In Norse mythology, there are two tribes of gods: the Vanir and the Aesir. The Vanir tribe are fertility gods, while the Aesir are warrior gods. During the Viking Age, the people of Scandinavia relied heavily on farming for their survival, so the Vanir gods played a crucial role in their worship. As the son of Skadi, a frost giantess, and Njord, the god of the sea, Freyr is a sun god who is a member of the Vanir, associated with fertility and peace. His twin sister, Frejya, is also well known for her cunning and beauty throughout Norse mythology.
Freyr resides in Alfheim, the homeland of the elves, where many posit he may also be their ruler. Freyr was one of the most venerated gods amongst heathen peoples in ancient times. In fact, he received more sacrifices than any other god as his fertility helped the fields and livestock produce abundance and wealth. His favorite animal, the boar, was often sacrificed during harvest festivals.
Freyr had three signature possessions: a ship, a boar, and a sword. His ship, Skíðblaðnir, always had favorable wind. Forged in the furnaces of Svartalfheim, he could travel quickly from one place to another across the world. The ship’s name translates to “assembled from pieces of thin wood” and was the archetype for ships that were often used during ritual burials as they were never actually meant to be seaworthy. Skíðblaðnir was forged by two dwarf craftsmen, Brokkr and Sindri. However, the ship’s most fascinating aspect was Freyr’s ability to fold it up and carry it in his pocket or a small bag.
On land, Freyr traveled by a chariot drawn by boars. The dwarves, Brokkr and Sindri, also created a mechanical boar named Gullinbursti for Freyr. With a full golden mane and bristles that glowed even in the darkest of glooms, Gullinbursti was truly a majestic creature to behold.
Freyr’s sword had the ability to fight on its own. It was one of his most prized possessions; however, it would also bring about his demise during Ragnarök.
At the end of the great war between the Aesir and Vanir, Freyr was taken hostage, where he then joined the Aesir. One day, Freyr decided to sit upon Odin’s throne. But it was no ordinary throne, as those who sat upon it would be able to see anything in the nine worlds of Yggdrasil. What Freyr saw was the most beautiful creature he had ever laid eyes upon walking into a very rich estate. Instantly, he fell into a depression where he refused to eat, drink, or see any of his friends.
Njord was very concerned about his son, so he sent his servant, Skirnir, to see what was wrong. Freyr had fallen in love with the frost giantess, Gerd, and asked Skirnir to woo her on his behalf. All he had to do was go to her father’s (Gymir) hall and ask his permission for Freyr to wed her. Since it was a perilous journey, Skirnir would only agree if he could have Freyr’s horse and magickal sword.
After a bit of convincing, Gerd accepted the marriage proposal; however, Skirnir would keep the sword as his price for completing the mission. Unfortunately, this gift would ultimately cause Freyr’s death as he would be without protection during Ragnarök. Knowing this, he still chose his love Gerd.
Freyr is closely tied with Sweden. In fact, he is so intertwined that Swedish royalty claim the members of the house directly descend from him. His myth and lore are deeply woven into the Scandinavian and Germanic culture, as shown in the art and stories emanating from that region. He is still worshiped in many pagan and heathen circles hundreds of years later, and you can continue this by honoring him at Litha.
Historically, during Litha, farmers would ask the god(dess) to bless the cattle and crops. Nature is at its peak and ready to burst forth with abundance. During this time, the Wiccan Horned God represents male sexuality as he plants his seed. Representing the sun, he gives life to the crops so they may grow. As a sun god, Freyr is the perfect addition to any Litha celebration as he mirrors that of the Horned God. As the god of warmth, abundance, and fertility, he helps to ensure a full field and a bountiful harvest, which was equivalent to survival and wealth for our ancestors. He provides sustenance through fields full of crops, which is why he is often depicted with a large erect phallus.
Freyr is associated with the colors gold, green, and red and prefers offerings of boar and mead. He is closely linked to the ash, holly, and ivy plants as well as brass, bronze, gold, and rose quartz. His symbols are the sun, boar, sword, phallus, and most importantly, the earth itself. Runes associated with Freyr are Ansuz (order), Ingwaz (seed), Jera (harvest), Raidho (energies of time and space of human awareness), and Sowilo (guidance and success). Freyr rules over the sunshine, harvest, ships, success, and wealth.
As one of the most important gods of Norse paganism, Freyr is ideal to pay homage to at Litha. The best way to honor a sun god is to get outside and be a part of nature. Feel his light and warmth shining down upon your skin as you work in your field – or backyard – to ensure a bountiful harvest during the fall. You can also celebrate Freyr during Litha by simply taking a walk and noticing the beauty of the vegetation outside. Like Freyr, take this time to feel the full effects of those you love, how their beauty and magic surround you and help you grow as a person. Use his associations to craft a perfect Litha ritual full of colors and symbols to honor this Norse god of fertility and the earth.