Vanir

In Norse mythology, the Vanir (/ˈvɑːnɪr/; singular Vanr) are a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, and the ability to see the future. The Vanir are one of two groups of gods (the other being the Æsir) and are the namesake of the location Vanaheimr (Old Norse "Home of the Vanir"). After the Æsir–Vanir War, the Vanir became a subgroup of the Æsir. Subsequently, members of the Vanir are sometimes also referred to as members of the Æsir.

The Vanir are attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, both written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; and in the poetry of skalds. The Vanir are only attested in these Old Norse sources. Vanir is sometimes anglicized to Wanes (singular Wane).

All sources describe the deities Njörðr, Freyr and Freyja as members of the Vanir. A euhemerized prose account in Heimskringla adds that Njörðr's sister—whose name is not provided—and Kvasir were Vanir. In addition, Heimskringla reports a tale involving king Sveigðir's visit to Vanaheimr, where he meets a woman by the name of Vana and the two produce a child named Vanlandi (whose name means "Man from the Land of the Vanir").

While not attested as Vanir, the gods Heimdallr and Ullr have been theorized as potential members of the group. In the Prose Edda, a name listed for boars is "Van-child". Scholars have theorized that the Vanir may be connected to small pieces of gold foil found in Scandinavia at some building sites from the Migration Period to the Viking Age and occasionally in graves. They have speculated whether the Vanir originally represented pre-Indo-European deities or Indo-European fertility gods, and have theorized a form of the gods as venerated by the pagan Anglo-Saxons.

John Bauer-Freja
Freja by John Bauer (1882–1918).

Etymology

Numerous theories have been proposed for the etymology of Vanir. Scholar R. I. Page says that, while there are no shortages of etymologies for the word, it is tempting to link the word with "Old Norse vinr, 'friend', and Latin Venus, 'goddess of physical love.'"[1]

Attestations

Poetic Edda

Freyr by Johannes Gehrts
The sun shining behind them, the god Freyr stands with his boar Gullinbursti (1901) by Johannes Gehrts.

In the Poetic Edda, the Vanir, as a group, are specifically referenced in the poems Völuspá, Vafþrúðnismál, Skírnismál, Þrymskviða, Alvíssmál and Sigrdrífumál. In Völuspá, a stanza describes the events of the Æsir–Vanir War, noting that during the war the Vanir broke the walls of the stronghold of the Æsir, and that the Vanir were "indomitable, trampling the plain."[2]

In Vafþrúðnismál, Gagnráðr (the god Odin in disguise) engages in a game of wits with the jötunn Vafþrúðnir. Gagnráðr asks Vafþrúðnir where the Van god Njörðr came from, for though he rules over many hofs and hörgrs, Njörðr was not raised among the Æsir. Vafþrúðnir responds that Njörðr was created in Vanaheimr ("home of the Vanir") by "wise powers" and details that during the Æsir–Vanir War, Njörðr was exchanged as a hostage. In addition, when the world ends (Ragnarök), Njörðr "will return to the wise Vanir."[3]

Alvíssmál consists of question and answer exchanges between the dwarf Alvíss and the god Thor. In the poem, Alvíss supplies terms that various groups, including the Vanir, use to refer to various subjects. Alvíss attributes nine terms to the Vanir; one for Earth ("The Ways"), Heaven ("The Weaver of Winds"), clouds ("Kites of the Wind"), calm ("The Hush of the Winds"), the sea ("The Wave"), fire ("Wildfire"), wood ("The Wand"), seed ("growth"), and ale ("The Foaming").[4]

The poem Þrymskviða states that the god Heimdallr possesses foreknowledge, "as the Vanir also can."[5] Sigrdrífumál records that the Vanir are in possession of a "sacred mead". In the poem, the valkyrie Sigrdrífa provides mystical lore about runes to the hero Sigurd. Sigrdrífa notes that runes were once carved on to various creatures, deities and other figures, and then shaved off and mixed with a "sacred mead." This mead is possessed by the Æsir, the elves, mankind, and the Vanir.[6]

In Skírnismál, the beautiful jötunn Gerðr first encounters the god Freyr's messenger Skírnir, and asks him if he is of the elves, of the Æsir, or of the "wise Vanir." Skírnir responds that he is not of any of the three groups.[7] Later in the poem, Skírnir is successful in his threats against Gerðr (to have Gerðr accept Freyr's affections), and Gerðr offers Skírnir a crystal cup full of mead, noting that she never thought that she would love one of the Vanir.[8]

Prose Edda

Hyndla og Freia by Frølich
Flanked by her boar Hildisvini, the Vanr goddess Freyja (right) (1895) by Lorenz Frølich.

