The Vanir are one of the pantheons of Norse mythology and pre-Christian religion. They are an indigenous pantheon; the Aesir who arrived from afar encountered the Vanir already living in the Norse lands. Their realm is Vanaheim.
The Vanir are associated with magic, shamanism, and prophecy. They are spirits of land, sea, fertility, and creative energy. They may or may not be the same as Elves, although they are affiliated. The Vanir are associated with land spirits: spirits that are tied to specific natural formations. (Thus every rock, cliff, cave, or spring has its own unique, individual presiding spirit.) The Vanir are erotic spirits who may engage in divine marriages with people.
The Vanir evoked greater hostility from the Christian Church than their Aesir counterparts, so less information about the Vanir now survives. Among the most significant Vanir spirits are Njord, Freya, and Freyr, the Elven King. These three are the best known of the Vanir spirits, if only because they were sent to live with the Aesir as hostages to preserve peace between the pantheons. Njord, Freyr, and Freya got along well with their captors and were essentially incorporated into the Aesir cosmology, even while retaining their previous identities.
The Vanir are notorious shape-shifters.
The Vanir were associated with some gravesites, which then became considered sacred turf. We know they were associated with sacred mounds because references to organized attacks on these mounds survive. (The attacks were intended as religious desecration, not treasure hunting. Attackers were proud of their actions, documenting them.) Graves associated with the Vanir include ship graves, in which one or more bodies were placed in ships or boats, which were then buried. Unearthed bodies have included a high proportion of women.
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.