geri and freki

Geri And Freki Symbol – History And Meaning

Before creating his two famous ravens, Huginn and Muninn, the Norse god Odin had two wolves. They were called Geri and Freki. 

If you want to learn more about the Geri and Freki symbol, read on to find out the meaning, history, and significance of this Viking symbol.

Geri And Freki Symbol – History and Meaning

geri and freki

In ancient times, Norse people believed that wolves assisted the Valkyries in transporting fallen warriors to Valhalla and to the afterlife. They were said to be both friends and enemies of the Norse gods.

Geri and Freki were the highest god’s companions, but they were not friends with the other gods in Asgard.

Odin created these wolves when he became lonely after wandering alone. It was not the famous ravens, Huginn and Muninn, that first kept the powerful ruler of Asgard company.

In fact, Geri and Freki were the reason why Odin created the ravens. Huginn and Muninn came to be for the purpose of helping the wolves out in finding prey for feeding. 

History of Geri and Freki

In Norse mythology, this couple of wolves populated the earth with their offspring during their travels with Odin. There are also stories that say Odin had fathered children that were half-wolf.

These very children became known as the Wulfsungs, which may be part of the reason why many Viking warriors took on the name and symbol of the wolf.

We can trace back the name ‘Geri’ to the Proto-Germanic adjective geraz, attested in Burgundian girs, Old Norse gerr, and Old High German ger or giri. All these mean ‘greedy.’

The name ‘Freki,’ on the other hand, can be traced back to the Proto-Germanic adjective frekaz, attested in Gothic faihufriks which means ‘covetous’ or ‘avaricious,’ Old Norse frekr meaning ‘greedy,’ Old English frec that means ‘greedy,’ ‘gluttonous,’ and ‘audacious,’ and Old High German freh which translates to ‘greedy.’

Geri and Freki are also alluded to through the kenning “Viðrir’s (Odin’s) hounds” in the 13th verse of Helgakviða Hundingsbana I. It says that the pair roam the field, “greedy for the corpses of those who have fallen in battle.”

The Geri and Freki Symbol

In Norse mythology, it is very common to find Odin sitting on his high seat, Hlidskjalf. This allows him to see everything that happens in all realms. Often depicted at the god’s feet as he does this so, Geri and Freki are Odin’s personal guardians.

Geri and Freki guard the border against the giants, the sworn enemies of both men and the Aesir gods.

The wolves attended to Odin at his high throne and also at his residence, Valhalla, which is said to be the most beautiful of all palaces and dwellings of the gods in Asgard.

When one of the pair sleeps, the other is awake and watches, making it impossible to surprise their master Odin.

There is a suggestion that one depiction of a man on a stallion, donning a beard and a helmet, is the god Odin with his spear Gungnir riding his horse Sleipnir. Only in this portrayal, Sleipnir has four legs instead of the more widely known eight legs.

The two furry animals with Odin—dogs or wolves—are suggested to be Geri and Freki, while the birds are believed to be Huginn and Muninn.

Geri and Freki Symbol Meaning

Flanking Odin at his feet, Odin’s two loyal wolves Geri (‘greedy’) and Freki (‘ravenous’) guard him and keep him company. The names Geri and Freki are interpreted to mean either “the greedy one” or “the ravenous one.” 

In the Norse culture, wolves are perceived as both negative and positive. Said to represent chaos and destruction, on one hand, and on the other, they also symbolize protection, wisdom, loyalty, and bravery.

Geri and Freki are brave and extremely loyal to Odin. They keep their master company even during battles. This is why warriors considered Geri and Freki to be signs of Odin’s presence. A gray wolf seen on the battlefield was deemed positive, thanks to their belief that it would guide their spirits to Valhalla should they die fighting.

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