The Vanir are mentioned in the Prose Edda books Gylfaginning and Skáldskaparmál. In chapter 23 of Gylfaginning, the enthroned figure of High relates that Njörðr was raised in Vanaheimr. High says that during the Æsir–Vanir War, the Vanir sent Njörðr as a hostage to the Æsir, and the Æsir sent to the Vanir the god Hœnir. The sending of Njörðr as a hostage resulted in a peace agreement between the Æsir and the Vanir.[9]

Chapter 35 provides information regarding the goddess Freyja, including that one of her names is "Dis of the Vanir." In the same chapter, High tells that the goddess Gná rides the horse Hófvarpnir, and that this horse has the ability to ride through the air and atop the sea.[10] High continues that "once some Vanir saw her path as she rode through the air" and that an unnamed one of these Vanir says, in verse (for which no source is provided):

"What flies there?
What fares there?
or moves through the air?"[11]

Gná responds:

"I fly not
though I fare
and move through the air
on Hofvarpnir
the one whom Hamskerpir got
with Gardrofa."[11]
Wildschwein Sus scrofa
A wild boar in Northern Europe. In the Prose Edda, "Van-child" is listed as a name for boars. Both Freyja and Freyr are attested as accompanied by boars.

In chapter 57 of Skáldskaparmál, the god Bragi explains the origin of poetry. Bragi says the origin of poetry lies in the Æsir-Vanir War. During the peace conference held to end the war both the Æsir and the Vanir formed a truce by spitting into a vat. When they left, the gods decided that it shouldn't be poured out, but rather kept as a symbol of their peace, and so from the contents they made a man; Kvasir. Kvasir is later murdered by dwarves, and from his blood the Mead of Poetry is made.[12]

In chapter 6, poetic names for Njörðr are provided, including "descendant of Vanir or a Van". As reference, a poem by the 11th century skald Þórðr Sjáreksson is provided where Njörðr is described as a Vanr. In chapter 7, poetic names for Freyr are listed, including names that reference his association with the Vanir; "Vanir god," "descendant of Vanir," and "a Van."[13] Freyja is also repeatedly cited as a Vanr. In chapter 20, some of Freyja's names are listed and include "Van-deity" and"Van-lady," and chapter 37 provides skaldic verse referring to Freyja as "Van-bride."[14] In chapter 75, names for pigs are provided, including "Van-child."[15]

Heimskringla

Æsir-Vanir war by Frølich
Odin throws his spear at the Vanir host, illustration (1895) by Lorenz Frølich

The Heimskringla book Ynglinga saga (chapter 4) provides an euhemerized account of the Æsir–Vanir War. As a peace agreement, the two sides agreed to trade hostages. The Vanir sent Njörðr and Freyr to the Æsir, and in turn the Æsir sent to the Vanir Hœnir and Mímir. Upon receiving Mímir, the Vanir sent the "cleverest amongst them," Kvasir. In Vanaheimr, the Vanir made Hœnir a chieftain. However, whenever Hœnir appeared at assemblies or meetings where the Vanir asked him his opinion on difficult issues, his response was "let others decide." The Vanir suspected that they had been cheated by the Æsir in the hostage exchange, and so grabbed hold of Mímir, cut off Mímir's head, and sent it to the Æsir.[16]

The same chapter describes that while Njörðr lived among the Vanir, his wife (unnamed) was his sister, and the couple had two children; Freyr and Freyja. However, "among the Æsir it was forbidden to marry so near a kin." By Odin's appointment, Njörðr and Freyr became priests over offerings of sacrifice, and they were recognized as gods among the Æsir. Freyja was priestess at the sacrifices, and "it was she who first taught the Æsir magic as was practiced among the Vanir."[16]

