Cradle of Civilization

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Odin/Óðr – Frigg/Freyja

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 30, 2014

Odin

Wōđanaz or Wōđinaz is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of a god of Germanic paganism, known as Odin in Norse mythology, Woden in Old English, Wodan or Wotan in Old High German and Godan in Lombardic.

Wōdanaz is associated with poetic or mantic qualities, his name being connected with the concept of *wōþuz, “furor poeticus” (poetic fury), and is thus the god of poets and seers. He is a shapechanger and healer, and thus a god of magicians and leeches. He is associated with the Wild Hunt of dead, and thus a death deity. He is also a god of war and bringer of victory.

Less is known about the role of Wodan as receiver of the dead among the more southern Germanic tribes. The Roman historian Tacitus probably refers to Odin when he talks of Mercury. The reason is that, like Mercury, Odin was regarded as Psychopompos, “the leader of souls”.

Wace also identifies Wotan with Mercury. Viktor Rydberg, in his work on Teutonic Mythology, draws a number of other parallels between Odin and Mercury, such as the fact that they were both responsible for bringing poetry to mortals. Similarly, Ammianus Marcellinus most likely references Odin and Thor in his history of the later Roman Empire as Mercury and Mars, respectively, though a direct association is not made.

This, however, underlines a particular problem concerning ancient Greek and Roman sources. Historians from both cultures, during all periods, believed the deities of foreign cultures to merely be their own gods under different names.

Such an example may be found in Herodotus’ association of an Egyptian Ram-headed god (most probably Amun) with Zeus. Later Medieval historians followed the older tradition and likewise made such associations. Scholars continue to debate the historical evidence with some suggesting there are valid connections that should be taken as historical fact.

Parallels between Odin and the Celtic god Lugus have often been pointed out: both are intellectual gods, commanding magic and poetry and both have ravens and a spear as their attributes. Romans associated Mercury with the Germanic god Wotan, by interpretatio Romana; 1st-century Roman writer Tacitus identifies him as the chief god of the Germanic peoples.

Paulus Diaconus (or Paul the Deacon), writing in the late 8th century, tells that Odin (Guodan) was the chief god of the Lombards and, like earlier southern sources, he identifies Odin with Mercury in his History of the Lombards. Because of this identification, Paulus adds that the god Guodan, “although held to exist [by Germanic peoples], it was not around this time, but long ago, and not in Germania, but in Greece” where the god originated.

As the chief god of the Germanic pantheon, Odin received particular attention from the early missionaries. For example, his day is the only day to have been renamed in the German language from “Woden’s day”, still extant in English Wednesday (compare Norwegian, Danish and Swedish onsdag, Dutch woensdag) to the neutral Mittwoch (“mid-week”), while other gods were not deemed important enough for propaganda (Tuesday “Tiw’s day” and Friday “Frige’s day” remained intact in all Germanic languages, except Icelandic). “Woden’s day” translates the Latin Dies Mercurii, “day of Mercury”. This interpretatio romana of the god is due to his role as the psychopomp.

For many Germans, St. Michael replaced Wotan, and many mountain chapels dedicated to St. Michael can be found, but Wotan also remained present as a sort of demon leading the Wild hunt of the host of the dead, e.g. in Swiss folklore as Wuotis Heer. However, in some regions even this mythology was transformed so that Charlemagne led the hunt, not Odin.

In Anglo-Saxon England, Woden was more often euhemerised than demonised. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, Woden appears as a perfectly earthly king, only four generations removed from Hengest and Horsa, though up to the Norman conquest and after there remained an awareness that he had once been “mistaken” for a god.

Snorri Sturluson’s record of the Edda is striking evidence of the climate of religious tolerance in medieval Iceland, but even he feels compelled to give a rational account of the Aesir in his preface. In this scenario, Snorri speculates that Odin and his peers were originally refugees from Troy, etymologizing Aesir as derived from Asia.

Some scholars believe that Snorri’s version of Norse mythology is an attempt to mould a more shamanistic tradition into a Greek mythological cast. In any case, Snorri’s writing, particularly in Heimskringla, tries to maintain an essentially scholastic neutrality. That Snorri was correct was one of the last of Thor Heyerdahl’s archeo-anthropological theories. Details of the Migration period of Germanic religion are sketchy, reconstructed from artifacts, sparse contemporary sources, and the later testimonies of medieval legends and placenames.

