On Friday, We Honor the Goddess Freyja
IN NORSE MYTHOLOGY, GODS and goddesses are divided into two groups, known as the Vanir and the Aesir. The peaceful Vanir grew food from the earth and were worshiped during the agricultural Bronze Age. Later, during the Iron Age, when human beings developed the first weapons and hunting tools, the combative Aesir were honored.
Not surprisingly, the Aesir brought war into the serene world of the Vanir. To settle this discord, the Vanir agreed to give the Aesir the goddess Freyja, the incomparably beautiful daughter of Njord, god of fair winds. In this way, Freyja became the link between the old world, before the invention of iron tools, and the new, where weapons were often used to create might over right. She can be seen as a mediator between peace and violence.
Freyja also presided over the living and the dead. As such, the goddess was responsible for the souls of half the warriors who perished in battle. After their death, these men were taken to Freyja’s grand hall in Asgard, the home of the Aesir gods and goddesses. Their afterlife was filled with numerous joys and pleasures. The warriors were brought delicious food and drink by Freyja’s graceful serving maidens. They listened to the goddess’s favorite poems about brave deeds of honor, and favorite songs about love.
Despite the cheerful company of her warriors, Freyja was often sad. Freyja was married to Od, the god of ecstasy, but he vanished soon after the birth of their daughter, Noss, whose name means “delight.” When Freyja missed her husband too much she wept tears of gold. Sometimes she looked for Od, riding through the sky in her golden chariot drawn by two gray cats. At other times, she wore a falcon-skin cloak, which enabled her to fly through the air.
The Book of Goddesses: Expanded Anniversary Edition