In chapter 15, the king Sveigðir is recorded as having married a woman named Vana in "Vanaland", located in Sweden. The two produced a child, who they named Vanlandi (Old Norse "Man from the Land of the Vanir"[17]).[18]

Archaeological record

Goldgubb
A leafy bough between them, two figures embrace on a small piece of gold foil dating from the Migration Period to the early Viking Age

Small pieces of gold foil decorated with pictures of figures dating from the Migration Period into the early Viking Age (known as gullgubber) have been discovered in various locations in Scandinavia, in one case almost 2,500. The foil pieces have been found largely at sites of buildings, only rarely in graves. The figures are sometimes single, occasionally an animal, sometimes a man and a woman with a leafy bough between them, facing or embracing one another. The human figures are almost always clothed and are sometimes depicted with their knees bent. Scholar Hilda Ellis Davidson says that it has been suggested that the figures are partaking in a dance, and that they may have been connected with weddings and linked to the Vanir, representing the notion of a divine marriage, such as in the Poetic Edda poem Skírnismál; the coming together of the Vanir god Freyr and his love, Gerðr.[19]

Scholarly theories

Like the Vanr goddess Freyja, the Vanir as a group are not attested outside Scandinavia. Traditionally, following Völuspá and Snorri Sturluson's account in the Prose Edda, scholarship on the Vanir has focused on the Æsir–Vanir War, its possible basis in a war between tribes, and whether the Vanir originated as the deities of a distinct people. Some scholars have doubted that they were known outside Scandinavia; however, there is evidence that the god Freyr is the same god as the Germanic deity Ing (reconstructed as Proto-Germanic *Ingwaz), and that, if so, he is attested as having been known among the Goths.[20] More recently, the view put forward by Georges Dumézil based on Indo-European parallels has dominated, wherein the Vanir, like the Æsir, derive from the pre-Germanic heritage of Germanic religion and embody the third of the three "functions" in his trifunctional hypothesis: chthonic and fertility deities.[21][22][23]

Hilda Ellis Davidson theorizes that all of the wives of the gods may have originally been members of the Vanir, noting that many of them appear to have originally been children of jötnar.[19] Davidson additionally notes that "it is the Vanir and Odin who seem to receive the most hostile treatment in Christian stories about mythological personages."[24] Alaric Hall has equated the Vanir with the elves,[25] and Joseph S. Hopkins and Haukur Þorgeirsson, building on suggestions by archaeologist Ole Crumlin-Pedersen and others, link the Vanir to ship burial customs among the North Germanic peoples, proposing an early Germanic model of a ship in a "field of the dead" that may be represented both by Freyja's afterlife field Fólkvangr and by the Old English Neorxnawang (the mysterious first element of which may be linked to the name of Freyja's father, Njörðr).[26]

Richard North theorizes that glossing Latin vanitates ("vanities", "idols") for "gods" in Old English sources implies the existence of *uuani (a reconstructed cognate to Old Norse Vanir) in Deiran dialect and hence that the gods that Edwin of Northumbria and the northern Angles worshiped in pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon England were likely to have been the *uuani. He comments that they likely "shared not only the name but also the orgiastic character of the [Old Icelandic] Vanir."[27]

In 2010 Rudolf Simek, building on an analysis by Lotte Motz, argued that vanir was originally nothing more than a general term for deities like æsir, and that its employment as a distinct group of deities was Snorri's invention, and the Vanir are therefore "a figment of imagination from the 13th to 20th centuries".[28] Simek's argument is supported by a statistical analysis (published in the same journal issue) of the small corpus of poetic usages, which suggests that the term vanir was a "suspended archaism" used as a metrical alternative to Æsir.[29]

In contrast, in a concurrently published response, Clive Tolley argues that the term must have originated in historical usage, and as such "it is something of a misrepresentation of the evidence to suggest that Snorri is the main source for the vanir."[30] Returning to the Indo-European origins theory, he argues that the Vanir strengthen the Æsir by contributing their relationality, their ability to absorb the other and their receptivity to sacrifice.[31] In contrast, continuing the same journal thread, Leszek P. Słupecki argues that the Vanir remained distinct from the Æsir—except for Freyja and Freyr, whom he follows Snorri in seeing as having been born after Njörðr became a hostage among the Æsir, and thus regards as Æsir—and therefore that Ragnarök "[has] no importance for their world".[32]

