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Freyr and Freyja

- by Cloudchaser_Eagle


Originally Vanir but living with the Aesir, Freyr and Freyja are far and away the most well-known, well-loved, and powerful of any twins in Norse mythology. Involved in the exchange of leaders that formally marked the end of the war between the Vanir (fertility deities) and the Aesir (war deities), Freyr and Freyja were to become among the main deities in Norse religion, subordinate only to Thor and Odin. In addition, Freyja is the only Norse goddess of whom a significant number of myths still remain today. And their stories are some of the most dramatic in Norse mythology.

FREYR (LORD)

Freyr, the son of Njord (God of the sea), was originally one of the foremost of the Vanir deities, but departed for Asgard, home of the Aesir, when the first war in Norse existence ended between the Vanir and the Aesir. He retained his important status in Asgard (where he was appointed a ceremonial priest due to his expertise in magic), rising steadily in status until he was overshadowed only by Thor and his father Odin.

Freyr, smitten with his high ranking, presumed to sit on Odin's throne when day, in the abscence of the Allfather. He paid dearly for this. For when Freyr sat on Odin's throne, he could immediately see throughout the nine worlds of the Vikings, and his eyes settled almost immediately on a beautiful frost giantess, Gerda. Freyr, however, knowing that he could not have her, became very depressed. His servant and messenger, Skirnir, anxious about his master's condition, tentatively spoke to Freyr, and the God of the World confided in Skirnir his love for Gerda, adding that neither his father, Njord, nor Gerda's father would agree to their marriage. In the end, Freyr asked Skirnir to go to Johtunheim, land of the giants, and bring Gerda back to him. Should he be successful, Skirnir would be given Freyr's magical horse which was unaffected by flame, no matter how hot, and Freyr's special sword, which, when drawn, would fight enemies on its own. Skirnir was successful, and Gerda and Freyr were wed. However, much later, Freyr would later regret giving his sword to Skirnir.

Freyr, however, still had many treasures to behold, the most famous of them his ship Skidbladnir and his boar Gullinbursti. Skidbladnir, fashioned for him by two dwarves at Loki's behest, was easily large enough to hold all the gods, fully armed, but when Freyr did not need to use it, he could easily dismantle it until it was no bigger than a handkerchief and could fit in his pocket. Gullinbursti was even more impressive. The boar could run over land, air, and sea alike, and no animal (save perhaps Odin's steed Sleipnir) could keep up with it. In addition, Gullinbursti had golden fur, so that even in the deepest of darkness, Freyr could find him. Gullinbursti would draw Freyr's chariot, which the God of the World would ride to Balder's funeral to and to Ragnarok.

In the myth Lokasenna (Loki's Flyting), Freyr comes back into the picture, having been relatively quiet following his marriage to Gerda. Loki, having snuck into the Aesir's hall after killing Odin's son Balder, began to insult and slander the gods inexcusably in Odin's and Freyr's presence. Freyr, incensed at Loki's having insulted Odin and Tyr (the two Gods of war), had to be restrained by his servants and the other deities.

But when Ragnarok rolls around, no amount of passion can help the swordless Freyr. Destined to be attacked by the fire giant Surt, Freyr will manage to frustrate Surt with his skill even without a sword, but the God of the World will eventually succumb to Surt's fire-bladed sword and perish.

FREYJA (LADY)

Without a doubt the most beautiful of all the goddesses (her beauty was such that when she wept, she would not weep just normal tears, but golden ones), Freyja was, like her twin brother, involved in the exchange of leaders that ended the first war in Norse mythology. In Asgard, home of the Aesir, the wife of Od tutored the Aesir in magic that was already known in Vanaheim, the land of the Vanir.

Freyja's beauty would, to her chagrin, earn her many admirers amongst the giants, including one who masqueraded as a mason in order to gain access to Valhalla, and another who stole Thor's hammer Mjolnir and named Freyja to be the ransom price. However, Freyja was also free with her favors, and in order to get the radiant Necklace of the Brisings, she slept with the four dwarves who owned the marvelous piece of jewellery. Upbraided by Odin for having done such a thing, Freyja submitted to Odin's wishes in order to get her necklace back, which was stolen by the trickster Loki under Odin's orders. (these wishes essentially were that she stir up war and hatred on Earth so that Odin may have more slain warriors to add to his army, the Einherjar). Freyja would eventually get the necklace back, but the myths do
not say how. Her other lover, Ottar, was not god, giant, or dwarf, but a human man.

Freyja, even though she was not a warrior, assisted the Aesir multiple times in their battles against the giants, willingly risking her priceless treasures, such as the Necklace of the Brisings and her golden falcon skin, which allows the wearer take shape of a bird, in order to see to it that the various foes of the gods were pacified. When the giant who had stolen Mjolnir ordered Freyja to his bride if Thor were to get his hammer back, Freyja instead, at Loki's suggestion, dressed Thor in her best bridal clothes, even adding the Necklace of the Brisings to make Thor's disguise more authentic. Like her other sacrifices needed to ensure the safety of the gods, this plan ultimately succeded.

Like her brother, Freyr, Freyja had a terrible temper, and again like Freyr, she had to be restrained from seeking revenge upon Loki for the murder of Balder. She would have to content herself with thouroughly rebuking him, for at Ragnarok, neither she nor Loki nor Freyr would survive. So, in the end, Freyja would join her lost husband, Od, in the ranks of the dead.