Tag: goddess

Gefion

gylfi-gefion
Gefion (“giver”) is an old-Scandinavian vegetation and fertility goddess, especially connected with the plough. She was considered the patron of virgins and the bringer of good luck and prosperity. Every girl who dies a virgin will become Her servant. She is married to King Skjold or Scyld a son of Odin, and lived in Leire, Denmark, where she had a sanctuary. The Swedish kings are supposed to be her descendants.

It is traditionally claimed that Gefion created the island of Zealand (“Sjaelland” in Danish) by ploughing the soil out of the central Swedish region with the help of her sons (four Swedish oxen), creating the great Swedish lakes in the process. In Copenhagen, Denmark, there is a large fountain showing Her in the process of ploughing.

Gefion could be another form of Frigga who is also known under that name.

Gullveig

Gullveig (“goldbranch”) is the sorceress and seer who had a great love and lust for gold. She talked of nothing else when she visited the Aesir. They listened with loathing and eventually thought the world would be better off without her so they hurled her into the fire. She was burned to death, but stepped from the flames unscathed. Three times she was burned, and three times she was reborn.

When the Vanir learned about how the Aesir had treated Gullveig they became incensed with anger. They swore vengeance and began to prepare for war. The Aesir heard about this and moved against the Vanir. This was the first war in the world. For a long time the battle raged to and fro, with neither sides gaining much ground. Eventually the gods became weary of war and began to talk of peace. Both sides swore to live side by side in peace.

Gullveig is also known under the name of Heid (“gleaming one”). She is probably the goddess Freya, who also has a great love of gold in the various myths.

Helheim

Helheim (“house of Hel”) is one of the nine worlds of Norse mythology. It is ruled by Hel, the monstrous daughter of the trickster god Loki and his wife Angrboda.

This cold, dark and misty abode of the dead is located in the world of Niflheim, on the lowest level of the Norse universe. No one can ever leave this place, because of the impassable river Gjoll that flows from the spring Hvergelmir and encircles Helheim.

Once they enter Helheim, not even the gods can leave. Those who die of old age or disease, and those not killed in battle, go to Helheim while those who die bravely on the battlefield go to Valhalla.

The entrance to Helheim is guarded by Garm, a monstrous hound, and Modgud. The giant Hraesvelg (“corpse eater”) sits at the edge of the world, overlooking Helheim. In the form of an eagle with flapping wings he makes the wind blow.

Frigga

friggaFrigga (Frigg, Fricka), Odin’s wife, was considered to be the Mother of all; and protector of children. She spins the sacred Distaff of life, and is said to know the future, although she will not speak of it. Some believe that Friday was named for her instead of Freya, and there is considerable confusion as to “who does what” among the two. The Norns (Urd, Verdande, and Skuld), are the Norse equivalent of the greek Fates. It is they who determine the orlogs (destinies) of the Gods and of Man, and who maintain the World Tree, Yggdrasil.

Skadi

skadhiSkadi is the Goddess of Winter and of the Hunt. She is married to Njord, the gloomy Sea God, noted for his beautiful bare feet (which is how Skadi came to choose him for her mate.) Supposedly the bare foot is an ancient Norse symbol of fertility. The marriage wasn’t too happy, though, because she really wanted Balder for her husband. She is the goddess of Justice, Vengeance, and Righteous Anger, and is the deity who delivers the sentence upon Loki to be bound underground with a serpent dripping poison upon his face in payment for his crimes. Skadi’s character is represented in two of Hans Christian Anderson’s tales: “The Snow Queen” and “The Ice Princess.”

Freyja

freyjaFreyja (modern forms of the name include Freya, Freja, Freyia, Fr√łya, and Freia) is considered to be the goddess of Love and Beauty, but is also a warrior goddess and one of great wisdom and magick. She and her twin brother Freyr are of a different “race” of gods known as the Vanir. Many of the tribes venerated her higher than the Aesir, calling her “the Frowe” or “The Lady.” She is known as Queen of the Valkyries, choosers of those slain in battle to bear them to Valhalla (the Norse heaven). She, therefore, is a psychopomp like Odhinn and it is said that she gets the “first pick” of the battle slain. She wears the sacred necklace Brisingamen, which she paid for by spending the night with the dwarves who wrought it from the bowels of the earth. The cat is her sacred symbol. There seems to be some confusion between herself and Frigga, Odin’s wife, as they share similar functions; but Frigga seems to be strictly of the Aesir, while Freyja is of the Vanic race. The day Friday (Frejyasdaeg) was named for her (some claim it was for Frigga).

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