Modern influence

The Vanir are featured in the poem Om vanerne in Nordens Guder (1819) by Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger.[33] Some Germanic Neopagans refer to their beliefs as Vanatrú (meaning "those who honor the Vanir").[34]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Page (1990:27)
  2. ^ Larrington (1999:7).
  3. ^ Larrington (1999:46).
  4. ^ Bellows (1923:186–187, 189–193).
  5. ^ Larrington (1999:99).
  6. ^ Larrington (1999:169).
  7. ^ Larrington (1999:64).
  8. ^ Larrington (1999:67).
  9. ^ Faulkes (1995:23).
  10. ^ Byock (2005:43).
  11. ^ a b Byock (2005:44).
  12. ^ Faulkes (1995:61–62).
  13. ^ Faulkes (1999:57).
  14. ^ Faulkes (1995:86–99).
  15. ^ Faulkes (1999:164).
  16. ^ a b Hollander (2007:8).
  17. ^ McKinnell (2005:70).
  18. ^ Hollander (2007:15).
  19. ^ a b Davidson (1988:121).
  20. ^ Grundy (1998:65).
  21. ^ Dumézil (1959).
  22. ^ Dumézil, trans. Lindow (1973)
  23. ^ Tolley (2011:22).
  24. ^ Davidson (1969:132).
  25. ^ Hall (2007:26, 35–36), cited in Tolley (2011:23)
  26. ^ Hopkins and Haukur (2011).
  27. ^ North (1998:177–178).
  28. ^ Simek comments: "I believe that these are not mistakes that we are dealing with here, but a deliberate invention on the part of Snorri." Simek (2010:18).
  29. ^ Frog and Roper (2011:30 and 35).
  30. ^ Tolley (2011:20–22).
  31. ^ Tolley (2011:24).
  32. ^ Słupecki (2011).
  33. ^ Simek (2007:352).
  34. ^ Harvey (2000:67).

References

  • Bellows, Henry Adams (Trans.) (1923). The Poetic Edda. New York: The American-Scandinavian Foundation.
  • Byock, Jesse (Trans.) (2005). The Prose Edda. Penguin Classics. ISBN 0-14-044755-5.
  • Davidson, H. R. Ellis (1969). Scandinavian Mythology. Paul Hamlyn.
  • Davidson, Hilda Roderick Ellis (1988). Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-2579-6.
  • Dumézil, Georges (1959). "Dieux Ases et dieux Vanes". in: Les Dieux des germains: essai sur la formation de la religion scandinave. rev. ed. Mythes et religions 39. Paris: Presses universitaires de France. OCLC 1719020. pp. 3–39. (in French)
  • Dumézil, Georges, trans. John Lindow. "The gods: Aesir and Vanir". in: Gods of the Ancient Northmen. ed. Einar Haugen. Publications of the UCLA Center for the Study of Comparative Folklore and Mythology 3. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973. ISBN 9780520020443. pp. 3–25.
  • Faulkes, Anthony (Trans.) (1995). Edda. Everyman. ISBN 0-460-87616-3.
  • Frog and Roper, Jonathan (2011). "Versus versus the 'Vanir': Response to Simek's "Vanir Obituary". RMN Newsletter, No. 2, May 2011. The University of Helsinki. ISSN-L: 1799-4497. pp. 29–37.
  • Grundy, Stephan (1998). "Freyja and Frigg" in Billington, Sandra, and Green, Miranda (1998). The Concept of the Goddess. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-19789-9.
  • Hall, Alaric (2007). Elves in Anglo-Saxon England: Matters of Belief, Health, Gender and Identity. Anglo-Saxon Studies 8. Woodbridge, Suffolk / Rochester, New York: Boydell Press, 2007. ISBN 9781843832942.
  • Harvey, Graham (2000). Contemporary Paganism: Listening People, Speaking Earth. NYU Press. ISBN 0-8147-3620-3.
  • Hopkins, Joseph S. and Haukur Þorgeirsson (2011). "The Ship in the Field". RMN Newsletter, No. 3, December 2011. The University of Helsinki. ISSN-L: 1799-4497. pp. 14–18.
  • Hollander, Lee Milton (Trans.) (2007). Heimskringla: History of the Kings of Norway. University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-73061-8.
  • Larrington, Carolyne (Trans.) (1999). The Poetic Edda. Oxford World's Classics. ISBN 0-19-283946-2.
  • McKinnell, John (2005). Meeting the Other in Norse Myth and Legend. DS Brewer. ISBN 1-84384-042-1.
  • North, Richard (1998). Heathen Gods in Old English Literature. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-55183-8.
  • Page, R. I. (1990). Norse Myths. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-75546-5.
  • Simek, Rudolf (2007). Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Translated by Angela Hall. D.S. Brewer. ISBN 0-85991-513-1.
  • Simek, Rudolf (2010). "The Vanir: An Obituary". RMN Newsletter, No. 1, December 2010. The University of Helsinki. ISSN-L: 1799-4497. pp. 10–19.
  • Słupecki, Leszek P. (2011). "The Vanir and ragnarǫk". RMN Newsletter, No. 3, December 2011. The University of Helsinki. ISSN-L: 1799-4497. pp. 11–13.
  • Tolley, Clive (2011). "In Defence of the Vanir". RMN Newsletter, No. 2, May 2011. The University of Helsinki. ISSN-L: 1799-4497. pp. 20–37.

External links

  • Media related to Vanir at Wikimedia Commons
Family tree of the Norse gods

This is a Family tree of the Norse gods showing kin relations among notable gods and goddesses in Norse mythology. This family tree gives an example pedigree. With respect to kin relations of Norse gods, there are regional variations and disagreement among sources.

Ymir is the first being, a giant who was born from venom that dripped from the icy rivers Élivágar in the primordial void of Ginnungagap.

Æsir are indicated with boldface and Vanir are indicated with italics. Others are Jötnar.

Freyja

In Norse mythology, Freyja (; Old Norse for "(the) Lady") is a goddess associated with war, death, love, sex, beauty, fertility, gold, and seiðr. Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a chariot pulled by two cats, is accompanied by the boar Hildisvíni, and possesses a cloak of falcon feathers. By her husband Óðr, she is the mother of two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi. Along with her brother Freyr, her father Njörðr, and her mother (Njörðr's sister, unnamed in sources), she is a member of the Vanir. Stemming from Old Norse Freyja, modern forms of the name include Freya, Freyia, and Freja.

Freyja rules over her heavenly field, Fólkvangr, where she receives half of those who die in battle. The other half go to the god Odin's hall, Valhalla. Within Fólkvangr lies her hall, Sessrúmnir. Freyja assists other deities by allowing them to use her feathered cloak, is invoked in matters of fertility and love, and is frequently sought after by powerful jötnar who wish to make her their wife. Freyja's husband, the god Óðr, is frequently absent. She cries tears of red gold for him, and searches for him under assumed names. Freyja has numerous names, including Gefn, Hörn, Mardöll, Sýr, Valfreyja, and Vanadís.

Freyja is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; in the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, composed by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century; in several Sagas of Icelanders; in the short story "Sörla þáttr"; in the poetry of skalds; and into the modern age in Scandinavian folklore.

Scholars have debated whether Freyja and the goddess Frigg ultimately stem from a single goddess common among the Germanic peoples; connected her to the valkyries, female battlefield choosers of the slain; and analyzed her relation to other goddesses and figures in Germanic mythology, including the thrice-burnt and thrice-reborn Gullveig/Heiðr, the goddesses Gefjon, Skaði, Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr and Irpa, Menglöð, and the 1st century CE "Isis" of the Suebi. Freyja's name appears in numerous place names in Scandinavia, with a high concentration in southern Sweden. Various plants in Scandinavia once bore her name, but it was replaced with the name of the Virgin Mary during the process of Christianization. Rural Scandinavians continued to acknowledge Freyja as a supernatural figure into the 19th century, and Freyja has inspired various works of art.

