Freyja

Freyja (alternate spellings include Freya) is the goddess of love, sex, beauty, death, and sorcery. Her name means “Lady.”

Freyja is a Vanir, but was made an honorary Aesir after the Aesir-Vanir war.

Freya with Brisingamen / J. Penrose, 1890 / Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Freya with Brisingamen,J. Penrose (1890)

Freyja’s necklace, Brisingamen, is a symbol of fertility made of amber or gold. These were precious materials in the North. Freyja earned this necklace by laying with four dwarves, who represent the four elements. One of Freyja’s nicknames is Syr, which refers to a female pig or sow. We may find it vulgar to call someone a pig, but to the Norse they were sacred, and this is an excellent fertility symbol; in fact, Frey has a golden boar (Gullinbursti) on whose back he travels, and Freya has a battle swine called Hildisvin (Aswynn, 1998).

Freyja rules the afterlife realm Fólkvangr, on which sits her hall Sessrúmnir, which complements Odin’s hall, Valhalla. 

Freyja is a Völva and practitioner of Seidr. She is something of a shaman and a seer. 

Personal Experience

Freyja is the goddess that called me to this path. I picked up the runes because I had a vision that my father told me it was time. When I was introduced to them, it was Freyja that greeted me. She presented me with a piece of amber engraved with the rune Perthro. I often carry a real piece of amber with me to remember this vision.

A Note on the Runes

Working with the runes is an ongoing process. Before you attempt to use them for divination, you should take the time to learn each of them. At their simplest, they are just an alphabet. To use them as more, you should understand the metaphorical relationships between them. The runes tell a story, like the tarot, but unlike the tarot, they are much more mischievous. They demand attention and care.

I always say that the runes are like cats. They want your attention when they want it, and they will withhold theirs whenever they feel like it. They may back off if you come on too strong, or they may sit on top of everything you’re supposed to be doing. They’re fun to play with … if you understand that they’re in control. They’re playing with you. Sometimes, they like to let you know it. So, it is important to spend time with each rune. Take the time to get to know them!

I think the best way to do this is by meditating on the individual symbols. Then, study the interplay between groups of runes. The aetts. Groups of three. All of these meanings are important when you want to use the runes for magic, bindrunes, or divination.

You can listen to music or chants that help you access the meaning of the rune. Freya Aswynn’s chants were my favorites. I was crushed by reports of her hateful rhetoric because the CD that came with her book was my first introduction to runic chants.

Now, I enjoy listening to Wardruna instead, a band that examines each rune in a song. I like this playlist that takes you through the elder futhark.

Rune Reading: Lammas

For Lammas, I asked the gods to tell me what message I need to hear at this time. I had recently drawn Algiz during a single-rune pull with the same intent, so it was nice to see it waving hello to me again in the first position here!

First Rune: Algiz

Algiz represents protection, but more importantly, it is the sigil of the Valkyrie path, and therefore it can represent my Craft and my relationship with the runes. There are a lot of levels to its meaning here.

Upturned, as it emerged, it represents a hand, or a crow’s foot. Immediately, I am reminded of Odin’s familiars, Huginn and Muninn. Sometimes we read this as a sign to stop, but to me, it seems as if the runes are waving hello!

Second Rune: Sowilo

Sowilo follows Algiz in the natural order of the runes. It represents unconditional victory, as well as your solar identity. It can describe your process of becoming conscious, or becoming an individual. On some level, I see it as a sign that I should continue on this path of practice, to continue improving my Craft.

I also see that element of victory… that if I continue, victory is assured and there is no need for fear.

Third Rune: Jera

Jera is the final rune, associated with Kenaz and Ingwaz. It resembles celestial bodies circling, the two halves of the wheel. It is very interesting that it shows up for me here, at Lammas, when the Wheel turns from light to dark.

It is related to the Winter Solstice, so it’s possible that there is some significance to that in its message. Yule is when I first attended circle, so though I’ve missed a ritual on the Wheel this year, it will mark a full turn of being recommitted to my Craft.

What is the Message?

“You will master your Craft with the turning of the Wheel.”

Dagaz

Dagaz (thaw-gauze) is the eighth rune of the third aett, and the twenty-fourth rune overall. It represents drastic, cataclysmic change.

Dagaz connects to the summer solstice and represents wildfire.

In the Asatru tradition, Othila is often considered to come last, because the two humans that survive Ragnarok inherit the land. In the Valkyrie tradition, this is the last rune.

Othila

Othila (oath-awe-law) is the seventh rune of the third aett, and the twenty-third rune overall. It represents inherited land, or inheritance. There is a sense of birthright, community, kinship, what you are entitled to, and nobility.

Othila is the gift of Ing – a combination of Ingwaz with Gebo, but the inherited gift is generall a material sense, rather than the DNA relationship of Ingwaz.

Othila reminds you to choose your partner wisely. Consider loyalty to your clansmen and tribe.

In the Asatru tradition, this rune is often considered to come last, because the two humans that survive Ragnarok inherit the land. In the Valkyrie tradition, Dagaz is last.

Ingwaz

Ingwaz (eeng-woz)  is the sixth rune of the third aett, and the twenty-second rune overall. It represents progeny, or the “son of.”

Ingwaz is related to Frey and Freya. It represents a large phallus, or vaginal tract, and is also related to the double-helix of DNA, which deepens its connection to inheritance and the connections between generations. When we are reborn, it is to the same tribe.

Ingwaz is connected to the portal to Vanalheim. It is great for astral projection: draw the rune, stare at it, and imagine it like a mirror.

Ingwaz is connected to Kenaz and Jera. In this sense, it represents totality, completion, and fulfilment. Jera relates to Yule, Kenaz to seeding, and Ingwaz to harvest.

Laguz

Laguz (law-gooze) is the fifth rune of the third aett, and the twenty-first rune overall. Here, the feminine mysteries turn inwards.

Nerthus was an old goddess who lived on a lake. A sorceress, on a pitch black lake. In the lake, one could scry about love. If you pass the lake to her island, she would bear very fertile gifts.

Laguz is associated with sex magic, as well as the tides. It can represent tides going out or coming in, depending on if it is upright or inverted. It also represents reciprocal affection.

Mannaz

Mannaz (maw-nawz) is the fourth rune of the third aett, and the twentieth rune overall. It represents the evolution of mankind, or of individuals. There a sense of conscious movement, and this is sometimes called the “spiritual relationship rune.”

Mannaz reminds us of cooperation between two people, or a collaboration for the greater good. It resembles a double Wunjo, creating perfection and harmony. We are co-creators in our divinity.

In some tales, there was a god named Mannaz, who slept between three couples. Each bore his son, and each son represented a different state of consciousness.

Mannaz represents progeny, class systems, and branches of conscious thought.

Ehwaz

Ehwaz (aye-woz) is the third rune of the third aett, and the nineteenth rune overall. The word literally means “horse,” and it represents the domestication of animals, specifically horses.

This is the relationship rune, and it represents a partnership. It asks how we adapt to a situation. What is your vehicle, what is supporting you?

Ehwaz resembles two Laguz runes facing each other.

Berkana

Berkana (bear-khan-nah) is the second rune of the third aett, and the eighteenth overall. This is a very feminine rune, and it looks like breasts or the breasts resting on a pregnant stomach. Berkana means birch.

In divination, this can represent something coming. It looks like Perthro with the doors closed. There are elements of birth, spring time, and nurturing plants or animals. It is useful for feminine magic, as well as fertility rites.