Heidr anon here again: thank you for the post! but now I'm curious about the part where Gullveig could be Angrboda as well? Could you elaborate on that? I had a very deep encounter with Angrboda once, helped me a lot, and finding a connection there could explain a lot, for me at least. I understand if you don't want to talk about it, and I thank you for the last post once more!
I’m happy to discuss it.
So, what we know of Gullveig for absolute certain is the following:
- practitioner of seidr - the Aesir don’t like her - she was burned and reborn three times - she uses the name Heidr when going around humans to teach seidr - her mistreatment led to the Aesir-Vanir War
That’s all we know for sure about Gullveig. That, and as a seidr practitioner she was likely one of many volur (seeresses).
In the poem Völuspá in skamma (The Short Voluspa) which is often jammed into the Hyndluljóð (The Lay of Hyndla), there is the pair of stanzas
Loki got the wolf on Angrboda and he got Sleipnir by Svadilfari; one monster was thought the most baleful who was descended from Byleist’s brother
Loki ate some of the heart, the thought-stone of a woman, toasted on a linden-wood fire, he found it half-cooked; Lopt was impregnated by a wicked woman from whom every monster on earth is descended from
The second stanza discusses Loki eating the heart of a “wicked woman.” This heart was already “half-cooked” aka burnt. So a burnt wicked woman. Like Gullveig. If she was reborn from this and therefore descended from Loki, she too would be a monster of some sort, aka a troll of some sort. Additionally, this stanza immediately follows a discussion of Angrboda, indicating a potential link between her and the heart found in the fire.
Next bit of evidence can be found in the poem Baldrs draumar (Baldr’s Dreams) where Odin goes to summon a dead seeress in order to talk to her about the source of Baldr’s nightmares. At the end of the poem, the following exchange happens:
‘You are not Vegtam as I thought rather you are Odin, the ancient sacrifice’ ‘You are not a volva nor a wise woman, rather you’re the mother of three giants!’
‘Ride home Odin, and be proud of yourself! No more men will come to visit me Until Loki is loose, escaped from his bonds and Ragnarok, tearing all asunder, approaches’
So here we have a dead seeress who is the mother of three giants. Just like Angrboda. Assuming this is Angrboda, we also have evidence here she’s a seeress or practitioner of seidr like Gullveig. Which would make sense as the jotnar are strongly tied to seidr which I detailed here.
So so far, we have evidence for Angrboda as a seeress who has been burned alive and reborn via Loki eating her heart. And her being a jotun would explain why the Aesir had such an issue with her to begin with and attacked her way back when. So this hits several of the known facts about Gullveig making it a reasonably strong theory, at least insofar as theories about Gullveig can be strong.
The main issue with this theory is that in Voluspa, Gullveig is said to still be alive and clearly in Baldr’s Dreams the seeress is dead. However, if we account for time passing between the poems, then there isn’t necessarily an issue. Gullveig-Angrboda could be alive during the time of Voluspa but dead during the time of Baldr’s Dreams. But it’s still the biggest issue to the theory because why would time kill Gullveig/why would she finally be dead if she was reborn three times already? Like, what would change to keep her dead? So, it’s definitely not a perfect theory but it’s also not totally ruled out even with that wrinkle because like I said, if there was a sense of chronological time between these tales, then Gullveig finally dying would make sense.
Hey! If this is ok to ask of course, what is your personal opinion about the ‘Angrboda and Gullveig being the same entity’ issue?
My personal doxa is that they’re the same being, and also the same as Heiðr. Which is probably, and completely coincidentally, the only time I will ever agree with Viktor Rydberg.
There’s not really much in the way of proof about this identification, or any other one. Unless we find new surviving texts or textual fragments or other such things, we cannot really definitively declare “Gullveig is _____”. The three most popular theories I’ve seen are that she is Freyja, Angrboda, or a separate Vanir or Vanir-affiliated Goddess, but these are all theories.