Lofn – Little known Nordic goddess of forbidden love

Lofn (“comforter”, “loving”) according to the sagas is a little known Goddess of forbidden love who blesses all illicit love affairs. Her name is pronounced “Loven” in Icelandic (‘fn’ is sounded ‘vn’). She is described as gentle in manner and as an arranger of marriages, even when they have been forbidden. Lofn remains the comforter, sometimes the mild, other times loving goddess behind forbidden sexual liaisons especially between star-crossed lovers who are not meant to be in a sexual relationship with each other.
Lofn [law-vuhn] IPA ‘o’ or ‘oa’ ‘note’ (minor Norse Goddess): Snorri lists her eight in his catalogue Gylfaginning of goddesses among the Ǽsir and says, “She is so gracious and good to call on that she gets permission from Alfodr [Odin] or Frigg for the intercourse of people, men and women, although otherwise it would be banned or forbidden; because of that lof [praise] is derived from her name, and that which is much lofat [praised] by people” Scholars follow Snorri in accepting a connection between the name Lofn and the root lof-,”praise”. Although Lofn herself is unattested elsewhere, her name turns up frequently as the base word in woman’s kennings in skaldic poetry. As with many other minor goddesses, some scholars believe she may be Frigg under another name.
Ref: Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs by John Lindow, pgs 213. Lofn is described as gentle in manner and as an arranger of marriages, even when they have been forbidden. Some scholars on Old Norse Mythology have proposed theories about the implications of the goddess of forbidden sexual intercourse. Lofn was not a common name in Norse Pantheon. Hardly do we come across her name while reading Norse Mythology which was dominated by gods like Odin, Thor, or Freyr. Lofn as a Norse goddess appeared once in chapter 35 of Prose Edda Gylfaginning which the described 16 goddesses in the pantheon. Lofn was listed as the eighth goddess:
“She is so gentle and so good to invoke that she has permission from All-Father or Frigg to arrange unions between men and women, even if earlier offers have been received and unions have been banned. From her name comes the word lof, meaning permission as well as high praise”
Lofn appeared as a kenning in Skaldic poem for “woman” as well. A kenning was known as a way of calling a trait of something without calling out directly its name. For example, instead of calling “God Thor”, the ancient Norse writer would call “Hammer wielder”. Lofn would appear to give her blessings to the couple who wished to be together and helped the couple to come together without the wrath or disapproval of the family. She might not change the disapproval of others. Instead, she helped others to be more open to accepting this forbidden love affair. Back to the days of Norse explorers, people who wanted to be together simply did regardless of what the families thought. But this sometimes-led feuds between the families.

 

 

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