Freyr

Freyr (Old Norse: Lord), sometimes anglicized as Frey, is a widely attested god associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather, and pictured as a phallic fertility god in Norse mythology. Freyr is said to "bestow peace and pleasure on mortals". Freyr, sometimes referred to as Yngvi-Freyr, was especially associated with Sweden and seen as an ancestor of the Swedish royal house.

In the Icelandic books the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Freyr is presented as one of the Vanir, the son of the sea god Njörðr, as well as the twin brother of the goddess Freyja. The gods gave him Álfheimr, the realm of the Elves, as a teething present. He rides the shining dwarf-made boar Gullinbursti and possesses the ship Skíðblaðnir which always has a favorable breeze and can be folded together and carried in a pouch when it is not being used. Freyr is also known to have been associated with the horse cult. He also kept sacred horses in his sanctuary at Thrandheim in Norway. He has the servants Skírnir, Byggvir and Beyla.

The most extensive surviving Freyr myth relates Freyr's falling in love with the female jötunn Gerðr. Eventually, she becomes his wife but first Freyr has to give away his sword which fights on its own "if wise be he who wields it." Although deprived of this weapon, Freyr defeats the jötunn Beli with an antler. However, lacking his sword, Freyr will be killed by the fire jötunn Surtr during the events of Ragnarök.

Like other Germanic deities, veneration of Freyr is revived in the modern period in Heathenry movement.

Gersemi

In Norse mythology, Gersemi (Old Norse "treasure") is the daughter of Freyja and Óðr, and sister of Hnoss.

Gná and Hófvarpnir

In Norse mythology, Gná is a goddess who runs errands in other worlds for the goddess Frigg and rides the flying, sea-treading horse Hófvarpnir (Old Norse "he who throws his hoofs about", "hoof-thrower" or "hoof kicker"). Gná and Hófvarpnir are attested in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. Scholarly theories have been proposed about Gná as a "goddess of fullness" and as potentially cognate to Fama from Roman mythology. Hófvarpnir and the eight-legged steed Sleipnir have been cited examples of transcendent horses in Norse mythology.

Gullveig

In Norse mythology, Gullveig is a being who was speared by the Æsir, burnt three times, and yet thrice reborn. Upon her third rebirth, Gullveig's name becomes Heiðr and she is described as a knowledgeable and skillful völva. Gullveig/Heiðr is solely attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional material. Scholars have variously proposed that Gullveig/Heiðr is the same figure as the goddess Freyja, that Gullveig's death may have been connected to corruption by way of gold among the Æsir, and/or that Gullveig's treatment by the Æsir may have led to the Æsir–Vanir War.

Harðgreipr

Harthgrepa or Harðgreip in Old Norse (« Hard-grip ») is a giantess who appears in the legend of the Norse hero Hadingus, which is reported by Saxo Grammaticus in his Gesta Danorum.

Hœnir

In Norse mythology, Hœnir is one of the Æsir. He is mentioned as the one who helped Odin to create humans.

Kvasir

In Norse mythology, Kvasir was a being born of the saliva of the Æsir and the Vanir, two groups of gods. Extremely wise, Kvasir traveled far and wide, teaching and spreading knowledge. This continued until the dwarfs Fjalar and Galar killed Kvasir and drained him of his blood. The two mixed his blood with honey, resulting in the Mead of Poetry, a mead which imbues the drinker with skaldship and wisdom, and the spread of which eventually resulted in the introduction of poetry to mankind.

Kvasir is attested in the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, both written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century, and in the poetry of skalds. According to the Prose Edda, Kvasir was instrumental in the capture and binding of Loki, and an euhemerized account of the god appears in Heimskringla, where he is attested as the wisest among the Vanir.

Scholars have connected Kvasir to methods of beverage production and peacemaking practices among ancient peoples, and have pointed to a potential basis in Proto-Indo-European myth by way of Sanskrit narratives involving the holy beverage Soma and its theft by the god Indra.

Mímir

Mímir (Old Norse "The rememberer, the wise one") or Mimir is a figure in Norse mythology, renowned for his knowledge and wisdom, who is beheaded during the Æsir-Vanir War. Afterward, the god Odin carries around Mímir's head and it recites secret knowledge and counsel to him.

