Freya is part of Viking history and a Norse goddess of war, love and sex. She was one of the most beautiful women in the cosmos with her blue-eyes and blonde hair. She travelled in a chariot drawn through the heavens by a pair of magnificent cats. Why were cats pulling her chariot? These legendary felines symbolised the twin qualities of the goddess: fecundity and ferocity. Cats are loving and affectionate but can be ferocious when roused.
In the illustration above, the artist has drawn the cats as wild lynx. You can tell by the mane of hair falling from the cheeks, which is typical of the European lynx. However, perhaps the Norwegian Forest Cat would have been more suitable. There are legends of the Norwegian Forest Cat being so heavy that even the god Thor could not lift it off the ground. Freya’s chariot or wagon was drawn by two powerful cats. Anybody who placed bowls of milk in their cornfields for her cats would have the benefit of their crops being protected by her. Freya gave the world Friday (Freya’s Day). It became a popular day for marrying and if the sun shone on the wedding day it was said that the bride had pleased the feline favourite of the goddess and that “she had fed the cat well”.
Originally Freya was the Viking goddess of sex, love and fertility. She wore a necklace which was the symbol of her sexuality and she obtained this special necklace by sleeping with each of the four dwarfs who made it. She was the patroness of a witchcraft cult involved in orgiastic rights, foretelling the future and trances.
She wept golden tears and drove her chariot around the night skies in the form of a she-goat. Sadly, Pope Innocent VIII, in an edict of 1484, declared that all women who worshipped Freya should be burned at the stake and their cats burned with them. This is because of Freya’s connections with witchcraft. In Germany Freya had followers of her cult and they used to round up cats and force them to take part in ceremonies at their wild night-time orgies. The pope condemned them.
It is reported that this ‘holocaust of cats’ led to the deaths by fire of 10% of the entire cat population of Germany. And many cats were tortured and killed. This long period of abuse and gross cruelty of the cat persisted through the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and it was not confined to Germany as the slaughter spread out across the whole of Europe and even to the New World. It died out in the nineteenth century when a more enlightened attitude towards animal welfare emerged during Victorian England.
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