The Ten Worlds will be less of a series and more of a universe I am building based on the Norse lore and surviving resources, which I then alter to fit my needs. Today I’d like to introduce you to Frigg, the wife of Odin – if I were in charge of casting the inevitable TV adaptation, I’d choose Tilda Swinton.
Frigg is – to quote Our Troth:
the most motherly […] she is the closest thing to an All-Mother the Northern folk know.
Frigg does not get a lot of space in the Norse lore, sometimes even being seen as an aspect of Freya (I disagree with this). Baldr is the only child of hers that is actually named. The long-haired, peace-loving, gleaming Shining One, dies in rather awkward circumstances. After Ragnarök, when the worlds of the Gods come to an end, some of them survive – and so do a man and a woman – led by Baldr, the long-haired, bearded, peace-loving embodiment of goodness, one who returns from the dead, the son of God (and Goddess). Those stories have been written down by Christians after the Viking era was long over. Some scholars believe that Baldr is a kenning for Jesus, added to the Sagas/myths by Christians to symbolise the fall of the Norse Gods and the rise of… well, Jesus. I agree.
I removed Baldr completely from my version of the pantheon. Frigg’s description of ‘the most motherly’ coming with lack of clarity as to whose mother she is exactly made me wonder: what if the answer was ‘nobody’s’? What if the one who craves motherhood the most, becoming its embodiment, the Goddess mothers and pregnant women call upon, were unable to have children of her own?
Like all the Gods and Goddesses, Frigg has abilities that no others possess. One of them is the ability to see into the future. At first, she did so for frivolous reasons, peeking casually a few years forward to check which fabrics and colours would be in fashion soon or learning how to bake bread. This meant that she kept introducing time paradoxes – when the young Frigg didn’t know how to bake bread and learned it from the older version from herself, how and who exactly taught her? The Norns, who are in charge of overseeing the flow of time, ended up punishing Frigg by making her unable to speak for a year and a day. She still tried once more and brought upon herself the worst suffering she never wished to imagine.
As Frigg remains childless, she can’t wait in uncertainty anymore. She decides to look into the future in search for the children she craves so much. She searches. And searches. As centuries pass, Frigg becomes upset, afraid, then desperate. She no longer cares for recipes or shoes as she watches the ones she loves die, suffer, leave, lie, cheat (her own husband, Odin, would end up having many children – just not with Frigg). In her fruitless search she finally reaches the end of everything – Ragnarök. There is nothing more to look at afterwards.
Her previous experiences made her understand something. The Norns, who are time itself, have woven the future already. It already exists and contains all the choices we have made, are making, and will make. The future just is (or will be). Frigg’s acts of looking into it have been woven into what is going to happen, therefore causing it, directly or indirectly. What she is seeing is the future, which is set, otherwise she would be seeing something else. What she sees is what will be and now she has to go on living knowing that there is no hope for her.
Frigg’s reaction is to leave Odin’s hall and his life, let him do whatever he wants with whomever he wants, take a metaphorical restraining order, surround herself with girls who call her ‘mother’, and spend her days cooking and baking. Instead of trying to change what can not be changed, making herself unhappy, she just does what she enjoys. There aren’t enough sweet pies and cakes in the Universe, though, to alter the fact that when she looks at someone, she knows when they will die; how; what horrible things will happen to them.
Frigg does not attend the Assemblies where decisions are made, for she knows the decisions already. She knows what leads to them, what injustices are involved, who is lying and cheating (mostly her husband). There is no point in Frigg attending – she can either watch all this happening, or say something and contribute to it.
In 2015, when I was selling the house and working as a blacksmith, I was almost ready to put the house on the market. The only thing left was a huge piece of IKEA kitchen furniture. The buyers requested that I don’t take it apart. They would come with a truck and just put the whole thing in, exactly as it was.
This has proven to be a mistake.
Five people, including me, carried the thing outside. At one point one of the buyers dropped his corner for just a moment and the full weight pulled me down. He immediately picked it up, we put the thing in the truck, I got paid 100 euros, and they left. I noticed my back was pleasantly warm and I knew what it meant, because I had back injuries before. Oh well, I thought, a week without forging and working out.
The pain began the day later. At its worst, in 2016/2017, there was little I could do but sit with the laptop at one exact angle. Five years down the line I start my day with a painkiller, so that I can regain full range of movements after sleep. I carry a pillow everywhere and use chairs with back support. There are cafés and restaurants that I will never be able to visit, even if social distancing ends, because they don’t have the types of chairs I need.
