June 7th, 2008 by sabrina

Gefjon (pronounced GEF-yon) is the Norse Goddess of fertile ground and virgins. Yes, contradictory, but she is a Goddess and normal rules don’t always apply. The predominant myth about her is from a ninth century poem by Bragi the Old and was retold by Snorri Sturluson in the thirteenth century. He relates how Odin had sent Gefjon out to look for more land, and she came to the court of King Gylfi of Sweden. She entertained the king, and in return he gave her a grant of as much land as four oxen could plough in one day and one night. Gefjon went to the land of the giants where she had four sons with a giant. She turned the four sons into oxen and brought them back to King Gylfi. They dug up so much earth that they created a lake, Lake Mälaren, and the earth that they had dug they dumped into the sea where it formed an island, Zealand, which is now part of Denmark. Gefjon then moved to the island and married Odin’s son Skjöld, and their children became the royal family of Denmark.

Elsewhere in his works, Snorri Sturluson refers to Gefjon as a virgin Goddess, although the trickster God Loki claims that this is not true. Gefjon is one of Frigg’s handmaidens, and she in turn is served by women who died as virgins. Her name means “giver” and is also seen as Gefion, Gefjun, or Gebjun.

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