Who is Frigga?

by Gudrun of Mimirsbrunnr

FriggaOld4In Germanic mythology, there are multiple pantheons of Gods, and one pantheon is known as the Aesir - the Gods of sky and warriors, whose world is Asgard at the top of the World Tree. Frigga (also known as Frigg) is their Queen and All-Mother. She is the wife of Odin, the King and All-Father of the Aesir, and the mother of Baldur, the god of light who was slain by Loki. She may also be the mother of Hodur and Hermod, and she is stepmother to many of Odin's children by other goddesses, including Heimdall and Thor. She is the daughter of Jord, Goddess of the Earth, and thus is Thor's older half-sister.

Frigga is the goddess of marriage - more properly, the goddess of marriage that is sanctioned by society, as unsanctioned unions are under the guidance of Frey and Gerda. She is the protector of home and families, and was much beloved by married women. She gave solace and aid in childbirth, and was also called upon for help in the domestic arts and cottage industries, especially the spinning of wool, which took up much of the time of women in northern Europe. It was said that she pulled the wool from the cloud-sheep to spin and weave the garments of the Aesir. She was also known as a goddess of frith, which is a combination of peace and social order; in this guise she is called upon as the Lady of the Hall, carrying the mead horn around, and both sending off and welcoming back warriors with the cup of victory.Thus she is also called upon for matters of diplomacy, especially among leaders. She is also said to see many things with her seer's powers, but she speaks of very few of them.

FriggaOld2Frigga's name means "beloved", and it is cognate to several Indo-European words, variously meaning "to marry", "to love", "wife", and "beloved lady". Her hall in Asgard is called Fensalir, meaning "Marshlands"; like Nerthus she may be associated with sacred bogs. She has a bevy of handmaidens, all goddesses in their own right, who make up the domestic industry of Asgard.

Frigga appears most intensely in the saga Baldrs Draumar, where in order to protect her son Baldur, she went to every creature and begged them to swear an oath not to harm him. She overlooked the mistletoe, believing it to be inconsequential, and the trickster god Loki, angry at the treatment of his first wife and family by the Aesir, fashioned a dart out of it. After Frigga's work, the Aesir all made a game out of throwing things at Baldur and watching them bounce off. Loki put the dart into the hand of Baldur's blind brother Hodur, and offered to aim it for him so that he could join in the game. The dart killed Baldur, and Frigga was plunged into deep mourning.

FriggaOld9Hermod, another brother of Baldur, offered to ride to Helheim to ask the Queen of the Dead to release Baldur. Hela agreed, but only on the condition that all creatures must mourn for him. Frigga again made the round of the worlds, asking everyone to weep for her son, but one giantess named Thokk refused to weep, saying, "Let Hel keep her own." Thus Frigga (like Sigyn) is sometimes called as the Mourning Mother, giving people solace in time of mourning their loved ones.

In another story, Frigga and Odin favor two different tribes who are about to have a battle. Frigga begs Odin to grant her favorites victory, but he tells her instead that he will only grant victory to whichever tribe he sees from his window upon awakening, knowing full well that his favorites are camped within sight while hers are too far away to arrive by morning. While he sleeps, Frigga brings the women of her favored tribe to cluster around his window, dressed in men's clothing and with their hair drawn around their faces like long beards. When Odin awakes, he is surprised by the long-bearded men; after their victory, that tribe became known as the Langobards (long-beards). In general, Frigga is treated by Odin as a valuable and wise companion and partner, rather than a piece of chattel; this may speak to the generally stronger position of women in pagan northern Europe.

FriggaOld5While Frigga is generally considered to be the archetypal faithful wife, during a period when Odin was gone for a very long time (perhaps during his nine-year sojourn in search of wisdom), Frigga is said to have taken up with Odin's brothers, Vili and Ve. This story may hark back to a custom about the queen being the legitimizing factor to land-rule, or it may hark back to a custom of hospitality, including the lord's wife's bed. At any rate, in the Lokasenna Loki chides her for chasing after and enjoying Vili and Ve, so we may never know for sure. At any rate, Odin seems neither to blame her nor to care about it, so we may assume that he is not threatened by any such affairs, knowing that he is always first in her heart.


Frigga is a very popular goddess among those who celebrate the northern religion, because there are few good models of married goddesses who are full partners to powerful men, and who maintain their own power and authority. While she seems at first glance to concentrate on the domestic sphere, her work with diplomacy and small industry, and her Queenship, can extend to cover a tribe, a nation, a corporation, or an organization. She is a more versatile goddess than meets the eye.