|Frau Holle by Stefula (1967 stamp, Germany)|
|Frau Holle by Otto Ubbelohde (1900)|
The earlier goddess Holda, like Freya and the Germanic earth goddess Nerthus, drives in a wagon or cart. There are darker, probably earlier aspects to her character; she is as complicated and multifaceted as the other gods of the Norse pantheon. Like Odin, she rides the storm as part of the Raging Host – a role that lines up with the role of Freya as a sort of super-valkyrie. Holda appears in a 14th century Icelandic saga as a prophetess or wise woman named Huldr, and she is mentioned as a beloved of Odin and mother by him to the half-goddesses Thorgerđr and Irpa. As we will see in a moment, several versions of the female goddess – as Freya, Holda, and other forms – have points of connection through their relationship to Odin. All of these goddesses can be seen as aspects of a larger, more all-encompassing female divinity.
|Idunn by Carl Emil Doepler (1882)|
|Frigg by Johannes Gehrts (1901)|
|Freya and Ód by Lorenz Frølich (1895)|
Freya has a special relationship with Odin that is very understandable when we realize that she is also Frigg, his wife. Odin sends his thoughts out in the form of ravens, and Freya puts on a cloak of falcon feathers to soar through the skies. Odin sits on Hliðskjálf and sends his ravens out into the world, as the seid prophetesses mentioned earlier make their mystic statements while sitting on high seats; clearly, there is a connection between Odin and the female figures based on shamanistic practice. Notably, Freya's hall in the godly realm is known as Sessrumnir ("seat-room"), a name that can be easily connected to the high seat of the prophetess. Freya also has connections to the wisdom-seeking aspect of Odin. Like him, she engages in wisdom contests with mystical figures, as in the Eddic poem Hyndluljóð ("song of Hyndla"), in which she verbally spars with the giantess and prophetess named Hyndla.