Frau Wode

I am always considering ways to deepen relationship to Deity. Ever since the Norns took me up in a tutelary way in 2013, I have opened my worldview toward polytheism and away from the monotheism inherent in the Christianity of my youth. I am content with this, it has deepened my relationship with my Creator.

This morning I was pondering ways to deepen relationship to Deity, and I remembered that the Northern ways left behind the days of the week named after the Holy Powers. Sunday belongs to Sunna, the Sun; Monday belongs to Mani, the “Man in the Moon”; Tuesday belongs to Tues or Tyr, the one-armed Asa who caused Fenrir Wolf to be bound; Wednesday is Woden’s Day, or Odin’s Day; Thursday belongs to Thor, the great protector of humanity from the Thurs, or Giants; Friday belongs to Frigga or Freyja; and Saturday I have read belongs to the Norns and also to Loki, the Trickster God. However when its name reads more like Saturn or Satyr, I have to think about that one.

Any how, today is Friday, Frigga or Freyja’s Day. Thinking about what this specific Deity means to me, I wondered if Frigga and Freyja may not have originally been the same person. Although I am not trained to trace the root etymology of Scandinavian or Germanic dialects, I have often wondered if local differences in pronunciation of the “g” as soft, or hard and gutteral, could have led to different pronunciations of the name until two distinct Goddess figures emerged. Freyja, who first appeared to me as Vanadis, or Lady of the Land, certainly has much in common with Frigga. Both are mistresses of the Seidr, after all, and both are married to a man whose name begins with the root “Od” – Odin and Odr. Freyja retains the capacities of a Warrior and rides with the Valkyries, however, while Frigga sits home and manages a household. These are both important aspects of women’s roles in Northern life, yet I am unaware of whether Frigga appears in the Norse Mythology until historically women’s roles had been tamed by the Christian patriarchy.

There is a good book by William P. Reaves that researches these very points called Odin’s Wife: Mother Earth in Germanic Mythology, which traces the history and folklore of a Great Goddess who prior to the Icelandic Mythologies related by Snorri Sturluson in the Prose Edda and the Younger Edda, was known as Frau Holle, also said to be Odin’s Wife, and who is equally Mistress of the Wild Hunt as Odin is its Master. It is not my intent in this blog post to claim whether these Beings are aspects of an earlier Goddess or whether They are separate Beings. I simply decided today to meditate throughout the day on the divine aspects They all have in common.

Psychopomps: Freyja is accorded the first choice of the Slain. This means that part of any claim Odin would make for the Einherjar goes to Freyja, whom one therefore may assumes will have equal authority at the Ragnarok should it come. Holle, like Freyja is Mistress of the Dead as Leader of the Wild Hunt.

Mistress of the Seidr: Seidr is the capacity for divination, to discern what should be from the threads of the Past that inform What Is (Present). It is assumed that Freyja taught Odin how to read the Threads of Wyrd, and we are told in the tale of Balder’s Dream, that his mother, Frigga is a mistress of Seidr.

Lady of the Land: Vanadis is another name for Freyja, but refering again to the tale of Balder’s Dream, his mother Frigga goes about the entire Earth seeking promises from all beings not to harm one tender hair of her beautiful son’s head. Frigga certainly could not have gained such accord with all the beings of the land unless she too is a Lady of the Land. Frau Holle is bespoken as a Lady of the Well in ten different locations in Germany, and water is contained by Earth. “Probably the most impressive one is the Mother Hulda Pond near the observation point Schwalbenthal. The idyllically located pond, on whose edge stands a wooden sculpture more than three metres high, marks the entrance into the subterranean realm of Mother Hulda. If you are there at the right time, the wind is good and you have a little luck, you can hear Mother Holda’s song at this pond (https://www.deutsche-maerchenstrasse.com/en/route/travel-stations/towns-regions/geo-nature-park-mother-hulda-land).

Wife and Mother: Although each of these Goddesses is thought to be Wife of Odin, They have different children in the Mythologies. In the Balder myth, Frigga is mother to Baldur and Hoder. Freyja’s daughters by Odr are Hnoss and Gersemi. Frau Holle, an elder goddess, is Matron to children who die young and is also responsible for Souls. Many young women in Germany turn to Her when they seek to become pregnant.

When I ponder these qualities of this Great Earth Goddess, Frau Wode, I am left with the impression of a Being who takes delight in her husband, but who is independent of any needfulness of a man in her life beyond the respect, companionship, and life benefits that marriage brings. She is equal in her authority and sovereign over her own life. She can ride to war or find comfort in the work of hearth and home, her roles in connection to family and farmstead. She is Woman as Warrior who goes down into the Well of Souls to bring to birth the next generations, and who consequently rides close to death in the process. Women of our distant Ancestors had no access to modern health care. The side effect of that would have been to ride close to the Mystery of Life and Death that is Seidr. These are my ponderings on Frau Wode today. She has connections. To Earth, relationships with all Beings of Earth, and the capacity to See far and wide, to hold the long vision, the broad perspective.

Published by susanofthenorth

Susan Hintz Epstein is an author, Rune diviner, healer, non-academic scholar, and former Methodist Lay Speaker who was called by the Runes in 2013. The time since then has been a serpentine shedding of one skin for another, as Susan's spiritual practice with the Runes and the World Tree, Yggdrasil, deepened. Susan keeps company with the Norns and other like-minded women.

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