My unconscious choices have brought me to this point. If I knew this was going to happen, obviously I wouldn’t have sold the thing for €100 (or €10000). I would have at the very least taken it apart. Or I would have chopped it into pieces, built a pile in the middle of the street and set it on fire, dancing around it naked, then get a fine and continue living without a back injury. But what if I knew that I was going to get a back injury on that date, at that time? What if I stayed at home, locked all the doors, laid on the bed, then moved just a bit and heard “crack”? What if I decided to go to a physiotherapist for maximum safety, the physio decided to check my back for any possible injuries, then made a mistake?
Knowing the future makes it your responsibility. It’s going to happen anyway, since it’s been set, only knowing it is going to make it your fault.
Odin has always been curious and his curiosity was never satisfied. When he finds out that there is a jötunn named Mímir guarding water which gives the drinker wisdom, he can’t resist a trip to Mímir’s well. Mímir’s conditions are tough – he demands Odin’s eye as payment. Without hesitation Odin takes out his eye and throws it in the well. In return, he gets to drink a hornful of the water and receives the wisdom he so craves. He never smiles again, not the kind of smile that reaches the eyes (eye), for the wisdom he receives can be summed with two words – everything ends. Everything. Including Odin himself. Love, hatred, conquests, his bloodline, the Universe… all must end and there is nothing that can be done to avert it.
This is not what Odin wants to learn. But he already knows that Frigg can see into the future. Despite what his newly acquired wisdom tells him, Odin decides to achieve the impossible: force Frigg to tell him what it was that she has seen, so that he can prevent it. Frigg understands that doing so would be an act of imaginable cruelty, forcing her husband to watch, powerless, as everything he wants to prevent comes to pass. The more he pushes, the more she withdraws, until she finally leaves. She knows that one day Odin will see his wish come true… but she loves him enough not to want to contribute to that happening.
Before I started on Children of the Gods, I worked on a shelved book called God of Fire. One beta reader remarked ‘all those Gods seem to be sociopaths’ and I nearly dropped my laptop. THAT’S IT!!! The Gods don’t care for people, seeing most of them as replaceable – which is one of the reasons humans love Thor, who cares for them and helps them. (This might also be one of the reasons why the other Gods see Thor as a bit stupid.) Odin only has one goal: to prevent the end, or at least postpone it – ideally indefinitely. To change the future that Frigg won’t reveal and to negate the wisdom he now possesses.
Odin is obsessed with gathering the strongest army he can, ruthlessly getting rid of the ‘weakest’ of the warriors once he spots someone even better. He has fortifications built, stirs wars, picks the strongest and most agile of fighters, all with one goal – to gather an army that can’t be defeated. What Frigg knows is that he is building the future, bringing the inevitable end. She’s happy to lead her own, quiet, safe life, until the day she dies – which she has also foreseen. Odin is obsessed with hoping to achieve enough power to overthrow time itself. The resentment he feels towards Frigg is endless as he refuses to believe that she is trying to spare him even more pain than his wisdom has already caused him.
The prophecy plays a large role in Children of the Gods and the books that will follow. It is the only part of the future that will be revealed to Odin, a detailed description of the end of everything. The cruelty of Odin having his wish fulfilled at last will lie in his inability to change anything about it. It won’t matter how big and strong his army will be, for it will have to fall in Ragnarök.
Where Frigg accepts the inevitable fate, Odin can’t be stopped from attempting to alter it. He is the most powerful of all the Gods. Everybody and everything serves his one goal – to stop Ragnarök from happening. The prophecy leaves no space for doubt, but does not name a date. Perhaps – he hopes, believes, demands – the wisdom given to him is still not complete; Frigg might have made a mistake; the prophecy might be a falsehood. It doesn’t matter to Odin how many die, suffer, lose their loved ones. Even if it means killing Frigg, all of his children, everyone in the Universe, Ragnarök must be averted at any price. Odin does not lose and never will. He is wise enough to know he is building his own downfall, and angry and stubborn enough to refuse to believe it.
The deluxe hardcover edition of Children of the Gods will contain a bonus story – a conversation between the author, i.e. me, and Odin, in which we will discuss Ragnarök and the events leading towards it. This story will not be available anywhere else. As Frigg has learned, knowing too much is a bad thing.