Why is a goddess of love also a goddess of death? The answer can be seen in her connection to gold, the wealth that must be dug out of the ground. Freya is fundamentally connected to the earth, from which all life comes, and to which all life must someday return. The contemporary, popular culture characterization of Freya as the "goddess of love" is a great oversimplification of her character that tries to line her up with the Roman Venus. The Norse mythological corpus, however, gives a far more complex and nuanced characterization of a goddess whose domain seems to be the totality of experience through life and death.
|Mary's tears of gold by Robert Rumas (2000)|
The positive aspects of the Germanic goddess were transferred to the Virgin Mary; she is portrayed as Our Lady of Sorrows weeping for her lost son as Freya weeps for her missing husband. Mary also fills the role of Frigg, the mother goddess who intercedes with the father god on behalf of supplicant humans; Frigg plays this role in many tales from the myths and sagas.
|Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch (1939)|
|Freya, cats & babies by N.J.O. Blommer (1852)|
The term valkyrie literally means "chooser of the slain." This seems to be a concept that descends from ritual to myth to legend to tale. Originally, the valkyries were women who led the ritual sacrifice of human prisoners. They went amongst the captured and literally "chose the slain" – picked out those who they subsequently sacrificed.