Who is Frey?

Frey riding boarIn the Norse/Germanic cosmology, Frey is a member of the second pantheon of Northern Gods, the Vanir Gods of Vanaheim, who are all concerned with agriculture and food-gathering of some sort. He is the son of Nerthus the Vanir Earth Mother, and Njord the god of sailors and fishermen. His twin sister is Freya, the goddess of fertility and love. His beloved wife is Gerda, who has a shrine here with him. The story of their meeting and love affair is chronicled in Skirnirsmal.

Frey is the Golden One, the Sacrificial Grain God, the one who is cut down at every harvest that we may live. He is the keeper of every plant and animal who is killed that we might live. He is a god of frith - peace and order - as opposed to being a god of war and conflict. He is a Lover, the God of the beautiful phallus, the great Maypole in the Earth. He is a Light-Bringer, a Joy-Bringer, a Frith-Bringer, a Gift-Giver, the Harvest King, John Barleycorn. He asks that we think about the food that we eat, how it was raised and treated, and whether it died in a clean manner. He asks that we think about how we treat those we love.

His gifts are many. He gives fertility of body and fertility of land. He blesses the farmer and his crops and livestock. He bestows sexual desire and potency. He bestows love in all forms, regardless of what combination of people and genders may be involved. He blesses ephemeral sexual joy that is shared for a night, and he also blesses committed marriage - especially relationships that are frowned upon by the greater social order. He gives the light within that stands against the darkness of sorrow. As the God who gave up his sword for love, he helps foster peace in social affairs. He helps those who must sacrifice for others find joy and contentment in their giving.

Frey AltarFrey, like his sister, is a god of Light, a Light-Bringer. While he is not the deity of the Sun - that is Sunna/Sol in this cosmology - he is the action of the sunlight falling on the leaves, seedlings, plants, animals - and us - and helping us to grow. He is not the Sun in the sky, but he is the sunlight on our skin and the spark deep inside. The Aesir, to whom he is a hostage, liked him enough to put him in charge of Alfheim for them - the realm of the Light-Elves, although he is not an Alf per se. They, too, could not resist his golden light. In spite of this, he is not a heavenly deity but an earthy one. The body is sacred to him, as is the earth and its cultivation. He travels from realm to realm throughout the year, spending a third of each year in Asgard, Alfheim, and his home of Vanaheim. Each year at Lammas he bares his throat to the sickle of his mother Nerthus, and she cuts him down in the field that his blood may be spilled and all the crops renewed. He walks the Hel-road in the days that follow - some say for three days, some for longer - and then is reborn to the kisses and joy of his wife Gerda.

Hail Frey, Lord of Peace and Good Seasons!