Sól or Sunna is the Sun personified in Norse mythology. One of the two Old High German Merseburg Incantations, written in the 9th or 10th century CE, attests that Sunna is the sister of Sinthgunt. In Norse mythology, Sól is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda she is described as the sister of the personified moon, Máni, is the daughter of Mundilfari, is at times referred to as Álfröðull, is foretold to be killed by a monstrous wolf during the events of Ragnarök, though beforehand she will have given birth to a daughter who continues her mother's course through the heavens. In the Prose Edda, she is additionally described as the wife of Glenr; as a proper noun, Sól appears throughout Old Norse literature. Scholars have produced theories about the development of the goddess from potential Nordic Bronze Age and Proto-Indo-European roots.
One of the two Merseburg Incantations, recorded in Old High German, mentions Sunna, described as having a sister, Sinthgunt. The incantation describes how Phol and Wodan rode to a wood, there Balder's foal sprained its foot. Sinthgunt sang charms, her sister Sunna sang charms, Friia sang charms, her sister Volla sang charms, Wodan sang charms, followed by a verse describing the healing of the foal's bone. In the poem Völuspá, a dead völva recounts the history of the universe and foretells the future to the disguised god Odin. In doing so, the völva recounts the early days of the universe, in which: In the poem Vafþrúðnismál, the god Odin tasks the jötunn Vafþrúðnir with a question about the origins of the sun and the moon. Vafþrúðnir responds that Mundilfari is the father of both Sól and Máni, that they must pass through the heavens every day to count the years for man: In a stanza Vafþrúðnismál, Odin asks Vafþrúðnir from where another sun will come from once Fenrir has assailed the current sun.
Vafþrúðnir responds in a further stanza, stating that before Álfröðull is assailed by Fenrir, she will bear a daughter who will ride on her mother's paths after the events of Ragnarök. In a stanza of the poem Grímnismál, Odin says that before the sun is a shield named Svalinn, if the shield were to fall from its frontal position and sea "would burn up". In stanza 39 Odin says that both the moon are pursued through the heavens by wolves. In the poem Alvíssmál, the god Thor questions the dwarf Alvíss about the sun, asking him what the sun is called in each of the worlds. Alvíss responds that it is called "sun" by mankind, "sunshine" by the gods, "Dvalinn's deluder" by the dwarves, "everglow" by the jötnar, "the lovely wheel" by the elves, "all-shining" by the "sons of the Æsir". Sól is referenced in the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, where she is introduced in chapter 8 in a quote from stanza 5 of Völuspá. In chapter 11 of Gylfaginning, Gangleri asks the enthroned figure of High how the sun and moon are steered.
High describes that Sól is one of the two children of Mundilfari, states that the children were so beautiful they were named after the sun and the moon. Mundilfari has Sól married to a man named Glenr. High says that the gods were "angered by this arrogance" and that the gods had the two placed in the heavens. There, the children were made to drive the horses Árvakr and Alsviðr that drew the chariot of the sun. High says that the gods had created the chariot to illuminate the worlds from burning embers flying from the fiery world of Muspelheim. In order to cool the horses, the gods placed two bellows beneath their shoulders, that "according to the same lore" these bellows are called Ísarnkol. In chapter 12 of Gylfaginning, Gangleri tells High that the sun moves almost as if she were moving so that she fears something, that she could not go faster if she were afraid of her own death. High responds; the one chasing her comes close, there is no escape for her except to run." Gangleri asks who chases her, to which High responds that two wolves give chase to Máni.