Mímir is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson of Iceland, and in euhemerized form as one of the Æsir in Heimskringla, also written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century. Mímir's name appears in the names of the well Mímisbrunnr, the tree Mímameiðr, and the wood Hoddmímis holt. Scholars have proposed that Bestla may be Mímir's sister, and therefore Odin's uncle.

Nerthus

In Germanic paganism, Nerthus is a goddess associated with fertility. Nerthus is attested by first century AD Roman historian Tacitus in his ethnographic work Germania.

In Germania, Tacitus records that the remote Suebi tribes were united by their veneration of the goddess at his time of writing and maintained a sacred grove on an (unspecified) island and that a holy cart rests there draped with cloth, which only a priest may touch. The priests feel her presence by the cart, and, with deep reverence, attend her cart, which is drawn by heifers. Everywhere the goddess then deigns to visit, she is met with celebration, hospitality, and peace. All iron objects are locked away, and no one will leave for war. When the goddess has had her fill she is returned to her temple by the priests. Tacitus adds that the goddess, the cart, and the cloth are then washed by slaves in a secluded lake. The slaves are then drowned.

The name Nerthus is generally held to be a Latinized form of Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, a direct precursor to the Old Norse deity name Njörðr. While scholars have noted numerous parallels between the descriptions of the two figures, Njörðr is attested as a male deity. Various scholarly theories exist regarding the goddess and her potential later traces amongst the Germanic peoples, including that the figure may be identical to the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr mentioned in two Old Norse sources.

Njörðr

In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with the sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

Njörðr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, in euhemerized form as a beloved mythological early king of Sweden in Heimskringla, also written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century, as one of three gods invoked in the 14th century Hauksbók ring oath, and in numerous Scandinavian place names. Veneration of Njörðr survived into 18th or 19th century Norwegian folk practice, where the god is recorded as Njor and thanked for a bountiful catch of fish.

Njörðr has been the subject of an amount of scholarly discourse and theory, often connecting him with the figure of the much earlier attested Germanic goddess Nerthus, the hero Hadingus, and theorizing on his formerly more prominent place in Norse paganism due to the appearance of his name in numerous place names. Njörðr is sometimes modernly anglicized as Njord, Njoerd, or Njorth.

Seiðr

In Old Norse, seiðr (sometimes anglicized as seidhr, seidh, seidr, seithr, seith, or seid) was a type of sorcery practiced in Norse society during the Late Scandinavian Iron Age. The practice of seiðr is believed to be a form of magic relating to both the telling and shaping of the future. Connected with Norse religion, its origins are largely unknown, although it became gradually eroded following the Christianization of Scandinavia. Accounts of seiðr later made it into sagas and other literary sources, while further evidence has been unearthed by archaeologists. Various scholars have debated the nature of seiðr, some arguing that it was shamanic in context, involving visionary journeys by its practitioners.

Seiðr practitioners were of both sexes, although females are more widely attested, with such sorceresses being variously known as vǫlur, seiðkonur and vísendakona. There were also accounts of male practitioners, known as seiðmenn, but in practising magic they brought a social taboo, known as ergi, on to themselves, and were sometimes persecuted as a result. In many cases these magical practitioners would have had assistants to aid them in their rituals.

In pre-Christian Norse mythology, seiðr was associated with both the god Oðinn, a deity who was simultaneously responsible for war, poetry and sorcery, and the goddess Freyja, a member of the Vanir who was believed to have taught the practice to the Æsir.In the 20th century, adherents of various modern pagan new religious movements adopted forms of magico-religious practice that include seiðr. The practices of these contemporary seiðr-workers have since been investigated by various academic researchers operating in the field of pagan studies.

Sister-wife of Njörðr

In Norse mythology, the sister-wife of Njörðr is the unnamed wife and sister of the god Njörðr, with whom he is described as having had the (likewise incestuous) twin children Freyr and Freyja. This shadowy goddess is attested in the Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna, recorded in the 13th century by an unknown source, and the Heimskringla book Ynglinga saga, a euhemerized account of the Norse gods composed by Snorri Sturluson also in the 13th century but based on earlier traditional material. The figure receives no further mention in Old Norse texts.

The situation is further complicated in that narratives describing the birth of Freyr and Freyja contradictorily cite the birth of the siblings occurring either after or before Njörðr left Vanaheimr to live among the Æsir. In addition, Freyr is referred to as the "son" of Njörðr and the goddess Skaði in the Poetic Edda poem Skírnismál.

