Thursday, May 5, 2005

The Remaining Gods And Worship In Ancient Scandinavia

The Remaining Gods And Worship In Ancient Scandinavia Cover The third god mentioned by Adam of Bremen as worshipped at Upsala is (Fricco or) Frey, a name which appears to be identical with the Teutonic word represented in Old English by frea, lord or king. Adam's statement is fully confirmed by the Icelandic sources, and there are also general references to the prevalence of the cult in Sweden. In a somewhat legendary source it is even stated that an image of Frey, which was worshipped at Thrandheim in Norway, had been sent there from Sweden. The story of Gunnar Helming also makes mention of an image of Frey in Sweden which was carried about the country, and to which sacrifices were offered, but the value of the statement is very doubtful. Saxo Grammaticus, speaking of a sacrifice of black oxen offered to Frey by the mythical hero Hading, adds that this had continued to be a yearly custom, and 'the Swedes call it Froblod,' i.e. Frey's sacrifice. The frequent occurance of Frey- in Swedish (and Danish) place-names has been already mentioned, and indicates the prevalence of the cult in both of these countries.

The worship of Frey, however, must also have been very popular in Norway, from which it passed to Iceland with the early settlers. As late as 998 the men of Thrandheim are represented as refusing to break their image of Frey at the command of King Olaf, 'because we have long served him and he has done well by us. He often talked with us, and told us things to come, and gave us peace and plenty.' At the great festivals it was customary to drink to Frey (along with Njord) in order to secure peace and prosperity. A talisman on which the image of Frey was 'marked in silver' is mentioned as having been owned by one of the petty kings of Norway about 872; this was given by King Harald to Ingimund, and tradition associated it in a mysterious way with the place where the latter finally settled in Iceland.

In Iceland itself the traces of a popular cult of Frey are very clear, and more than one prominent person mentioned in the sagas bears the title of Freys-godi, or 'priest of Frey.' Of one of these, Thorgrim, brother-in-law of Gisli Sursson, the saga says that 'he intended to hold a festival at the beginning of winter, and greet the winter, and sacrifice to Frey.' When Thorgrim was murdered, and had been laid in a grave-mound, it was noticed that the snow never lay on the south or west sides of the mound, and the ground never froze there: 'and it was supposed that he was so highly esteemed by Frey for the offerings he made to him, that the god did not wish it to freeze between them.' Great attachment to this deity also appears in the story of Hrafnkel, who loved no other god more than Frey, and gave to him joint possession with himself of all his most valuable things. Among these was a horse, which on that account bore the name of Freyfaxi. Another Freyfaxi belonged to Brand in Vatnsdal, and most people believed that he had a religious reverence for the horse. Horses owned by Frey are also mentioned as existing in Thrandheim in the days of Olaf Tryggvason (about 996).

Free eBooks (Can Be Downloaded):

William Butler Yeats - The Secret Rose And Rosa Alchemica
John Arnott Macculloch - The Religion Of The Ancient Celts
William Alexander Craigie - Religion Of Ancient Scandinavia