The first wolf, Sköll, chases Sól, despite her fear, Sköll will catch her. Hati Hróðvitnisson, the second wolf, runs ahead of Sól to chase after Máni, whom Hati Hróðvitnisson will catch. In chapter 35, Sól's status as a goddess is stated by High, along with Bil. In chapter 53, High says that after the events of Ragnarök, Sól's legacy will be continued by a daughter, no less beautiful than she, who will follow the path she once rode, and, in support, Vafþrúðnismál stanza 47 is quoted. In the Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál, Sól is first presented in chapter 93, where the kennings "daughter of Mundilfæri", "sister of Máni", "wife of Glen", "fire of sky and air" are given for her, followed by an excerpt of a work by the 11th century skald Skúli Þórsteinsson: God-blithe bedfellow of Glen steps to her divine sanctuary with brightness. In chapter 56, additional names for Sól are given. In chapter 58, following a list of horses, the horses Arvakr and Alsviðr are listed as drawing the sun, and, in chapter 75, Sól is again included in a list of goddesses.
Scholars have proposed that Sól, as a goddess, may represe
In Norse mythology, Aurgelmir, Brimir, or Bláinn is the ancestor of all jötnar. Ymir is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional material, in the Prose Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century, in the poetry of skalds. Taken together, several stanzas from four poems collected in the Poetic Edda refer to Ymir as a primeval being, born from venom that dripped from the icy rivers Élivágar and lived in the grassless void of Ginnungagap. Ymir birthed a male and female from the pits of his arms, his legs together begat a six-headed being; the gods Odin, Vili and Vé fashioned the Earth from his flesh, from his blood the ocean, from his bones the mountains, from his hair the trees, from his brains the clouds, from his skull the heavens, from his eyebrows the middle realm in which mankind lives, Midgard. In addition, one stanza relates that the dwarfs were given life by the gods from Ymir's flesh and blood. In the Prose Edda, a narrative is provided that draws from, adds to, differs from the accounts in the Poetic Edda.
According to the Prose Edda, after Ymir was formed from the elemental drops, so too was Auðumbla, a primeval cow, whose milk Ymir fed from. The Prose Edda states that three gods killed Ymir. Scholars have debated as to what extent Snorri's account of Ymir is an attempt to synthesize a coherent narrative for the purpose of the Prose Edda and to what extent Snorri drew from traditional material outside of the corpus that he cites. By way of historical linguistics and comparative mythology, scholars have linked Ymir to Tuisto, the Proto-Germanic being attested by Tacitus in his 1st century AD work Germania and have identified Ymir as an echo of a primordial being reconstructed in Proto-Indo-European mythology. Ymir is mentioned in four poems in the Poetic Edda. In Völuspá, in which an undead völva imparts knowledge in the god Odin, references are twice made to Ymir. In the first instance, the third stanza of the poem, Ymir is mentioned by name: In the above translations the name of the location Ginnungagap is translated as "chaotic chasm" and "yawning gap".
In the poem, a few other references are made to Ymir as Brimir and Bláinn: In this stanza Thorpe has treated Brimir and Blain as common nouns. Brimir and Blain are held to be proper names that refer to Ymir, as in Bellows's translation. In the poem Vafþrúðnismál, the god Odin engages the wise jötunn Vafþrúðnir in a game of wits. Odin asks Vafþrúðnir to tell him, if Vafþrúðnir's knowledge is sufficient, the answer to a variety of questions. In the first of which that refers to Ymir, Odin asks from where first came the sky; the jötunn responds with a creation account involving Ymir: As the verbal battle continues, a few more exchanges directly refer to or may allude to Ymir. Odin asks what ancient jötun is the eldest of "Ymir's kin", Vafþrúðnir responds that long, long ago it was Bergelmir, Þrúðgelmir's son and Aurgelmir's grandson. In the next stanza Odin asks where Aurgelmir came from so long ago, to which Vafþrúðnir responds that venom dropped from Élivágar, that these drops grew until they became a jötunn, from this being descends the jötnar.
