Friends & Associates of Frigg
by Jessica Pape-Green
[This post was originally posted to WordPress and may have formatting errors as a result to being moved here.]
Hey, best witches! It's day 6 of 30 Days of Deity Devotion, and so today's mission is to lay out all of Frigg's mythological friends & associates.
As mentioned in the previous post, a 10th century manuscript calls Frija and Volla sisters, but it otherwise isn't mentioned in the documents we still have. As well "sister" and "brother" are often used to mean close relationships or even just someone who worked on your family farm and shared meals with you regularly.
What we do know for sure was that Fulla acted as Frigg's handmaid and closest confidant. Fulla carries Frigg's eski, an ashen box where personal possessions are kept. It's not elaborated on, but since Fulla is regularly carrying it instead of it just being on a shelf, it possibly keeps something more important than that. For example, Iðunn kept her apples in an eski that was a large ashen chest. It's also very symbolic. As Frigg carrying Odin's keys on her belt would be carrying a symbol of their legal marriage but also his trust, Fulla carting that box around would be showing her station as Frigg's servant but also demonstrating that she's trusted with Frigg's most precious possessions.
This leads into the fact that Fulla is also the trusted keeper of Frigg's secrets. This itself is a big damn deal. Frigg doesn't even trust Odin with her secrets. She's a very secretive person. She's a seeress who easily sees present and future, but she keeps it all to herself. (And it does say something significant that Odin doesn't bother her about it, despite all his truth-seeking.) And yet, Fulla does get to know. We can even see it in action in Grímnismál, where Frigg sends Fulla to give the king the false prophecy instead of her usual messenger, Gná.
(Fulla also looks after Frigg's footwear which apparently denotes a very close relationship, but I don't really know about that cultural aspect, so I can't explain it here.)
Fulla appears to be potentially noble herself, as she wears some kind of golden headgear (a band or maybe snood), she was given the gift of a finger ring by the deceased Baldr & Nanna, and she has appeared as a guest instead of a servant at banquets. Now, it's not abnormal for say, the daughter of a duke to go be the servant of the Queen. European Queens' servants are often noble themselves unless they happen to be famously talented or simply lucky members of the lower class. But it does go to show that Fulla has options. She doesn't have to remain an unmarried attendant. That she does speaks volumes for their relationship.
It's all of this that leads some people to suggest there may have been a romantic &/or sexual relationship between the two. While it is true that all this could also be true of very close friends, it is worth keeping in mind that intimate relationships between unrelated women of the same household were not uncommon. It often happened within harems, but it could also happen in situations like this. The pagan Norse were pretty open to side-action with any partner; you were only obligated to get married and produce children - what you did in addition to that wasn't a big deal usually. It could be a big deal, depending on how controlling the partners were, but we see plenty of examples of no one giving a shit. Frigg and Odin appear to be one of those couples — while they have both been insulted by others for their trists, we see not a single example of them going off on each other. There's no reason to read Frigg as purely monogamous, and so there's no reason to exclude her relationship with Fulla as a possibility.
Vili & Vé
Vili and Vé are Odin's younger brothers. They're not mentioned that much. Primarily, they helped Odin shape the world, helped Odin gift Askr & Embla¹, and once functioned as Frigg's interim husbands. The story behind that is that Odin was once abroad so long that everyone assumed he was dead. In those circumstances, it's pretty normal in the source culture for a younger unmarried brother to step in and marry the deceased's wife, take over the property, and adopt the family. Vili and Vé were both younger, unmarried brothers of Odin, so they both showed up to do this. Frigg didn't believe Odin was dead and so didn't want to marry and hand over Odin's property to either of them. Instead, she pretended to take her time deciding between the two, giving them hospitality and treating them as guests in the meantime. To keep them complacent with this arrangement, she "visited" each of them at night. Thus she is accused of sleeping with them. It's not super clear whether she actually did or not, but it is likely, given the situation. It seems that eventually Odin did show up and thus his brothers left.
It is worth noting that one theory behind these brothers is that the three of them may represent parts of the human self - inspiration & knowledge, desire & thought, and spiritual connection or soul. Given that the Heathen gods are particularly given to fracturing and that Odin is also given to dividing himself into parts of the soul,² it's possible that this myth may be speaking of a brief transformative change instead, which would be an additional reason for why Frigg would would allow Vili and Vé to temporarily take Odin's place.
Hlín is a close friend of Frigg's, to the point that Baldr's death and Odin's death sentence both grieve her as much as they grieve Frigg. Hlín is a protectress whom Frigg sends out to protect those she favours. Hlín is also one of the fighters (and among those who die) in Ragnarök.
Rerir and his wife had trouble conceiving and asked Frigg for help. Frigg, in turn, sends Hljóð with an apple of fertility. It works and Rerir's wife conceives, but Rerir died shortly after, and his wife ends up carrying for 6 years. Finally, she has the child delivered by C-section (which meant she would die) and the 5-year-old Völsung was delivered.
The Lombards owed their name and independence to Frigg. When the Winnili came to Scoringa, they encountered the Vandals, who demanded tribute. The Winnili refused. The Vandals called on Odin to intervene. Odin said their armies should come up a certain hill the next morning and the most impressive army would be victorious. Favouring the Winnili, who were smaller in number, Frigg told them to include their women in their army (with their hair tied under their faces like beards to pass as men) to be more impressive and then she arranged it so that Odin's bed was facing east - where the Winnili would arrive from. She woke him at sunrise, and, upon seeing the Winnili first, he said "Who are these long-beards?" Thus Frigg told him that since he had named their people, he would have to give them the victory.
Gná is Frigg's messenger, who rides the horse Hófvarpnir. Hófvarpnir has the ability to run through air and across water. She is only attested briefly in the Prose Edda. Some think she may be one and the same with Fulla, but since Fulla is spoken of in the same attestations she is, I personally find it unlikely. Hófvarpnir's sires are mentioned by name in Gylfaginning (the same book of the Prose Edda where Gná is most described) as though the audience should recognize their names, but those names appear nowhere else. So quite possibly there was once a lot of lore about Gná and her horse which has since been lost.
Lofn was given permission by Odin and Frigg to "bring together" people whose unions were against tradition or out-right banned. This likely meant queer relationships as well as relationships that were disapproved of or just didn't follow traditional arrangement. It has also been posited that since she is to "bring together" as opposed to explicitly wed them, as the statement is often translated, it's possible she also helps people find their enemies and such as well.
To be clear, she is not goddess of weddings. Thor was usually invoked for most weddings, as well as the other big-name gods. But Lofn performs an important duty of reminding people that societal rules are a guideline to be followed in spirit and according to what is just, but that some things in life trump those rules — such as love and feud.
¹Askr & Embla are often suspected of being post-Christian additions as they don't appear in every version of new world creation and are VERY Adam & Eve-like.
²"Huginn" and "Muninn" are literally "thought" and "memory." Additionally, recall that he willingly gave up his eye as sacrifice and sacrificed his whole self to himself, experiencing death without dying. This is a dude who is totally chill with fracturing as many pieces as he likes.