HOW FREYA GAINED HER NECKLACE BUT
LOST HER LOVED ONE
Loki went through Asgard silent and with head bent, and everyone in Asgard said to each other, “This will teach Loki not to work anymore mischief.” They did not know that what Loki had done had sown the seeds of mischief and that these seeds were to sprout up and bring sorrow to the beautiful Freya, who the Giant wanted to carry off with the Sun and the Moon as payment for his building the wall around Asgard.
Freya had looked at the wonders that Loki had brought into Asgard—the golden threads that were Sif’s hair, and Frey’s boar that shone light from its bristles as it flew. The gleam of these golden things dazzled her, and made her dream constantly of the wonders that she herself might possess. She often thought, “What wonderful things the Three Giant Women would give me if I could go to them on their mountaintop.”
Long before this, when the wall around their City was not yet built, and when the Gods had set up only the court with their twelve seats and the Hall that was for Odin and the Hall that was for the Goddesses, three Giant Women had come into Asgard.
They came after the Gods had set up a forge and had begun to work metal for their buildings. The metal they worked was pure gold. They built Gladsheim, the Hall of Odin, and all their dishes and household ware with gold. That was the Age of Gold, and the Gods did not begrudge gold to anyone. The Gods were happy then, and no one had any idea of the evil that was to come.
But after the Three Giant Women came the Gods began to value gold and hoard it. They lost the happy innocence of their first days.
At last the Three were driven out from Asgard. The Gods forgot about hoarding gold, and they built up their City, and they made themselves strong.
The lovely Vanir bride Freya, thought about the Giant Women and the wonderful things of gold they had flashed through their hands. However she did not tell her husband Odur, what she was thinking for Odur, more than any of the others in Asgard, preferred the days of happy innocence, before gold came to be hoarded and valued. Odur would not let Freya go near the mountaintop where the Three had their high seat.
But Freya could not stop thinking about them and the things of gold they had. “Why should Odur know I went to them?” she said to herself. “No one will tell him. What difference will it make if I go to them and get some lovely thing for myself? I shall not love Odur less because I go my own way for once.”
Then one day she left their palace, leaving Odur, her husband, playing with their little child Hnossa and went down to the Earth. There she stayed for a while, tending the flowers that were her charge. After a while she asked the Elves to tell her where the mountain was on which the Three Giant Women stayed.
The Elves were frightened and would not tell her, although she was queen over them. She left them and went down into the caves of the Dwarfs. They showed her the way to the seat of the Giant Women, but before they showed her the way they made her feel ashamed and miserable.
“We will show you the way if you stay here with us,” said one of the Dwarfs.
“For how long would you have me stay?” said Freya.
“Until the cocks in Svartheim crow,” said the Dwarfs, closing round her. “We want to know what the company of one of the Vanir is like.” “I will stay,” Freya said.
Then one of the Dwarfs reached up and put his arms round her neck and kissed her with his ugly mouth. Freya tried to break away from them, but the Dwarfs held her. “You cannot go away from us now until the cocks of Svartheim crow,” they said.
Then one and then another of the Dwarfs pressed up to her and kissed her. They made her sit down beside them on the heaps of skins they had. When she wept they screamed at her and beat her. One, when she would not kiss him on the mouth, bit her hands. So Freya stayed with the Dwarfs until the cocks of Svartheim crowed.
They showed her the mountain on the top of which the Three banished from Asgard lived. The Giant Women sat overlooking the World of Men. “What do you want, wife of Odur?” one who was called Gulveig said to her.
“Alas! Now that I have found you I know that I should ask you for nothing,” Freya said.
“Speak, Vana,” said the second of the Giant Women.
The third said nothing, but she held up in her hands a necklace of gold most strangely made. “How bright it is!” Freya said. “. Oh, how I should love to wear it!”
“It is the necklace Brisingamen,” said the one who was called Gulveig.
“It is yours to wear, wife of Odur,” said the one who held it in her hands.
Freya took the shining necklace and clasped it round her throat. She could not bring herself to thank the Giant Women, for she saw that there was evil in their eyes. She bowed to them, however, and she went down the mountain on which they sat overlooking the World of Men.
In a while she looked down and saw Brisingamen and she felt happy again. It was the most beautiful thing ever made by hand. None of the Asyniur or Vanir possessed such a beautiful thing. It made her more and more lovely, and Odur, she thought, would forgive her when he saw how beautiful and happy Brisingamen made her.
She rose up from amongst the flowers and left the Elves and made her way back to Asgard. Everyone who greeted her gazed with wonder at the necklace that she wore. There came a look of longing into the eyes of the Goddesses when they saw Brisingamen.
But Freya hardly stopped to speak to anyone. As swiftly as she could she made her way to her own palace. She would show herself to Odur and win his forgiveness. She entered her shining palace and called to him. No answer came. Her child, the little Hnossa, was on the floor, playing. Her mother took her in her arms, but when the child looked at Brisingamen, she turned away crying.
Freya left Hnossa down and searched again for Odur. He was not in any part of their palace. She went into every house in Asgard, asking for news of him. No one knew where he had gone. At last Freya went back to their palace and waited and waited for Odur to return. But Odur did not come.
The Goddess, Odin’s wife, the queenly Frigga came. “You are waiting for Odur, your husband,” Frigga said. “Let me tell you Odur will not come to you here. He went when he found out what you were doing. He was unhappy. Odur has left Asgard and no one knows where to search for him.”
“I will search for him outside of Asgard,” Freya said. She stopped crying and took the little child Hnossa and put her in Frigga’s arms. Then she mounted her carriage that was drawn by two cats, and journeyed down from Asgard to Midgard, the Earth, to search for Odur her husband.
Year in and year out, and over all the Earth, Freya went searching and calling for the lost Odur. She went as far as the border of the Earth, where she could look over to Jötunheim, where the Giant who would have carried her off with the Sun and the Moon as payment for the building of the wall around Asgard lived. But nowhere, from the end of the Rainbow Bifröst, that stretched from Asgard to the Earth, to the boundary of Jötunheim, did she find a trace of her husband Odur.
At last she turned her carriage toward Bifröst, the Rainbow Bridge that stretched from Midgard, the Earth, to Asgard, the home of the Gods. Heimdall, the Watcher for the Gods, guarded the Rainbow Bridge. Freya went to him with a half hope fluttering in her heart.
“Oh Heimdall,” she cried, “Oh Heimdall, Watcher for the Gods, speak and tell me if you know where Odur is.”
“Odur is in every place where the searcher has not gone; Odur is in every place that the searcher has left. Those who seek him will never find Odur,” said Heimdall, the Watcher for the Gods.
Then Freya stood on Bifröst and wept. Frigga, the queenly Goddess, heard the sound of her weeping, and came out of Asgard to comfort her.
“Ah, what comfort can you give me, Frigga?” cried Freya. “What comfort can you give me when Odur will never be found by anyone who searches for him?”
“Look at how your daughter, the child Hnossa, has grown,” said Frigga. Freya looked up and saw a beautiful maiden standing on Bifröst, the Rainbow Bridge. She was young, more youthful than any of the Vanir or the Asyniur, and her face and her form were so lovely that all hearts melted when they looked at her.
Freya was comforted in her loss. She followed Frigga across Bifröst, the Rainbow Bridge, and came once again into the City of the Gods. Freya lived with Hnossa, her child in her own palace in Asgard.
She still wore round her neck Brisingamen, the necklace that caused her to lose Odur. But now she wore it, not for its splendor, but as a sign of the wrong she had done. She weeps, and her tears become golden drops as they fall on the earth. Poets who know her story call her The Beautiful Lady in Tears.