The Anglo-Saxon tribes brought their pagan faith to England around the 5th and 6th centuries and continued in that form of worship until nearly all were converted to Christianity by the 8th century. The Anglo-Saxon kings claimed descent from Woden. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Historia Britonum, Woden had the sons Wecta, Baeldaeg, Casere and Wihtlaeg, who in turn were ancestors of the royal houses of the Heptarchy.

Other manifestations of Woden in England are confined to a scattering of place-names and an even smaller number of literary mentions in the Old English poems Maxims I (line 132) and in the so-called Nine Herbs Charm (line 32).

Lombardic Godan appears in the 7th century Origo Gentis Langobardorum. According to the legend presented there, Godan’s wife, Frea favoured the Lombards, at the time still called Winnili, and tricked Godan into helping them by having the women of the Winnili tie their hair in front of their faces. Godan thought that they were warriors with impressive beards and named them Langobardi (“longbeards”).

Depictions of warriors in the 6th to 7th century, performing a ritual dance show one dancer in a wolf-costume and another wearing a helmet with two birds’ heads (in Anglo-Saxon iconography, two dancers with such helmets are attested on the Sutton Hoo helmet, but not the warrior in wolf-costume).

Both figures are armed with spears and swords. The scene is mostly associated with the cult of Wodan/Wodin. The horned helmet has precedents in similar ritual dances in depictions dating to the Nordic Bronze Age, but the re-interpretation of the “horns” as birds of prey appears to be a development original to the 6th century. The twin dancers may correspond to the twin sons of the sky-god, known to Tacitus as Alcis.

With the rise of the cult Wodan/Wodin in place of Teiwaz in the course of the Migration period, Tyr ultimately became a son of Odin in Eddaic mythology (and both Tyr and Odin remain associated with wolves). The two birds’ heads on the dancers’ helmets have a parallel in the two ravens of Eddaic Odin, Hugin and Munin.

Another recurring scene shows a warrior fighting two wild beasts (wolves or bears, compared to the Eddaic Geri and Freki). Thus, Spiedel (2004) connects Geri and Freki with archaeological finds depicting figures wearing wolf-pelts and frequently found wolf-related names among the Germanic peoples, including Wulfhroc (“Wolf-Frock”), Wolfhetan (“Wolf-Hide”), Isangrim (“Grey-Mask”), Scrutolf (“Garb-Wolf”) and Wolfgang (“Wolf-Gait”), Wolfdregil (“Wolf-Runner”), and Vulfolaic (“Wolf-Dancer”) and myths regarding wolf warriors from Norse mythology (such as the Úlfhéðnar).

Parallels in the 6th- to 7th-century iconography of Vendel period Sweden (Öland; Ekhammar), in Alemannia (Gutenstein; Obrigheim) as well as in England (Sutton Hoo; Finglesham, Kent) suggest a persisting “pan-Germanic” unity of a wolf-warrior band cult centered around Wodan/Wodin in Scandinavia, in Anglo-Saxon England and on the Continent right until the eve of Christianization of England and Alemannia in the 7th century.

Scandinavian Odin emerged from Proto-Norse *Wōdin during the Migration period, Vendel artwork (bracteates, image stones) depicting the earliest scenes that can be aligned with the High Medieval Norse mythological texts. The context of the new elites emerging in this period aligns with Snorri’s tale of the indigenous Vanir who were eventually replaced by Aesir intruders from the Continent.

According to the Prose Edda, Odin was a son of Bestla and Borr and brother of Vé and Vili and together with these brothers he cast down the frost giant Ymir and created the world from Ymir’s body.

Attributes of Odin are Sleipnir, an eight-legged horse, and the severed head of Mímir, which foretold the future. He employed Valkyrjur to gather the souls of warriors fallen in battle (the Einherjar), as these would be needed to fight for him in the battle of Ragnarök.

They took the souls of the warriors to Valhalla (the hall of the fallen), Odin’s residence in Ásgarðr. One of the Valkyries, Brynhildr, was expelled from his service but, out of compassion, Odin placed her in a hall surrounded by a ring of fire to ensure that only the bravest man could seek her hand in marriage.

She was rescued by Sigurd. Höðr, a blind god who had accidentally killed his brother, Baldr, was then killed by another of Odin’s children, Váli, whose mother was Rindr, a giantess who bore him fully grown and vowing not to even bathe before he had exacted vengeance on Höðr.

