I have no idea how many entries in the Pagan Portals series I've read, never mind the ones I've reviewed here and elsewhere. I'm a fan; the best of them are usually hyper-focused on a subject, not trying to provide grandiose overviews of entire subjects that, frankly, are often unwieldy in the books that try to go that route. That said, some misses are mixed in with the hits, particularly when they stray into larger subjects while still trying to be brief. So, how about Frigg: Beloved Queen of Asgard? How did author Ryan McClain do?

Really well, actually. This is McClain's second book (Abnoba was his first), and he relishes the chance to create a complete and nuanced portrait of his subjects. The 6 chapters of the book break out reasonably - from inferring her existence in place names and stories with resemblances, then to the 'definite' Norse record, and then breaking out the ways that Frigg may come to exist in your practices if she doesn't already. Her symbols and associated deities (more broadly considered as correspondences), her 'handmaidens' (a bit of misleading term as they are primarily goddesses in their own rights). In the sixth chapter, he specifically lays out how "Acts of Devotion to Frigg" can be performed and how they can be incorporated into practices you may already have in your life.

I particularly appreciate that each chapter separates the known from the author's opinion, at least to the extent he could catch himself. For example, in Chapter Four, he examines what is passed down to us about those deities related to Frigg as family or participants in her life's stories. While he may present some mild interpretation in trying to put fragments and pieces together sensibly, he saves his opinions on these figures for the "Personal Take" section that ends every chapter. In this case, giving his own sense of the importance of her marriage to her narrative, his feelings on unwinding the complicated story surrounding Frigg and Freyja (are they even two figures, or are they branching versions of a single root story?), and the difficulty that her not-quite-certain parentage plays in understanding her place as a patroness of mothers.

Frigg has been a missing puzzle piece in Moon's Norse-related "Pagan Portals"; now that Ryan McClain's very good addition to the canon is in place, hopefully, this signals future entries researching the not-so-famous but equally important members of the Norse Æsir. This is especially important as mainstream paganism continues to buttress against the appropriation of these figures by the voices of white supremacy throughout the world. They don't deserve free and easy access to these stories, and nothing provides better ammunition for these struggles than the unvarnished explanation of these stories and their intended purposes.

~review by: Wanderer

Author: Ryan McClain
Moon Books, 2024
112 pp., $12.95