Freyr Norse God of Fertility and the Earth: Ways to Work with Him
These days when someone says Viking, Norse God, or Marvel, many of us have images of Thor and Odin conjured up with ease. But there was a third Old Norse god who was just as renowned yet not as readily portrayed in the media today. His name is Freyr and he is just as ancient and as powerful as his cohorts. Where Thor governs the storms and rides through the skies, Freyr is grounded and rules over the fruitfulness of the earth and of man. Here we meet Freyr and dive deep into his origins and mythos. And we also discover ways to work with him in our spiritual or pagan practices.
Table of Contents
- First, Who is Freyr Norse God of the Earth?
- Freyr Norse God As Embodiment of the Earth and God of the Dead
- Freyr Norse God’s Symbols and Runes
- Freyr’s Domain and Magical Correspondences
- How Freyr Manifests, What does he look like?
- How to Know You’re Being Called by Freyr
- Ways to Honor and Work With Freyr Norse God of Plenty
First, Who is Freyr Norse God of the Earth?
First, let’s start at the beginning and meet this earthly god. Freyr is his name and he comes to us from the Old Norse beliefs. He was well-renowned through the Old Norse world, according to skald Snorri Sturluson, but mostly venerated in Old Sweden. His name, Freyr, has a few interpretations depending on the scholar. The most widely accepted interpretation of Freyr is simply “Lord” or “Master”. But a newer translation acquaints the word Freyr with an older Germanic word that means “Fruitful”. Either way, Freyr is Lord over the Earth and of the bounty of the Earth. So, technically either interpretation makes perfect sense. He also rules the rain, sun, and the dead. His other names include Fricco, Frodi, Frey, Frothi, Ing, and Yngvi.
Freyr is Older than the Aesir?
Freyr is King of the Vanir, an earthly race of gods that were considered separate from the more Viking-Age-popular Aesir (the sky gods including Odin and Thor). Some believe the Vanir were the more ancient of the gods, with their cult already present in the Nordic Bronze Age, but were downtrodden or demoted during the Viking Age. Replaced in favor by the warlike Aesir sky gods. Freyr’s worship continued, nonetheless, into the Viking Age and was still continuing at Uppsala (a cult center in Sweden) even during the Christianization of Scandinavia. Which tell us that he was indeed a popular deity among the people and formidable in his own rite.
Speaking of his cult centers, we know he was popular among the peoples of Sweden. And a royal bloodline of Sweden known as the Ynglings claimed descent from Freyr. One major cult center, as mentioned above, was the Temple at Uppsala. He, along with Thor and Odin, were worshipped in the form of wooden statues. Many people pilgrimaged to bring sacrifices to the gods at Uppsala.
Freyr in the Myths and Sagas, According to Sturluson and Adam of Bremen
Freyr doesn’t get near as much press coverage as Thor or Odin in the Eddas and Sagas. But he is mentioned a few times by both Adam of Bremen and Snorri Sturluson.
In the Prose Edda written in the twelfth century by Snorri Sturluson, Freyr is mentioned in the Gylfaginning, the first major section of the Edda. He is said to be “fair of face and mighty” and the twin of Freyja. Sturluson also says he is the most renowned of the Aesir (which is interesting since he’s considered Vanir) and that he rules over the rain, sun, and the earth. And recommends men to call on Freyr for prosperity. However, the only full myth featuring Freyr as the main subject tells of his marriage to a Jotunn (a giantess) and how he loses his only weapon in favor of gaining her hand. He wins the battle with a pair of antlers, but it’s foretold that because of the loss of his weapon that he will be defeated at Ragnarok (the end battle).
Adam of Bremen wrote of Freyr in his work Gesta Hammaburgensis in the eleventh century. He refers to Freyr as Fricco (his latinized name) and talks of his golden image at Uppsala. Thor is actually the “main god” as his statue is placed in the middle with Odin and Freyr flanking him. Adam goes on to say that Fricco (Freyr) grants peace and pleasure to humans. And that his image displays him in a virile light with a large phallus.
Freyr Norse God As Embodiment of the Earth and God of the Dead
In her brilliant work The Lore of Old Elfland, writer Linda Raedisch explores the roots of Norse paganism and the old gods and how the “Elven” race emerged from the Northern lands. She discusses in detail how Freyr might have arisen as a god from the Elven race long before the Viking Age. And long before Odin and Thor were prominent deities. And, being that Freyr is considered an ancestor to the Yngling line, he might have once been a real person. Then, following his death, he was buried in the earth among the other ancestors who were also called the Alfar (Elves). This is a theory, of course, but one that I fully support. If we dive deep into Norse mythology, we see that Odin himself was originally believed to have been a real king in the North. And afterward became a deified ancestor.
