Frey (lord, master) In Norse mythology one of the Vanir; god of fertility, peace, and wealth; son of Njord and patron god of Sweden and Iceland. Frey’s wife was Gerda, daughter of mountain giants Gymir and his wife Aurboda. When Frey first saw Gerda he immediately fell in love with her and sent his messenger Skirnir to her, telling him,
“Go, and ask her hand for me, and bring her to me whether her father be willing or not, and I will amply reward you.”
Skirnir was willing to undertake the mission, provided he was given Frey’s wonderful sword, which Frey then gave him. Eventually he returns with Gerda’s promise that within nine nights she would come to a place called Barey and there marry Frey.
The Prose Edda describes Frey as “one of the most celebrated of the gods. He presided over rain and sunshine, and all the fruits of the earth, and should be invoked in order to obtain good harvests and also peace. He moreover dispenses wealth among men.” Among Frey’s treasures were Blodighofi (bloody-hoof), his magical horse; Gullinbursti (gold-bristled), a golden boar or a chariot drawn by a boar; and Skidbladnir (wooden-bladed), a magic ship that could be folded up like a tent.
Frey’s boar reflects the cult of the boar associated with the god. On the eve of the Yule festival a sacrifice called sónargöltr (atonement boar) was offered to make Frey favourable to the New Year. The ancient pagan cult still survives in Sweden in the cakes baked at Yule (now Christmas) in the form of a boar. Frey was sometimes called Ingvi-Frey or Ingunar-Frey (Frey of Ingun). Edward Burne-Jones’s 19th-century painting of Frey portrays him seated with an olive branch and a boar at his feet.
Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow-Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante