Freyr | Norse Mythology


The Old Norse name form Freyr, partly modernized to Frey (Old High German frô, older frôjo, frouwo, Gothic frauja, Old English frēa), derives from a Common Germanic root *Fraujaz or *Frauwaz "lord", in addition the feminine *Frawjō "mistress".

Freyr in the Ynglingasaga

Freyr is probably identical with Yngvi or Yngvi-Freyr, who appears for the first time in the Ynglingasaga as the ancestor of the Swedish kings and is mentioned in the eleventh chapter as the father of Fjölnir.

Yngvi is again connected with the name of the Germanic tribe Ingwäonen and of course with the gender name of the Ynglings.

The composition Yngvi-Freyr could go back to an Old High German form Ingwia-fraujaz "Lord of the Ingaevonen". For the southern Germanic people it is discussed whether the god "Fol" mentioned in the Merseburg spells is identical with Freyr. A statue of Freyr was found in Rällinge (Sweden).

Freyr took over the kingdom of Njörds. He built a great temple in Uppsala, established his court there and founded the wealth of Uppsala. He brought peace to the land and there were many good years that the Svear attributed to Freyr's presence and leadership.

Therefore, they worshipped him more than other gods, for the people had more wealth than ever before. His wife was Gerda Gymir-Datter and their common son was Fjölnir. Freyr is also known as Yngve, his honorary name and his descendants were the Ynglings.

When Freyr fell ill and the infirmity worsened only a few men were allowed to visit him. In the meantime, a large mound had been built, with a large door and three windows.

Here his dead body was laid out. Although Freyr was dead, the Svear were told that he was alive. For three years he was guarded there along with his treasures, and during that time peace continued and the good years continued.

His body was not given to the fire even after his death was known, because the Swedes believed that they would be blessed with prosperity and peace as long as Freyr (physically) stayed in their land. After Freyr, his son Fjölnir became ruler of the kingdom, as it is also written in the Ynglingatal, the master list of Swedish kings.

Freyr and Freya

It is said that Freyr and Freya were the children of Njörd and Skadi, and she in turn was a daughter of the giant Thjazi. They are a matched pair of gods, as was the case with Dianus and Diana, Liber and Libera.

In Sweden, Freyr was worshipped as the main god and associated with the sun. Through his attributes, he is also conceived as the god of fertility and hunting. Freya, on the other hand, is associated with the moon through her attributes and is also referred to as the goddess of love.

Originally Freya and Freyr were siblings as well as spouses. Only later was such a union considered objectionable, so that Óðr (Odhr) appears as Freya's husband and Gerda as Freyr's wife. Odhr and Gerda are not mentioned in the early texts of Ögir's drinking party.

Freyr belonged to the Vanir, who were mainly fertility gods. He courted the daughter of the giant Gymir from Jötunheim. Their son Fjölnir was to become one of the legendary kings of Sweden. After the war with the Aesir, Freyr was considered to belong to the Aesir and experienced a worship equal to theirs.

Freyr had the ship Skidbladnir, built by dwarves, which had room for all the Aesir with armor, and which always sailed with wind at its back wherever one wanted to go.

The dwarf Brokkr had also forged for him the golden boar Gullinbursti ("the one with the golden bristles"). He is also called Slíðrugtanni ("the one with the dangerous tusks"). He pulls Freyr's chariot and runs through the air and over the water, lighting up the night with his bristles.

Boar and horse are especially sacred animals to Freyr. The boar sacrifice for harvest blessing was probably offered to him in ancient times. This is probably the origin of the boar as a symbol of Swedish kingship in earlier times.

The special position of the horse appears late in the saga literature. When Olav Tryggvason destroyed the sanctuary of Freyr, he rode the sanctified stallion and his men rode the consecrated mares. Here, apparently, the taboo existed that consecrated horses could not be ridden.

He ruled over rain and sunshine and watched over growth as a fertility god. His cult center was Uppsala, where he was worshipped alongside Thor and Odin.

Saxo writes that an annual sacrifice was offered to him there by Haddingus and his descendants (Saxo I, 8, 12). According to Adam of Bremen this happened only every 9 years, killing men and animals (Adam IV, 27).

Saxo Grammaticus writes that the Danish saga king Haddingus offered an expiatory sacrifice to the god Frø (Saxo I, 8, 12). This is considered to be identical with Freyr. Adam of Bremen reports of a temple in Uppsala dedicated to the fertility god Fricco (Adam IV, 24).

Whether this was Freyr is uncertain and not very likely, since an etymological connection cannot be established. The Ynglingasaga further reports that the fróðafriðr ("Froði peace") led to persistent good harvests during the reign of the mythical king Frodi in Denmark.

Therefore, Froði is usually identified with Freyr in research. This would also be etymologically plausible, since froda means "lushness, fertility" in Old Swedish. Also the depiction of Freyr with a huge phallus fit to this.

Freyr in the Skírnismál

Once Freyr had sat down on Odin's throne (Hlidskialf), from which the sky-god could overlook the whole world. When he directed his gaze to Jötunheim, he saw a beautiful maiden coming from the house of the giant Gymir. According to the Eddic poem Skírnismál this beautiful woman was Gerda, daughter of Aurboda.

Freyr's servant, the faithful Skirnir (Purifier), offered to do the courtship. He therefore asked Freyr to give him a horse and his sword.

Thus equipped, he went to Jötunheim and when Gerda asked him into the hall, he first tried to ensnare her with promises.

He offered her eleven golden apples and then even Odin's gold ring Draupnir, but she refused to become Frery's consort.

Thereupon he threatened to cut off her head with his sword. When that didn't work either, he mentioned that he had a powerful spell that would turn her into a hideous creature who would grow old unmarried and lonely.

As a result, she finally agreed. This crime leads to Freyr facing the fire giant Surt at Ragnarok without his sword and dying.