Two fair goddesses sat close by the weaving loom, the Vanir queen and Beyla, the mead maker. Freyja frowned, concentrating on the half image of woven silk before her, eager to complete her work. Freyja hoped to have the tapestry on the wall of the ale hall before her brother returned. She sighed, ‘tapestries take so long’ she mused, ‘even for goddesses’ ! Freyr stood before her in the shining silks, sword raised in triumph, the earth dragon dead at his feet, ancient days, at the beginning of the world. Freyja reached for another skein and twined the thread into the weaving.
Suddenly Freyja’s concentration was broken as her brother ran into her chamber, a boyish smile on his face and a golden boar trotting at his side. Freyja stared in disbelief, the boar shone like the sun and gazed at her with large and intelligent eyes. Beyla leaped up with delight, scattering her tools. “Isn’t he wonderful ?” Freyr cried happily, “the dwarves made him for me ! And this as well !”, Freyr pulled a small wooden object from his purse. Freyja, still somewhat taken aback by the boars appearance, took it from his hand, and was shocked to be holding a miniature battleship, perfect in every detail..
“Why ” was all the Vanadis could say.
“Oh, it was some knavery of Loki’s, but the dwarves were honoured to make treasures for all the gods. Thor’s got a lovely hammer.
“And what did they make for me” asked Freyja.
Freyr’s face fell, ” Er, nothing dear, maybe Loki forgot to mention you”.
“We will soon see about that” Freyja said coldly, and demanded to know the names of the dwarven smiths. The nervous Freyr told all he know and watched his beloved snatch her feather cloak and hurtle angrily into the air in falcon form.
“Ah, women !”, Freyr sighed, grinning sheepishly down at the boar who oinked in agreement.
Far away in the lands of men, a storm thrashed at the wings of a struggling falcon. Thor was enjoying his new hammer and Freyja’s weather spells weren’t having any effect on the tempest. Freyja was in a black mood when she landed in the dwarves’ cave mouth. Freyja shrugged off the cloak and wrung out its’ sodden feathers, and magicked her damp hair and clothes back to respectability. She set off down the stone tunnels with a determined and dangerous stride.
Far beneath the ground, where the sun’s light could never reach, Freyja found the dwarves she was searching for. They were exhausted from their recent endeavours, drunk with good ale and half heartedly arguing the finer points of metallurgy. Freyja demanded her share of the treasures that had been made for the other gods. The dwarves groaned “Come back next week” said one.
“If I even see another set of bellows before the month’s end, I’ll die” said another.
Freyja was not prepared to wait and screamed at the dwarves: “You have no honour for the goddesses !” she cried, “You should be ashamed !”.
The master smith Eitri grinned up at Freyja through hazy drunken eyes, “Be fair madam, you will get no work out of us today but there are four brothers nearby who will gladly make you a treasure, but it will cost you dear.
“I will pay if I must” Freyja muttered. Eitri gave her directions and the goddess strode off, determined to find a treasure to match the others. The dark tunnels took Freyja further and further from the world of men and finally she came to the forge Eitri had described. The dwarves were working here, their hammers clattering and echoing around the vaulted ceiling. The fire of the forge reflected on their pale, corpselike faces and Freyja shuddered at the sight. One dwarf looked up and gasped at the visitor, the first woman these low dwellers had ever seen.
Freyja walked in haughtily, well aware of the effect her firelit beauty was having on the smiths. “I have come to commission a treasure from you. Are you aware of the gifts made so recently forthe gods ?” “Aahh”;, hissed one of the smiths, “gifts given freely, the unskilled work of amateurs !”.
“You can do better ?”;, asked Freyja.
“We can, if you are prepared to pay”.
“I am”, Freyja replied.
“Then we will set to work, and when the treasure is finished we can discuss what is due”. The dwarves whispered amongst themselves and then set to work, stoked the fire into a towering searing blaze, pumped hard at the bellows, poured liquid gold from crucibles and hammered busily. Content that she would return with a prize worthy of a goddess, Freyja relaxed away from the scorching heat of the forge.
After an hour the fire died down and the dwarves brought their work to Freyja for inspection, between them they held a glittering and elaborate necklace of gold and amber, intricate beyond belief and of unsurpassed beauty. Freyja was filled with an uncontrollable desire to own the jewels, and asked what she owed them for their work. The dwarves grinned and said “We want you”.