According to the Hávamál Edda, Odin was also the creator of the Runic alphabet. It is possible that the legends and genealogies mentioning Odin originated in a real, prehistoric Germanic chieftain who was subsequently deified, but this is impossible to prove or disprove.

It was common, particularly among the Cimbri, to sacrifice a prisoner to Odin before or after a battle. Steve Pollington suggests that worship of Wōdanaz became popular as the leaders of Germanic warbands (who would naturally favour a god that might bring victory) gained prominence over the traditional kings in a period of increased militarisation in response to Roman expansionism.

Pollington also notes another theory, that Wōdanaz is a mythological representation of the actual elder leaders of groups of youth who practiced a particularly wild style of fighting, a practice which later evolved into that of the berserkers.

Wuodan was the chief god of the Alamanni, his name appears in the runic inscription on the Nordendorf fibula. Pagan worship disappeared with Christianization, between the 6th and 8th centuries in England and Germany, lingering until the 11th or 12th century in Iceland and Scandinavia. Remnants of worship were continued into modern times as folklore.

It has been argued that killing a combatant in battle was to give a sacrificial offering to Odin. The fickleness of Odin in battle was well-documented, and in Lokasenna, Loki taunts Odin for his inconsistency.

Adam of Bremen in the 12th century relates that every ninth year, people assembled from all over Sweden to sacrifice at the Temple at Uppsala. Male slaves and males of each species were sacrificed and hanged from the branches of the trees.

As the Swedes had the right not only to elect a king but also to depose a king, the sagas relate that king Domalde and king Olof Trätälja were sacrificed to Odin after years of famine.

Sometimes sacrifices were made to Odin to bring about changes in circumstance. A notable example is the sacrifice of King Víkar that is detailed in Gautrek’s Saga and in Saxo Grammaticus’s account of the same event. Sailors in a fleet being blown off course drew lots to sacrifice to Odin that he might abate the winds. The king drew the lot and was hanged.

Sacrifices were probably also made to Odin at the beginning of summer, since Ynglinga saga states one of the great festivals of the calendar is at sumri, þat var sigrblót “in summer, that is the sacrifice for victory”.

The goddess Freyja is described as an adept of the mysteries of seid (shamanism), a völva, and it is said that it was she who initiated Odin into its mysteries. In Lokasenna, Loki verbally abuses Odin for practising seid, condemning it as an unmanly art.

A justification for this may be found in the Ynglinga saga where Snorri opines that in following the practice of seid, the practitioner was rendered unmanly. Another explanation is that its manipulative aspects ran counter to the male ideal of forthright, open behaviour.

Odin was a compulsive seeker of wisdom, consumed by his passion for knowledge, to the extent that he sacrificed one of his eyes to Mímir, in exchange for a drink from the waters of wisdom in Mímir’s well.

Further, the creation of the runes is attributed to Odin and is described in the Rúnatal, a section of the Hávamál. He hanged himself from the tree called Yggdrasill whilst pierced by his own spear in order to acquire knowledge.

He remained thus for nine days and nights, a significant number in Norse magical practice (there were, for example, nine realms of existence), thereby learning nine (later eighteen) magical songs and eighteen magical runes.

The purpose of this strange ritual, a god sacrificing himself to himself because there was nothing higher to sacrifice to, was ostensibly to obtain mystical insight through mortification of the flesh.

Some scholars see this scene as influenced by the story of Christ’s crucifixion; and others note the similarity to the story of Gautama Buddha’s enlightenment. Kimberley Christine Patton discusses the issue but concludes that “the specificity of its cultic features do not require the influence of Christianity”

It is in any case also influenced by shamanism, where the symbolic climbing of a “world tree” by the shaman in search of mystic knowledge is a common religious pattern. We know that sacrifices, human or otherwise, to the gods were commonly hung in or from trees, often transfixed by spears.

Additionally, one of Odin’s names is Ygg, and the Norse name for the World Ash —Yggdrasill—therefore means “Ygg’s (Odin’s) horse”. Another of Odin’s names is Hangatýr, the god of the hanged. Odin’s desire for wisdom can also be seen in his work as a farmhand for a summer, for Baugi, in order to obtain the mead of poetry.