Odin asks how this being begat children, as he did not know the company of a female jötunn, to which Vafþrúðnir responds that from beneath the ancient jötunn's armpits together a girl and a boy grew, his feet together produced a six-headed jötunn. In the poem Grímnismál, the god Odin imparts in the young Agnarr cosmological knowledge. In one stanza, Odin mentions Ymir as he recalls the fashioning of the world from his body: In a stanza of Völuspá hin skamma, Ymir receives one more mention. According to the stanza, völvas are descended from Viðòlfr, all seers from Vilmeiðr, all charm-workers from Svarthöfði, all jötnar descend from Ymir. Ymir is mentioned in two books of the Prose Edda. Ymir is first mentioned in chapter 5 of the prior, in which High, Just-As-High, Third tell Gangleri about how all things came to be; the trio explain that the first world to exist was Muspell, a glowing, fiery southern region consisting of flames, uninhabitable by non-natives. After "many ages" Niflheimr was made, within it lies a spring, from which flows eleven rivers.
Gangleri asks the three. High continues that these icy rivers, which are called Élivágar, ran so far from their spring source that the poisonous matter that flows with them became hard "like the clinker that comes from a furnace"—it turned to ice, and so, when this ice came to a halt and stopped flowing, the vapor that rose up from the poison went in the same direction and froze to rime. This rime increased, layer upon layer, across Ginnungagap. Just-As-High adds that the northern part of Ginnungagap was heavy with ice and rime, vapor and blowing came inward from this, yet the southern part of Ginunngagap was clear on account of the sparks and molten flecks flying from Muspell. Third assesses that "just as from Niflheim there was coldness and all things grim, so what was facing close to Muspell was hot and bright, but Ginunngagap was as mild as a windless sky". Third adds that when the rime and hot air met, it thawed and dripped, the liquid intensely dropped; this liquid fell into the shape of a man, so he was named Ymir and known among the jötnar as Aurgelmir, all
In Norse mythology, Jörð, is a female jötunn. She is the mother of the thunder god Thor, son of Odin, the personification of earth. Fjörgyn and Hlóðyn are considered to be other names for Jörð; some scholars refer to Jörð as a goddess. Jörð's name appears in skaldic poetry both in kennings for Thor. Jörð is the common word for earth in Old Norse, as are the word's descendants in the modern Scandinavian languages, it is cognate to English "earth" through Old English eorðe. In Gylfaginning, the first part of the Prose Edda, Jörð is described as one of Odin's sexual partners and the mother of Thor, she is half-sister of Auðr and Dagr. However, scholar Haukur Thorgeirsson points out that the four manuscripts of Gylfaginning vary in their descriptions of the family relations between Nótt, Jörð, Dellingr. In other words, depending on the manuscript, either Jörð or Nótt is the mother of Dagr and partner of Dellingr. Haukur details that "the oldest manuscript, U, offers a version where Jǫrð is the wife of Dellingr and the mother of Dagr while the other manuscripts, R, W and T, cast Nótt in the role of Dellingr's wife and Dagr's mother", argues that "the version in U came about accidentally when the writer of U or its antecedent shortened a text similar to that in RWT.
The results of this accident made their way into the Icelandic poetic tradition". In Snorri Sturluson's Skáldskaparmál, Jörð is called the rival of Odin's wife Frigg and his other giantess concubines and Gunnlöd, the mother-in-law of Sif, Thor's wife, daughter of Nótt, sister of Auðr and Dagr. In Lokasenna, Thor is called Jarðar burr. In the same verse in Völuspá, he is referred to as mǫgr Fjǫrgyniar burr; the otherwise unknown Hlóðyn was therefore another name of Jörð. She is thought to be identical with Hludana, to whom Roman votive tablets have been found on the Lower Rhine
Norse cosmology is the study of the cosmos as perceived by the North Germanic peoples. The topic encompasses concepts from Norse mythology, such as notions of time and space, personifications and eschatology. Like other aspects of Norse mythology, these concepts are recorded in the Poetic Edda, a collection of poems compiled in the 13th century, the Prose Edda, authored by Icelander Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century, who drew from earlier traditional sources. Together these sources depict an image of Nine Worlds around Yggdrasil. Concepts of time and space play a major role in the Old Norse corpus's presentation of Norse cosmology. While events in Norse mythology describe a somewhat linear progression, various scholars in ancient Germanic studies note that Old Norse texts may imply or directly describe a fundamental belief in cyclic time. According to scholar John Lindow, "the cosmos might be formed and reformed on multiple occasions by the rising sea." Drawing in part from various eddic poems, the Gylfaginning section of the Prose Edda contains an account of the development and creation of the cosmos: Long before the earth came to be, there existed the bright and flaming place called Muspell—a location so hot that foreigners may not enter it—and the foggy land of Niflheim.
