Friday, September 25, 2015

Freyja's Cats

I was very intrigued by the idea of Freyja's chariot being drawn by cats. Initially I imagined common house cats like my own that must be freakishly strong in order to draw her chariot. However, after doing a little research, it occurred to me that this couldn't be true!
Freyja's cats are only mentioned briefly in the Prose Edda. There is some argument about whether her chariot was actually drawn by cats, or whether the translation actually meant bears. In a fantasy novel titled Brisingamen, author Diana Paxson named the cats Treyjgul and Bygul, meaning "tree-gold" and "bee gold," or Amber and Honey.
Further research revealed to me that many think Freyja's cats were probably based on a breed of cat called the Norwegian Forest Cat. These cats are MASSIVE. It is supposed that her cats may have been a more lynx-like ancestor of the Forest Cat.


Estë said...

I love it! So interesting. How funny to imagine a chariot drawn by house cats. Thanks for sharing :)

Varda said...

I wonder if cats had some sort of significance to the origin of the story, or even bears if they truly were the originally intended creatures to draw the chariot. We all imagine chariots/carts being drawn by horses or similar creatures. I would be less surprised to hear of a chariot drawn by dogs (probably because sled-dogs exist) or oxen or even a moose. What was it, I wonder, about cats or bears that caused this story to come to be portrayed in this way. Of course, there is a significant amount of abnormality within this work, so maybe I just shouldn't think about it so much!

Nienna said...

This portion of the Edda had me laughing aloud. I was also picturing two house cats pulling a chariot and the idea was extremely funny to imagine. Cats are extremely autonomous animals and notoriously difficult to reason with. Therefore, I was picturing these cats looking at Freyja obstinately when she tried to get them to pull the cart or attempting to walk in different directions. So funny! Perhaps this is a testament to Freyja's power. I have serious respect for anyone that can get cats to pull a chariot. That would take some serious will power. Maybe the Norse were attempting to portray the power of a goddess that can convince cats.