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Gefjon

From Gylfaginning: The fourth is Gefjun: she is a virgin, and they that die maidens attend her.

Also from Gylfaginning: It is told of him that he gave to a wandering woman, in return for her merry-making, a plow-land in his realm, as much as four oxen might turn up in a day and a night. But this woman was of the kin of the Æsir; she was named Gefjun. She took from the north, out of Jötunheim, four oxen which were the soils of a certain giant and, herself, and set them before the plow. And the plow cut so wide and so deep that it loosened up the land; and the oxen drew the land out into the sea and to the westward, and stopped in a certain sound. There Gefjun set the land, and gave it a name, calling it Selund.

From Lokasenna:
Gefjon:
19. "Why, ye gods twain, | with bitter tongues
Raise hate among us here?
Loki is famed | for his mockery foul,
And the dwellers in heaven he hates."

Loki:
20. "Be silent, Gefjon! | for now shall I say
Who led thee to evil life;
The boy so fair | gave a necklace bright,
And about him thy leg was laid."

Odin:
21. "Mad art thou, Loki, | and little of wit,
The wrath of Gefjon to rouse;
For the fate that is set | for all she sees,
Even as I, methinks."



There's probably more information in the lore on Gefjon than on any of the other handmaidens, but it's still not a lot, and it tends to be contradictory. Mainly, she's a virgin, and yet she has four sons, which if not contradictory tends to indicate that she is unpartnered, not inexperienced. Loki accuses her of sleeping with a man for jewelry; although this could be a case of confusing her with Freyja and the tale of Brisingamen, that's not certain. Odin states in Lokasenna that Gefjon has the same sort of foresight he himself has, which could also mean a conflation with Frigga. But taking these bits of information together, Gefjon is

- kind to maidens (which may well mean unmarried women rather than women who've not had sex), who join her in her hall after death. This seems to mean that she is protective of women who may have few resources of their own, or who would perhaps be happier in a household of women.

- clever, as shown in the Zeeland story.

- interested in the maintenance of frith; she isn't trying to calm Loki himself, rather questioning why the others are giving him so much leeway in the situation

- wise, and with an understanding of wyrd.

It's kind of a scattered picture, which wouldn't necessarily be a problem (certainly she is not the only god whose stories differ widely) except that there's so little of it. It's like a jigsaw puzzle where all you've got is one blue piece, one green piece, and one piece that might be part of an ox.

What I tend to get, on a purely personal level, is that she is independent and self-sufficient, and is supportive of those (particularly women who may have limited resources) who seek their own independence and self-sufficiency and personal power. She's wise, she's clever, she knows much, but the bit that says "Gefjon" to me is the part about autonomy.

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