Freya

There are piles and piles of folklore and folkloric content that I haven’t mined through yet, because it’s so close to my day to day existence that it doesn’t occur to me to write about it. And I’m still fighting my way, slowly, through my review pile.

And sleeping through movie time in the morning. Sorry Netflix. You’re just not strong enough to fight the lure of my bed.

I’m slowly working through my winter beauty obsession (I seem to really only do this during the winter) and doing a lot of internal work with my body and body image. I have some very heavy. long term baggage that I’ve apparently decided that I need to go through -right now-.

There’s also some weirdness with my legs, skirts, and people making funny noises at me. Anyway.

Add in my normal alignments and dedications and I keep running into Freyja.

Freyja/Freya is one of those deities that I almost feel bad for. From a sociological/folkloric standpoint I always find it interesting to see how a deity is portrayed versus the ‘traditional’ associations. For Freya, you might get the Valkyrie connections. You might get her connections to magic.

But man. People really love to talk her up as a goddess of beauty and sexuality.

She certainly is that, and I’m not even denying that my interactions with this archetype haven’t taken me to those places. It’s just an interesting pattern, a lot like what I see happen to Persephone. I don’t know if we as a culture are still in such a bizarre place in relation to beauty that we can’t have the two (death and beauty or power and beauty) taking up the same social space without assuming a negative, or if we’re so consumed by the drive for beauty that we’re going to take that association to override all the others.

Freya is a powerhouse, and in a lot of ways is the balance to Frigg’s domesticity (there is a running suggestion, that I am not comfortable commenting on without more reading, that she is Frigg outright). Over time, she becomes linked with feminine beauty and sexuality-and is not above using either to her benefit. She is a war deity linked with the dead; she has her own hall to which half of the dead are delivered. Her connection to the Valkyries may or may not be more modern but I’ve encountered it in face to face interactions so it’s there, at least in passing. If Frigg is the hearth and motherhood then Freya is the shaman and the magician, she takes on the role of the bringer of magic.

I get the impression that as a culture, we’re sort of unsure of how to respond to Freya. She’s truly sort of terrifying. I have read descriptions of her myth’s that come with warnings: you’ll have to forgive her, they did things differently.

I’m not really one to buy into the ‘wild woman’ or ‘wild femininity’ concept. I think that encouraging that type of thought amounts to a form of positive othering; it’s okay that she does that, and it’s okay to try to claim some of that, but we don’t do those things. And those things that we don’t do-they are at the core of what Freya actually is. We don’t really do shamanism anymore, and I have a feeling if we did it still wouldn’t be the divine feminine. We don’t talk about death. We definitely don’t know what to do with feminine sexuality. So we’re left with a deity that’s a pretty, hyperactive ball of fluff in the ‘girl power’ mold. Honestly it was years before I heard anything about Freya that wasn’t just ‘she’s a goddess of beauty that just happens to do other things’-when I have a feeling that honestly it was probably the other way around.

Is this a bad thing? I don’t know. I really honestly don’t know how I stand on this one. I’ve talked about my feelings on the Persephone legends on this blog before, and I feel like while we’ve left Freya alone for the most part it’s almost like a lie by omission-and we end up in the same place. I understand that mythology shifts to reflect the needs of the times but I never know how to feel about deities and myths that have been reworked so much that we lose sight of the deity entirely.

 

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