In Niflheim was a spring and from it flows numerous rivers. Together these rivers, known as Élivágar, flowed further from their source; the poisonous substance within the flow came to harden and turn to ice. When the flow became solid, a poisonous vapor rose from the ice and solidified into rime atop the solid river; these thick ice layers grew, in time spreading across the void of Ginnungagap. The northern region of Ginnungagap continued to fill with weight from the growing substance and its accompanying blowing vapor, yet the southern portion of Ginunngagap remained clear due to its proximity to the sparks and flames of Muspell. Between Niflheim and Muspell and fire, was a placid location, "as mild as a windless sky"; when the rime and the blowing heat met, the liquid melted and dropped, this mixture formed the primordial being Ymir, the ancestor of all jötnar. Ymir sweated while sleeping. From his left arm grew a male and female jötunn, "and one of his legs begot a son with another", these limbs too produced children.
Ymir fed from rivers of milk that flowed from the teats of Auðumbla. Auðumbla fed from salt she licked from rime stones. Over the course of three days, she licked Búri. Búri's son Borr married a jötunn named Bestla, the two had three sons: the gods Odin, Vili and Vé; the sons killed Ymir, Ymir's blood poured across the land, producing great floods that killed all of the jötnar but two. Odin, Vé took Ymir's corpse to the center of Ginunngagap and carved it, they made the earth from Ymir's flesh. They surrounded the earth's lands with sea. From Ymir's skull they made the sky, which they placed above the earth in four points, each held by a dwarf. After forming the dome of the earth, the brothers Odin, Vé took sparks of light from Muspell and placed them around the earth, both above and below; some remained others moved through the sky in predetermined courses. The trio provided land for the jötnar to leave by the sea. Using Ymir's eyelashes, the trio built a fortification around the center of the landmass to contain the hostility of the jötnar.
They called this fortification Miðgarðr. From Ymir's brains, they formed the clouds. Personifications, such as those of astronomical objects and water bodies occur in Norse mythology; the Sun is personified as Sól. Night appears personified as the female jötunn Nótt. Bodies of water receive personification, such as the goddess Rán, her jötunn husband Ægir, their wave-maiden children, the Nine Daughters of Ægir and Rán. Yggdrasil is a tree central to the Norse concept of the cosmos; the tree's branches extend into various realms, various creatures dwell on and around it. The gods go to Yggdrasil daily to assemble at traditional governing assemblies; the branches of Yggdrasil extend far into the heavens, the tree is supported by three roots that extend far away into other locations. Creatures live within Yggdrasil, including the dragon Níðhöggr, an unnamed eagle, the stags Dáinn, Dvalinn and Duraþrór. Old Norse texts mention the existence of Níu Heimar, translated by scholars as "Nine Worlds". According to the second stanza of the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá, the Nine Worlds surround the tree Yggdrasil.
