In Norse mythology, Gullveig ("gold branch") was a greedy sorceress. She visited the Aesir and bored them by talking of nothing but gold. They threw her into a fire, but she was reborn after dying. This occurred three times. The Aesir's maltreatment of Gullveig reached the Vanir and the two sides warred, the first war in history. The war ended in a stalemate; for security reasons, the Vanir sent Niord, Freyr and Freya to the Aesir, who in their turn sent Odin's brother Hoenir to the Vanir. Gullveig is a life-death-rebirth deity, thrice dead but still alive.
She also went under the name Heid ("gleaming one").
Gullveig is the prototype of all evil witches. Her name means "gold greedy" or "gold hungry". While some moderners think that she is equivalent to Freya, the ancients would have laughed at this horrific notion.
Gullveig is also known by the names "Angrboda" (or Angerboda) and "Aurboda". Loki ate her heart when she was burned by the Aesir, and this impregnates him, and he gives birth to the three monsters Fenrir, Jormungand (or Midgard Serpent), and Leikin or Hel.
She breeds resentment, greed, and anguish in people. She was one of Frigg's handmaidens at one point in time, and was considered very bright. She learned sorcery from Freya and turned it towards evil ends. Burned three times, she is now banished to the Ironwoods that lie between Niflheim and the Nida Mountains on the edge of the Glittering Plains near Mimir's Grove. There she breeds unnatural, ghoulish wolves who threaten the world. Grendel, in the Beowulf story, may have been one of these beasts.
It is likely that Gullveig was the one who perverted human kind and thus required Heimdall to come down and institute the class system in order to keep control; she is also the one who lured Hodur to love Nanna and thus war against his brother Baldur; she is also likely the one who refused to shed tears for Baldur when he died (if it wasn't Loki in disguise, as widely believed).
She is the daughter of Hrimnir, a giant. She was also called "Hljod" and "Hyrrokin".
Gullveig's influence is alive and well in the modern world.