Geri and Freki were loyal and very brave. They accompanied Odin during all kinds of travels and adventures, even on battlefields.
That is one of the reasons why warriors considered seeing a grey wolf on the battlefield a good omen – it meant that Odin was present during the battle.
It also meant that Odin would take the warriors to Valhalla if they died in the battle.
Geri and Freki – symbolic meaning
Seeing a grey wolf was one of the good omens during the battle. However, there are other symbolic meanings for wolves in the Nordic culture in general. They sometimes represent chaos and destruction, and other times they stand as symbols of wisdom, loyalty, bravery, and protection.
As mentioned before, Norse people believed that wolves were of assistance to the Valkyries while they would take slain warriors to Valhalla, the mythical place where the fallen warriors would spend their afterlife.
However, only the slain warriors chosen by the Valkyries would be taken to Valhalla, where Odin, the principal god of Norse mythology, resided. Wolves, according to Norse lore, helped the Valkyries carry the warriors to Valhalla.
Geri and Freki were seen as Odin's main guards – they were often depicted sitting at his feet, while Odin is shown sitting on his high seat, so he could see everything happening in all realms. In this sense, Geri and Freki are not friends of other gods, as they had to protect Odin.
All these factors and aspects combined could be a reason why many Viking warriors took the name or the symbol of the wolf – it was sort of a symbolic attempt to inherit these good and positive traits wolves were believed to have.
According to some sources, Odin told the first humans to learn from the wolves – as they could teach them courage, love, wisdom, and taking care of members of the pack.
Odin created the ravens Huginn and Muninn to help him find prey for feeding Geri and Freki. Photo: Tom Swinnen / Pexels
Geri and Freki – how did they come to be?
Odin felt lonely during his travels and battles, so he created Geri and Freki so he could have some company. In Norse mythology, it is believed that these two wolves populated the earth with their offspring (as they were a female and a male wolf) while traveling with Odin.
Geri and Freki were also why Odin created Huginn and Muninn, the two famous ravens – they were the ones to help Odin find prey for feeding Geri and Freki.
In return, Geri (meaning "the greedy one") and Freki ("the ravenous one") constantly guarded Odin so that no one could do him harm. While Geri would sleep, Freki would control the situation, and vice versa, so Odin and the whole Valhalla were kept safe.
Among his other functions, Odin was also considered the wolf god – not only because of Geri and Freki but also because he could take the form of a wolf.
In this form, he created humans who were able to turn into wolves, the Volsungs. Odin was also the leader of the warriors of Ulfhednar, while he was in the form of a wolf.
Many Viking tribes respected wolves and saw them as positive symbols. However, it must be noted that the wolf as a symbol is also seen and perceived similarly in many other cultures throughout the world.
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