Our Earthly Ancestors, the Alfar, and Freyr
These ancestors, the Alfar, who are buried in the earth, sometimes in magnanimous mounds, may return to our plane of existence to visit us. These ancestors come from the earth and return to the earth. They grant us with their blessings upon the earth. From their flesh and bones sprang up life – plants, trees, crops. Earthly gods are the embodiment of the Earth itself, including Freyr as we readily see when he is compared to Osiris in The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer. In the myth of the Egyptian god of the dead, Osiris is killed by his brother Set who then cuts him into pieces and distributes his body to the far corners of the earth. Osiris’ dedicated wife Isis finds the pieces of his body and resurrects him. Following, Osiris becomes the god of the dead. We see an eerily similar story in the Norse myth of Halfdan the Black, who is said to be a Yngling…a descendant of the Earth god Freyr. Also a god of the dead:
“Halfdan the Black, whose body was cut up and buried in different parts of his kingdom for the sake of ensuring the fruitfulness of the earth. He is said to have been drowned at the age of forty through the breaking of the ice in spring. What followed his death is thus related by the old Norse historian Snorri Sturluson: “He had been the most prosperous (literally, blessed with abundance) of all kings. So greatly did men value him that when the news came that he was dead and his body removed to Hringariki and intended for burial there, the chief men from Raumariki and Westfold and Heithmörk came and all requested that they might take his body with them and bury it in their various provinces; they thought that it would bring abundance to those who obtained it. Eventually it was settled that the body was distributed in four places. The head was laid in a barrow at Steinn in Hringariki, and each party took away their own share and buried it. All these barrows are called Halfdan’s barrows.” It should be remembered that this Halfdan belonged to the family of the Ynglings, who traced their descent from Frey, the great Scandinavian god of fertility.Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough
Freyr’s Sacred Polarity: Earthly Gods of Fertility AND the Dead
Isn’t it funny how a god of the earth can also be a god of the dead AND of fertility? Not really. We’ve explored the polarity of life and death with other deities like Persephone and Freya. Those who watch over the dead once they’ve returned to the earth also have the ability to regenerate and return the dead back to life. Back to the land of the living. Just as the earth does in its seasonal dance around the sun – it springs forth in life then dies then returns to life once more.
There isn’t necessarily a direct correlation between Freyr Norse God of the Earth and the dead; however, we’ve put the pieces together (no pun intended). Since Freyr was given the realm of Alfheim and rules over it, this means he rules over the realm of the Light Elves. According to Sturluson, at least. The Light Elves “are fairier to look upon than the Sun” and the Dark Elves who reside in the earth are “blacker than pitch”. However, Linda Raedisch believes Freyr was originally of the Earth and therefore would have been one of the “Dark Elves” if we were going by Sturluson’s myths. Freyr was only later placed in a “higher” realm by Sturluson to delineate between the “dead” or Dark Elves living in the earth and the Light Elves in a more Heavenly realm. Sounds a bit Christianized, doesn’t it?
Freyr Norse God’s Symbols and Runes
Freyr’s symbols include the horse, a ship, a boar, and the phallus. Here’s why:
Freyr’s ship known as Skidbladnir was crafted by the dwarves. It always has a favorable breeze and carries ALL of the gods when in full size. Yet when Freyr isn’t sailing in it, it can be broken down and folded into pocket size.
The golden-maned boar of Freyr is named Gullinbursti, and when he’s not flanking Freyr, Freyr is being pulled in a chariot by two other boars. Or by Gullinbursti himself:
“Thor was there with his hammer Mjollnir; Freyr was there in his chariot that was drawn by the boar Gold-mane; Heimdallr was there on his horse called Gold-top; Freyja was there in her chariot that was drawn by cats; Oithin was there with his ravens upon his shoulders; Frigg and the rest of the Goddesses and Gods were there.”Padraic Colum, Orpheus: Myths of the World, 1930
Another symbol of Freyr is the phallus. This seems an obvious one but is worth stating since Freyr is so well-known for granting fertility. His image can be placed near the bed to aid in conceiving.
The horse is a symbol of Freyr as his cult was once a horse cult. The horse was so sacred to Freyr that they were kept in a sanctuary for Freyr in Trondheim, Norway. He rides a horse named Bloody Hoof, Blóðughófi. In the Iron Age, horse sacrifices were made to Freyr on the island of Zealand.
