However, the Vanir were seen as the peace-loving branch of the Scandinavian pantheon, just as in contemporary politics many see Canada, America and the United Kingdom as “peace-loving” countries that, nonetheless, go to war when deemed necessary for a greater good.
Originally, the Vanir were fertility gods associated with the earth and waters. Later they became more specialized gods of weather, crops and business.
This is similar to the Hindu pantheon, where deities become increasingly specialized over centuries of social, historical and mythic development. And further to Hindu myth, David L. Miller says that the celebrated mythographer Georges Dumézil believed that the Vanir corresponded to the Indian “Asvin or Nasatya.”¹
The best known Vanir are Frey and his sister Freya, both children of the sea-god Njord and stepchildren of the she-giant Skadi, who prevailed over the mountains and became Njord’s wife.
Ember notes that Skadi’s role as Frey and Freya’s stepmother
is made fairly clear in the Lore by the fact that the three of them, Njordh, Freyr, and Freya come to the Vanir as hostages, such that Njordh was available in Asgard when the time came for Skadhi to choose a husband. » See in context
The Vanir inhabited an underground lair called Vanaheim.
Eventually the Vanir intermarried with the Aesir, this leading to a unified but not entirely homogenous pantheon.
After merging with the Aesir, the Vanir for the most part dwelled in the sky region of Asgard but, according to David Leeming, still spent some time in their former home of Vanaheim.²
¹ Review: Light from the North, Journal of Bible and Religion, Vol. 34, No. 1 (Jan., 1966: 25-28), p. 26.
² David Leeming, Oxford Companion to World Mythology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 392).
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