Frigga is a significant goddess, equal in importance to her husband, Óðin. She is considered a “queen” of the gods and her name means “Beloved.” Her mother may be the jötunn Fjörgynn (possibly another name for Jörð, or Nerthus). Like Óðin, this would make her born of the elder race of giants. Her children are Baldr and Höðr, and Hœnir. Frigga is her anglicized name, and many call her by her Norse name, Frigg. She was worshiped throughout northern Europe, as well as in England.
She is said to know all fates, but keeps them in confidence. She is considered a goddess of wisdom, and in lore is the only deity other than Óðin who is permitted to sit in the High Tower of Hliðskjálf. Thus, like him, she observes all that happens in the Nine Worlds. She accompanies Óðin and Ullr in the Wild Hunt.
Frigga is attested to in the Poetic and Prose Eddas, the Second Merseburg Incantation, the Gesta Danorum, and in the sagas, with particular emphasis in Heimskringla. Evidence of her is also found in archaeological records. She is said to have a magical garment of falcon feathers and a chariot pulled by rams and sheep. She is associated with clouds, mist and fog, which she is said to weave from her spindle. The rain is said to be the tears she weeps for the loss of her sons.
Her most famous story involves her son Baldr. To protect Baldr, Frigga extracted oaths from everything in creation, that none should harm him. She missed mistletoe (or alternately, mistletoe wasn’t considered a threat, being “too young” to make an oath). Loki tricked this information out of her, and next tricked Höðr into murdering Baldr with a mistletoe dart.
Hel agreed to release Baldr from the realm of the dead if everything in creation would weep for him. Frigga got all to cry with her – even little mistletoe wept, and its white berries are said in folklore to be formed from her tears. In Snori’s Prose Edda, which is heavily influenced by Christian mythology, Baldr’s death is final, as Loki tricked Frigga again, and refused to cry (albeit in the form of an old hag) and Baldr could not return.
It is thought that this story may have originally been cyclical, in which Baldr dies and is reborn yearly. In another version, Frigga decrees all must promise a kiss under the mistletoe, to ensure Baldr’s (the sun’s) return, and commemorate the event.
Saxo Grammiticus conflates Frigga with Freya, and relays a story of how Ollerus (Ullr) and her had an affair. Indeed, there is compelling evidence that the two goddesses may in fact be one in the same. Some Heathen groups approach them as such; other Norse neo-pagans distinguish them, as they seem to embody distinct archetypes.
Thoughts on Frigga
Frigga is thought to help with foresight, strategy, and protection. “Protectress” is one of her epithets and she was in ancient times called on to guard women, children and the home. In the lore, she blesses men who would fight in her name, dramatically tipping the scales of battle. The linden tree is sacred to her, and was the wood used for Germanic shields to invoke her blessings.
Frigga is strongly associated with spinning and weaving. Some modern heathens speculate that she is a Nornir. Like Norns, Frigga is said to watch over babies, children and mothers. Frigga is also strongly associated with the dísir, the female elves – or ancestresses of any family. She is thought to be a leader among the dísir, as Freyr is lord of the Alfar (one of the many linkages between her and Freya).
Her sacred places are wetlands, marshes, swamps, ponds and other cradles of life, places associated with motherly, fertile energy. Her otherworldly hall, Fensalir, is said to be in the fens of Ásgard. All water fowl are hers, including herons, cranes, osprey, ducks, swans, and especially geese. It is from Frigga that we get our beloved character Mother Goose, who weaves cautionary tales, meant to inform and protect children.
Frigga is a goddess of societal relationships, and her myths and stories highlight inter-dependence, companionship, social contracts and community. She is said to be attended by twelve handmaidens. Modern pagans alternately see them as goddesses in their own right, sent by Frigga to handle certain situations, or aspects of Frigga herself. These are the things that they represent and help with:
Sága – research, writing, history, and remembering
Eir – healing of body and mind
Gefjion – teenage girls, independence, and entrepreneurial ventures, especially concerning women
Fulla – financial abundance and female friendships
Sjöfn – sibling and family relations
Lofn – thought to bless any marginalized adult, consensual relationship, such as LGBTQ relationships
Var – weddings, commitment, and long-term arrangements, such as living together. She is said to keep score of the oaths mortals break
Vör – intuition and spiritual vision
Syn – interpersonal and physical boundaries
Hlín – protection, especially of children
Snotra – social skills and social occasions
Gná – communication, messages, listening
Frigga resembles the Celtic weaver-goddess of fate, Arianrhod. Both are associated with stars, and the constellations Orion’s Belt (“Frigga’s Distaff”) and Northern Crown (“Caer Arianrhod”) respectively. Both are associated with bestowing names, titles, and initiations into adulthood.
Frigga’s holy day is “Mother’s Night,” which was absorbed into Christmas Eve, but in earlier times was the eve of the Winter Solstice. Mother’s Night was auspicious for oracles to be cast, as Frigga was thought to sit at her spindle, weaving the destinies of men and gods alike. With the arrival of Christanity, her worship was diverted to the Virgin Mary and St. Lucy/Lucia, who’s holy day is December 13.
Signs and Symbols
Water-wading birds, sheep, cows, and falcons. Wetlands, cattails, clouds and mist. Spinning and weaving, fabric and textiles, house keys. Winter Solstice and Christmas Eve. Midwives and mothers. Birch and linden trees. The runes Bjarkan and Peorð.
Frig, Frija, Perchte, Berchet, Frau Holda, Frau Gode, Frige, and Mother Goose!