As recalled by a dead völva in the poem: The Nine Worlds receive a second and final mention in the Poetic Edda in stanza 43 of the Prose Edda poem Vafþrúðnismál, where the wise jötunn Vafþrúðnir engages in a deadly battle of wits with the disguised god Odin: The Nine Worlds receive a single mention in the Prose Edda, occurring section 34 of the Gylfaginning portion of the book. The section describes how Odin threw Loki's daugh
Hermóðr the Brave is a figure in Norse mythology, a son of the god Odin. He is considered the messenger of the gods. Hermóðr appears distinctly in section 49 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning. There, it is described that the gods were speechless and devastated at the death of Baldr, unable to react due to their grief. After the gods gathered their wits from the immense shock and grief of Baldr's death, Frigg asked the Æsir who amongst them wished "to gain all of her love and favor" by riding the road to Hel. Whoever agreed was to offer Hel a ransom in exchange for Baldr's return to Asgard. Hermóðr set off with Sleipnir to Hel. Hermóðr rode Odin's horse Sleipnir for nine nights through deep and dark valleys to the Gjöll bridge covered with shining gold, the bridge being guarded by the maiden Móðguðr'Battle-frenzy' or'Battle-tired'. Móðguðr told Hermóðr that Baldr had crossed the bridge and that Hermóðr should ride downwards and northwards. Upon coming to Hel's gate, Hermóðr dismounted, tightened Sleipnir's girth, mounted again, spurred Sleipnir so that Sleipnir leapt over the gate.
So at last Hermóðr came to Hel's hall and saw Baldr seated in the most honorable seat. Hermóðr begged Hel to release Baldr. Thereupon Hel announced that Baldr would only be released if all things and alive, wept for him. Baldr gave Hermóðr the ring Draupnir, burned with him on his pyre, to take back to Odin. Nanna gave a linen robe for Frigg along with a finger-ring for Fulla. Thereupon Hermóðr returned with his message. Hermóðr is called "son" of Odin in most manuscripts, while in the Codex Regius version—normally considered the best manuscript—Hermóðr is called sveinn Óðins'Odin's boy', which in the context is as to mean'Odin's servant'; however Hermóðr in a passage is called Baldr's brother and appears as son of Odin in a list of Odin's sons. See Sons of Odin; the name Hermóðr seems to be applied to a mortal hero in the eddic poem Hyndluljóð: The favour of the Highfather we seek to find,To his followers gold he gladly gives. In the skaldic poem Hákonarmál Hermóðr and Bragi appear in Valhalla receiving Hákon the Good.
It is not certain that either Bragi is intended to be a god in this poem. In the Old English poem Beowulf, Heremod is a Danish king, driven into exile and in Old English genealogies Heremod appears appropriately as one of the descendants of Sceafa and as the father of Scyld. Byock, Jesse; the Prose Edda. Penguin Classics. ISBN 0-14-044755-5 Orchard, Andy. Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend. Cassell. ISBN 0-304-34520-2 MyNDIR Illustrations of Hermóðr from manuscripts and early print books. Clicking on the thumbnail will give you the full image and information concerning it
In Norse mythology, Rán is a goddess and a personification of the sea. Rán and her husband Ægir, a jötunn who personifies the sea, have nine daughters, who personify waves; the goddess is associated with a net, which she uses to capture sea-goers. According to the prose introduction to a poem in the Poetic Edda and in Völsunga saga, Rán once loaned her net to the god Loki. Rán is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Old Norse common noun rán means'plundering' or'theft, robbery'. In turn, scholars view the theonym Rán as meaning, for example,'theft, robbery'. On the etymology of the theonym, scholar Rudolf Simek says, "although the meaning of the name has not been clarified, Rán was understood as being'robber'... and has nothing to do with ráða'rule'. Because Rán is a personification of the sea, skalds employ her name in a variety of kennings to refer to the sea. Examples include Ránar-land, -salr, -vegr, rán-beðr and meaning'the bed of the sea'.
