Frigg: the perfect wife? Image of Frig by InertiaK
When I first began researching the Norse Gods and Goddesses for my series Granny Irene’s Guide to the Afterlife I quickly became fascinated by the potential for ambiguity that surrounds them. As a woman who has always struggled with the concept of “conforming” and has constantly resisted the stereotypical expectations that still unfortunately exist in what in remains a patriarchal society I found myself drawn to Frigg: Wife of Odin and Goddess of Domesticity and Marriage. Because of whom “she” is married to and her affiliations with marriage and childbirth, Frigg is also frequently associated with love, however I have done a lot of research and do not believe that she should be mistaken for FREYA, (FREYJA) whom I believe to be the ultimate Goddess of Love.
On the surface Frigg (Or Frigga as she is sometimes known) ticks all of the “wifely” boxes. She is blonde, she is beautiful and she lovingly carries out her midwifery duties; successfully delivering bouncing baby after bouncing baby into the world all the while ensuring that her husband’s palace is kept pristine and that he arrives home to a hearty home cooked meal every night. Scratch a little deeper though and you will see that maybe, just maybe all is not as it seems: That there is more to Frigg than first meets the eye.
First of all, Frigg is frequently cited as being the only one other than Odin that is permitted to sit on his high seat or throne and gaze out onto the universe: The perk of being Queen? A sign that Odin, in spite of his numerous extra marital dalliances truly loves his wife: Or an indication that Frigg’s power and influence extends further than simply being the trophy wife and that she is a force majeure in her own right?
Statue of Frigg at Stowe, England, image by Dr Richard Murray
Then there is the legend and the myths which surrounds the death of her son BALDR: Following a series of ominous dreams foretelling his own death, Baldr consults with the powers that be and sweeping everyone else to one side Frigg instantly steps up and assumes a central, decisive position by taking an oath citing every imaginable cause of his death (Including disease, poison etcetera) and by weaving her magic ensures that everything cited is rendered harmless to her beloved son. Cue the malevolent entity, Loki who by using his shape shifting abilities turns himself into a woman and inveigles his way into Frigg’s confidence. Her guard down, Frigg reveals that out of every possible menace in the world the only thing she didn’t guard against was the harmless little mistletoe. Loki then disappears emerging a short while later at “The Thing” (The Viking equivalent of Parliament or government assembly) In order to prove that Baldr has now been “cured” of the curse which was hanging over him the Gods are shooting everything imaginable at him. Loki then tricks Baldr’s brother Hoor, who is blind into shooting him with the dreaded mistletoe and Baldr is killed!
Frigg as any mother would be, is devastated and grief-stricken by the sudden loss of her son in these circumstances. It is also worth bearing in mind at this point that we are talking Gods and not mortals here and that they have a completely different perspective on death to what we do, for whilst the Norse pantheon do not automatically have the luxury of immortality like most of the other pantheons, they do still at least have a little wiggle room and I find Frigg’s reaction to her son’s death extremely interesting because I feel it shows instincts and traits which are almost human, giving us an invaluable insight into her mind and way of thinking, whilst at the same time clearly demonstrating the extent of her influence and power. Take the fact that it was a man dressed as woman who duped her and throw into the mix the fact that her own husband is a serial philanderer,then the potential for skewed trust issues that the Goddess must have is vast…
Hel, image by Johannes Gehrts
Playing to the elders and senior ranking Gods (who are of predictably enough male) Frigg turns on the charm and mindless of her husband Odin, she brazenly asks those gathered who would like to earn all her love by travelling to Niflheim in search of the Queen of the Dead HEL where they are to offer a ransom in exchange for the release of Baldr. Also predictably, Frigg gets her wish and a delegation sets off for the underworld. However they underestimate the capacity for skullduggery that the most twisted of witches possesses for Hel magnanimously agrees to grant the request: On condition that all things must weep for Baldr first, knowing full well that her shape shifting father Loki will throw a massive spanner in the works by assuming the identity of a giantess who refuses to weep…So Frigg and the Gods are thwarted, Baldr perishes, the Gods furiously vow to avenge his death and the seeds for Ragnarök (Norse Armageddon) are sown.
Throughout the course of my Granny Irene series I plan on teasing out the many hidden layers of Frigg and will be fully exploring her somewhat dysfunctional relationship with her son Baldr and destructive friendship with Skuld Queen of the witches (NORNS) I also show all of the major Gods in a totally unconventional light and everything is played out against the cataclysmic backdrop of Ragnarök.
Ingrid Hall is the author of Granny Irene’s Guide to the Afterlife – Revenge – Part 1 Find out more by visiting http://www.ingridhall.com