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Modern statuette of Freyr, depicting a strong and and virile man who displays his enchanted sword and is accompanied by his golden boar, Gullinbursti

Freyr, is an honorific Norse title that translates as "Lord' but the god's actual name is Ing in Anglo-Saxon or Yngvi in Old Norse. He is the twin brother of Freya and is said to be the god of peace, prosperity, fertility, virility, pleasure , fair weather, and good harvests. In the old Germanic and Anglo-Saxon futhark runic alphabet the twenty-second rune, named Ingwaz in primitive Germanic or Ing in English, bears his real name. Indications are that Freyr played a larger role in the pantheon of Norse gods than surviving lore shows, only two other Germanic deities -- Tyr and Odin -- have individual runes explicitly associated with their names in traditional texts. A stanza found in one translation of the Anglo-Saxon rune poem states "Ing was first, among the East-Danes, seen by men until he went back over the wet way [the ocean], the wagon followed behind him. That is what the stern men called the hero." This verse associates Freyr with Denmark and is considered genuine lore by the Danish people, however he is also recognized as the patron of Sweden. Many runic inscriptions have also been left by Swedes, raised to commemorate people who died "in the east with Yngvarr".

Freyr's fertility aspects are not restricted to human or animal sexuality. The Germanic peoples considered his dominion over the aspects of agriculture and bountiful harvests just as important. Believing that the king's fertility and luck related to the land's, Freyr became a god of kingship and national well-being in general. One translation of the "Ynglinga Saga" -- a Kings' saga, originally written in Old Norse by the Icelandic poet and historian Snorri Sturluson – shares that "Freyr took over the kingdom after Njord, was named war-leader of the Swedes, and received tribute from them. He had many friends and good harvest-luck. Freyr raised a great temple at Uppsala, establishing his seat of government and keeping his tribute there. In his days the Peace of Frodi prevailed, with good harvests in every country, and the Swedes gave Freyr credit for that. He was worshiped more than the other gods. Under his rule the people of Sweden were wealthier than before, because of the peace and good harvests." After illness claimed the life of Freyr and he was buried, the good seasons continued, igniting the belief that if Freyr remained in Sweden, there would always be bountiful harvests and peace. The people bestowed on him the title "God of the World" which, in today’s language would more accurately be portrayed as "God of Existence."

The conventional image of Freyr in lore and religious art is of a handsome, strong, virile man, sometimes with an erect phallus. He can often be recognized by a display of his three most valued possessions: an enchanted sword said to never miss its target, his ship Skíðblaðnir that always has a favorable breeze and can be folded up and carried in his pouch, and his golden boar Gullinbursti, whom he rides and whose mane glows to illuminate his path.


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