The name of Frigg, Odin’s consort, OHG Frija, Lombard Frea, AS Frig (cf. Sanskrit préya, “wife”), means “the beloved,” “the wife.” Odin is “the dweller in Frigg’s bosom”and “Frigg’s beloved.”1 Snorri makes her daughter of Fjorgyn, but in Lokasenna Fjorgyn is her husband, i.e., Odin. From them are descended the races of the Æsir.2 She is called “mother of Balder,” “co-wife of Jörd, Rind, Gunnlod, and Grid,” and she is “lady of the Æsir and Asynjur.”3 As foremost of the goddesses and always heading the lists of these, she has the hall Fensalir, “Sea-hall,” which is most glorious, but she shares Hlidskjalf with Odin.4 She speaks no prophecy, yet she knows the fates of men.5 Like Freyja she has hawk’s plumage, and is called “mistress of the hawk’s plumage.”6

Others of the goddesses are associated with Frigg — Fulla, Gna, Hlin, Lofn, either as her servants or hypostases of herself, creations of the skalds. From what is said of her and of these other goddesses, Frigg may be regarded as a genial, kindly divinity, promoter of marriage and fruitfulness, helper of mankind and dispenser of gifts. She stands beside Freyja as one to whom prayers were made.7 She was invoked by the childless, e.g., king Rerir and his queen prayed for offspring to the gods, and Frigg heard them as well as Odin.8

In her hall Fensalir, Frigg wept bitterly for Valhall’s need as a result of Balder’s death — her first grief. She comes prominently into the Balder myth, and she is grieved because Odin must fall before the Fenris-wolf — her second grief.9 R. M. Meyer finds in this reference to Fensalir an explanation of its meaning. As Sigyn weeps for Loki in the forest where


he is punished, so Frigg weeps for Balder on the sea-shore by his pyre. Fensalir would thus be the shore, and Frigg’s abode was really with Odin in Hlidskjalf.10

In Vafthrudnismal when Odin consulted Frigg regarding his journey to the giant Vafthrudnir, she desired him to stay at home rather than go to this strongest of giants. Like others who seek advice, Odin did not follow Frigg’s guidance. She then bade him go, journey, and return in safety. “May wisdom not fail thee, Aldafadir, when thou comest to speech with the giant!”

Yet Frigg could at times act cunningly to Odin. In Grimnismal we see both of them sitting on Hlidskjalf, Frigg thus sharing Odin’s oversight of the world. He drew her attention to her fosterling Agnar, who begat children with a giantess in a cave, while his brother Geirrod, Odin’s fosterling, is a king and rules his land. We have already seen how Frigg announced Odin’s coming as a supposed magician to Geirrod’s hall, and how he was tortured between two fires.11 This act of Frigg’s corresponds to her craft in winning Odin’s help for her favourites in the Lombard story. Some myths told worse things of Frigg. When she begged Loki and Odin at Ægir’s feast not to make known what things they did in old days, Loki accused her of misconduct with Odin’s brothers, Vili and Ve.12 This, as we have seen, is amplified in the Ynglinga-saga. Corresponding to it is Saxo’s story of Mit-othin, the earlier part of which introduces Frigg. Speaking of Odin and his worship, Saxo says that the kings of the North, anxious to worship him more zealously, made a golden image of him and sent it to Byzantium (Asgard). Its arms were covered with bracelets, and Odin was delighted. But his queen Frigga, desiring to be more adorned, called smiths and had the gold stripped from the image. Odin hanged them and set the image on a pedestal, and by his art caused it to speak when a mortal touched it. In her desire of adornment Frigga yielded herself to one of her servants, who broke the image and gave her its treasures. In disgust Odin


went into exile, and Mit-othin took his place. Odin returned only after Frigg was dead. Probably we are to assume that Mit-othin, like Vili and Ve, took Frigga as wife.13 The possible meanings of these myths have already been given.14 Frigg, who gives herself for the sake of personal adornments resembles Freyja, who does the same — another suggestion of their ultimate identity or that myths told of one were also told of the other.

The opening part of the prose Introduction to Grimnismal shows Frigg, with Odin, in a more pleasing light. They appear as an old peasant and his wife dwelling by the sea. King Hraudung had two sons, Agnar and Geirrod, who went fishing in a boat. They were driven out to sea and wrecked on the coast where Odin and Frigg dwelt. With them they spent the winter, not knowing who the peasant and his wife were. Odin nourished Geirrod and taught him out of the treasures of his wisdom. Frigg took Agnar in charge. In spring Odin gave them a ship, and as he and Frigg accompanied the lads to it, Odin took Geirrod apart and spoke privately to him. The youths had a fair wind and reached their father’s place, but as Geirrod sprang ashore, he pushed out the boat with Agnar, saying: “Go where evil spirits may have thee.” The vessel was driven out to sea, but Geirrod was well received by the people and made king, for his father was dead. This explains why Odin and Frigg are respectively foster-parents of Geirrod and Agnar. The goddess Hlin was defender of Frigg’s favourites or fosterlings.

Nothing is known in detail of the cult of Frigg, nor can it be proved that she was originally an Earth-goddess, consort of a Heaven-god, but later assigned to Odin. Her name occurs in that of the sixth day of the week as the equivalent of Dies Veneris, OHG Frîadag, Frîjetag; AS Frigedaeg; Old Frisian Frigendei; ON Frjadagr. The occurrence of these names shows that Frigg was known both to Scandinavians and West Germans, and that she was equated with Venus.15 The English



To left. Image of a god wearing a helmet, found in Scania. Ninth or tenth century. To right. Bronze image of a goddess, possibly of fertility, from Scania, c. 700 B.C. Similar figures are common in the Baltic area, and the type goes back to images of the Babylonian Istar, goddess of fruitfulness. Centre. Grave plate from Kivike, early Bronze Age. From Mannus, vol. vii.


Ælfric speaks of her as “that foul goddess Venus whom men call Frigg.” The Lombards knew her as Frea; the Thuringians, as Frija, whose sister was Volla, the Norse Fulla, according to the Merseburg charm. Geoffrey of Monmouth says that, after Woden, the Anglo-Saxons worshipped among others the most powerful goddess after whose name the sixth day was called Fredai.

Reminiscences of Frigg appear in tradition. In Sweden, at the religious observance of Thursday, when the house was prepared for the visit of deities, the expression was used “Hallow the god Thor and Frigg.” On the same day no spindle or distaff could be used, for Frigg herself then span. In the evening an old man and woman might be seen sitting at the distaff, viz., Thor and Frigg. Why she was thus associated with Thor is unknown. In Sweden the stars forming the belt in the constellation Orion are called “Frigg’s spindle and distaff.” Thus she was associated with women’s work. In Iceland an orchis from which love-philtres are made is called Friggjargras, and a certain fern is called Freyjuhar.16