Happily Heathen: The Generosity of the Vanir Gods

Happily Heathen: The Generosity of the Vanir Gods November 25, 2016

The Vanir tribe of deities contain the sea god Njord, and his children, Freya and Freyr. Nerthus, a continental Germanic deity who was worshiped about a thousand years earlier, is (linguistically speaking, at least) an earlier, feminine version of Njord. She is a goddess of the fertile Earth like Freyr, and like Freyr She was drawn around the countryside in a cart. Due to these similarities, She is often seen as Njord’s otherwise unnamed sister-wife and therefore a member of the Vanir. Gerd, Freyr’s jotun wife, Goddess of the frozen earth and the walled garden, and Skadi, Njord’s jotun wife, Goddess of the Hunt, are also often viewed by modern Heathens as members of the Vanir. Others who are related to these deities, such as Gullveig and Heithe, Mardoll and Gefn, and Hnoss and Gersimi are also often included. Even Aesir agriculture deities like Sif and Idunna are sometimes included in the Vanir fold.

nerthus in a chariot pulled by a bull
Nerthus (1905) / Emil Doepler – Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
An illustration of Njord as an elderly man with a harpoon or spear
Njord by Thorskegga Thorn

The main purpose of most Vanir deities is to bestow blessings of fertility and prosperity to all areas of our lives. Njord, in particular, is a very generous god. He blesses fishermen with an abundant catch and manages the currents which bring successful merchants’ ships safely into port. He gives of Himself to keep the peace: He allows Himself to become a hostage after the Aesir-Vanir War, and becomes Skadi’s husband when she comes storming into Asgard to avenge Her father’s death. Njord helps to calm the roiling waves, no matter what their source. He gives wisdom and good counsel. When gifts of money, fertility, wisdom, serenity, and abundance of all kinds are needed, turn to Njord for help. He will be there to help you “bring your ship in”.

Freyr brings abundance and fertility of fields and animals. His gift is the promise of “frith (peace) and good seasons (prosperity)”. He brings the summer sun and soft summer rains that nourish both us and the fields. His is sex and a stable marriage; love instead of war.

Freya offers love, passion, magic, lust, and a home for fallen warriors. She brings to us beautiful gold jewelry and cold, hard cash; even her daughters are her treasures. She lifts loins and spirits, and She gifts us with Her ecstasy. Through her, we also get the gift of seeing everyone we encounter as being beautiful.

freyr dressed casually in trousers and green tunic with his golden hog
Freyr by Kat Lunoe

All of the Norse Gods are gift-givers, but the Vanir Gods really shine in this area; being generous is what they do best. If we have received any blessings from Them (or would like to receive Their blessings), it is best that we give back in turn. A gift always begets a gift.

A Prayer of Thanks for the Vanir

Hail to Njord!
Hail to that gift-giving god
Whose generosity is as boundless as the sea.
God of the coasts and the ocean
A hand to calm the troubled waters.
A peacemaker, an oathkeeper
Hail to Njord!

Hail to Nerthus!
Hail to that hidden goddess
Whose cart and whose cattle
blesses the fields
and helps us all prosper.
Hail the Earth Mother
Hail to Nerthus!

Hail to Freya, lady of love and light
And magic, gold, lust, and death
Hail to Her glowing hall
that welcomes half of the slain—
a well-deserved reward for a life well wrought.
Hail to the Vanadis!

Hail to Freyr, lord of peace and prosperity
Who thaws the land, makes it fertile and lush
Hail to the god who followed his heart
He gave up his weapon and chose love, not war.
Hail to the noble sacrificial king.
Hail to Ingvi-Freyr!

Hail to these gods of pleasure and plenty
Of peace, prosperity, and wisdom!
Hail to all their spouses and children!
Hail to their laughter, hail to their strength
Hail to the joy and hope that they bring us!
Hail to the connections they nurture between us!
Hail to the generous Vanir!

–C. Freyasdaughter, 2016

a pile of gold coins
Photographer unknown / Flickr

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