Freya is the unapologetic goddess of love and sexuality in Norse mythology. We celebrate her on May 1, Beltaine, a cross-quarter day between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice.
As described in Elizabeth Cunningham’s first book of the Maeve Chronicles, Magdalen Rising, in which Mary Magdalen is brilliantly transmogrified into a Celtic goddess, “the eve of May was a socially sanctioned orgy. Running off into the woods with someone who wasn’t your spouse was practically your civic duty. You were obeying the oldest law. You were multiplying the orgasms of the sexy, fecund earth. Hey, it could only help the crops–and hence the tribes. So just this once, go ahead. Surrender. Let go and let god/dess. That was the mood of Beltaine.”
Freya is perfect for the season. She is a sassy, bawdy and bold goddess archetype who, like Aphrodite, has many lovers — pretty much whomever she chooses — and her legions are legend.
Her story is one of love and lust for life, men, and beautiful objects like the necklace of amber tears she obtains after bedding the four dwarves who made it. (Makes you wonder about Snow White and what she was doing in the beds of the 7 dwarves, doesn’t it?)
It turns out these four dwarves represent the four directions in Norse mythology, and through these acts of consummation, Freya embodies the energy of these directions as well as the elements of earth, air, water, and fire. The necklace came to symbolize her life-giving power, and though many tried to steal it, including the trickster, Loki, Freya held onto it with fierce determination and supernatural authority.
For she is a goddess with magical powers and knowledge of Seidr, a form of Nordic shamanism that allows her to shapeshift into various animals from falcon, to sow/boar, to goat. She rides in a chariot drawn by two cats and is sometimes described wearing a white catskin cloak, gloves, and shoes, and at other times wearing a cape made of falcon feathers.
Freya shares some qualities with the Greek triple goddess, Persephone, Demeter and Hecate. She has the ability to resurrect after being killed in initiatory rites much like the Eleusinian mysteries allude to, and has the role of leader of the Valkyries, who bring half of the dead warriors from every battle to her (the other half going to Odin, who may or may not be her husband referred to as Od). She is adept in the magical arts like Hecate, a seer and spinner of the Great Wheel of life and death with all of its lustiness, messiness, and juiciness.
So enjoy, this frisky time of the waxing moon, Sisters and Brothers (Oh, did I mention that one of Freya’s lovers was her twin brother, Freyr, similar to Isis and Osiris, the holy rulers of the land who ensure fertility and abundance through their divine union?). These gods and goddesses remind us of our primal nature and connection to Mother Earth whose bounty we enjoy but often take for granted. Beltaine is a day to jump over the fire, have a picnic, “go-a Maying,” (or roll in the haying), and remember who our mother is.