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I just created this site and will soon publish my first Old Norse story. I have used my imagination and historical research to create small stories which I humbly hope you, Dear Reader, will enjoy.…

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Freya’s Search

by

Elizabeth C. Arnold

Published on WordPress.com

Anchorage, Alaska, USA

Copyright (c) Elizabeth C. Arnold, 2016

All rights reserved

https://wordpress.com/posts/norsesite.wordpress.com

Acknowledgments

I thank Jack Garrett, the Vikings of Bjornstad and their web site at http://www.vikingsofbjornstad.com/Old_Norse_Dictionary_E2N.shtm” for  permission to use Jack’s online article “Old Norse Dictionary”, and for his supportive words.

 

Background

Hence we see that when Njord, Frey and Freyja were admitted to Asgard, they entered into new marriage relations. Njord married Skade, Frey married Gerd, and Freyja married Oder.1

Oder went far away. Freyja weeps for him, but her tears are red gold. Freyja has many names, and the reason therefor is that she changed her name among the various nations to which she came in search of Oder. She is called Mardol, Horn, Gefn, and Syr. She has the necklace Brising, and she is called Vanadis.2

Freya owned Brisingamen (Necklace of the Brisings).3

(Bragi’s) wife is Idunn. In her private wooden box she keeps the apples of youth, which the gods bite into when they begin to grown old. They all become young again….4

1. Snorre Sturluson. The Younger Edda; also called Snorre’s Edda, or the Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson, trans. Rasmus B. Anderson, in the Project Gutenberg Ebook, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/

18947/18947-h/18947-h.htm#gylfe_VIII (accessed November 1, 2015), 116n.

2. Snorre Sturluson, Chapter X, 36.

3. Snorri Sturluson, The Prose Edda, trans. Jesse L. Byock (London: Penguin Books Ltd, 2005), 43.

4. Sturluson, The Prose Edda, 36.

Chapter 1

Freya woke up from a sad dream, but could not remember what it was about, only the sadness. To soothe herself, she went to her youngest. Hnos, like a precious jewel, with fair hair as bright as winter snow, slept innocently and quietly.

Hnos was a joyful surprise. She had been conceived in the months when Freya’s monthly blood cycles slowed and were no longer monthly. Life cycled and circled around till Ragnarok arrived. All time was interconnected with interwoven layers of wyrd. Though children yet unborn would be their own persons, and might have lives inconceivable to their ancestors, they were still connected in their inner knowledge and emotions.

The family woke up and started their winter duties. Hnos’ peaceful innocence did soothe Freya and she was ready to eat preserved shark meat and hot mead for breakfast.

As the food heated Freya woke her half-grown son Stethi. He knew without his mother telling him that he must go to the farm animals to feed and water them. He did not have to go outside to do this; in winter, they were stabled at the end of their house. A short wall divided their place from their keepers’ area. The mother sow snuffled as she scented her food.

Like the anvil he was named after, Stethi was heavy and strong. The blacksmith had apprenticed him and he would start training once spring arrived.

Oder began to stir. As Lord of the heimstof, he could remain in the furs and doze till the holl was warmed and food was ready. He could then leisurely eat. When he was ready, he could take his horse and dog, traveling his land, supervising his son’s and servants’ work and checking for predator-sign.

The dog woke and whined at the door. Stethi took warmed water and dried salmon for its breakfast.

Chapter 2

The next morning, Freya woke before the rest of the household. She nudged the servant with her cold foot till she woke. “Stir up the coals. We’ll want hot mead. There must be frost outside.” Pushing open the east door, she could see the weeds, coated with white, already melting where the sun’s rays touched. A clanking noise outside was the cowbells as the herd boys moved the cattle to the fields.

Magar pushed the wild red hair from her eyes and stirred the fire, adding small twigs. She filled the small pot with mead. She found yesterday’s oatmeal and rabbit stew and put that on the heat also.

Odur stirred and frowned before he even opened his eyes. Another day like yesterday, and tomorrow would be the same. No noise other than barking dogs, and no exercise more vigorous than riding the length of his land. No killing other than rabbits thin from winter. Every day, eat, drink, sleep, and supervise the herd boys and plowmen. He missed the excitement and travel and treasure of raiding. But at 40, he had land and servants and a demanding wife. He was not as quick as he was, maybe not quite as strong. But—the sameness pulled him down and kept him in his fur-covered bed.”Gullhawr!” The blond-haired boy turned. “My Lord?” “Bring me mead.” Gullhawr filled Odur’s mug and waited at the bedside while he drank it down.

