By Eowyn OR
First published in ORB 210, Autumn 2008
In any literature concerning the role of Freya in our mythology, there are two common- and to my mind, abhorrent- assertations made about this most sacred Goddess within our pantheon, which profoundly reflect the pervasiveness of the desert creed poisoning within the folk soul, despite protestations to the contrary. The first revolves around the myth of Freya’s necklace Brisingamen, a wonderful necklace that was forged by the four dwarves of the elements and directions. In order to attain it, Freya was required to “sleep” one night each with the dwarves. Now we know that Freya is guardian of the babes at the dawn of time and the personification of the intelligence that informs and infills the solar system, of which we are integral to. The word “Brisingamen” symbolises the spiritual intelligence in humankind (brising- fire, the fire of enlightenment and men- jewel). She is also a shamaness, skilled in the arts of divination, prophecy, astral projection and skrying- those skills popularly known as seidr, which she taught to Odin. Such skills require an intimate knowledge of the four elements as they pervade and manifest in the different worlds. Now, in mythology and shamanism, sleep is often used as a metaphor describing an altered state of consciousness, which- if utilised skillfully- brings access to deeper states of awareness. Indeed, shamen consider sleep and dreams to be as “real” as our everyday consciousness. Certainly, the methods used would be familiar to Freya. Thus she did not literally sleep with the dwarves; rather, the dwarves are personifications of the elemental energies- earth, air, fire and water- governing all cycles and seasons from the subtle biological rhythms to the great cycles of time; Freya came to understand them intimately through practices requiring altered states of consciousness that allowed access to the knowledge.
Unfortunately, Loki (symbolising illusion and self-seeking), stole Brisingamen from Freya. In one account, Heimdal hunts down Loki and reclaims the jewel for her. He symbolises the meditative faculty, which overcomes illusion and perceives the whole pattern comprised of the alchemies of the four elements. In a sense, his recovery of Brisingamen echoes Freya’s “sleeping” with the dwarves: she wins the jewels but then loses them again; so we understand that the journey to enlightenment is a continual process of self-reflection from which even the gods aren’t exempt as they too are evolving in wyrd in a perpetual battle gods and folk alike face to smite illusion. In the second account, Loki gave Brisingamen to Odin, who would only return it to Freya on condition that she provoked an everlasting war between two earthly kings (who symbolise the battle between earthly needs and ideals). For the tension between opposites is the foundation of existence without which there would be no life- an eternal principle that is today so submerged by illusionary concerns, as at times to be almost invisible; so lost are folk in Loki’s wiles. The myth also shows the progression through the elements towards enlightenment, the need to restore and maintain balance and the way in which greed can prevent enjoyment of one’s progress. Love under will towards the godhead binds, nurtures and balances earthly needs and ideals with the highest level of integrity; meditation and contemplation tempers, combines and harmonises the psychic and material elements into a higher order. There is a fragment of the Winter War saga, which reflects a similar theme. In the Blessed Realms, Heimdal wooed and won a fair lady called Alf-Hilda, a shining Sun-Dis. However, as the ages passed and the ice began to advance, she became embroiled in the troubles of the Winter War and fled to a secret place where her departure was sorely felt by Earth’s inhabitants. Thusly, they cried out to Heimdal for help who responded by rescuing her from the two dragons- Shivering Cold and Biting Ice- who guarded her door. Henceforth, the earth became warm again. Once more, we see the meditative capacity as the consecrating fire, which dispels the ravages of imbalance caused by illusion and restores the warmth and light that rouses us to a bright rebirth.
As a slight digression- but importantly: following on from the misconception that Freya literally slept with the dwarves and as a direct consequence of the desert creed’s denigration of our goddesses, we see that she is often portrayed as a woman or witch with loose sexual morals. Yet again, a gross aberration into shallow literalism and a distorted material interpretation of events is made that deviate so far from the truth as to be almost unre-cognisable. Yes, Freya embodies the feminine principle of Venus and is indeed the goddess of erotic love; but she is also a fierce defender of the bonds between committed couples- of fidelity. Eros, when properly understood, is the power of fidelitous sexual love; also known as libido, it is the creative- or psychic- energy an individual possesses to put towards personal development or individuation. It is life-affirming and directly opposes thanatos- the destructive, entropic death drive or “death instinct.” Eros is the great binder and loosener, the desire for wholeness and interconnection via passionate love, which unites polar opposites in the crucible of its fiery substrate. But remember, as both Lady and Valkyrie, Freya is the guide and guardian of our soul- the inspiring deepest self- which is dedicated to the enlightenment of the whole of humankind and every individual as a hologram of the whole. Hence, she is a goddess of both love and war whose alchemy brings the fire of enlightenment that burns through illusion. In this great age of the Kali Yuga, the lie that liberal sexual relations are emancipating has been very wrongly, and abhorrently, projected onto Freya as the Goddess of Love and used to sanction virtually any kind of casual tryst without commitment. Yet conversely, far from liberation away from the puritanical sexual hang-ups it purports to bring, promiscuity actually nullifies feeling and perception of the inherent beauty in unity that the erotic libidinal drive seeks; simultaneously, it closes the seeker off from higher conscious awareness with its egoic focus upon immediate gratification of the baser instincts. And the more often an individual pursues this limited path, the more jaded, numbed and energetically damaged they become; for the residue from the liaisons remain for some time after the event and erode both the physical and psychic immunity. Such is the manifestation of thanatos. Conversely, right relationship is constructive, life-affirming and protective.
