself begs a question, as Loki demonstrates shape-shifting powers of his own accord. But the cloak of feathers as an example of bird-costume in general, appears to be a vital ingredient in a wide variety of shamanic traditions, as Mircea Eliade notes in his monumental work Shamanism, from the Tungus of Siberia to the Irish filidh.
Snorri says that Freyja weeps 'tears of gold' in searching for her lost husband, Od. Why she does this is not made clear. Davidson, in Gods and Myths of Northern Europe suggests that this is "a memory of the goddess seeking the slain god of fertility." On the surface, at least, this does suggest a link between Freyja and the cults of Isis or Cybelle. However, Thorsson, in Runelore, gives an alternative interpretation of this theme.
" The name Odh-r simply indicates the force of ecstasy, of the magically inspired mind. To this, indeed, the goddess Freyja is wedded, and it too (as with Odhinn himself) is the chief aim of her strivings. As Odhr wandered, so Freyja wandered after him, shedding tears of gold."
This, says Thorsson, has nothing to do with myths of Ishtar (or Isis) - that Freyja is seeking " the numinous inspiration" embodied in the god.
Freyja is mistress of the body of practices known as Seidhr. As Thorsson explains in The Nine Doors of Midgard, there were two forms of magic practiced in the ancient North - Galdor - which emphasises the development of will and exerting control over one's circumstances, and Seidhr - the magic of 'submergence' in which trance states played a major role. What Seidhr practices actually consisted of has become an issue of some debate in recent years. Jan Fries for example, in Helrunar, uses the term in two ways - firstly he attributes seidhr to the brewing of potions and herbal medicines, particularly those intended to bring about a change of consciousness, and secondly, he makes reference to the 'seething' body of the shaman, entering trance by shaking and trembling 'all-body spasms'. Davidson (op cit), discusses the Volva, a seeress or sooth-sayer, who entered into a divinatory trance at festivals, and was able to answer questions put to her by those present. The volva would be seated on a lofty seat or platform, spells were sung - the volva would be sometimes supported by a large company who acted as a choir and provided music - and the seeress passed into a state of ecstasy. According to Davidson, the volva would be consulted on matters related to the growth of crops, the prosperity of the community and the marriage of young people - all concerns which come within Freyja's sphere of influence.
Thorsson, in Nine Doors, briefly describes three forms of seidhr-craft: sooth-saying or divination, faring forth (travelling in other realms) and love-seidhr (sex-magic). He also mentions shape-shifting as an aspect of seidhr. Randy P. Connor, in Blossom of Bone, says that male practitioners of seidhr were reputed to be able to
"bestow wealth and fame and to take these away. They could bring plenty during a time of famine or cause the land to be blighted. They could cause persons to fall ill, just as they could heal them with herbs and charms. They could bring lovers together and sever relationships. In later times, they aided warriors by magically dulling enemies' swords, halting enemies arrows in flight, raising storms at sea, and unbinding the chains of imprisoned comrades."
All this should serve to give an impression of the possible range of seidhr practices. The subject of seidhr itself deserves close attention in it's own right.
In conclusion, I will offer some thoughts on what possibilities for magical work Freyja offers. Freyja is an archetypal sorceress. She could therefore be invoked by those who would learn the ways of sorcery, divination, and fascination. Indeed Thorsson, in Nine Doors describes an Invocation of Freyja in the sense of a 'blessing-work' in order to learn the powers of seidhr. Thorsson's invocations give a good example of how to approach Freyja appropriately:
" I am come of this stead to honour Freya, to speak of my lusts for her lovely body, and of my greed for her mighty powers of seith. With these words I wish with all my heart she will come to me and be with me in body and soul.
I call upon thee to come faring out of Folkvang and from thy seat at Sessrumnir - to be here with me now. Stride forth in thy guise as Gullveig - the one who thirsts for gold - and make thy holy might known in the shape of Heidh - the shining bright mother of holy Seith."
The force of Freyja is invoked into a mead-horn, for the participant to drink and share with the goddess.
It would also seem appropriate to ask for Freyja's blessing in any act of seidhr-sorcery - Results Magic worked using the Northern Tradition. Workings of an erotic nature of intent might particularly attract her favour.