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Vanir

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Alflady (Second Life) by embervoices via Flickr

During earlier stages of their mythic development, the Vanir were Scandinavian gods constantly at war with the Aesir, who in turn were lead by Odin.

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.

Vanadis (Second Life) by embervoices via Flickr

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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4 thoughts on “Vanir

  1. Skadhi is not Freyr and Freya’s mother, but their stepmother. This 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.

    –Ember–

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  2. Thanks very much for that correction and illustration. I really appreciate it.

    –MC

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  3. I have similar images for Skadhi and Freyr, if you would like them too. They’re in the same Flickr stream.

    I’m also happy to discuss the Vanir with you in email to whatever degree of detail you like, as They are dear to me.

    –Ember–

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  4. Ember, thanks so much for your generosity.

    Right now I’m super busy updating a lot of different topics and ideas, here and at earthpages.org. I am actually hoping that more people will write about things that are dear and important to them.

    So if you see anything lacking here, feel free comment again. Or if you wish to add anything new, just send it here:

    http://tinyurl.com/new-entry

    Thanks again for everything.

    MC

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