A further point is this: true sexual attraction is a physical and spiritual alchemy in which both partners evolve through the chemistry of the relationship. At the basic
physical level, it ensures we mate with somebody whose genes are at once compatible with us, but also different enough to minimise the incidence of genetic abnormalities within any offspring. Naturally, it would guarantee that the “fruits are all of one vine.” At the more subtle levels, such compatibility brings a possible path to enlightenment through passionate and fidelitous love as the fiery kundalini energies are raised and united. However, because the socio-political and chemically polluted environment shapes our perceptions (and thus, self-expression) as powerfully as our genetic inheritance, and the forces of the foe seek to smother us in illusion, so we no longer remember what is natural, many have lost their sense of the sacred bulwark against devolution that true sexual attraction is. Hence we witness an epidemic of casual, meaningless relationships motivated by base desires; broken homes and social chaos as a consequence of children born from such encounters are the fruits. Further, we witness the horror of some of our folk mating with alien creeds and bringing forth the dispossessed- children doomed never to truly identify with one particular folk stream as their ancestry. Such destructive and isolating events are the antithesis of the constructive, creative intelligence principle epitomised by Freya, Vanadis and Queen of the Disir; for they support neither individual nor collective evolution at either the physical or spiritual levels of being; and they most certainly do not defend faith, folk and family.
The second wrongful assertation made about Freya concerns her role in Asgard amongst the Einheriar. It is popularly cited that at the end of each day’s battle, the warriors return to Odin’s Hall where they are are served mead and a feast by a buxom wench called Freya in what constitutes an eternal cycle of daily fighting and nightly feasting. Notwithstanding the fact that the novelty of fighting all day and feasting and womanising all night would soon become very boring, we- once again- witness a literalised, debased and repugnant interpretation of what is actually a very complex and refined piece of mythology. In fact, the plane of battle where the warriors go daily- (Vigridslatten)- can be translated as being “the plane of consecration;” it is akin to the Buddhist field of Dharma (or “righteous duty”), where the struggle between the forces of “light” and “dark” within a human take place. Indeed, it is an allegory of man himself as the battlefield: the friends, foes and even family members he must oppose are personifications of character traits of which he is most fond and must overcome if he is to reach enlightenment. These characteristics are themselves reflections of the properties of greater nature. The Valkyries- as their own inspiring selves, daily scour the fields for those worthy recruits who have stepped beyond the notion of separateness and whose work now lays in the eternal with the gods; hence the name Einheriar- One Harrier (Odin’s warriors). Once in the hall, they are fed with three boars and mead by Valfreya. Now the mead is obviously symbolic of inspiration and the divine wisdom to be found in matter; but what of the three boars? They are none other than the three boars of the elements of air, water and fire that symbolise different aspects of the earth and, ultimately, the essence of the warriors’ earthly experience. For all of life can be understood- and is- the mingling of the elements within the crucible of soul-stuff. They are also the creative powers, the energic aspect of three of nature’s elements. Each element represents aspects of the human gestalt, most importantly, the steeping of the mind by will and desire to prove the soul’s integrity. Hence, the mortal becomes immortal and the god-self is born. And who lets this happen? The Freya intelligence (the Valkyrie), who serves the soul in Valhalla (the death-choice- hall) as its guide and guardian and who is also Queen of the elements as symbolised by Brisingamen- the jewel of spiritual intelligence and fire of enlightenment. Of course, via the symbol of the boar, we also see Freya’s connection to her twin brother Frey, our terrestial god of animal and human fertilty and Lord of the Alfar. The “alf” or elf (river or channel) is the evolving soul that links the material and god/consciousness energy.
There are times when we call on the gods and goddesses for their aid so we might be strengthened in our battle against the foe; but equally, we must remember that our relationship with them is symbiotic; thus, it is our sacred duty to stand in defense against the distorting illusions that are so commonly projected onto them and fight for the values and principles their being enshrines. And though we be the last person to uphold their integrity, we must needs stand and fight. Such is my call to defend Freya against the aforementioned repugnancies that arise from the noxious and pervasive infection of the desert creeds seeking to condemn our goddesses into a debauched parody of their true glory. In so doing, Freya’s everlasting battle is momentarily alleviated and the lustrous beauty of Brisingamen intensifies and shines forth as the brilliant and magickal gem of enlightenment it is. And for Odin’s folk- individual and collective alike- as yet one more courageous human heart sings out to shatter the illusion, so the sun shines a little brighter and life becomes a little warmer in the loving, protective embrace of the loyal Queen of the Vanir.
Hail Freya, Vanadis, Lady of life, death and rebirth and protector of faith, folk and family!
Sig Wunjo Wunjo Sig!
Fehu… Kenaz… Algiz.