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Freyr was one of the most widely and passionately venerated divinities amongst the heathen Norse and other Germanic peoples. One Old Norse poem calls him “the foremost of the gods” and “hated by none.” The reasons for this aren’t hard to understand; their well-being and prosperity depended on his benevolence, which particularly manifested itself in sexual and ecological fertility, bountiful harvests, wealth, and peace. His role in providing health and abundance was often symbolized by his fylgja, the boar Gullinborsti (“Golden-Bristled”).
It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that Freyr was a frequent recipient of sacrifices on various occasions, such as the blessing of a wedding or the celebration of a harvest. During harvest festivals, the sacrifice traditionally took the form of his favored animal, the boar.
His father is Njord, and his mother is Njord’s unnamed sister (presumably Nerthus). Freyr himself has been the lover of numerous goddesses and giantesses, including his own sister, Freya. Apparently, incest is a common and acceptable practice among the Vanir (although amongst the historical Germanic peoples it certainly wasn’t).
Freyr’s residence is Alfheim, the homeland of the elves. This could mean that Freyr is the ruler of the elves, but since this is never stated explicitly in the surviving sources, it must remain a fascinating conjecture. The relationship between the gods and the elves is sufficiently ambiguous to allow for a number of possible connections between Freyr and the elves.
Another one of Freyr’s signature possessions is his ship, Skíðblaðnir, which always has a favorable wind and can be folded up and carried in a small bag. Its name, which means “Assembled from Pieces of Thin Wood,” suggests that it served as the mythological archetype of ships that were constructed for particular ritual purposes and were never meant to be seaworthy.