What are the ancient roots of Goddess culture in which our modern Goddess spirituality is based?
by Lola Olsson
I chose to write about Freja/Freya and Seidr, partly since it is my own personal interest and partly because it is the goddess spirituality I see as most interesting and growing here in Scandinavia, where it also once was originated.
(To me personally Goddess spirituality based on Goddesses from distant countries and cultures, such as Egypt, is a bit to far to reach. I cannot in Europe, not in Sweden, connect to it, or I think the best way to connect with Goddess energy is to meet Her where She once was worshiped by a whole country, region or continent).
In the north Freja is the great Goddess of birth, destiny, shamanism, magick and death (as an example: of those who died in war, Freja´s valkyrias chose the beautiful ones to live in the afterlife at Freja’s halls; the others would stay in Odin’s hall), as well as the Goddess of love, the Moon, Heaven and Earth. She holds Her hand all transitions in, between and beyond Life.
Freja is the Goddess of Seidr. And the seidr is a feminine/Goddess based way of shamanism that I really can speak for, as I am a active Seidr Volva/Seidr woman.
Here in Scandinavia Freja is called Vanadis, which means She is the High Goddess of the Vanir. She has many faces and names; as the Mother Frigga, as the Earth Goddess Herself; Nerthus, and of course as the Lover Freja which many people seems to believe is Her only appearance… but that is not true; as I wrote above She is everything.
And since She has Her twin God Frej, She also hold balance in universe; between the masculine and feminine, light and dark etc.
The Vanir Goddesses and Gods were here long before the Asir Gods came in to history with their wars and patriarchal structure. The Vanir were a peaceful, nature loving and very sensual kind of Goddesses/Gods who primarily was based upon matriarchal structure. When the Asir came, Freja tried to make peace/stay close to them and taught Odin all about the shamanic seidr which he since then has been known as the origin of.
Freja´s twin brother Frej/Frey is Her balancing point to the masculine. This was well known and much used when Her power in our history was at its peak.
Now we can see a growing, expanding Goddess movement in the world, I see it here in Scandinavia and I see Freja and worshipping, love and empowering of Her as the great Vanadis all around. More and more little girls are named Freja. When I named my cat 20 years ago many said, “What an unusual name!” now it is very common on cats, dogs and as I said young girls. In the modern Goddess movement I also meet a lot of interest from people in other countries , I do get some questions from people I met through the internet and they want to learn more about Norse Goddesses, seidr, and Freja Vanadis. Somehow She make a lot of people curious.
And I do have my Nordic Priestess training, and a lot of workshops etc. and this is what they hunger for; more deep contact and teaching about (the never forgotten but for a while a bit sleepy) Great Goddess Freja! And the old techniques, the seidr and all that it is in there. I believe that the old worship of the Goddess and working with the seidr as Freja priestesses is quite near the old ways, even if we of course, for example, do not have to fear hunger if our Beltane sexual ceremonies do not give us the results we want from the fields.
The Goddess Freja is alive and powerful here, in all Her faces, and it is an honour, a privilege, to work Her ways in beauty/magick acts and trance ceremonies. As I said, this has never completely been forgotten in folk lore here. People still do ceremonial sexual acts in the farming traditions without speaking about it, without always knowing the exact purpose only that it must be done to make sure of a great harvest. In the north it is so easy to lose huge parts of the harvest, and farmers here needed to ensure a good harvest to survive. This tradition has never really died here. And now we do it as a celebration for life to blossom, hopes and wishes to grow, since most of us are not farming anymore. This is particularly done at Beltane, when Freja is celebrated as Freja the Lover (very much similar to Rhiannon).
Long before the christians came we used seidr as a way of prophesy, gaining knowledge, answers, remedies for illness, as a weapon in war between clans or to harm enemies, here in Scandinavia.
In the book Eric the Red´s Saga from the Icelandic colony on Greenland there is a description from of a volva coming to do her seidr at a wealthy farm. The saga tells us how she was dressed, how she worked and what she needed to perform her magick. She was dressed in a hooded robe, with expensive and magickal material as cat’s fur and glass beads, and was carrying a beautiful brass staff, a seidrstaff. The word volva, or vala, means “staff-carrier” and it is on the staff the volva travels or receives messages. This is in my opinion exactly why witches is believed to travel on brooms. During a seidr as a volva you ride the staff as a horse, or in fact as a lover. There is a very strong sexual energy/power in this magick, and I guess that is why men who used seidr technique was called “ergi”, which means homosexual.
Around the volva singers are singing ”vardlokkur”, which are songs meant to help the volva travel. And this is as we do it still today, except many of us also use drums as well. Women in Scandinavia have always prayed to Freja. They offer Her gifts, food, blood, part of all harvest and kept Her as their beloved. And this partly spread over to Mary when we were forced to Christianity, but the aspect of Freja the Lover had to be kept a secret. My point is that the love for our great Goddess has never really died here, We celebrate 13th of December as Italian Saint Lucia Day, which is just a cover up for Freja. One of Her names is Lusse and She travels in a wagon drawn by two cats. On Lucia day we eat saffron buns called Lusse Katt (Lusse cats). Some people suggest that these buns represent the Goddess Yoni. (we do them as a double spiral… Goddess buns or what? ).
Friday has always been Freja´s day; Friday 13th is supposed to be bad luck – did the church decided that because that day women so strongly connected to our Great Goddess?