In Norse mythology, the race of gods responsible for wealth, fertility, and commerce. The Vanir lived in Vanaheimr. They are older than the war-like Æsir, but after the Æsir-Vanir war they became subordinate to them and in time were syncretized with them.
Snorri Sturluson writes that the two groups established peace in this way: they each went to a vat and spat their spittle therein. They also exchanged hostages (human pledges). The Vanir sent the distinguished Njörðr and his son Freyr, and in return the Æsir gave them the handsome Hœnir and the wise Mímir. The Vanir immediately made Hœnir a chief, but they soon discovered that he was unable to give good council when Mímir was absent. Realizing that they had been deceived, the Vanir cut off Mímir's head and sent it back to Æsir.
Njörðr and Freyr were made priest of the sacrifice by Odin. Freyja was made priestess at the sacrifices, and taught the Æsir magic (seiðr) as was practiced among the Vanir. Although all three are listed among the Æsir, their affiliation remains with their former kin.
The eddic poems only explicitly mention Njörðr, Freyr and Freyja as being of the Vanir, although in stanza 16 of Þrymskviða it is said of Heimdallr that he can foresee the future, "like other Vanir."
- Gylfaginning, 23.
- Skáldskaparmál, 1.
- Ynglinga saga, 4.
- Þrymskviða, 16.