List of names of Freyja

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A roadsign for Härnevi ("Hörn's ") in Uppland, Sweden

In Norse mythology, Freyja (Old Norse the "Lady") is a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war and death. Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a chariot driven by two cats, owns the boar Hildisvíni, possesses a cloak of falcon feathers, and, by her husband Óðr, is the mother of two daughters; Hnoss and Gersemi.

Freyja is attested as having nine additional names; Gefn, Hörn, Mardöll, Skjálf, Sýr, Thröng, Thrungva, Valfreyja, and Vanadís. Some of these names have posed etymological problems for scholars, while others are more straightforward to translate. Most of Freyja's names point to apparent attributes and associations, and at least one, Hörn, appears in place names in what is now Sweden.

An explanation is presented for Freyja's many names in the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, where the enthroned figure of High details that Freyja is married to the god Óðr, who goes on long travels. While Óðr is absent, Freyja stays behind and, in her sorrow, weeps tears of red gold. High says that Freyja has many names because she adopted them while looking for Óðr and traveling "among strange peoples".[1]

Names[edit]

Name (Old Norse) Name meaning Attestations Notes
Gefn 'the giver'[2] Gylfaginning, Nafnaþulur The name Gefn likely means "she who gives (prosperity or happiness) and is generally considered connected to the goddess name Gefjon, but the etymology of the name Gefjon has been a matter of dispute. The root Gef- in Gef-jon is generally theorized as related to the root Gef- in the name Gef-n."[3] The connection between the two names has resulted in etymological results of Gefjun meaning "the giving one."[4] The names Gefjun and Gefn are both related to the Matron groups the Alagabiae or Ollogabiae.[5]

Scholar Richard North theorizes that Old English geofon and Old Norse Gefjun and Freyja's name Gefn may all descend from a common origin; gabia a Germanic goddess connected with the sea, whose name means "giving".[6]

Hörn 'flaxen'(?)[2] Gylfaginning, Nafnaþulur Appears in the Swedish place names Härnösand, Härnevi and Järnevi, stemming from the reconstructed Old Norse place name *Hörnar-vé (meaning "Hörn's ").[7] In addition, the name Hörn also appears as the name of a troll-wife in Nafnaþulur.[8]
Mardöll Potentially 'sea-brightener' by way of mar ('sea') combined with a second element that may be related to Dellingr, indicating light.[9] The name may otherwise mean 'the one who makes the sea swell'.[10] Gylfaginning, Nafnaþulur May be connected to the god name Heimdallr.[10]
Skjálf 'shaker'[2] Nafnaþulur Also the name the daughter of a Finnish king in Ynglinga saga. Due to necklace imagery in the Finnish Skjálf's tale (Freyja herself owns Brísingamen) there may be a connection between the two.[11]
Sýr 'sow'[2] Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál, Nafnaþulur The pig was an important symbol of the Vanir and sacrificial practices (blót) associated with the group, particularly in association with Freyja and her brother Freyr.[12]
Thröng 'throng'[2] Skáldskaparmál
Thrungva 'throng'[2] Nafnaþulur
Valfreyja 'Lady of the Slain' or 'Freyja of the Slain'[2] Skáldskaparmál
Vanadís 'the dís of the vanir'[2] Skáldskaparmál The name "van-child" ('child of the Vanir') for "boar" may be connected.[13] In 1831, the Swedish chemist Nils Gabriel Sefström named an element vanadium after Vanadís

See also[edit]

  • Gullveig, a thrice-burnt, thrice-reborn female who various scholars identify as Freyja and as playing a major role in sparking the Æsir–Vanir War

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Faulkes (1995:29—30).
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Orchard (1997:48).
  3. ^ Sturtevant (1952:166).
  4. ^ Orchard (1997:52).
  5. ^ Davidson (1998:79).
  6. ^ North (1998:226).
  7. ^ Simek (2007:156-157).
  8. ^ Faulkes (1995:156).
  9. ^ See Orchard (1998:84) for the rendering 'sea-brightener' and Turville-Petre (1964:178) for elements.
  10. ^ a b Simek (2007:202).
  11. ^ Simek (2007:291).
  12. ^ Simek (2007:309).
  13. ^ Faulkes (1995:257).

References[edit]