As often happens with deities in the Northern Pantheon
especially, the female gods often get left out of the lore due to
many reasons that are often not that 'clear'. Some of the gods
that are featured in our posts are shorter than others due to this
historical oversight, for those seeking additional information that
might be found about more 'obscure' and or 'not that well
documented' please see our resource section for alternative
What little is known about Hlin, comes from 'Odin’s Wife: Mother Earth in Germanic Mythology by William P. Reaves © 2010':
"In Skáldskaparmál 70, Snorri informs us that Earth too had many names. He cites poetic passages in support of each of the following by names: Jörð, Fold, Grund, Land, Fief, Hauðr; Lauð; Hlödyn, Frón and Fjörgyn. By turning to poetic passages, we may add one more: Hlín. In verse 13 of Hávarðar saga ísfirðings, lines 5-6 read: þann vissak mér manna mest alls á Hlín fallinn "No man fell upon Hlin to a greater advantage for me, than this man."
Here Hlin is used as a byname of Jörd. “To fall upon Hlin” means to “fall down,” “to die.” Thus Hlin is a poetic synonym for Jörd. The name means “protector” from hleina, “to have peace and security”7 and may be related to the word hlein meaning “a rock projecting like a pier into the sea” as well as a perpendicular loom used for weaving.8 In poetic sources, the name Hlin frequently occurs in kennings for women, indicating her divine status.
The name of any goddess can be used as the base of a 2 Heimskringla, Ólaf’s Saga Tryggvasonar 26 3 West, ibid, p. 179-80. 4 Bruce Lincoln, as well as J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams (Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, s.v. grass) make this point. 5 Faulkes, Edda, p. 156-7. 6
Compare Völuspá 53. 7 Ursula Dronke, Poetic Edda, Volume II, p. 149. 8 Richard Cleasby and Gudbrand Vigfusson, An Icelandic-English Dictionary 2nd Edition, (Oxford at Clarendon Press, 1957). kenning for woman. As such a base, Hlin was a favorite. In Gylfaginning 35, Snorri lists Hlin as a minor goddess —the twelfth Asynje — appointed to watch over those whom Frigg desires to protect
In fact, Snorri portrays Hlin, Jörd and Frigg as distinct goddesses. He lists them all twice as Asynjes: once in Gylfaginning 35-36 and again in the þulur where all three names appear in a list of the Asynjur. Despite this, Hlin‟s status as an independent goddess is not supported by the older poetry, which is Snorri‟s acknowledged source. As seen above, Hlin is used as a byname of Jörd in Hávarðar saga ísfirðings 13, while in Völuspá 53, Hlin is used a byname of Frigg. The verse reads: Þá kømr Hlínar harmr annarr fram, er Óðinn ferr við úlf vega, en bani Belja bjartr at Surti, þá mun Friggjar falla angan. “Then Hlin‟s
second grief comes to pass, when Odin goes to fight the Wolf and Beli‟s bright bane (Frey) against Surt. Then Frigg‟s angan shall fall.” "
-Odin’s Wife: Mother Earth in Germanic Mythology by William P. Reaves © 2010:
It is possible that Hlin is one of the handmaids often sent to protect. However, if it is as W. Reaves attests that she is in fact just a name for Frigga, this could be a case of an 'incarnation' or disguise of Frigga used to the specific purpose, as Hlin is often associated in many tales with 'grieve' or 'mourning'. In this way, it is possible that Frigga again like in our previous article is able to appear in a number of roles. This is not because of anything subversive, but as previously stated, highly possible as women (that is literal women) were seen as both life and death and therefore were associated with: birth, death, mourning, sorrow, healing and through these various female roles the goddess would have evolved into various forms or at least be seen to, so that the specific aspect of that god or goddess could be us.
Besides Hlin's duties as a protectress, she is also Frigg's messenger, and thus does all the jobs a divine messenger would do.