An obscure Scandinavian goddess is inspiring an SVSU professor’s poetry.
Arra Ross, creative writing professor, discussed her research on the mythological figure Freyja at an English colloquium last Thursday.
She began her research approximately two years ago.
She received a grant for doing her research that she used to travel to places such as Iceland, Norway and Denmark last summer to understand the significance of Freyja in history.
“I’m still exploring all of this material,” Ross said.
The colloquium was part of a series of presentations and lectures that Janice Wolff, professor of English, is organizing to showcase the faculty’s research.
“We’re pooling creativity and putting expertise together,” Wolff said.
Mainly professors from the English department attended the event, but as the colloquium becomes formalized, the events will be open to the public.
Freyja is believed to be a symbol of fertility. She has a brother who is known as Odin.
She appears often in Scandinavian artwork and literature, often with her love, Óðr, being absent in the images.
Looking for her lost love is believed to be the reason the goddess traveled, which led her to being known by other names in different regions.
The word Friday originated from the term, “Freyja’s day,” in which women would leave their homes to spread flax seed.
Ross is not positive how she became fascinated with the supernatural figure, but Ross uses Freyja to inspire her poetry.
“She points at some sort of fragmented reality,” Ross said.
Material she is working on dates to prehistory and may have linkage to Greek and Egyptian mythology.
She has encountered difficulties in her research because the culture’s pagan beliefs have little records, due to the rise of Christianity.
Christian churches were placed on pagan ritual grounds to gain followers to the religion.
Documentation through written word became more popularized in this time, but information was often left out about the pagan society.
Ross turned to archaeology to explore the Scandinavian culture in hopes of discovering more answers.
In her 27 days of traveling, she looked at rock carvings and burial mounds from the Bronze, Iron and Viking ages.
She investigated examples that included symbols related to Freyja such as golden-haired boars and feline-like figures.
Ross discovered figures she never knew existed in her research prior to traveling that she believes are significant.
Ross believes Freyja may originate from Crete, but she would like to explore how waterways looked in those times to investigate linkage of the goddess to other cultures.
“When you start to know more and more about it, the less you feel like you know,” Ross said.
Although unsure what it will include, Ross is creating a book on Freyja.