Etymology

The attested forms of the theonym are traditionally derived from Proto-Germanic *Wōđanaz (in Old Norse word-initial *w- was dropped before rounded vowels and so the name became Óðinn).

Old Norse had two different words spelled óðr, one an adjective and the other a noun. The adjective means “mad, frantic, furious, violent”, and is cognate with Old English wōd. The noun means “mind, wit, soul, sense” and “song, poetry”, and is cognate with Old English wōþ. In compounds, óð- means “fiercely energetic” (e.g. óð-málugr “speaking violently, excited”).

Both Old Norse words are from Proto-Germanic *wōþuz, continuing Pre-Germanic *wātus. Two extra-Germanic cognates are the Proto-Celtic *wātus “mantic poetry” (continued in Irish fáith “poet” and Welsh gwawd “praise-poetry”) and the Latin vātes “prophet, seer” (a possible loan from Proto-Celtic *wātis). A possible, but uncertain, cognate is Sanskrit api-vat- “to excite, awaken” (RV 1.128.2). The Proto-Indo-European meaning of the root is therefore reconstructed as relating to spiritual excitation.

Meid suggested Proto-Germanic *-na- as a suffix expressing lordship (“Herrschersuffix”), in view of words such as Odin’s name Herjann “lord of armies”, drótinn “lord of men”, and þjóðann “lord of the nation”, which would result in a direct translation of “lord of spiritual energy”, “lord of poetry” or similar. It is sufficient, however, and more common, to assume a more general meaning of pertinence or possession for the suffix, inherited from PIE *-no-, to arrive at roughly the same meaning.

If it originally started out in a laryngeal consonant, the suffix could be the thematic variant of the famous “Hoffmannsches Possessivsuffix” or more succinctly “Hoffmann-Suffix”, named after its discoverer Karl Hoffmann, and nowadays commonly reconstructed as *-h₃on- ~ *-h₃n-, i. e., *-h₃n-o-, also found in Latin Neptūnus and Portūnus, theonyms likely derived from *neptu- “moist substance” and portus “port” respectively.

Rübekeil (2003:29) draws attention to the suffix variants *-ina- (in Óðinn) vs. *-ana- (in Woden, Wotan). This variation, if considered at all, was dismissed as “suffix ablaut” by earlier scholars.

There are, however, indications from outside Old Norse of a suffix *-ina-: English Wednesday (rather than *Wodnesday) via umlaut goes back to *wōđina-. Rübekeil concludes that the original Proto-Germanic form of the name was *Wōđinaz, yielding Old Norse Óðinn and unattested Anglo-Saxon *Wēden, and that the attested West Germanic forms are early medieval “clerical” folk etymologies, formed under the impression of synchronic association with terms for “fury”.

The pre-Proto-Germanic form of the name would then be *Wātinos. Rübekeil suggests that this is a loan from Proto-Celtic into pre-Proto-Germanic, referring to the god of the *wātis, the Celtic priests of mantic prophecy, so that the original meaning of the name would be “he [the god/lord] of the Vates”, which he tentatively identifies with Lugus.

Schaffner, however, has drawn attention to a third suffix variant *-una- in Old Danish *Óðon (< *Óðunn), attested in Old English as Ōdon. He argues that this is the original form of the name: *Wōđunaz, derived from the above-mentioned noun *wōþuz with the above-mentioned (“lordship”?) suffix *-na-. The other suffix variants *Wōđinaz and *Wōđanaz would then both be secondary reformations.

The lack of the expected umlaut in Old Norse Óðinn does suggest that this form arose due to secondary replacement of the suffix, and thus, contra Rübekeil, cannot be original, regardless of whether the original suffix had a or u. The pre-Proto-Germanic form would then be *Wātunos or perhaps *Wātūnos < *Wātuh₃nos, should the Hoffmann suffix be involved. (In any case, the original accent could not have been on the first syllable, as the *þ appears voiced to *ð due to Verner’s law).

Adam von Bremen etymologizes the god worshipped by the 11th-century Scandinavian pagans as “Wodan id est furor” (“Wodan, which means ‘fury’”). An obsolete alternative etymology, which has been adhered to by many early writers including Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy, is to give it the same root as the word god itself, from its Proto-Germanic form *ǥuđ-. This is not tenable today according to most modern academics, except for the Lombardic name Godan, which may go back to *ǥuđanaz.

Óðr

In Norse mythology, Óðr (Old Norse for the “Divine Madness, frantic, furious, vehement, eager”, as a noun “mind, feeling” and also “song, poetry”; Orchard (1997) gives “the frenzied one”) or Óð, sometimes angliziced as Odr or Od, is a figure associated with the major goddess Freyja.

The Prose Edda and Heimskringla, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, both describe Óðr as Freyja’s husband and father of her daughter Hnoss. Heimskringla adds that the couple produced another daughter, Gersemi.

A number of theories have been proposed about Óðr, generally that he is somehow a hypostasis of the deity Odin due to their similarities. The Old Norse noun óðr may be the origin of the theonym Óðinn (Anglicized as Odin), and it means “mind”, “soul” or “spirit” (so used in stanza 18.1 of the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá).

In addition, óðr can also mean “song”, “poetry” and “inspiration”, and it has connotations of “possession”. It is derived from a Proto-Germanic *wōð- or *wōþ- and it is related to Gothic wôds (“raging”, “possessed”), Old High German wuot (“fury” “rage, to be insane”) and the Anglo-Saxon words wód (“fury”, “rabies”) and wóð (“song”, “cry”, “voice”, “poetry”, “eloquence”). Old Norse derivations include œði “strong excitation, possession”.

Ultimately these Germanic words are derived from the Proto-Indo-European word *wāt-, which meant “to blow (on), to fan (flames)”, fig. “to inspire”. The same root also appears in Latin vātēs (“seer”, “singer”), which is considered to be a Celtic loanword, compare to Irish fāith (“poet”, but originally “excited”, “inspired”). The root has also been said to appear in Sanskrit vāt- “to fan”.

Frigg and Freyja

Frigg (sometimes anglicized as Frigga) is a major goddess in Norse paganism, a subset of Germanic paganism. She is said to be the wife of Odin, and is the “foremost among the goddesses” and the queen of Asgard. The English term Friday derives from the Anglo-Saxon name for Frigg, Frige.

Frigg is the mother of Baldr. Her stepchildren are Thor, Hermóðr, Heimdallr, Týr, Bragi, Víðarr, Váli, Skjöldur, and Höðr. Frigg’s companion is Eir, a goddess associated with medical skills. Frigg’s attendants are Hlín, Gná, and Fulla.

Old Norse Frigg (genitive Friggjar), Old Saxon Fri, and Old English Frig are derived from Common Germanic Frijjō. Frigg is cognate with Sanskrit prīyā́ which means ‘wife; dear/beloved one’ which is the derivation of the word sapphire.

The root also appears in Old Saxon fri which means “beloved lady”, in Swedish as fria and Danish and Norwegian “fri” (“to propose for marriage”) and in Icelandic as frjá which means “to love.” All of these names, as well as the words friend and affray are ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root pri- meaning ‘to love.’

Frigg’s hall in Asgard is Fensalir, which means “Marsh Halls.” This may mean that marshy or boggy land was considered especially sacred to her but nothing definitive is known. The goddess Saga, who was described as drinking with Odin from golden cups in her hall “Sunken Benches,” may be Frigg by a different name.

Frigg appears primarily in Norse mythological stories as a wife and a mother. She is also described as having the power of prophecy yet she does not reveal what she knows. Frigg is described as the only one other than Odin who is permitted to sit on his high seat Hlidskjalf and look out over the universe.

The asterism Orion’s Belt was known as “Frigg’s Distaff/spinning wheel” (Friggerock) or “Freyja’s Distaff” (Frejerock). Some have pointed out that the constellation is on the celestial equator and have suggested that the stars rotating in the night sky may have been associated with Frigg’s spinning wheel. The Norse name for the planet Venus was Friggjarstjarna ‘Frigg’s star’.

In Norse mythology, the feminine Fjörgyn (Old Norse “earth”) is described as the mother of the god Thor, son of Odin, and the masculine Fjörgynn is described as the father of the goddess Frigg, wife of Odin. The original meaning of fjörgynn was the earth, cf. feminine version Fjorgyn, a byname for Jörð, the earth.

Both names appear in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. A number of theories surround the names, and they have been the subject of scholarly discourse.

