Frey God of the World by Ann Groa Sheffield (2007)
Review based on the 2012 printing, same title.
Since becoming a full-fledged Heathen in 2007, I typically rotated towards three gods – Freyr, Heimdallr and Baldr. They adorn my altar, I am a devout Freyrsman and I find myself drawn more and more to the lore surrounding Baldr and Heimdallr – most of the time wishing for more.
Last year, I discovered a short 80 page book devoted to my god Freyr (Frey). Ann Groa Sheffield in 2007 wrote this short yet detailed and information packed book that takes the reader from the mythical lore to the sagas of Sweden to academia of the more community known sources for Frey, and Aesir association in general.
First, this book contains rarely any UPG (unverified personal gnosis) if any. If one wants to consider small personal conclusions as UPG, then at most 5%. If not, this book is AMAZING for anyone who wants a purely peer-reviewed academic view of Frey. This book offers ZERO fluff and takes the time to educate the reader about every possibly point with well documented sources.
Second, this book will introduce the most lay person interested in Frey to the world of the Sagas. Most people who are interested in Scandinavia Heathenry, Asatru or Forn Sidr are going to go for the Eddas and get a good baseline of who the gods are, alon with some practice of our ancestors to venerate the gods. But the real examples are in the Sagas. The Sagas are long, detailed accounts of heroes, kings and families from Iceland to Sweden and some further south and north. This book will touch really on one – The Yngling Saga in the Heimskringla.
If you’ve read the Yngling Saga, the validity of the first kings of Sweden who start the dynasty (Odin, Njord and Freyr) are questioned, but even if you discredit them being human as described, the story of the Yngling dynasty and attestations to Freyr cannot be written off. Asatru is more than just reading of the gods’ trials and myths, but also about those who came after them and who claim kinship. The kings of Denmark claim direct from descendance from Rig (Heimdallr, or Odin depending on your interpretation), the Yngling of Sweden claim from Freyr (by way of Odin, then Njord first). How these gods were worshiped and the kings after are important to Swedish national heritage.
Frey, God of the World will also look at the academia surrounding Freyr as a pure fertility god first and everything else second, exploring the ideas that he is a battle god and one for royalty. Freyr is described as The Brightest God, and he does ride a battle boar (Gullinbursti) and at Ragnarok is supposed to die in battle with Surtr.
The book tells a story based on the sagas and myths. It does not rewrite them for fluidity, but takes them as they are and dissects what is academically believed to be who Freyr is. It is not a spiritual devotion book, as it contains no prayers or incantations to Freyr. That’s not it’s purpose. Asatru, along with other Scandinavian Heathen faiths, are constantly being reconstructed but a lack of material lost to time, passed down orally or destroyed by Christians during the migrations and forced conversions from 1100 CE (AD) on.
As a publication, the book reads extremely well and is easy to absorb and finish in one sitting. Like most word dense academia, some parts do through much at you in terms of terminology, different spelling of names for Freyr and what is attributed to him and the kings associated with him.
Every Heathen library should contain this book, for it is THE go to book if you want to seek out the most current (as of 2014) information on Freyr distilled from academic sources (also modern and 20th century) and the Eddas. I can only hope that as more academic research is done on Freyr, the author updates Frey God of the World with updated editions.
I highly recommend this book as a primer for Freyr on an academic level and as a tool for research and a source for others to publish material on Freyr.