Alongside the likes of Odin, Thor and Loki, the powerful female deities in the Norse pantheon were also venerated by the Vikings. Here are four that played an integral role in Norse mythology.
The goddess of fertility, motherhood and prophecy, Frigg was the wife of Odin, and therefore the loftiest of all the female deities. Despite her formidable position, she is arguably best known for a tale of heartbreak at the hands of the trickster god Loki.
Horrified by a prophecy that her beloved son Baldr was soon to die, Frigg sought out almost everything in creation, from fire and water to animals, trees and even diseases, to secure their promise not to harm Baldr. Unfortunately, she missed out the seemingly harmless mistletoe. When Loki discovered this oversight, he tricked Baldr’s blind brother into throwing mistletoe at Baldr, killing him.
Frigg is also famous for giving rise to the word Friday, which stems from the Old English for “day of Frigg”.
Associated with love and battle, Freya was also a master of a form of magic known as seidr. She rode a chariot driven by cats and had a cloak of falcon feathers that could enable the wearer to fly.
Freya was a ravishing entity who was lusted after by many others in Norse mythology. She found herself humiliated by Loki who, during a chaotic feast of the gods, accused her of being an evil sorceress who’d had slept with everyone in Asgard, including her own brother.
Yet Freya was far more than a hyper-sexualised/objectified female figure in the mythology. She was also the fierce ruler of a realm called Folkvangr, and had claim over the souls of half the Norse warriors who died in battle. The other half went to Valhalla.
Idun was the goddess of spring and youth, whose store of magical apples could rejuvenate the gods when they grew too old. Things went awry when she was kidnapped by a giant, who forced Loki into helping him plot her abduction. As a consequence, the gods began to age. Desperate to regain the apples and the goddess herself, they forced Loki to make amends by embarking on a rescue mission.
By donning Freya’s falcon cloak, Loki was transformed into a falcon himself and was able to infiltrate the giant’s abode and snatch up Idun in his claws by turning her into a nut. The giant was later killed, while youth was restored to the gods.
Although the goddess Sif was a largely passive player in the world of Norse mythology, she was significant for being the wife of the mighty Thor, and for being indirectly connected with the creation of his legendary hammer.
According to the legend, Loki decided to play a trick on Sif by cutting off her trademark golden hair. An enraged Thor threatened to destroy Loki if he didn’t somehow replace the lost mane, so the trickster sought out a group of skilled dwarves who were able to create a replacement headpiece, as well as a magical shop and Odin’s spear, Gungnir.
An impressed Loki challenged other dwarf craftsmen to come up with something equally incredible. Among their creations was the hammer Mjolnir, which would become Thor’s fabled weapon.