Rán receives mention in poem Sonatorrek composed by Icelandic skald Egill Skallagrímsson in the 10th century. In the poem, Egill laments the death of his son Böðvar. In doing so, he mentions Rán: Rán receives three mentions in the Prose Edda, twice in poetry and once in prose; the first mention occurs in a stanza in Helgakviða Hundingsbana I, when the valkyrie Sigrún assists the ship of the hero Helgi as it encounters ferocious waters: In the notes for her translation, Larrington says that Rán "seeks to catch and drown men in her net" and that "to give someone to the sea-goddess is to drown them."The second instance occurs in a stanza found in Helgakviða Hjörvarðssonar. In this stanza, the hero Atli references Rán while flyting with Hrímgerðr, a female jötunn: Finally, in the prose introduction to Reginsmál, Loki visits Rán to borrow her net: sent Loki to get the gold. Translator Henry Adams Bellows notes how this version of the narrative differs from how it appears in other sources, where Loki catches the pike with his own hands.
The Prose Edda sections Skáldskaparmál and Háttatal contain several references to Rán. Section 25 of Skáldskaparmál manners in which poets may refer to the sea, including "husband of Ran" and "land of Ran and of Ægir's daughters", but "father of Ægir's daughters". In the same section, the author cites a fragment of a work by the 11th century Icelandic skald Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson, where Rán is referred to as'Gymir's... völva': Standardized Old Norse Ok sem kvað Refr: Fœrir bjǫrn, þar er bára brestr, undinna festa opt í Ægis kjǫpta *ursǫl Gymis vǫlva. Anthony Faulkes translation And as Ref said: Gymir's spray-cold spæ-wife brings the twisted-rope-bear into Ægir's jaws where the wave breaks; the section's author comments that the stanza" that they are all Ægir and Hler and Gymir. The author follows with a quote from another stanza by the skald that references Rán: But sea-crest-Sleipnir, spray-driven, tears his breast, covered with red paint, out of white Ran's mouth. Chapter 33 of Skáldskaparmál discusses why skalds may refer to gold as "Ægir's fire".
The section traces the kenning to a narrative surrounding Ægir, in which the jötunn employs "glowing gold" in the center of his hall to light it "like fire". The section explains that "Ran is the name of Ægir's wife, the names of their nine daughters are as was written above... The Æsir discovered that Ran had a net in which she caught everyone that went to sea... so this is the story of the origin of gold being called fire or light or brightness of Ægir, Ran or Ægir's daughters, from such kennings the practice has now developed of calling gold fire of the sea and of all terms for it, since Ægir and Ran's names are terms for the sea, hence gold is now called fire of lakes or rivers and of all river-names."In the Nafnaþulur section of Skáldskaparmál, Rán appears in a list of goddesses. Rán receives a single mention in Völsunga saga. Like in the prose introduction to the eddic poem Reginsmál, "they sent Loki to obtain the gold, he went to Ran and got her net."In the legendary saga Friðþjófs saga hins frœkna, Friðþjófr and his men find themselves in a violent storm, the protagonist mourns that he will soon rest in Rán's bed: The protagonist decides that as they are to "go to Rán" they would better do so in style with gold on each man.
He divides the gold and talks of her again: According to Rudolf Simek, "... Rán is the ruler of the realm of the dead at the bottom of the sea to which people who have drowned go." Simek says that "while Ægir personifies the sea as a friendly power, Rán embodies the sinister side of the sea, at least in the eyes of the late Viking Age Icelandic seafarers."
In Old Norse, ǫ́ss is a member of the principal pantheon in Norse religion. This pantheon includes Odin, Thor, Baldr and Týr; the second pantheon is known as the Vanir. In Norse mythology, the two pantheons wage war against each other, which results in a unified pantheon; the cognate term in Old English is ōs denoting a deity in Anglo-Saxon paganism. The Old High German is ans, plural ensî; the Gothic language had ans-. The reconstructed Proto-Germanic form is *ansuz; the ansuz rune, ᚫ, was named after the Æsir. Unlike the Old English word god, the term ōs was never adopted into Christian use. Æsir is the plural of áss, óss "god", attested in other Germanic languages, e.g. Old English ōs, Old Dutch ans and Gothic anses "half-gods"; these all stem from Proto-Germanic *ansuz, which itself comes from Proto-Indo-European *h₂énsus "life force" (cf. Avestan aŋhū "lord, it is accepted that this word is further related to *h₂ens- "to engender". Old Norse áss has the accusative æsi and ásu. In genitival compounds, it takes the form ása-, e.g. in Ása-Þórr, besides ás- found in ás-brú "gods' bridge", ás-garðr, ás-kunnigr "gods' kin", ás-liðar "gods' leader", ás-mogin "gods' might", ás-móðr "divine wrath" etc.
