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17.01.2020

Fensalir

In Norse mythology, Fensalir (Old Norse "Fen Halls") is a location where the goddess Frigg dwells. Fensalir is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. Scholars have proposed theories about the implications of the location, including that the location may have some connection to religious practices involving springs, bogs, or swamps in Norse paganism, and that it may be connected to the goddess Sága's watery location Sökkvabekkr.

Attestations

In the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá, Frigg is described as weeping over her son Baldr's death in Fensalir. This stanza is absent in the Hauksbók manuscript of the poem. The portion of the stanza mentioning Fensalir foretells that vengeance will come for the death of Baldr and that:

while Frigg wept

in Fen Halls

for Valhǫll's woe.

In chapter 35 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, High tells Gangleri (described as king Gylfi in disguise) that Frigg is the highest among the ásynjur or Aesir, and that "she has a dwelling called Fensalir and it is very splendid." In chapter 49, High says that when Loki witnessed that Baldr had gained invincibility due to the oath all things took not to harm him, Loki went to Fensalir appearing as a woman. In his disguise, Loki there asked Frigg why Baldr was not harmed by the objects. Frigg revealed that it is due to the oath they have taken. The disguised Loki asks if nothing can hurt Baldr, and Frigg reveals that only mistletoe can, for it seemed to her too young to demand an oath from. After this, Loki immediately disappears, and subsequently engineers the death of Baldr with a mistletoe projectile.

In the Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál, Fensalir receives a third and final mention. In chapter 19, ways to refer to Frigg are provided, including that Frigg may be referred to as "queen of Æsir and Asyniur, of Fulla and falcon form and Fensalir."

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