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Blutw÷lfin
Tuesday, September 20th, 2005, 09:36 PM
Fr˘ (FREYR) AND NIRDU (NJORD)

The next god in power and fame in old Nordic belief is Freyr; with the Swedes he seems even to have occupied the third place. His name ["Lord"] of itself proclaims how widely his worship prevailed among the other German tribes, a name sacred enough to be given to the Supreme Being even in Christian times. The original meaning of Freyr, Frauja, Fr˘, seems to be: the happy, gladdening, beneficent holy lord, which could be a reference to a worldly ruler as well as to a deity. [Image: ithyphallic Fr˘/Freyr, god of fertility, an eleventh-century Swedish figurine.]

Fr˘'s godhead seems to hold a middle place between the notion of the supreme lord and that of a being who brings about love and fruitfulness. He has Wodan's creative quality, but performs no deeds of war; horse and sword he gives away, when consumed with longing for the fair Gerd, as is sung in one of the most glorious lays of the Edda. Snorri says, rain and sunshine are in the gift of Freyr; he is invoked for fertility of the soil and for peace. The Swedes revered him as one of their chief gods, and Adam of Bremen says that at the temple of Uppsala his statue stood by those of Thor and Wodan. Adam calls him Fricco, which is precisely parallel to the frequent confusion of the two goddesses Freya and Frigg. But he paints him as a god of peace and love: "Tertius est Fricco, pacem voluptatemque largiens mortalibus, cujus etiam simulachrum fingunt ingenti priapo; si nuptiae celebrandae sunt, (sacrificia offerunt) Fricconi," "The third god is Fricco, who bestows peace and pleasure to mortals and whose likeness they fashion with an immense phallus; if marriages are to be celebrated, they offer sacrifices to Fricco."

Then there is the story, harmonizing with this, though related from the Christian point of view and to the heathen god's detriment, of Freyr's statue being carried around the country in a wagon in the manner of a king. The people flock to meet the car, and bring their offerings; then the weather clears up and men look for a fruitful year. Live animals were presented, particularly oxen, which seems to explain why Freyr is reckoned among the poetic names for an ox; in like manner, horses were consecrated to him, such a one was called Freyfaxi and accounted holy; and human victims fell to him in Sweden.

As a fertility god he is a friendly, kindly deity, in contrast to the two gods previously mentioned and to Wodan's one side, for as god of wishes, Wodan also seems amiable and creative like Fr˘.

Freyr's beloved, afterwards his wife, was named Gerd. She came from the race of giants but is nevertheless included among the female Aesir. The Edda describes her beauty in a charming story: when Freyr looked down from heaven, he saw her enter a house and close the door, and then air and water sparkled from the radiance of her arms. His courtship of her was difficult and was only made successful by the skill of his loyal servant Skirnir.

Freyr possessed a boar, Gullinbursti, whose golden bristles lit up night like day, ran with the speed of a horse and pulled the god's wagon. His sacred, golden-bristled boar was celebrated on helmet insignia, in baking and at festive banquets. Therefore in Freyr's cult boars are used as expiatory offerings. The Swedish folk bake cakes in the shape of a boar on Yule Eve. Even our Christmas cake is referred to as the back of the Yule boar. Gullborst is the name of a plant which is also called Eberwurz (boar's root).

The Edda provides Freyr with a magnificent sword which swings of its own accord against the race of giants. The fact that he gave it away in distress later caused his destruction and is regarded as the cause of his death when at the time of Ragnarok he had to fight with Surtr and lacked his good sword. The dwarfs had made a wonderful ship, Skithblathnir, which could fold up like a cloth for glittering Freyr, the benevolent son of Njord.

German mythology would know little about Njord, had not Tacitus fortunately mentioned details of a goddess, Nerthus, whose identity with the god is evident.

Njord, who rules over the sea, appears much celebrated, admittedly chiefly by peoples who lived on the seaboard. According to the Edda he rules over wind, sea and fire. He longs to be away from the mountains of the interior and down by the cool shore amidst the song of the swans. A water plant, the spongia marina, bears the name Niardar v÷ttr, "Njord's glove", which was elsewhere certainly transferred to Freya or Mary.


Jakob Grimm: "The Principal Germanic Gods" (http://library.flawlesslogic.com/grimm_3.htm)