In Norse mythology, the Vanir (/ˈvɑːnɪr/; singular Vanr) are a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, nature, magic, 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.
Members of the Vanir
Some Vanir include:
- Njörðr (God of the Sea)
- Nerthus (Sister and wife of Njörðr as well as a fertility goddess)
- Freyja (Goddess of fertility and daughter of Njörðr. Married to Óðr)
- Freyr (Son of Njörðr and a god of fertility and fair weather. Ruler of Alfheim)
- Ullr (Son of Sif and her first husband, stepson of Thor, and god of the hunt)
- Heimdallr (Guardian of the Bifröst Bridge in Ásgarðr)
- Óðr (Husband of Freyja. Some identify him as a form of Óðinn)
- Hnoss (Daughter of Freyja)
- Gersemi (Daughter of Freyja)
- Skírnir (Servant of Freyr)
- Vana (Unknown goddess. Married Sveigdr, mortal king of Sweden. Mother of Vanlandi)
- Kvasir (God of Wisdom. Killed by dwarves who mixed his blood with honey to create the mead of poetry)