Frigg is a significant goddess and the female equivalent of her husband, Óðin. She is considered “queen” of the gods and her name means “Beloved.” Her mother is the jötunn Fjörgynn (Mother Earth, or Jörð). Like Óðin, she is giant-descended. Her children are Baldr and Höðr, and Hœnir.
“Frigga” is a common, modern anglicized name. “Frigg” is more common among European language speakers, as well as among academics. “Frigga” is often used by native English-speaking, North American pagan groups, as “Frigg” sounds the same as the modern English curse word “frig” which means “to fuck something up” – hardly a desirable association for the most dignified of goddesses. In England she was worshiped by her Saxon name, Frije, or Frea.
She knows all fates, but keeps them in confidence. She is 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.
Frigg is attested to in the Poetic and Prose Eddas, the Second Merseburg Incantation, the Gesta Danorum, and in the sagas, especially in Heimskringla. She is also found in archaeological records. She has a magical garment of falcon feathers and a chariot pulled by rams and sheep. She is associated with clouds, mist and fog, which she weaves from her spindle. The rain is described as the tears she weeps for the loss of her sons.
Her most famous story involves her son Baldr. To protect Baldr, Frigg extracted oaths from everything in creation, that none should harm him. She missed mistletoe (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, his own brother, with a mistletoe dart.
Hel agreed to release Baldr from the realm of the dead if everything in creation would weep for him. Frigg got all to weep 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 Frigg 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, Frigg decrees all must promise a kiss under the mistletoe, to ensure Baldr’s (the sun’s) return and commemorate the event.
Saxo Grammiticus conflates Frigg 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, and many scholars go back and forth, painstakingly debating this topic. Other Norse pagans distinguish them as distinct, if similar archetypes.
Since male deities do not receive the same sort of treatment in academic circles (imagine suggesting that Thor, Týr, and Freyr are all the same god), we’re on the side of separate Frigg and Freya, and they have taken on very distinct functions as time has progressed.
Thoughts on Frigg
Frigg is revered as mother goddess of Norse neo-paganism, called All-Mother in contemporary practice, and an Æsir.
Frigg helps 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.
Frigg is strongly associated with spinning and weaving. Some modern heathens notice her similarities with the Nornir. Like Norns, Frigg watches over babies, children and mothers. Frigg is also leads the Dísir, the female elves – or Alfar ancestresses of any family – whom the Fairy Godmother of European Fairy Tales comes from. It is unknown in the Eddas, if like the Norns, Frigg survives Ragnarök. Her death is not mentioned. If she sees all fates, but cannot/does not change them, this adds credence to the possibility of her place among Nornir.
She is a goddess of atmospheric, life-giving moisture, whether the clouds in the sky or the mists that rise off the waters. Her sacred places are wetlands, marshes, swamps, ponds and other cradles of life – places associated with motherly, fertile energy. Her otherworldly hall, Fensalir, is in the fens of Ásgard. All water fowl are hers, including herons, cranes, osprey, ducks, swans, and especially geese. It is from Frigg that we get our beloved character Mother Goose, who weaves cautionary tales meant to inform and protect children. She is likely descended from the proto-Indo-European Moisture Mother goddess, from whom Irish Danu is also related.
Frigg is a goddess of social bonds, and her myths and stories highlight inter-dependence, companionship, social contracts and community. She is attended by twelve handmaids. Modern pagans alternately see them as goddesses in their own right, sent by Frigg to handle certain situations, or aspects of Frigg herself.
Frigg is symbolised by a ring of keys. This represents both the purview of the lady of the house, as well as her association with unlocking wisdom. Each of her handmaids can be likened to different keys on the ring. These are the things that they represent and help with:
Sága – research, writing, history, and remembering. Goddess of family genealogy and community archives.
Eir – healing of body and mind. The main healer-deity Germanic pagans pray to. She is the doctor-goddess.
Gefjion – teenage girls, independence, and entrepreneurial ventures, especially concerning women. A good goddess to call on when raising, or teaching teenage girls. Also a goddess of female fertility.
Fulla – financial abundance and female friendships. The goddess of female enterprise and dowries. The woman who holds the purse-strings of the house.
Sjöfn – represents sibling and family relations. Call on Frigg-Sjofn to smooth things over with you sisters and brothers.
Lofn – thought to bless any marginalized adult, consensual relationship. Modern heathens see her as a goddess of LGBTQ relationships.
Var – weddings, commitment, and long-term arrangements, such as living together. Goddess of marriage, and divorce.
Vör – intuition and spiritual vision. Goddess of oracular practice.
Syn – interpersonal and physical boundaries. Goddess who helps assert one’s bottom lines, and the limits of what one can and cannot give.
Hlín – protection, especially of children. Goddess of childcare.
Snotra – social skills and social occasions. Goddess of event planning.
Gná – communication, messages, listening. Goddess who helps with all human relationships.
Frigg’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 Frigg was thought to sit at her spindle at this time, weaving the destinies of men and gods alike.
With the arrival of Christianity, her worship was diverted to the Virgin Mary and St. Lucy/Lucia, who’s holy day is 13 December.
Signs and Symbols
Water-wading birds, sheep, cows, and falcons. Wetlands, ponds, swamps and marshes. Cattails. Clouds, mist and vapor. Spinning and weaving, fabric and textiles, house keys. Winter Solstice and Christmas Eve. Midwives and mothers. Birch and linden trees. Fairy Godmothers and Mother Goose. The runes Bjarkan and Peorð.
Frig, Frija, Frije, Frea, Perchte, Berchet, Frau Holda, Frau Gode, Frige, and yes, Mother Goose!