The pantheon of the British Columbia Heathen Freehold reflects the deities that have been most influential in the development of our living practice. This is by no means a definitive list of Heathen deities, it is meant to serve as a baseline which our members and kindreds are free to deviate from.
Odin is the All-Father and head of the pantheon. He is reported to be the father of many of the other gods. Depicted as a one-eyed wanderer that hanged himself from the world-tree to gain the knowledge of the runes. He is viewed as a god of magic, warfare, kingship, and criminals. Assisted by his ravens Huginn and Muninn, who travel through all the worlds and report back to him each day what they saw, and his wolves Geri and Freki, who accompany him wherever he goes. It is said Odin survives on wine alone, feeding his food to his wolves. One of the most attested gods, Odin has more than one hundred by-names and plays an integral part throughout most of the surviving lore. Odin is never called King in any primary sources, instead many of his bynames implied various aspects of Kingship. While Odin is the Head of the Pantheon he has not always held that place. Originally Tyr was King of the Gods like his Graeco-Roman counterparts Zeus and Jupiter. Half of those who die in battle are claimed by Odin to reside in Valhalla, where they maintain their readiness to fight at Odin’s command. He was known to the Anglo-Saxons as Woden and to the Continental tribes as Wodan. Wednesday is named for Odin.
Frigga is the Queen of Heaven, and wife of Odin. She is the mother of Balder. The only goddess to be attested in every Germanic culture, she was worshipped as the goddess of marriage, family, prophecy, and protector of children. She was said to know all, but not discuss the future even with her beloved husband. However, she was not above using her knowledge to manipulate her husband and others into achieving her goals. She was known to the Anglo-Saxons as Frige, the Continental Tribes as Frija. Friday is most likely named for Frige.
Easter is the Anglo-Saxon goddess of renewal, rebirth, dawn, and spring. A very important goddess to the Freehold, Easter is featured prominently in some of our own modern lore. She was so important to the Anglo-Saxons that her name continued to be associated with the Christian holiday of Passover. Many of the traditional festivities may trace their origins back to her worship. Easter may also be related to a class of Ancestral Mothers called the Austiahenae, or Mothers of the Eastern Tribes. Easter’s name is derived from Proto-Indo-European *H₂ewsṓs meaning dawn or east. The Anglo-Saxons had two variants of her name based on dialectal differences Ēostre and Ēastre. The Continental Tribes may have called her Ostara. Easter is named for her.
Freya is the goddess of sex, magic, and fertility. She taught Odin the practice of Seidh and learned Galdor from him. The sister of Ingui-Frey she was also brought to Asgard following the Æsir-Vanir War. She is said to drive a chariot pulled by cats, own a falcon cloak that allows her to fly, and wears the precious necklace Brisingammon. She is featured in many myths, usually as a prize the giants wish to claim from the Æsir, however due to the trickery of Loki such a thing never happens. Freya gets first pick of those slain in battle and takes half of them to Folkvangr, to serve as her warriors. She also leads the Valkyries who choose the slain on the battle-field. Freya has many other names, such as; Valkyrie, Gullveig, and Heidi. She was called Freyja by the Norse, possibly Freo by the Anglo-Saxons, and possibly Frowa by the Continental Tribes. Friday might be named for Freya, though it is more likely named for Frigga.
Hel is the ruler of Helheim, and goddess of death. She welcomes the dead into her realm and leads them to the halls of their ancestors. She is the daughter of Loki and the giantess Angrboda. Her brothers Fenrir and Jormungand are monstrous enemies of gods and men, though she is an ally that provides shelter and peace after death. Hel’s appearance is described as half living and half corpse; this represents her deep connections to the grave and those who have gone into her embrace.
Ingui-Frey is the god of fertility, and priest of the gods. Claimed as the progenitor of the Swedish royal family, Frey is viewed as having a vested interest in the success of individual humans. The Norse viewed him as one of the Vanir, a tribe of deities distinct from yet interwoven with the Æsir. Frey was given the Lordship of Alfheim as his tooth-gift, this indicates a strong relationship between the Elves and the Vanir. He is most frequently depicted as riding a golden boar, or his magic ship that folds up to fit in his pocket. The most famous myth involving Frey is the courtship of Gerd, during which he offered his sword, that fought without the owner holding it, as Bride-Price. He was known to the Anglo-Saxons as Ing and Ingui depending on dialect. To the Norse he was known as Yngui-FreyR, Yngvi, or simply FreyR. The Yngui and Yngvi variants are both pronounced Yngui and are a remnant of a time when ‘v’ and ‘u’ were the same letter.