In addition, the runes Ingwaz (named for Ing/Freyr), Ehwaz (the Horses), and Fehu (prosperity).
Freyr’s Domain and Magical Correspondences
Freyr rules over quite a few domains in the physical and spiritual including fertility, peace, prosperity, good luck, protection for seafarers, farmers, and children. He is the ruler of the Earth, of the Dead, of the Elves, of the Good Harvest. Freyr’s domain also includes the rain, sun, marriage, pleasure, love, wealth, gold, horses, and ancestors. He is ruler of Alfheim, one of the nine realms of Norse cosmology.
And his magical correspondences are also listed below:
|Fertility||Yule Boar (Ham)||Barley||Boar||Freya|
|The Dead||Barley wine / ale||Juniper||Falcon||Gerda|
How Freyr Manifests, What does he look like?
We can gather from the myths that Freyr will likely manifest as a good looking male in the prime of his life. Sturluson mentions that Freyr is “fair of face” and mighty. While many sources claim Freyr is not war-like, we have to assume that he can become war-like when provoked. Like in the myth of his marriage to Gerda. So, yes, he could either be wearing traditional Norse clothing OR armored.
Freyr will have a long beard and might even manifest with an erect phallus. This depiction of him was common in ancient times, meaning it arose from the people’s visions of Freyr. He might come bearing the look of a virile man, particularly if you’re calling on him for fertility issues. His aura will be golden, and it is said that he showers his followers in gold and that his boar is golden-maned.
In contrast, some sources claim Freyr’s other manifestation is as a young boy sailing the ocean. This may be when in relation to his guardianship over seafarers / sailors.
How to Know You’re Being Called by Freyr
I believe Freyr’s presences is just as strong as Odin’s or Thor’s. And that when he calls to you, you’ll know it. But here’s a few signs you’re being called by the primal Norse God of the Earth:
- You hear Frey’s name or see it in random places
- Someone gives you a book or poem with his name in it
- You already have a relationship with his twin Freya
- Pigs and wild boars keep showing up everywhere – on TV, radio, maybe in real life
- The horse is also showing up everywhere as a sign
- You feel drawn to work with the earth, the dead, and the Alfar (Elves)
- Freyr appears to you in a dream, vision, journey or meditation
- The rune Ingwaz keeps coming to you
Ways to Honor and Work With Freyr Norse God of Plenty
If you’re feeling the call, here are some ways to get your connection going with Freyr Norse God of the Earth:
1. Study and Research
The first thing we always recommend doing when working with any deity is to study and research. Study and research. Study and Research. This is kind of like getting to know a stranger, right? Do you ever google your dates? Just to make sure? So google your deities too. Keep a section in your grimoire dedicated to Freyr.
2. Altar Space for Freyr Norse God of the Vanir
It should go without saying that creating a space for this god would be greatly beneficial to working with him. Include a statue of him or something to represent him, a horse, boar, or ship figurine. His favorite colors are brown, gold, and green. Keep candles, incense, and offering bowls and cups on his altar to hold vigil and provide offerings.
3. Work with His Runes
Freyr’s runes are Ingwaz, Ehwaz, and Fehu, so be sure to include these in your practice in some way. I like to keep a runestone out on my altar to meditate on its meaning and allow the energy to flow throughout the space. You can also carry the rune on you, wear it, or draw it on a piece of paper while at work. Learn of the rune’s meaning and origins here.
4. Alfar / Elven Practices
Since Freyr is one of the Vanir and said to be an Elven King, practices in which we connect with and learn from the Alfar are crucial. The Alfar or Elves are not merely short, pointy eared helpers of Santa’s in the North Pole. They are the ancient dead…our ancestors. And, as Freyr Norse God of the Earth is considered an ancient ancestor, they deserve our respect. Learn more about the Alfar and Alfablot here.
5. Provide Offerings / Sacrifices
Just like any other deity, Freyr enjoys offerings from his modern pagan followers. He prefers alcoholic beverages like ale, barley wine, mead, and wine. He also likes fresh water, fruit, and bread. The sacrifical boar at Yule is still a tradition today but takes a new, unexpected form in the Christmas ham! Offer up these things when you feel it is best.
6. Fertility Rituals and Sex Magick
Freyr is Lord of the Earth, Prosperity, and Fertility. Therefore, it is wise and ostentatious to call on him during fertility rituals and sex magick. He will bless you with pleasure and virility, when asked. This is why he was frequently depicted with an erect phallus in ancient times.