Frigga 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. To avoid this awkward inner conversation (“no, Frigg means queen goddess, not fuck it up goddess”) Frigga finds favor. As English is a Germanic language, this usage is free from cultural appropriation. In England she was worshiped by her Saxon name, Frije, or Frea.
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, especially in Heimskringla. She 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 son(s).
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 (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 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 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 Grammaticus 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, and many scholars go back and forth, painstakingly debating this topic. Other Norse pagans distinguish them as distinct, if similar archetypes.
Thoughts on Frigga
Frigga is revered as mother goddess of Norse neo-paganism, called All-Mother in contemporary practice. She is considered Æsir, (although to those who see her as Freya, she is Vanir).
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 notice her similarities with the 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 – whom the Fairy Godmother of European Fairy Tales comes from. She is thought to be a leader among the dísir, as Freyr is lord of the Alfar. It is unknown in the Eddas, if like the Norns, Frigga survives Ragnarok. Her death is not mentioned. The she sees all fates, but cannot/does not change them, adds credence to the possibility of her place among them.
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 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. She is likely descended from the proto-Indo-European Moisture Mother goddess, from whom Irish Danu is also related.
Frigga is a goddess of social bonds, and her myths and stories highlight inter-dependence, companionship, social contracts and community. She is said to be attended by twelve handmaids. Modern pagans alternately see them as goddesses in their own right, sent by Frigga to handle certain situations, or aspects of Frigga herself. Frigga is symbolized 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 Frigga-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.
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 Christianity, 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, 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!