Frigg | Norse Mythology


Frigg (Old Norse: Frigg, Proto-Germanic: Frijjō, Old High German: Frīja, Lombard: Frēa, Old Frisian: Frīa, Old Netherlandish Saxon: Frī, and Old English: Frīg), also known as Friggja, or Fricka (in Wagner's tetralogy), is the principal goddess of the pantheon of Norse mythology.

Goddess of love, marriage, motherhood and able to predict the future of everyone, she is the wife of Odin (and therefore the queen of the Aesir) and the mother of Baldr and Hodr.

She is the only woman allowed to sit on Hlidskjalf ("watchtower") from where she advised her husband on important matters. In her home in Ásgard, called Fensalir ("swamp hall"), she spins the clouds all day (she is often depicted with a spinning wheel). She is the patron saint of sibyls, diviners and fairies.

Long after the Christianization of Northern Europe, Frigg continued to be used in Scandinavian and Germanic folklore (in expressions, etc.).

Etymology of Frigg

Frigg comes from the proto-Germanic *Frijjō (< i.-e. *priyā- "dear" ), and carries, according to Jean Haudry, a name derived from the qualifier of the Indo-European Aurora.

Even today, we find in our everyday language words or names derived from the first name of this goddess.

For example, many Swedes or Norwegians have a name close to Frigg (Freia, Frigida, Freja, Frigga, Friggic, Freya, Friggjarakr, etc.).

The word Friday in the northern countries is derived from Frigg: in German - Freitag; in English - Friday; in Swedish - Fredag.

Frigg's History

In Norse mythology, Frigg belongs to the highest hierarchy of the Aesir (one of the two pantheons of Norse mythology, the other being the Vanir).

She became the Queen of Heaven through her marriage to Odin, and preferred to live in her own home, Fensalir, rather than in Valaskjálf, the sumptuous palace of her husband.

Mother of Baldr and Hodr, she is the only woman allowed to sit on the Hodr throne, from where she could admire the Nine Worlds.

Goddess of fertility, love, household management, marriage and motherhood, Frigg was famous for her prescience. Indeed, she was reputed to know the destiny of each individual, but never revealed it.

Frigg was the patroness of women and farmers. She was also associated with healing and was called to the dying to ease their transition from life to death.

Known as a devoted mother and wife, the goddess had a consuming passion for gold. A myth tells that she became jealous of a golden statue of her husband, carved by her worshippers.

She did not hesitate to spend the night with one of her servants, in order to convince him to destroy the statue and to recover the gold to make jewelry.

Frigg and her servants

Most Germanic gods were accompanied with pets. This is not the case with Frigg, who was often depicted with her twelve handmaidens. Together, in her palace of Fensalir in Asgard, they spun the clouds and the golden threads of fate.

The handmaidens helped Frigg to carry out her duties and each had a well-defined role.

Gna carried the goddess' orders across the nine realms on the back of her horse, Hofvarpnir. Grefjon had the gift of clairvoyance but never influenced the course of events.

Hlin was charged with protecting all those whom Frigg deemed worthy of keeping from danger. Vra or Vár listened to oaths and punished perjurers. Snotra was in charge of announcing the good weather and bringing the breeze.

Sygna presided over trials. Lofn favored the union of lovers. Fulla, the goddess's favorite, was in charge of carrying her mistress's jewelry box, filled with magical tools used during ceremonies.

Sometimes Frigg's attendants are seen as various aspects of the goddess, rather than separate beings.

Baldr's Death

Frigg was a prophetic goddess who knew the future and the destiny of all men, but she never revealed her secrets. The only time she intervened to change the course of history was when she dreamed of her son's death. She then asked that nothing in the cosmos could harm Baldr.

It was then that the elements, animals, stones, diseases among other things, promised the goddess not to harm her son. The Aesir gods were happy with Baldr's new immunity and organized a big party where they had fun throwing whatever they had at hand at him. Each time, Balder remained unharmed.

Not satisfied with the turn of events, the evil god Loki disguised himself as a woman and visited Frigg in Fensalir. There, he explained to the goddess that all the gods struck her son and that this last remained unharmed. The goddess then told him that all things in the cosmos had sworn to her not to harm Baldr.

However, she confessed that she had not asked the mistletoe to swear an oath to her, believing it to be harmless. Loki immediately disappeared and armed himself with mistletoe before going to the party.

He gave the mistletoe dart to Baldr's blind brother, Hodr, and offered to help him take part in the festivities. With Loki's help, the blind god threw the dart which pierced his brother's heart, killing him instantly.

Upon hearing this terrible news, Frigg asked the gods to take him to the realm of the dead. Hermod agreed to go there to negotiate his brother's return with the underworld goddess, called Hel. While he was away, Baldr's wife, Nanna, was placed in the funeral pyre with her dead husband and died of grief.

Upon arriving, Hermod discusses with Hel the conditions of Nanna and Balder's return to the world of the living. The goddess agrees, but asks that all things living and dead mourn their deaths. Before Hermod left, Balder gave him the Draupnir ring to return to Odin (who had placed it on his funeral pyre), and Baldr's wife Nanna gave the messenger a linen cloth and other gifts for Frigg, and a golden ring for Fulla. Returning to the gods, Hermod told them about his expedition.

So the gods sent messengers around the world to ask everyone to mourn the son of Frigg. But a giantess called Thokk refused. In reality, it was the god Loki in disguise. Balder was then condemned to suffer in the underworld, until the final battle of Ragnarök.

Hodr was sentenced to death, but later the gods discovered Loki's role in Baldr's murder and gave him a cruel punishment that brought about the end of the world.

According to some versions of the story, mistletoe became sacred to Frigg. Indeed, the plant was so unhappy about causing Baldr's death that it took pity on the goddess.

In another version of the myth, the story has a better ending. Balder is brought back to life and Frigg is so happy that she removes her curse from the mistletoe and changes it into a symbol of peace and love, promising a kiss to all who pass under it.

Frigg Symbolism 

Frigg was often depicted as a beautiful, majestic, imposing woman wearing long dresses that could, at her discretion, be of light or darkness. In most paintings, the goddess is depicted spinning with a spinning wheel. She had the ability to transform herself into a hawk, raven or sparrowhawk to travel.

The plants associated with her are mistletoe and yellow bedstraw (galium verum). The latter, also known as "Frigg's herb", was used as a sedative for mothers during childbirth. Indeed, the Germanic peoples called Frigg to help women suffer less during childbirth.

But it was also invoked for foresight, fertility, fate, protection, marriage, health, independence, vitality, cunning, wisdom, physical passion, keeping secrets, protecting the family, finding the right name for the newborn, etc.

Any swampy ground was also dedicated to Frigg. Régis Boyer, a specialist in Scandinavian civilizations, has suggested that the human sacrifices that took place in the Danish and Swedish swamps were dedicated to Frigg.