The Norse god of fertility, harvests, sun, rain, and virility. Foremost of the gods and hated by none.
The name, Freyr, translates to Lord. Many sources say his real name was Yngvi, with Freyr a designated title. His benevolence particularly manifested itself as sexual and ecological fertility, bountiful harvests, wealth and peace.
His father was Njord, and his mother was Njord’s sister, Nerthus. Freyr himself has been the lover of numerous goddesses and giantesses, including his own sister, Freya. As a child, Freyr and his sister were traded by their people, the Vanir, as hostages to their enemies, the Aesir who raised them. Due to his charm and likeablity, he was gifted the residence of Alfheim, the homeland of the elves by the Aesir as a tooth gift. This could mean that Freyr was the ruler of the elves, but since this was never stated explicitly in the surviving sources, it is only conjecture. Sources indicate the realm was strongly associated with the land of Sweden. It is said that the first king of Sweden was the descendent of Freyr.
For all the associations with symbols of peace and prosperity, Freyr was formidable on the battlefield. He slayed a giant with the antler of a stag. He also fought the giant Surtr in Ragnarok, although it was in this fight that he perished. Other demonstrations of his military prowess called him the “field-marshal of the gods”, “battle skilled”, “ruler of armies” and “the boldest” of horseback riders.
Freyr was not merely the fertility god of a farming population, but possesses all of the prerequisites of an ideal king: virility, military prowess, and wealth, the attributes required to obtain and keep a throne. Freyr was such an important deity that it was common to find his likeness beside Óðin and Thor on altars in the Viking Age. He is a king in his own right, and is considered to be a god of kingship and sovereignty.
The 6th Age Life of Freyr
Freyr was Lord of Álfheim, a land that corresponds to the former Norwegian province of Bohuslän, now in Sweden. The first king of the land was a ruler named Álf the Old (Álfr hinn gamli) and that his descendants were all related to the Álfar, who were more handsome than any other people. Although Freyr was born noble, he was traded as hostages away by his people, the Vanir, to be raised along with his twin sister, Freyja by the Aesir. So beloved was Freyr by his adopted family, that he was gifted the kingdom as a future inheritance.
Freyr distinguished himself with wisdom, benevolence, friendship and loyalty among the gods. His light-hearted nature was radiant, such that everyone who met him found him charming and genuine. It was said that there existed not a soul that hated him. Among his princely aura there was a brave man as well. His courage carried him into battle when the need called for it. As a field-marshal of Odin, his soldiers would follow him to the ends of the earth. He won many battles, and was himself a formidable warrior. He rode a dwarf-constructed mechanically powered golden boar into battle that was capable of flying through the air and skimming the surface of any water standing or flowing. He brandished a sword programmed to wield itself, compensating perfectly for human error. While Freyr wielded this sword, he was unbeatable.
One day, Freyr was tempted to sit in secret upon the throne of the All-Father, Hlithskjolf and peered across all the realms. In doing so, he saw a beautiful woman in a foreign land and instantly fell in love. This beautiful woman was Gerðr (Gerd), a noble maiden of the jötnar, a kingdom of great conflict with the Aesir. Knowing the near impossibility of granting Gerd’s love, Freyr fell heartsick. His father witnessed the strife in Freyr and sent a servant to broker an offer of marriage to his son. The servant arrived with promising gifts, including Draupnir, the magical ring of Odin, and eleven golden apples. However, Gerd was appalled by the notion she may be bought with treasures. She refused the offer. He then offers Gerd a magical staff of the Aesir, but the proposal was again refused. For success, the manservant had been promised two magical artifacts of Freyr, his enchanted sword and mighty horse, and both rewards were at risk if he did not return with Gerd. He resorted to threats, but Gerd and her family were unmoved. Finally, the manservant drew upon the runes of the Aesir and began to cast a curse upon her to drive her insane. Finally, to avoid a terrible fate, Gerd agrees to the marriage and meets Freyr nine days later to become his wife. Freyr was never made aware of the coercion of his bride and readily handed over his mighty sword and horse to the manservant.
The marriage was bliss for Freyr, and while it was possible that Gerd came to love her husband, it is unknown whether her happiness was genuine. They had one son, Fjölnir, who became a king of Sweden, and the ancestor of the future royal house. As a direct consequence of parting with his sword due to his love for Gerd, Freyr perished at the hand of fire-giant Surter in Ragnarok.
Freyr is described as being very handsome, powerful, merciful and kind, and is called the ‘God of the World’. As a fertility God of love and pleasure, Freyr was often depicted with an enlarged phallus. Animals sacred to Freyr include the stag and the boar. Like these animals, he could be very peaceful and gentle, and also very fierce when provoked.
Gullinborsti – This boar was one of the six magical treasures acquired by Loki from the dwarves in the aftermath of a prank against Sif, the wife of Thor. The animal was sun-like golden boar that serves as his mount and can run through the sky and over land. It was made from a pig’s skin and thousands of pieces of golden wire, worked in the incredibly hot furnaces of the dwarves. It was said to shine so bright as to illuminate the darkest of nights. It could also run through the air and across the water, and was better than any horse.
Skíðblaðnir – a ship made of gold that could sail without wind. It was large enough to fit every member of the Aesir onboard, but could also fold up small enough to fit in a pocket.
Magical sword – Freyr also possessed a magical sword that wielded itself. He gave it to his manservant Skirnir, to hold onto in exchange for braving the harrowing trip to Jötunheimr to propose to Freyr’s future wife, Gerð. Even without his sword, Freyr is a fierce warrior who famously slew the giant Beli with just an antler. At Ragnarök, he was left to fight the fire-giant Surtr without his wondrous sword and did not survive. The story is an important reflection of his capacity to sacrifice future edge in battle for the sake of love.
Chariot – Freyr was said to sometimes ride in a chariot pulled by Gullinborsti, but at other times, he was said to ride the boar itself.
Bloodyhoof – Blóðughófi was a horse that belonged to Freyr that was able to run through fire. He was associated with keeping a cult of horses in his own private sanctuary.
Inguz – The twenty-second letter of Futhark is the rune of sexuality and fertility, and is thought to originally refer to Freyr.