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http://www.germanicmythology.com/original/IMAGES2/1_FINALCOLORMAP.jpg

The book

I've recently encountered a book, Odin's Wife,: Mother Earth in Germanic Mythology by William P Reaves. It completely revolutionised my view of the goddess Frigg.

The book itself isn't perfect, this hasn't been professionally edited and it takes a very meandering path but William P Reaves' research is extremely thorough and leaves no stones unturned.

Frigg is typically portrayed mainly as a passive goddess, sitting by Odin's side, so much about her has been lost to time or corrupted by christianization.

Here the author makes a very convincing case around Frigg having had many names (Jord, Nerthus, Frau Holle, Frau Perchta, Saga etc) being Mother Earth in her union with the Sky Father (Odin) and Sea Father (Njord), thus being the Mother. Her myth probably has been scrubbed clean by christian authors or otherwise perverted but it survives in European folklore ; goddess figure that leads the wild hunt, a Yule figure, in many cases traditionally seen as the protector of babies and children especially those who died before baptism. Her role seems far more active in the world now.

Frigg is the cycle of life. As another reviewer puts it: "She convincingly becomes the powerful Earth-Mother and Mother of Gods, including not only Baldur and Thor, but also Freyr and Freyja, whom she had with her brother, Njörd. As Reaves concludes, “She is Odin’s equal in all respects, surpassing him in practical power”(p. 285). That Frigg sits beside Odin on his throne Hliðskjálf, watching (and meddling in) all the Nine Worlds, “should not come as a surprise,” he adds: “The sons of Borr bestowed senses, wit, and spirit on Ask and Embla alike. Women are not subordinate to men. The sources, both religious and historical, are rife with strong, independent women. Both men and women appear on the battlefield, as mythological, historical, and archaeological evidence affirms. Equality of the sexes was a Germanic reality, long before modern times” (p. 285)."

Reaves argues that Frigg “is the Germanic Earth-Mother, who like all other Germanic deities was known by a number of names. An unbroken chain of evidence demonstrates that Odin and Frigg are the Germanic analogs of the ancient Indo-European Sky-Father and Earth-Mother.”.

Wonderful, wonderful book. The pacing is probably not for everyone, Reaves essentially is inviting you into his research.

I am sorry if my review is a little bit messy, I am still processing all of these ideas.

http://www.germanicmythology.com/original/IMAGES2/1_FINALCOLORMAP.jpg [The book](https://www.amazon.com/Odins-Wife-Mother-Germanic-Mythology/dp/0578430843) I've recently encountered a book, Odin's Wife,: Mother Earth in Germanic Mythology by William P Reaves. It completely revolutionised my view of the goddess Frigg. The book itself isn't perfect, this hasn't been professionally edited and it takes a very meandering path but William P Reaves' research is extremely thorough and leaves no stones unturned. Frigg is typically portrayed mainly as a passive goddess, sitting by Odin's side, so much about her has been lost to time or corrupted by christianization. Here the author makes a very convincing case around Frigg having had many names (Jord, Nerthus, Frau Holle, Frau Perchta, Saga etc) being Mother Earth in her union with the Sky Father (Odin) and Sea Father (Njord), thus being *the* Mother. Her myth probably has been scrubbed clean by christian authors or otherwise perverted but it survives in European folklore ; goddess figure that leads the wild hunt, a Yule figure, in many cases traditionally seen as the protector of babies and children especially those who died before baptism. Her role seems far more active in the world now. Frigg *is* the cycle of life. As another reviewer puts it: "She convincingly becomes the powerful Earth-Mother and Mother of Gods, including not only Baldur and Thor, but also Freyr and Freyja, whom she had with her brother, Njörd. As Reaves concludes, “She is Odin’s equal in all respects, surpassing him in practical power”(p. 285). That Frigg sits beside Odin on his throne Hliðskjálf, watching (and meddling in) all the Nine Worlds, “should not come as a surprise,” he adds: “The sons of Borr bestowed senses, wit, and spirit on Ask and Embla alike. Women are not subordinate to men. The sources, both religious and historical, are rife with strong, independent women. Both men and women appear on the battlefield, as mythological, historical, and archaeological evidence affirms. Equality of the sexes was a Germanic reality, long before modern times” (p. 285)." Reaves argues that Frigg “is the Germanic Earth-Mother, who like all other Germanic deities was known by a number of names. An unbroken chain of evidence demonstrates that Odin and Frigg are the Germanic analogs of the ancient Indo-European Sky-Father and Earth-Mother.”. Wonderful, wonderful book. The pacing is probably not for everyone, Reaves essentially is inviting you into his research. I am sorry if my review is a little bit messy, I am still processing all of these ideas.

9 comments

I'm hardly qualified to speak on this given that all I've read so far is the Edda, but I distinctly remember the Edda containing at least two parts about how women lie all the time and you shouldn't believe anything they say. I'm very sceptical towards any claims that any ancient cultures had sex equality.

The Prose Edda was written by Snorri Sturluson, a christian author who wrote for the amusement of a christian court, specifically for a boy king. Hence why female deities were stripped of their influences or powers in this retelling, not mentionned more than a handful of times.

Many of the tales of Frigg surviving today in the form of Frau Holle, Perchte (in my native Switzerland) are often seen as negative tales. They have essentially been corrupted. It would've been unacceptable for any woman let alone a female deity to play a non reviled role in christianized folklore.

Women held many rights in norse society, including being the only ones legally capable of divorcing

yeah, I know the Edda isn't like, super trustworthy. Afaik we don't really have more authentic material anymore though? Again, I don't really know anything about it lol. I just am fascinated by norse mythology. I was actually a bit turned off from it by reading the Edda though. Is there anything you can recommend I read that is more close to the original maybe?

I am just in general not trusting in this idea of equal ancient societies I guess.

Which parts of the Eddas have you read? The Poetic or the Prose Edda? The prose Edda is what I'd be particularly wary of as it was fully authored by Snorri while the Poetic Edda is more a collection of preexisting stories because the poetic metre is radically different and so was the style, much more reminiscent of the pre christian norse poetry - that being said, there's a lot of holes that needs to be patched and Snorri most likely left out many things.

There are many pre christian sagas. Most well known ones are Egil's Saga, Volsunga saga etc

Now I'm thinking about the general issue of uncovering the true ancient meanings of myths, and I'm sure that even back then, there were different interpretations, with men and women fighting over the correct usage of symbols and so on.

I agree, when I read folk tales and myths from various traditions I always find myself looking for the pre patriarchal interpretation.

The Greek, Roman and Egyptian myths go back so far into history linking with Babylonian and Sumerian before them. I can well believe that originally there were matriarchal conceptions of the Goddesses and the origin myths.

Norse societies are believed to have had much greater equality between the sexes so the OP’s proposal that pre Christian North European cultures had this idea of Frigg is quite plausible to me.

Thanks for sharing Thaumaturg1st. It is really interesting.

From what I have seen, societies where women were treated better than others were the ones that left the tending of Goddesses to women.

You might also be interested in Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology.