Freya: Archetype for personal empowerment, self-mastery & leadership
Guest blog post by Jenn Poniatowski from Rune Journeys
The Norse goddess Freya, (Lady) is known for her beauty, sensuality and magical abilities to shapeshift and divine the future. She was a collector of magical items such as the Brisingamen necklace and a cloak of falcon feathers that enabled the wearer to change into a falcon. Freya also had a chariot that was pulled by two great mountain cats. There were different tribes of gods and she was a Vanir, who had their origins in the earth and mountains. Half of the souls of the warriors killed in battle were chosen for her “Field of Folk,” in the upper world of Asgard, home of the gods. As such, she is a chief of the Valkyrie (Choosers of the Slain) and a goddess of death.
In many myths, Freya’s independent nature and power of choice are evident. When Loki promises her in marriage to a giant to retrieve Thor’s hammer that had been stolen, she is so angry the entire city shakes. They have to come up with a new plan at this point, and Thor himself must pose as the bride. Freya cannot be constrained. She symbolizes the freedom of choice that’s in all of us. She can help us find our voice when others try to speak for us.
Her necklace was created by dwarves, and she gets it through a journey to the underworld. The dwarves in Norse mythology are misshapen creatures who live underground. They are the creators of many of the powerful tools of the gods. We don’t know much about the necklace’s power, only that Freya had to have it and according to the myth, she made a bargain to sleep with four of the dwarves in order to get it. Any trip to the underground is an initiation, a time of trial. On the hero’s journey, ogres and monsters are met and we have to face them, get through the test, and come out stronger, wiser, and with more skill than we had before. Freya’s encounter with the dwarves is one such test. In this myth, beauty unites with aspects of self that were rejected, cast underground, kept out of the light of day. She is rewarded with the Brising necklace, which means fire and represents the spiritual fire of enlightenment.
In everyday life, we also meet up with these challenges, metaphorical monsters we must face in exchange for knowledge and spiritual progress. The time in the underground is difficult, the dark night of the soul, we might feel extremes of turbulent emotions or cut off from the world. It passes in time, like Freya, and other goddesses who have made this descent, we too will make the return trip.
Additionally, Freya is a warrior goddess who governed the Valkyrie, women who shapeshifted into powerful ravens to choose among the slain who would live on in the halls of Valhalla, or Freya’s own hall, Fölkvang (field of folk). These armies of souls would be used to battle the forces of Hel during Ragnarök, the twilight of the gods. Today, most of us are not called to ride literally into battle, but the archetype of our inner warrior is an important ally. This is our strength of conviction, our intelligence, ability to strategize and maintain focus in the middle of chaos. Freya may be the same person as Frigg, the wife of Odin and queen of the gods. She is called “Foremost Among the Gods,” and resides in her own palace called Fensalir, fen halls, or sea halls. Fens are wetlands, entrances to the sea, both are places everything flows toward. Frigg would often be shown with a headdress of white heron feathers, who are wetland birds. Herons are patient birds, capable of standing perfectly still while hunting for fish in the waters below. In emulating the mental stillness in the hunt for real sustenance, we can tap into our own leadership and knowledge of self.
In summary, Freya is a Norse goddess of love, beauty and the magic of the shaman who has undergone trials of initiation to gain knowledge and empowerment. As many of the great figures of myth, Freya is a complex figure and in her multi-faceted nature, has the capacity to meet us where we are in our life’s journey. Freya invites us to embrace our sensual nature, you might take some time for savoring a good meal with rich chocolate, consider how you might delight all five of your senses. She is our ally when we need to feel well and strong in our own skin. Freya’s stories and myths shape our awareness of our own self and can be used to create positive change, to lend courage, foresight and she challenges us to be creators of our own fate.
About the Author: Jenn Poniatowski teaches online classes on Norse runes which help you master your own intuition and map your soul path. Her work is rooted in a deep love of nature and the cosmos with a particular affinity for Norse shamanism. Jenn also has a deep understanding of god and goddess archetypes strongly influenced by master mythologist Joseph Campbell, as well as Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD’s The Goddess in Every Woman.
Jenn's on line course A Course in Runes is now enrolling.