Every religion is always changing, and no matter how hard we try to follow the footsteps of our ancestors, we will never fully understand the essence of their spiritual beliefs. All religions have their branches also, and that happens on the spirituality of the Germanic and Scandinavian peoples of old as well. Some prefer to worship only the Aesir or the Vanir, others worship the underworld deities and the deities connected with a more primal scenary, and others just choose one deity and prefer to focus on that one archetype. Suffice to say that most neo pagans prefer to worship just Odin, or Thor, or even both; these two deities are very famous amongst neo pagans and everything else in this spiritual tradition seems of no importance. However, to our ancestors it was obviously different. In fact, as I’ve mentioned before, Odin was not that famous back then, and people prefered to worship fertility deities rather than Warrior deities. The majority of the populace were farmers, herders and fishers. Only a few would worship warrior deities and death deities. Odin was a deity more related to death and war than magic and wisdom (as we commonly think nowadays). Odin’s cult was very restricted and only for a certain elite of the society.
With that being said, I’ll move on to the real subject of this post. One of the most worshiped deities of that time was the god Frey, mostly worshipped at Upsala (Sweden). Fricco or Freyr, a name which appears to be identical with the Teutonic word represented in Old English by frea – meaning – lord or king. It is stated by some historians and archaeologists that an image of Frey, which was worshipped at Thrandheim in Norway, had been sent there from Sweden. There are certain stories that mention this very image of Frey in Sweden which was carried about the country, and to which sacrifices were offered. This was common with certain deities and Tacitus mentions a cult with these similarities in hisGermania; an image of a female deity carried to a forest and sacred grove, and sacrifices were made to her (including human sacrifices).
There were many sacrifices to the god Freyr, but mostly were animals. There are accounts of the sacrifice of black oxen offered to Frey by the mythical hero Hading. This sacrifice was often called Frodblod or perhaps Frodblót by theSwedes – Frey’s sacrifice. There are frequent occurances of Frey – in Swedish (and Danish) – place-names which indicates the prevalence of the cult in both of these countries.
The worship of Frey might also have been very popular in Norway, and from there it passed to Iceland. The cult being passed on by the early settlers. As late as tenth century the people of Thrandheim are represented as refusing to break their image of Frey at the command of King Olaf, because people had long served thisdeity and the god himself had done good to his people. There are accounts from the folk of Thrandheim that state the deity often talked with them and told them things to come and also gave them peace and plenty. At the great festivals it was customary to drink to Frey, 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 the late nineth century; this was given by King Harald to Ingimund.
In Iceland itself the traces of a popular cult of Frey are very clear, and more than one prominent person mentioned this cult in the sagas. One of these accounts, from 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 and in honor to the deity. 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; it was supposed that he was so highly esteemed by Frey himself for the offerings he made to him, that the god did not wish Thorgrim’s mound to freeze. Great attachment to this deity also appears in the story of Hrafnkel, who loved no other god more than Frey, and gave to him his possessions ; all his most valuable things. Among the offerings was a horse (Hrafnkel’s own 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 by the end of the tenth century. Freyfaxi became the well known name for the cult of Frey and the celebration to him in August, during Lammas day (1st of August).
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