Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Freyr and Freyja

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 7, 2015

In Norse mythology, Freyr or Frey is one of the most important gods of Norse religion. The name is conjectured to derive from the Proto-Norse *frawjaz (“lord”). Freyr was associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather, and was pictured as a phallic fertility god, Freyr “bestows peace and pleasure on mortals”.

Freyr is presented as one of the Vanir, the son of the sea god Njörðr and Njörðr’s sister (unnamed in sources), and the twin brother of the goddess Freyja. The gods gave him Álfheimr, the realm of the Elves, as a teething present. He rides the shining dwarf-made boar Gullinbursti and possesses the ship Skíðblaðnir which always has a favorable breeze and can be folded together and carried in a pouch when it is not being used.

Friend (Old English: freond; “one attached to another by feelings of personal regard and preference,” from Proto-Germanic *frijand- “lover, friend” (cognates: Old Norse frændi, Old Danish frynt, Old Frisian friund, Dutch vriend, Middle High German friunt, German Freund, Gothic frijonds “friend”), from PIE *priy-ont-, “loving,” present participle form of root *pri- “to love”.

Friens is stemming from Middle English frende, frend, freond, from Old English frēond ‎(“friend, relative, lover”, literally “loving-[one]”), from Proto-Germanic *frijōndz ‎(“lover, friend”), from Proto-Indo-European *prēy-, *prāy- ‎(“to like, love”), equivalent to free +‎ -nd.

It is cognate with Saterland Frisian Früünd ‎(“friend”), West Frisian freon, froen, freondinne ‎(“friend”), Dutch vriend ‎(“friend”), Low German Frund, Fründ ‎(“friend, relative”), German Freund ‎(“friend”), Danish frænde ‎(“kinsman”), Swedish frände ‎(“kinsman, relative”), Icelandic frændi ‎(“kinsman”), Gothic frijōnds (“friend”).

Free is stemming from Middle English free, fre, freo, from Old English frēo ‎(“free”), from Proto-Germanic *frijaz ‎(“free”), from Proto-Indo-European *preyH- ‎(“to be fond of”). Cognate with West Frisian frij ‎(“free”), Dutch vrij ‎(“free”), Low German free ‎(“free”), German frei ‎(“free”), Danish fri ‎(“free”). The verb comes from Middle English freen, freoȝen, from Old English frēon, frēoġan ‎(“to free; make free”).

Freedom is stemming from Middle English freedom, fredom, from Old English frēodōm ‎(“freedom, state of free-will, charter, emancipation, deliverance”), from Proto-Germanic *frijadōmaz ‎(“freedom”), equivalent to free +‎ -dom. Cognate with North Frisian fridoem ‎(“freedom”), Dutch vrijdom ‎(“freedom”), Low German frīdom ‎(“freedom”), Middle High German vrītuom ‎(“freedom”), Norwegian fridom ‎(“freedom”).

Freyja (Old Norse for “(the) Lady”) is a goddess associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death. 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.

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

The name Freyja is transparently “lady” and ultimately derives from Proto-Germanic *fraw(j)ōn. Freyja is cognate with, for example, Old Saxon frūa “lady, mistress” and Old High German frouwa (compare modern German Frau “lady”). Her name is stemming from Old Norse Freyja, modern forms of the name include Freya, Freija, Frejya, Freyia, Fröja, Frøya, Frøjya, Freia, Freja, Frua and Freiya.

Frog is stemming from Old English frogga “frog,” a diminutive of frosc, forsc, frox “frog,” a common Germanic word but with different formations that are difficult to explain (cognates: Old Norse froskr, Middle Dutch vorsc, German Frosch “frog”), probably literally “hopper,” from PIE root *preu- “to hop” (cognates: Sanskrit provate “hops,” Russian prygat “to hop, jump”). Watkins calls the Old English -gga an “obscure expressive suffix.”

In Middle English it is also frok, vrogge, frugge, and with sometimes plural form froggen. Collateral Middle English forms frude, froud are from Old Norse frauðr “frog,” and native alternative form frosk “frog” survived in English dialects into the 1900.

“I always eat fricasseed frogs regretfully; they remind one so much of miniature human thighs, and make one feel cannibalistic and horrid …. [H. Ellen Brown, “A Girl’s Wanderings in Hungary,” 1896]

As a British derogatory term for “Frenchman,” 1778 (short for frog-eater), but before that (1650s) it meant “Dutch” (from frog-land “marshy land,” in reference to their country). To have a frog in the throat “be hoarse” is from 1892, from frog as a name for a lump or swelling in the mouth (1650s) or throat infections causing a croaking sound.