In his 1 CE work Germania, Tacitus describes rituals surrounding a deity by the name of Nerthus, a theonym that is etymologically ancestral to Old Norse Njörðr. However, the figure described by Tacitus is female. Based on this scholars have suggested a Proto-Germanic hermaphroditic deity or a gender aspectual pair (similar to Freyja and Freyr), identified the obscure Old Norse goddess name Njörun as a potential name for the otherwise unnamed goddess, and in some cases identified a potential reflex of a narrative about Njörðr and his sister-wife in Saxo Grammaticus's 12th-century work Gesta Danorum.

Skathi (moon)

Skathi (), or Saturn XXVII, is a natural satellite of Saturn. It was discovered by Brett Gladman, Kavelaars and colleagues in 2000, and given the temporary designation S/2000 S 8.

Skathi is about 8 kilometres in diameter and orbits Saturn at an average distance of 15.576 Gm in 725.784 days, at an inclination of 149° to the ecliptic (150° to Saturn's equator), in a retrograde direction and with an eccentricity of 0.246.

The name is given as Skadi by most sources. This is the name that was originally announced in 2003; however, the IAU Working Group on Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) decided in early 2005 to use an alternative transliteration of the Norse spelling. The classical spelling is Skaði, with the letter Ð (eth), and the original form Skadi was a graphic approximation of that.

Skathi may have been formed from debris knocked off Phoebe by large impacts at some point in the Solar System's history.

Its name comes from Norse mythology, where Skaði is a giantess who is the wife of the Vanir god Niord.

Vanaheimr

In Norse mythology, Vanaheimr (Old Norse for "home of the Vanir") is one of the Nine Worlds and home of the Vanir, a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, and the ability to see the future.

Vanaheimr is attested in the Poetic Edda; compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda and (in euhemerized form) Heimskringla; both written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Vanaheimr is described as the location where the Van god Njörðr was raised. In Norse cosmology, Vanaheimr is considered one of the Nine Worlds.

Yngvi

Old Norse Yngvi, Old High German Inguin and Old English Ingƿine are names that relate to a theonym which appears to have been the older name for the god Freyr. Proto-Germanic *Ingwaz was the legendary ancestor of the Ingaevones, or more accurately Ingvaeones, and is also the reconstructed name of the Elder Futhark rune ᛜ and Anglo-Saxon rune ᛝ, representing ŋ.

A torc, the so-called "Ring of Pietroassa", part of a late third to fourth century Gothic hoard discovered in Romania, is inscribed in much-damaged runes, one reading of which is gutanī [i(ng)]wi[n] hailag "to Ingwi[n] of the Goths holy".

Æsir

In Old Norse, ǫ́ss (or áss, ás, plural æsir; feminine ásynja, plural ásynjur) is a member of the principal pantheon in Norse religion. This pantheon includes Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Týr. The second pantheon is known as the Vanir. In Norse mythology, the two pantheons wage war against each other, which results in a unified pantheon.

The cognate term in Old English is ōs (plural ēse) denoting a deity in Anglo-Saxon paganism. The Old High German is ans, plural ensî.

The Gothic language had ans- (based only on Jordanes who glossed anses with uncertain meaning, possibly 'demi-god' and presumably a Latinized form of actual plural *anseis).

The reconstructed Proto-Germanic form is *ansuz (plural *ansiwiz). The ansuz rune, ᚫ, was named after the Æsir.

Unlike the Old English word god (and Old Norse goð), the term ōs (áss) was never adopted into Christian use.

Æsir–Vanir War

In Norse mythology, the Æsir–Vanir War was a conflict between two groups of deities that ultimately resulted in the unification of the Æsir and the Vanir into a single pantheon. The war is an important event in Norse mythology, and the implications for the potential historicity surrounding accounts of the war are a matter of scholarly debate and discourse.

Fragmented information about the war appears in surviving sources, including Völuspá, a poem collected in the Poetic Edda in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; in the book Skáldskaparmál in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; and in euhemerized form in the Ynglinga saga from Heimskringla, also written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century.

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