Freyja Picture

SO, this was originally a semi-finished painting called 'Peace' that I was painting back in September. I returned to it in April and completely repainted the face, cloak, etc and changed the whole concept to make this Freyja, a Norse goddess.

In Norse mythology, Freyja was originally one of the Vanir, who fought the Æsir (gods such as Þorr and Oðinn). The Vanir were associated with seidr (use of magic). They were paricularly associated with fertility, even after peace was made, and this is especially true of Freyja. Perhaps due to this she is often accused of promiscuity. On other occasions, however, she is depicted as faithful and loyal to her husband Óðr, who is often away, and for whom she weeps gold tears as she searches for him. Her role partly overlaps that of Frigg, Oðinn's wife, and it is thought by some academics that they originated as a single deity which later became two. Aside from the odd similarity in their husbands' names, they are both associated with love. Freyja is known particularly as the goddess that helps humans in matters of love. It is also said that from human battles she has half the dead (to live out their afterlives in her hall) whilst Oðinn has the other half.

In this image, Freyja is wearing her feather cloak (I've sometimes seen it translated as a 'feather dress' but 'feather cloak' seems more common, and until I learn Old Norse I can't decide for myself which is more accurate). In myth she often lends this cloak to Loki, when he wishes to disguise himself as a woman. This is only one way in which Loki's gender identity is quite fascinating, in fact. But that's a story for another day....

No references.

Sorry for the long description of Norse mythology. It's something I'm passionate about and that I want to study for my MA, and I dislike reductive descriptions such as 'Freyja is the Norse goddess of love and has a feather cloak' because it's more complicated than that... for example the complication with Frigg, and the cloak perhaps being a dress (which doesn't matter much symbolically, only for this visual representation!). No, I haven't mentioned her necklace Brisingr men, her boar Hildisvini or the cats which pull her carriage. None of these appear in the portrait, so that's another matter for another day.

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Continue Reading: The Myths