Odur then found his eyes drawn to his pack, and his swor.d and shield next to it. He had been looking at these things every morning. He thought, “These are going to rust. I cannot be done with them. I feel as young as I once was, in the times before father died and left me the land.” He sighed and went to his horse for his daily work.

……………..

After a long day of directing the servants’ work, which included the first new furrows in the oatfield, Odur was not yet tired. As the servants banked the fire and all went to their beds, Odur lay, quietly blinking, waiting till all around him was slow breathing. Then he filled his pack with jerked meat and skins of water and mead. He put on both cloaks and his heaviest boots. He pulled his sword and shield very gently off their hooks. The door, which usually squeaked, opened as silently as Hugin’s wing as Odur opened it and went to the south field. At his land’s border he walked with long relaxed steps toward the place where the sun would appear, and where the neighboring chieftain was organizing a raid of the land across the water.

Chapter 3

That morning, Freya and the servants wondered where Odur could be. At first they thought he was taking an early walk around the fields. Gullhawr was the first to notice Odur’s shield and sword missing. Freya immediately knew where he had gone and why.

Freya remembered the recent feast, and toasts when Odur had listened eagerly to the human chieftain Loth’s plans of raids for the coming year. Odur had mentioned it to her with a sparkle in his eye…but had finished by saying, that adventure was for young men, and he had plenty of farming to do at home. She saw he was quieter than usual after the visitors had gone home. She saw how Odur asked Gullhawr to take down his sword and shield, and oil and polish them.

“I will follow Odur and bring him back. We cannot run this farm without him! He is my husband and he belongs here—my heart is where he is.” Tears of red gold fell from her eyes. Respectfully, Magar collected them to give to the dwarfs, to fashion into sparkling jewelry. “My Lady, I will gladly help you.” Magar spoke gently and confidently. Freya took a deep breath, and resolve filled her.

Magar was a calm sort of woman, despite her wild red Irish hair. She had been a slave-gift from Odur’s general. As Magar brushed Freya’s hair, the Goddess started planning. The plowmen could finish the plowing and plant the oats. They could supervise the herd boys. After eating, she instructed, “Magar, bring water-skins, and pack food, traveling clothes, the tent and poles. Put my small jewelry box in there—I might need it to pay chieftain Loth. Gullhawr, feed, water, and saddle Hvitr. Plowman Hveitiakr will be in charge of farming and herding. You will go with me. We are going to the land of chieftain Loth—this will only take a few weeks.” “As you wish, my Lady.” If she left immediately, they could catch Odur before he embarked on a ship.

The morning birds were just starting to sing as Freya and Gullhawr started out. Gullhawr carried the supplies and jewelry box to fasten to the horse carriers. He was a half-grown man, wise for his age and his strength would be useful. He accepted the idea of travel without protest.

But would Odur want to come back? Was Odur’s love for Freya, his family and land, as powerful as his love for the thrills of raiding?

Chapter 4

Freya wiped the dust off her golden necklace Brisingamen. The stones sparkled warmly in the firelight. This was her most beautiful, most valuable necklace, best of all jewelry, used for the feast times and when honored visitors stayed at her home. She replaced it out of sight on the highest hook. She summoned her house-keeper servant. “You will stay and tend to Hnos while I travel. Hvieitiakr and Stethi will guard all.”

Freya offered the best joint of meat from the cellar to Odin. “Odin, watch over my home and family that I love. Watch over me and my servants as we travel. Hail Odin.”

Magar now called that all was ready. Freya took one last look at her heifstof before she mounted. Two ravens watched from the highest tree, and Freya sent them a message to look for Odur and to ask Odin to watch over him.

Already Freya was anticipating how she would miss the land and servants. The oats would be sprouting before they could return, and she loved the servants as much as family. She did not want to leave, but her love for Odur was stronger than any other feeling. She had always been able to trust love to guide her to do what was best.

A few early mosquitoes hovered. She waved them away idly as she set her mind forward, rather than backward to her home.

Chapter 5

The horses walked easily – they had a long way to go and there was no use in wearing them out. When Freya felt hunger pangs she called for a halt near a grazing field. Cooking supplies and food and drink were unloaded. A small fire was built to warm themselves and their food, and the travelers ate and drank. The horses cropped their meal also.

