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The Vanir are usually considered one of the two pantheons of gods in Norse mythology: together with Aesir they are collectively known as the Asa. They include Niord, Freyr and Freya, who live among the Aesir since the end of the conflict between the two clans of gods (traded for Mímir and Honir); the identity as Vanir of Skadi, Lýtir, Gerdr and Odr may be debated. Skadi was a giantess married to one of the Vanir (Niord); Gerdr was also a giantess, with whom Freyr fell in love and with whom he managed to have a union, having sold his sword as payment; but it is not clear whether this union amounted to more than a single meeting. Odr is mentioned in the Eddas very shortly as the husband of Freya, but nothing more is actually known about him (although some later authors have speculated a lot).

The Vanir live in Vanaheim, also called Vanaland; Snorri Sturluson calls their land Tanakvísl or Vanakvísl. They are gods of fertility and prosperity, and they are seen as belonging to the earth, while the Aesir ruled the sky. The Vanir have a deep knowledge of magical arts, so that they also know the future. It is said that it was Freya who taught magic to the Aesir. They also practiced endogamy and even incest, both forbidden among the Aesir; as an example Freyr and Freya were children of Niordr and his sister.

The Eddas identify the Vanir with the elves (Alfar), frequently interchanging "Æsir and Vanir" and "Æsir and Alfar" to mean "all the gods".

Vanir and their Guests

  1. Freya
  2. Freyr
  3. Gerdr
  4. Honir, an Aesir hostage
  5. Mímir, an Aesir hostage
  6. Kvasir
  7. Lýtir
  8. Niord
  9. Odr
  10. Skadi

There is a possible connection between Heimdall and the Vanir, noted by H.R. Ellis Davidson.