Landâs "national god" is a title of Thor, as is allmáttki ás "almighty god", while it is Odin, "the" ás. The feminine suffix -ynja is known from a few other nouns denoting female animals, such as apynja "female monkey", vargynja "she-wolf"; the word for "goddess" is not attested outside Old Norse. The latinization of Danish Aslak as Ansleicus, the name of a Danish Viking converted to Christianity in 864 according to the Miracles de St. Riquier, indicates that the nasalization in the first syllable persisted into the 9th century; the cognate Old English form to áss is ōs, preserved only as a prefix Ōs- in personal names and some place-names, as the genitive plural ēsa. In Old High German, Old Dutch and Old Saxon, the word is only attested in personal and place names, e.g. Ansebert, Ansfrid, Vihans. Jordanes has anses for the gods of the Goths; the interaction between the Æsir and the Vanir has provoked an amount of scholarly theory and speculation. While other cultures have had "elder" and "younger" families of gods, as with the Titans versus the Olympians of ancient Greece, the Æsir and Vanir were portrayed as contemporaries.
The two clans of gods fought battles, concluded treaties, exchanged hostages. An áss like Ullr is unknown in the myths, but his name is seen in a lot of geographical names in Sweden, may appear on the 3rd century Thorsberg chape, suggesting that his cult was widespread in prehistoric times; the names of the first three Æsir in Norse mythology, Vili, Vé and Odin all refer to spiritual or mental state, vili to conscious will or desire, vé to the sacred or numinous and óðr to the manic or ecstatic. A second clan of gods, the Vanir, is mentioned in Norse mythology: the god Njörðr and his children and Freyja, are the most prominent Vanir gods who join the Æsir as hostages after a war between Æsir and Vanir; the Vanir appear to have been connected with cultivation and fertility and the Æsir were connected with power and war. In the Eddas, the word Æsir is used for gods in general, while Asynjur is used for the goddesses in general. For example, in the poem Skírnismál, Freyr was called "Prince of the Æsir".
In the Prose Edda, Njörðr was introduced as "the third among the Æsir", among the Asynjur, Freyja is always listed second only to Frigg. In surviving tales, the origins of many of the Æsir are unexplained. There are just three: Odin and his brothers Vili and Vé. Odin's sons by giantesses are counted as Æsir. Heimdallr and Ullr's connection with the Æsir is not mentioned. Loki is a jötunn, Njörðr is a Vanir hostage, but they are ranked among the Æsir. Given the difference between their roles and emphases, some scholars have speculated that the interactions between the Æsir and the Vanir reflect the types of interaction that were occurring between social classes within Norse society at the time. According to another theory, the Vanir may be more archaic than that of the more warlike Æsir, such that the mythical war may mirror a half-remembered religious conflict; this argument was first suggested by Wilhelm Mannhardt in 1877. On a similar note, Marija Gimbutas argues that the Æsir and the Vanir represent the displacement of an indigenous Indo-European group by a tribe of warlike invaders as part of her Kurgan hypothesis.
See her case in The Living Goddess for more details. Another historical theory is that the inter-pantheon interaction may be an apotheosisation of the conflict between the Roman Kingdom and the Sabines; the noted comparative religion scholar Mircea Eliade speculated that this conflict is a version of an Indo-European myth concerning the conflict between and eventual integration of a pantheon