“What ?”, Freyja sobbed in horror, aching with desire for the necklace, “you expect me to live in this hole ?”.
“Nay”, answered one of the dwarves,”only for four days, one with each of us”. Freyja was filled with disgust at the very sight of the pale smiths, but she had to have the necklace, after a few minutes thought she consented.
The ugliest dwarf grabbed the necklace and shooed his brothers away, he turned to the goddess and said “Lady, my name is Alfrigg. Will you honour your promise and lie with me until the forge is cold ?” .
“I will honour my promise” Freyja replied. Alfrigg held out the necklace and gestured for Freyja to bend down so he could fasten it round her neck. The dwarf arranged the jewels in three tiers and Freyja was overjoyed at having the treasure about her shoulders. She smiled at the dwarf in pure pleasure, seeing not his ugliness but the skill which had crafted the gorgeous necklace and loved him for it. She untied her belt, unfastened the golden pins securing her gown and let it fall softly to the floor. The dwarf shuddered with desire for the naked goddess standing before him in the firelight, the gold and amber sparkling above her breasts and her smooth skin reflecting the embers’ glow. Freyja knelt down in front of him and kissed his lips warmly, then pulled his face against her bosom. Alfrigg squealed with delight and kneaded her breasts as she pulled off his breeches. She lay down and drew him to her.
The embers were cooling and Alfrigg lay exhausted in Freyja’s arms. “Never has such pleasure been known in the dwarven halls”, sighed the dwarf. “Because you gave yourself to me so completely I will add a gift of dwarven magic to your prize”, Alfrigg stroked the necklace and spoke charms of power over it. “No man you desire will resist you while you wear this necklace, no magic will defend them against you, even the gods will be brought to their knees with lust for you”.
The cavern had grown cold and Alfrigg helped the goddess into her gown. Time passed and Alfrigg’s brothers returned, they relit the forge fire and stoked the flames into a roaring blaze. The stockiest of the dwarves declared himself to be next and ordered his brothers out of the room.
“I am Dvalin”, the dwarf declared, “and you are mine until the fire grows cold”. The dwarf leaped at Freyja with astonishing strength and tore her dress from her. He pummelled her breasts roughly so she gasped with pain. He bit her nipples and entered her, clawing at her woman hood with his fingers. The hours of abuse passed slowly for Freyja, but she lay for him without complaint, thinking always of the necklace heavy on her neck, and the power it now contained.
Eventually the fire cooled and the breathless Dvalin ceased his rough play. The dwarf grinned at her, saying “because you gave yourself to me so completely I will add my own magic to your prize”. Dvalin, all fury gone, stroked the necklace gently and spoke dwarven charms. “No warrior you admire will fail to please you while you wear this necklace. No army you support will fail on the battlefield. No fallen warrior will resist your call and no magic of men or gods will prevent you”. Dvalin put blankets around the goddess and held her tenderly as the fire died. The brothers returned and kindled the fire, piling the fuel high.
The third dwarf claimed the right to lie with Freyja, and his fellows left the room. “I am Berling”, the dwarf declared, “will you love me as you loved Alfrigg, my brother ?”. Freyja was still sore and weary from Dvalin’s attentions but, determined to settle her debt for the fabulous necklace, nodded. She let the blankets fall from her shoulders and the dwarf marvelled at her naked beauty. The dwarf gently pulled Freyja to her knees, the better to reach her with his short stature. He kissed her, then explored her body slowly and passionately with his tongue, encouraged by Freyja’s gasps of pleasure as he suckled at her nipples. Finally he supped from Freyja’s chalice, the goddess moaned with joy, after Dvalin’s harsh lovemaking, this was bliss.
“Will you do the same for me ?” asked Berling. Freyja nodded again and pulled the dwarf’s shirt over his head, only to check in horror, for Berling’s body was covered in festering scabs. Freyja concentrated hard on the necklace, on beloved Freyr, fair Vanaheim and all she held dear and returned the dwarf’s attentions. The pus from his wounds was foul in her mouth but she took care to repay him fairly. Berling screamed as Freyja bought him to the heights of passion, and then he lay in her arms, gasping for breath.