To the Egyptians, the frog was a symbol of life and fertility, since millions of them were born after the annual inundation of the Nile, which brought fertility to the otherwise barren lands. Consequently, in Egyptian mythology, there began to be a frog-goddess, who represented fertility, referred to by Egyptologists as Heqet (also Heqat, Hekit, Heket etc., more rarely Hegit, Heget etc.), written with the determinative frog.

Her name was probably pronounced more like *Ḥaqā́tat in Middle Egyptian, hence her later Greek counterpart Hecate. Heqet, whose responsibility was breathing life into children at the moment of birth, as the Ka, was usually depicted as a frog, or a woman with a frog’s head, or more rarely as a frog on the end of a phallus to explicitly indicate her association with fertility. The beginning of her cult dates to the early dynastic period at least.

Later, as a fertility goddess, associated explicitly with the last stages of the flooding of the Nile, and so with the germination of corn, she became associated with the final stages of childbirth. This association, which appears to have arisen during the Middle Kingdom, gained her the title She who hastens the birth.

Some claim that—even though no ancient Egyptian term for “midwife” is known for certain—midwives often called themselves the Servants of Heqet, and that her priestesses were trained in midwifery. Women often wore amulets of her during childbirth, which depicted Heqet as a frog, sitting in a lotus.

In the myth of Osiris developed, it was said that it was Heqet who breathed life into the new body of Horus at birth, as she was the goddess of the last moments of birth. As the birth of Horus became more intimately associated with the resurrection of Osiris, so Heqet’s role became one more closely associated with resurrection. Eventually, this association led to her amulets gaining the phrase I am the resurrection in the Christian era along with cross and lamb symbolism.

Heqet was considered the wife of Khnum, originally one of the earliest Egyptian deities, originally the god of the source of the Nile River, who formed the bodies of new children on his potter’s wheel. Since the annual flooding of the Nile brought with it silt and clay, and its water brought life to its surroundings, he was thought to be the creator of the bodies of human children, which he made at a potter’s wheel, from clay, and placed in their mothers’ wombs. He later was described as having moulded the other deities, and he had the titles Divine Potter and Lord of created things from himself.

Khnum is the third aspect of Ra. He is the god of rebirth, creation and the evening sun, although this is usually the function of Atum. Khnum has also been related to the deity Min (Egyptian mnw), an ancient Egyptian god whose cult originated in predynastic times (4th millennium BCE).

Min was represented in many different forms, but was often represented in male human form, shown with an erect penis which he holds in his left hand and an upheld right arm holding a flail. As Khem or Min, he was the god of reproduction; as Khnum, he was the creator of all things, “the maker of gods and men”.

As the central deity of fertility and possibly orgiastic rites Min became identified by the Greeks with the god Pan. One feature of Min worship was the wild prickly lettuce Lactuca virosa and Lactuca serriola of which is the domestic version Lactuca sativa (lettuce) which has aphrodisiac and opiate qualities and produce latex when cut, possibly identified with semen.

Even some war goddesses were depicted with the body of Min (including the phallus), and this also led to depictions, ostensibly of Min, with the head of a lioness. Because Min usually was depicted in an ithyphallic (with an erect phallus) style, Christians routinely defaced his monuments in temples they co-opted and Victorian Egyptologists would take only waist-up photographs of him, or otherwise find ways to cover his protruding penis.

However, to the ancient Egyptians, Min was not a matter of scandal – they had very relaxed standards of nudity: in their warm climate, farmers, servants, and entertainers often worked partially or completely naked, and children did not wear any clothes until they came of age.

In the 19th century, there was an alleged erroneous transcription of the Egyptian for Min as ḫm (“khem”). Since Khem was worshipped most significantly in Akhmim, the separate identity of Khem was reinforced, Akhmim being understood as simply a corruption of Khem. However, Akhmim is an alleged corruption of ḫm-mnw, meaning Shrine of Min, via the demotic form šmn.

Hecate or Hekate is a goddess in Greek religion and mythology, most often shown holding two torches or a key and in later periods depicted in triple form. She was variously associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, dogs, light, the moon, magic, witchcraft, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, ghosts, necromancy, and sorcery.

In the post-Christian writings of the Chaldean Oracles (2nd–3rd century CE) she was regarded with (some) rulership over earth, sea and sky, as well as a more universal role as Saviour (Soteira), Mother of Angels and the Cosmic World Soul. She was one of the main deities worshiped in Athenian households as a protective goddess and one who bestowed prosperity and daily blessings on the family.

Hecate may have originated among the Carians of Anatolia, where variants of her name are found as names given to children. William Berg observes, “Since children are not called after spooks, it is safe to assume that Carian theophoric names involving hekat- refer to a major deity free from the dark and unsavoury ties to the underworld and to witchcraft associated with the Hecate of classical Athens.” She also closely parallels the Roman goddess Trivia, with whom she was identified in Rome.