In the Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna 26, Frigg is said to be Fjörgyns mær (“Fjörgynn’s maiden”). The problem is that in Old Norse mær means both “daughter” and “wife,” so it is not fully clear if Fjörgynn is Frigg’s father or another name for her husband Odin, but Snorri Sturluson interprets the line as meaning Frigg is Fjörgynn’s daughter (Skáldskaparmál 27), and most modern translators of the Poetic Edda follow Snorri.

The other piece of evidence lies with the goddess Fjorgyn, who is the mother of Thor, and whose name can be translated into Earth. Since Fjorgyn is not only the name of a goddess, but the feminine byname for Earth, it is relatively safe to assume that “mær”, in this case, means “daughter”.

In Norse mythology, Freyja (Old Norse the “Lady”), stemming from Old Norse Freyja, modern forms of the name include Freya, Freija, Frejya, Freyia, Frøya, Frøjya, Freia, and Freja, is a goddess associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death.

Freyja is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; in the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, both written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century; in several Sagas of Icelanders; in the short story Sörla þáttr; in the poetry of skalds; and into the modern age in Scandinavian folklore, as well as the name for Friday in many Germanic languages.

She has numerous names, including Gefn, Hörn, Mardöll, Sýr, Valfreyja, and Vanadís. Along with her brother Freyr (Old Norse the “Lord”), her father Njörðr, and her mother (Njörðr’s sister, unnamed in sources), she is a member of the Vanir.

Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a chariot pulled by two cats, keeps the boar Hildisvíni by her side, possesses a cloak of falcon feathers, and, by her husband Óðr, is the mother of two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi.

Freyja rules over her heavenly afterlife field Fólkvangr and there receives half of those that die in battle, whereas the other half go to the god Odin’s hall, Valhalla. Within Fólkvangr is her hall, Sessrúmnir.

Freyja assists other deities by allowing them to use her feathered cloak, is invoked in matters of fertility and love, and is frequently sought after by powerful jötnar who wish to make her their wife. Freyja’s husband, the god Óðr, is frequently absent. She cries tears of red gold for him, and searches for him under assumed names.

The name Freyja is often translated into a title meaning ‘lady’, from Proto-Germanic *fraw(j)ōn, cognate with, for example, Old Saxon frūa ‘lady, mistress’ and Old High German frouwa (compare modern German Frau ‘lady’). The theonym Freyja is thus considered to have been an epithet in origin, replacing a personal name that is now unattested. The connection with and possible earlier identification of Freyja with Frigg in the Proto-Germanic period is a matter of scholarly debate.

Like the name of the group of gods to which Freyja belongs, the Vanir, the name Freyja is not attested outside of Scandinavia, as opposed to the name of the goddess Frigg, who is attested as a goddess common among the Germanic peoples, and whose name is reconstructed as Proto-Germanic *Frijjō.

Similar proof for the existence of a common Germanic goddess from which Freyja descends does not exist, but scholars have commented that this may simply be due to lack of evidence.

Scholars have theorized about whether Freyja and the goddess Frigg ultimately stem from a single goddess common among the Germanic peoples.

Regarding a Freyja-Frigg common origin hypothesis, scholar Stephan Grundy comments that “the problem of whether Frigg or Freyja may have been a single goddess originally is a difficult one, made more so by the scantiness of pre-Viking Age references to Germanic goddesses, and the diverse quality of the sources. The best that can be done is to survey the arguments for and against their identity, and to see how well each can be supported.”

There has also been speculations about her connection to the valkyries, female battlefield choosers of the slain and her relation to other goddesses and figures in Germanic mythology, including the thrice-burnt and thrice-reborn Gullveig/Heiðr, the goddesses Gefjon, Skaði, Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr and Irpa, Menglöð, and the 1st century CE “Isis” of the Suebi.

Starting with scholar Gabriel Turville-Petre, scholars such as Rudolf Simek, Andy Orchard, and John Lindow have theorized that Gullveig/Heiðr is the same figure as Freyja, and that her involvement with the Æsir somehow led to the events of the Æsir–Vanir War.

In the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá, a figure by the name of Gullveig is burnt three times yet is three times reborn. After her third rebirth, she is known as Heiðr. This event is generally accepted as precipitating the Æsir–Vanir War.

Outside of theories connecting Freyja with the goddess Frigg, some scholars, such Hilda Ellis Davidson and Britt-Mari Näsström, have theorized that other goddesses in Norse mythology, such as Gefjon, Gerðr, and Skaði, may be forms of Freyja in different roles and/or ages.

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