Once he had recovered the dwarf gazed up at the goddess in admiration. “Only the bravest of women could have embraced a wretch like me. Because you gave yourself to me so completely I will add my own magic to your prize”. Berling stroked the necklace and muttered his dwarven charms. “You will have the might to overcome all illness while you wear this necklace. No curse will prevent you. Death itself no barrier to your healing”. Freyja laughed with happiness and wove charms around the dwarf. By the end of her song there was no sign of his wounds. She held Berling in her arms until the fire burned low, and the dwarf rose to wrap her in blankets and furs.
In the deep cavern, the sunless hours passed and the other dwarves returned to the forge and rebuilt the fire. The fourth brother seemed most reluctant to claim his rights and hung back. His comrades laughed at him and left crying shouts of encouragement. “What is your name ?”, asked Freyja, smiling with amusement at his nervousness.
“Grerr”, the dwarf mumbled staring at his feet.
“Don’t you want me ?” asked Freyja.
Grerr was very short, even for a dwarf, and clearly lacked the confidence of his brothers. “If you don’t want to do this”, Grerr stammered, “you don’t have to – I won’t tell them”. Freyja frowned, was he unwilling, or suffering a virgin’s nightmares of impotency ? Freyja owed a debt to this dwarf, and her pride would not see an oath broken lightly. Using her magic she reached out to Grerr’s mind, and felt it full of lust and fear of failure. Grerr thought himself unworthy of a goddess and it would take a strong charm to restore his confidence.
Freyja drew the dwarf to her and let the blankets fall from around her shoulders. Grerr stared up at her, in helpless reverence of the unreachable divinity before him. Freyja willed him to desire her body and the necklace burned brighter around her shoulders. The dwarf’s uncertainty snapped and he leapt into her arms and buried his mouth into her bosom. Freyja held the dwarf, scarcely larger than a child , to her breast as he suckled with the passion of a man. She lay down for him and Grerr, the virgin, mounted her like a veteran. The forge fire slowly dwindled and Grerr pulled the blankets back around Freyja to keep her warm. “You repaid me faithfully”, the dwarf said proudly, “Because you honoured your debt when you could have shunned me, I will add my own magic to your prize”.
Grerr stroked the necklace and sang his charms. “Your beasts and the beasts of your friends will be fertile when you wear this necklace. The ground where your feet fall will yield the best of crops and flowers. No woman you love dearly will want for a child”.
Grerr’s brothers returned and gathered to bid Freyja farewell. The goddess hugged them all in turn, thanking them for the wondrous necklace and their priceless gifts. She retrieved her falcon feather cloak and followed the tunnels back to the sunlit lands. At the cavern’s entrance she paused, the storm was long over and after the dim forge the light was overwhelming. Freyja stood triumphant, enjoying the warm sun on her naked skin, the wind in her hair, and the weight of the necklace on her shoulders. Vanaheim’s call was strong after so long away. She threw the falcon feather cloak around her shoulders and soared into the sky.
Freyr sat miserably in the meadows of Vanaheim, his beloved had been gone for days and he pined for her company. His gold bristled boar lay beside him in the sun, rivalling its brilliance. A hawk’s cry broke the stillness and the boar rose onto his forelegs and grunted a welcome to the swooping bird. Freyja let the falcon’s form drop away as she alighted before her brother. Freyr stared at the goddess he thought he knew so well. She wore a necklace that put the sun, moon and stars to shame, wild flowers sprang from the turf where she walked towards him and she kindled a lust in him that seared him to his very soul. Freyja embraced him and he wept for joy.
( This story is very loosely based on the late Icelandic tale of Brisingamen’s forging, which also has Freyja buying the jewels with her body from four dwarves. This myth has marked similarities with the eddic tale of the treasures of the gods, which include Freyr’s golden boar and his magic ship. Other than these elements, the rest of this story is completely reworked. I have tried to combine the ancient, independant Vanir faith with the folktale tradition of the myths. Hence Freyr is Freyja’s lover and not Odin as in the surviving myth. The god’s treasures seem to represent inner power. Thus, in this new tale, Freyja’s necklace embodies her influence over lust, war, healing, magic and fertility and its’ forging is her discovery of her own powers. Following the usual bias of a dedicated myth, the dwarves bestow powers on the necklace that surpass those of the other gods. But Freyja’s influence over the battlefield and magic is the strongest in the eddic myths anway !
Sources Flateyjarbok – the relevant section is quoted in full in Britt-Mari Nasstrom’s ‘Freyja – the Great Goddess of the North’ Edda, Snorri Sturluson)