Frigg and The Valkyrie

FRIGG

Frigg, sometimes called Frigga, is Odin’s wife in the Norse Pantheon of gods and goddesses. She is the queen of Asgaard and other than Odin, the only one permitted to sit on his high seat and look out over the Universe. She is a goddess associated with married women and was called on by women to assist in childbirth. She is the patroness of spinners and weavers and is said to weave the clouds in the sky.

She is associated with the fiber arts in an interesting way. The array of stars in the belt of the constellation of Orion is known as Frigg’s distaff. A distaff being a tool used to hold unspun fibers when working with a spindle or spinning wheel. As Orion is located along the celestial equator, it’s stars appear to spin in the night sky, (over time of course), and this has been attributed to Frigg at her wheel. (Krupp, Edwin C. (Jan. 1996). "The Thread of Time."Sky and Telescope91(1), 60.)

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THE VALKYRIE

Originally the Valkyries were believed to be angels of death, dark, frightening creatures who flew over battlefields snatching up the dead as Odin demanded to take them off to Valhalla. Valhalla was the heaven of Odin’s ghost army. The only way it to Valhalla was to die in battle or in an honorable way. In this early incarnation the Valkyries were likened to giant crows or ravens.

  Åsgårdsreien  (The Wild Hunt) by Peter Nicolai Arbo, 1872

Åsgårdsreien (The Wild Hunt) by Peter Nicolai Arbo, 1872

Some time between the 3rd and 11th centuries, they became less horrific and were romanticized as Odin’s shield maidens who came down to the battlefield with flowing blonde hair and snowy, lithe arms to carry the honored dead off to the great hall of Valhalla where they serve them mead. In this incarnation they were likened to swans and were at risk of being trapped on Earth if they were caught in their human form (without their plumage).

Some scholars relate the Valkyrie to the Fates, or to the Celtic goddess The Morrigan. They are called the weavers of fate and it is said a warrior may dream of a Valkyrie the night before a battle in which he will die. One story tells of a warrior who dreamt of a Valkyrie weaving a cloth of men’s entrails and weighted down by severed heads. He interpreted this to mean he was marked for death.

 Iron Age Loom. Image from Castell Henllys.

Iron Age Loom. Image from Castell Henllys.

Which do you identify the most with Frigg or The Valkyrie? 

In the next installment we'll learn about Holda and Perchta, two goddesses in the Germanic tradition.