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The Wanen (derived from the ancient Nordic Vanir - "The Shining" also Vanen written) form in addition to the Asen the older of the two sexes gods in the Nordic mythology . You live in Wanenheim . As deities u. a. of the hearth fire and agriculture , properties such as fertility , earthly connection and prosperity are ascribed to them.

After a mythological fight (the Wan war ) against the Aesir, the Wanen leave the Aesir as a sign of peace and to secure it, the sea ​​god Njörðr and his children, the twins Freyja and Freyr , as hostages. In return, the Wanen received the Asen Hönir and the wise giant Mimir .

Three-part world of the Germanic gods: Giants, Vanes and Asen

The world of gods of the early Scandinavians is based on three sexes, all of which emerged from the primeval chaos and a primordial cattle .

Giants and monsters

The oldest sex is that of the giants and monsters , to which practically all evil beings belong who are also held responsible for natural disasters . This gender has the power to destroy the world. So that this does not happen, the Vanes are created. The Vanes live forever, they are wise, courageous and just. You keep everything in balance. But they are not fighters and are unable to fight off the giants and monsters. So with the sir a strong warrior race is created who are given limited power. Soon these take over power and make a covenant with the Vanes they need to prolong their lives. In the end , however, the fate of the gods is fulfilled in Ragnarök .


The second oldest sex are the Wanen, who were worshiped as extremely skillful, earthbound (peasant fertility deities) and wise and could live forever unless they were slain. The Vanans are responsible for the flora and fauna. Their worship therefore often took place in sacred groves.

Snorri refers to Njörðr, Freyr and Freyja, who live as hostages with the sir after the Wan War, in the Ynglingasaga as Wanen.

"Fengu Vanir sína hina ágæstu menn, Njörð hinn auðga and son hans Frey. … Dóttir Njarðar var Freyja. Hún var blótgyðja. Hún kenndi fyrst með Ásum seið sem Vönum var títt. Þá er Njörður var með Vönum þá hafði hann átta systur sína því að það voru þar lög. Voru þeirra börn Freyr og Freyja. En það var bannað með Ásum að byggja svo náið að frændsemi. "

“The Vanen gave up their most distinguished men, Njord the rich and his son Frey. ... The daughter of the Njord was Freyja. She was a temple priestess. She first taught the sir the magic, as was customary with the Vanes. As long as Njord was with the Vanen, he had had his sister as a wife, for it was legal there, and their children's names were Freyr and Freyja. But under the sir it was forbidden to marry with such close relatives. "

- Ynglinga saga chap. 4th

In Gylfaginning, he says they are sir.

"Inn þriði áss he sá, he kallaðr he Njörðr. … Hann var upp fæddr í Vanaheimi… Njörðr í Nóatúnum gat síðan tvau börn. Hét annat Freyr, en dóttir Freyja. Þau váru fögr álitum ok máttug. Freyr er inn ágætasti af ásum. Hann ræðr fyrir regni ok skini sólar ok þar með ávexti jarðar, ok á hann er god at heita til árs ok friðar. Hann ræðr ok fésælu manna. En Freyja er ágætust af ásynjum. "

“The third Ase is called Niördr. ... He was brought up in Wanaheim. ... Since then, Niörd in Noatun had two children. The son's name was Freyr and the daughter Freyja. They were handsome and powerful. Freyr is the most excellent of the sir. He rules over the rain and sunshine and the growth of the earth, and one should call on him for fertility and peace. Freyja is the most wonderful of the Asins. "

- Gylfaginning Kap 23, 24.

He also counts in the Skáldskaparmál in Chap. 1 Njörð and Freyr among the sir. The other Vanes appear only as a collective. After the peace agreement at the end of the Wanen War, nothing more is heard from the Wanen.


See article Aesir .

Van War and its effects

According to legend, the Wan goddesses stimulated the warlike sir with forbidden and cowardly witchcraft, which led to the Wan War . The Vanes emerged victorious, but were satisfied with the equality with the Aesir. As a sign of peace, sir and Vanes exchanged hostages and mingled. The war was over.


One theory says that the Wan War describes the clashes between the two alleged tribal peoples of the Germanic peoples, the Indo-Europeans and the bearers of the so-called megalithic culture. This view goes back to publications by Gustav Schwantes from the 1930s and the linguist Hermann Güntert . Another approach is that the war was an early intellectual historical dispute between two cultural ideals: on the one hand the old peasant, tangible concept of gods, on the other hand a more cultivated, transcendent conception of the gods. In the mother goddess Freyja (a Wanin) and Frigga (an Asin) the ideas clearly overlap.

The euhemeristic story Heimskringla , written by Snorri Sturluson , describes in the Ynglingasaga the Wanen as hostages from the region around the mouth of the Tanais ( Don ) originally from the northern Black Sea area . In the course of a negotiated peace that ended the war between Aesir and Wanen after the destruction of Asgard, noble Aesir were handed over to the Wanen and noble Wanen to the Aesir, with the latter then migrating north.

See also: North Germanic religion .

List of some vanities

north germanic West Germanic
( Old High German )
name form
Njörðr - God of the sea, navigation and seafaring
Freyr - God of heavenly light, warmth, peace and fertility
Freyja - Goddess of love, beauty and fertility
Gullveig Heidi, Heid Guardian of the treasures and seer of runic magic
Kvasir - God of knowledge has an answer to every question

Family tree of the Nordic deities

The following overview shows the relationships between the most famous Nordic deities from the families of the Van and Aesir :

Family tree of the Aesir and Vanir
  Buri   Bölthorn  
  Delling   Nott   Börr   Bestla   Fjörgyn  
  Dagr 2. Jörd   Vili     Odin 1. Frigg   Ivaldi  
  Thjazi   Sif   Thor   Nanna   Valer   Hödr   Hermodr   Bragi Idun  
  Nerthus   Northr   Skadi Ullr   Thrud   Forseti  
  Gerda   Freyr Freyja 4th Grid   Odin 3. Rinda  
  Fjolnir   Vidar   Vali  


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Translation by Felix Niedner.
  2. ^ Translation by Simrock.
  3. a b Whether Freyr and Freyja were also considered fertility gods has not been proven.