Loki is the god of change, mischief, and the outliers. He might originally have been an aspect of Odin, only being recorded in the Norse lore. A controversial figure in the lore, he is also controversial in modern Heathenry. In the Icelandic tales he is a Blood-Brother of Odin, travelling companion of Thor, and the cause and solution to most of the gods’ troubles. Loki is the father of Hel and her dangerous brothers Fenris and Jormungand, he is also the mother of Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged steed. Some modern Heathens believe that Loki is a traitor due to an Icelandic myth where Loki causes the death of Balder, whom Frigga had tried to make invincible. While not his finest moment if true, there are other versions of that myth from Denmark in which Loki plays no part. The Freehold holds him as a bringer of necessary and sometimes painful change.
Nerthus is the Earth herself, the mother of all that walks upon her surface and nourisher of all who thrive by her mercy. Nerthus was traditionally addressed by the local language term for the Earth, however the Freehold uses the oldest recorded version of her name to emphasize her continued importance to Heathens from the oldest of times to ourselves. She might have been known as Erce and Eorth to the Anglo-Saxons, Jorth to the Norse, and possibly Erda to the Continental Tribes.
Njord is the god of sailing and merchants. Njord’s connection to the seas and sailing lead naturally into his being a god of wealth and fertility. He was the father of Ingui-Frey and Freya in Norse myth. The most prominent myth featuring Njord is his marriage to the giantess Skaði. As compensation for the death of her father, she was to choose a husband by looking only at the feet of the assembled gods behind a screen: this may be an allegory for the close proximity of the mountains to the seas due to the fjords. Njord is not directly attested by any other culture, however the Proto-Germanic earth goddess Nerthus appears to be derived from the same source.
Skadhi is the goddess of hunting, skiing, winter, and survival. She was born a giantess who married into the Æsir as recompense for the slaying of her father Thjazi. While she initially desired Balder as her husband, she agreed to choose her husband solely by his feet. She settled for Njord as the sand had smoothed his feet and made them the most beautiful of all the gods. Thus, a mountain goddess was wed to a sea god, likely a metaphor for the close proximity of mountains and ocean due to the fjords – a story which is as meaningful here in BC as it was in Scandinavia. She is unattested outside of Norse sources.
Thor is the Protector of Midgard and Defender of Mankind. The god of the common person, those who provide for society most frequently called on him to protect them and their crops. Thor is best known for his many adventures in Midgard and Jotunheim, defeating giants and protecting the civilised world from the ravages of nature. Thor’s many adventures alongside Loki were responsible for most of the growth and change in the Norse Myths. He was known to the Anglo-Saxons as Thunor and the Continental Tribes as Donar. Thursday is named for Thunor.
Tyr is the god of Frith, honour, and justice. He is the god of warriors. He is best known for being the only god brave enough to place his hand into the mouth of Fenris as surety that they would release the wolf if he could not break his bonds. Tyr is theorised to have been the head of the pantheon prior to the Migration Age, a time of limited warfare and glorious duels instead of the wars of conquest and destruction that were necessitated by the challenges of the Migration Age. He was known to the Anglo-Saxons as Tiw and the Continental Tribes as Ziu. Tuesday is named for Tiw.
Wayland the Smith is considered the greatest smith in all Germanic myth, half of the heroes and gods wield blades that he crafted. His most famous myth is that of his capture by King Niðhad who took the ring Wayland’s wife had left and gave it to his daughter Bodvild; during his captivity he killed the king’s sons, turned their skulls into goblets, eyes into jewels and teeth into a brooch. Wayland eventually escaped using wings he had forged in secret. Wayland’s vengeance may seem harsh to our modern sensibilities, but he was a captive god to a cruel and vicious king. He was known to the Anglo-Saxons as Wēland, the Norse as Volundr, and the Continental Tribes as Wiolant.
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