The figure of Hecate can often be associated with the figure of Isis in Egyptian myth. Lucius Apuleius (c. 123 — c. 170 CE) in his work The Golden Ass associates Hecate with Isis:

“I am she that is the natural mother of all things, mistress and governess of all the elements, the initial progeny of worlds, chief of powers divine, Queen of heaven, the principal of the Gods celestial, the light of the goddesses: at my will the planets of the air, the wholesome winds of the Seas, and the silences of hell be disposed; my name, my divinity is adored throughout all the world in divers manners, in variable customs and in many names, […] Some call me Juno, others Bellona of the Battles, and still others Hecate. Principally the Ethiopians which dwell in the Orient, and the Egyptians which are excellent in all kind of ancient doctrine, and by their proper ceremonies accustomed to worship me, do call me Queen Isis.[…]”

In the syncretism during Late Antiquity of Hellenistic and late Babylonian (“Chaldean”) elements, Hecate was identified with Ereshkigal, the underworld counterpart of Inanna in the Babylonian cosmography. In the Michigan magical papyrus (inv. 7), dated to the late 3rd or early 4th century CE, Hecate Ereschigal is invoked against fear of punishment in the afterlife.

Before she became associated with Greek mythology, she had many similarities with Artemis (wilderness, and watching over wedding ceremonies), one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Some scholars believe that the name, Artemis and indeed the goddess herself, was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: “Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals”. The Arcadians believed she was the daughter of Demeter. Her Roman equivalent is Diana.

In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth.

In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth.

The name Artemis (noun, feminine) is of unknown or uncertain origin and etymology although various ones have been proposed. For example, according to Jablonski, the name is also Phrygian and could be “compared with the royal appellation Artemas of Xenophon.

According to Charles Anthon the primitive root of the name is probably of Persian origin from *arta, *art, *arte, all meaning “great, excellent, holy,” thus Artemis “becomes identical with the great mother of Nature, even as she was worshipped at Ephesus”.

Anton Goebel “suggests the root στρατ or ῥατ, “to shake,” and makes Artemis mean the thrower of the dart or the shooter”. Babiniotis, while accepting that the etymology is unknown, states that the name is already attested in Mycenean Greek and is possibly of pre-Hellenic origin.

The name could also be possibly related to Greek árktos “bear” (from PIE *hŕ̥tḱos), supported by the bear cult that the goddess had in Attica (Brauronia) and the Neolithic remains at the Arkoudiotissa Cave, as well as the story about Callisto, which was originally about Artemis (Arcadian epithet kallisto); this cult was a survival of very old totemic and shamanistic rituals and formed part of a larger bear cult found further afield in other Indo-European cultures (e.g., Gaulish Artio).

It is believed that a precursor of Artemis was worshiped in Minoan Crete as the goddess of mountains and hunting, Britomartis. While connection with Anatolian names has been suggested, the earliest attested forms of the name Artemis are the Mycenaean Greek a-te-mi-to /Artemitos/ and a-ti-mi-te /Artimitei/, written in Linear B at Pylos. R. S. P. Beekes suggested that the e/i interchange points to a Pre-Greek origin. Artemis was venerated in Lydia as Artimus.

Ancient Greek writers, by way of folk etymology, and some modern scholars, have linked Artemis (Doric Artamis) to ἄρταμος, artamos, i.e. “butcher” or, like Plato did in Cratylus, to ἀρτεμής, artemḗs, i.e. “safe”, “unharmed”, “uninjured”, “pure”, “the stainless maiden”.

In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon and childbirth, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was known to be the virgin goddess of childbirth and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses, Diana, Minerva and Vesta, who swore never to marry.

As a goddess of hunting, Diana often wears a short tunic and hunting boots. She is often portrayed holding a bow, and carrying a quiver on her shoulder, accompanied by a deer or hunting dogs. Like Venus, she was portrayed as beautiful and youthful. The crescent moon, sometimes worn as a diadem, is a major attribute of the goddess.

Diana (pronounced with long ‘ī’ and ‘ā’) is an adjectival form developed from an ancient *divios, corresponding to later ‘divus’, ‘dius’, as in Dius Fidius, Dea Dia and in the neuter form dium meaning the sky. It is rooted in Indoeuropean *d(e)y(e)w, meaning bright sky or daylight, from which also derived the name of Vedic god Dyaus and the Latin deus, (god), dies, (day, daylight), and ” diurnal”, (daytime).

On the Tablets of Pylos a theonym diwia is supposed as referring to a deity precursor of Artemis. Modern scholars mostly accept the identification. The ancient Latin writers Varro and Cicero considered the etymology of Dīāna as allied to that of dies and connected to the shine of the Moon.

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