Freyja was a member of the Vanir tribe of deities, but became an honorary member of the Aesir gods after the Aesir-Vanir War, by way of hostage-exchange alongside her twin, Freyr, with whom she was very close. She is famous for her fondness of love and fine material possessions, and is a goddess of love, fertility, beauty, and gold, but also of war and (peaceful) death. Freyja is the archetype of the völva, a professional practitioner of seidr, the most organised form of Norse magic. It was she who first brought this art to the gods, and, by extension, to humans as well. Given her expertise in controlling and manipulating the desires, health, and prosperity of others, she’s a being whose knowledge and power are almost without equal.
Among the Aesir she was said to have been married to the wandering god Odr, who later vanished. She loved him deeply, and grieved his loss, but reputedly had many other lovers too; in fact Loki accuses her of having bedded the entire pantheon, including her father and brother, as well as elves, giants, and dwarves.
Love in all its guises can be accounted among her primary motivations, and a deep, abiding sense of the beauty of all things is the core of her nature. She was known to encourage self-awareness and self-worth and could be anything from achingly gentle to forcefully dominant in showing people what they were worth. The Vanir’s ideologies differed greatly in some aspects of Aesir life, and while Freyja accepted this with little judgement, her feminine charms seem to have earned her both great love for her beauty, but also derision for her apparent promiscuity.
Freya presides over the afterlife realm Fólkvangr, from her hall Sessrúmnir (sometimes also thought to be the name of a ship). Given her father’s nature and her brother’s own ship, it is likely Fólkvangr was located by the sea. According to one Old Norse poem, she chooses half of the warriors slain in battle to dwell there (the other half collected by Odin, to reside in Valhalla). In some interpretations she is considered a leader of the Valkyrie, for she receives first pick of the dead — a significant boon granted by the All-Father.
She was one of the few beings thought to survive Ragnarok, and likely had a hand in shaping the world that came after.
Notable Possessions and Associations
Brisingamen — an especially beautiful necklace made by the dwarves, with connections to the Northern Lights. Though usually thought to enhance the attractiveness of the wearer (given Freyja’s associations with great beauty), it in fact was a ter’angreal of multiple parts. Depending on use, it could radiate an aura of positivity, peace, and love felt by those in its vicinity, or it could be used to encourage others to see the wearer in the most favourable light (adjusting appearance accordingly). Her payment for the trinket was a night spent with each of its creators.
Feathered Cloak — a falcon-feathered cloak that could allow flight in the form of a falcon. Freyja lent this cloak to the trickster Loki on a number of occasions to help him undo some of the mischief that he inflicted on the Norse gods.
Another symbol Freya is associated with is the golden chariot she rides, pulled by two blue cats, a gift from Thor. Sometimes she also rode the boar Hildisvini, who was her faithful companion (and perhaps the shape-shifted Ottar, one of her mortal lovers). Boars in general were a strong association of the Vanir, suggesting she never really lost her roots despite her home.