Each night the travelers found dry wooded areas and erected their simple tent shelters. Thus they proceeded for ten days’ time.

On the eleventh day they saw Loth’s ship-building site. Gullhawr hurried ahead, calling “Hail Lord Loth! The Lady Freya approaches!” Surprised, the Lord Loth left his shelter and met the weary travelers. “My Lady, this is an honor. Please dismount and come in for food and drink. Why are you here? How can I help you?” “My Lord Loth, I am searching for my dear husband Odur.” He left our heimstof and I believed I might find him here. He misses the viking-raids and the ship-building.” “He is indeed here. Odur is taking a meal in the other shelter farther down the shore. But first have a bite to eat and rest.” Loth ordered his servants to lend his best furs to Freya, and to bring food and drink to her and her servants.

Freya sat as her servants took care of the horses and set up their tent. She told of Odur’s plans. “But my Lord, I am worried Odur will not want to return. He longs for the days of his youth, for the adventures.” “My Lady, I will summon Odur and order him home.” “No, that would not work. He must learn for himself that he is nearing his twilight. That he must be content with a slower life. That though we are Gods, and eat Idunn’s magic apples of health, we slow down as do the humans.” “I believe he is learning that. Though he was enthusiastic at first, Odur cannot keep up with the hard work.”

Freya smiled. “If so then the hard part is done. No one can force a man or woman to see their limitations. Only the man or woman can see it and feel it and then accept it. Instead, please tell Odur we have come for a visit.”

Lord Loth smiled ruefully. “I will speak to him.”

……………..

Later that day Loth and Odur walked to Freya’s seat as she rested outside the shelter. Odur and Freya smiled and took each others’ hands. “Freya, I am glad to see you. Loth tells me you came for a visit and to travel, that you were tired of the winter spent inside.”

“Yes, Odur, my Lord, and we have had an enjoyable trip. I am glad you had a chance to work at

ship-building and sword-swinging.”

“Freya…I have been foolish. I now see my place is managing our heimstof, not working here. My back is not strong as it once was….the younger men can build ships all day, but I am sore from the

carpentry and lifting. My sword arm is not as strong or fast as it once was…the other men beat me in our contests.”

“Would you like to stay here or return to the heimstof?” “Yes, I am ready to return to the heimstof. I want to stay settled on the land and no more live on the ship of war. (Sturluson, The Sagas of Olaf). Let us rest and visit tonight and leave in the morning.” “Odur, I too love the homestead. I still have our little girl to love and to teach. Our son takes on more work every year as he grows. I enjoy waking up early and managing the farm. And even in winter, there is plenty to do with singing and story-telling, weaving and sewing.”

Odur squeezed Freya’s hands. They pulled back the warm bearskin cover on the bed and held each other.

Bibliography

Arthur, Ross G., compiler. “English–Old Norse Dictionary”, Linguistics Series. Cambridge, ON: In parentheses Publications, 2002. http://www.yorku.ca/inpar/language/English-Old_Norse.pdf.

Crawford, Jackson, Dr. “Pronunciation of Old Norse.” Tattúínárdǿla saga. https://

tattuinardoelasaga. WordPress.com (accessed January 3, 2016).

Garret, Jack, and the Vikings of Bjornstad. “Old Norse Dictionary. The Vikings of Bjornstad. http://www.vikingsofbjornstad.com.

Sturluson, Snorre. The Sagas of Olaf Tryggvason and of Harald The Tyrant (Harald Haardraade). Translated by Ethel Harriet Hearn and Gustav Storm. The Project Gutenberg Ebook. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/22093/22093-h/22093-h.htm (accessed November 15, 2015).

Sturluson, Snorre. The Younger Edda; Also called Snorre’s Edda, or The Prose Edda. Translated by R. Rasmus B. Anderson. The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Younger Edda, by Snorre. http://www.

gutenberg.org/files/18947/18947-h/18947-h.htm#gylfe_X (accessed November 15, 2015).

Sturluson, Snorri. The Prose Edda. Translated by Jesse L. Byock. London: Penguin Books Ltd, 2005.

Site Creation

Site Creation

I just created this site and will soon publish my first Old Norse story. I have used my imagination and historical research to create small stories which I humbly hope you, Dear Reader, will enjoy.
Your Author, Liz Arnold

 

©2015
Photograph by Author. Chester Creek, Anchorage, Alaska, United States.