As the Aesir are the defenders and protectors of the World Order, the Vanir are primarily concerned with its maintenance and function. Because of this, we often view them as nature divinities, and as such they can be closely correlated to the natural sciences. Frey owns the Grotti-Mill that regulates the ebb and flow of the ocean, turns the stars in the sky, and grinds the bodies of Etins into soil; hence Frey is a deity of oceanography, astronomy, and agriculture. His power over these forces using the mill is symbolic, of course, but the archetype remains the same. Njord is God of navigation and seafaring, which also involves a study of the stars and navigation. Heimdall actually brought the sciences to men and thus we honor him for those advancements that allow us to be where we are today. Almost all of the Vanir have some relation to fertility, which would involve agriculture when speaking of the land and biology when of people. We can therefore see that the sciences are well represented by the Vanir-clan.
Not that the Aesir are not involved with science or natural mechanisms, or that the Vanir do not often take on the role of defenders. These are simply their primary functions within our pantheon. Gods do what they wish, and our attempts to fit them into neat little categories usually falls short. However, by relating deities to certain ideas, we can gain a better perspective of how our ancestors viewed their Gods and Goddesses and how they celebrated their faith.
As the Aesir typically represent the virtues of honor and sacrifice, the Vanir embody the Spirit of physical bonds tied to one another and to the world around us. They are deities of love, sexuality, and marriage, and thus show us how sacred these bonds are. Because of this, it is the Vanir who bring forth the original Goddesses of Odinism, whereas the Aesir are solely male. Burr had the sons Odin, Lodur, and Hoenir with the Etin Bestla, and Odin had all of his sons with Frigga, who is a Vanir Goddess. Many Goddesses are eventually married into, or adopted into, the Asa-clan, but they are typically Vanir by birth. The idea is that men need women in order to form bonds of love, be they romantic, marital, or familial, and thus the Vanir must be the origin of the divine female since this is their domain.
To the Odinist/Asatruar, love is a sacred force. Not the superficial love of altruism, but real love, the love men and women share in a relationship, the love between true friends, and the love of family. This power, when it is not perverted into hedonism or self-indulgence, is the strongest force in all the worlds and is absolutely necessary if we are to survive as a species. We need these children to grow up with strong, healthy values and attitudes towards sexuality, marriage, and child-bearing. A balance is needed between the extreme suppression of Middle Eastern religions and the extreme wantonness of secular leftism. We feel that our faith represents that balance with a practical and profound philosophy on the power of love and relationships.
Hoenir: Son of Burr and Bestla, father of Frigga with Natt. He was chieftain of the Vanir until he was deposed during the As-Van war (the Folkwar) and replaced by Lodur. This is a symbol of the corruption of the worlds, where Hoenir represents the peaceful, tranquil waters of creation and Lodur the enflamed passions that can lead to conflict. After Ragnarok, Hoenir is returned to his position so that he can lead the Vanir into the next age of peace. Other than this, Hoenir is one of the creator Gods who helped his brothers, Odin and Lodur, build the worlds and make the first humans from trees. More so than his brothers, Hoenir continues on in his role of creator, for he is the caretaker of the Manna Mjötuðr, the fruits of life, taken from Yggdrasill, which become children. After Urd has delivered their fate, Hoenir sees to it that each fruit is properly fructified within the waters of Fensalir "The Marsh Halls," which is his realm. They are given the divine gifts, blessed, then delivered by winged spirits to the woman destined for it. His strong relation to childbirth (for his totem animal or fylgja is the stork) is why he is the progenitor of the Vanir and father of Frigga, Goddess of motherhood.
The spiritual lesson of Hoenir comes from the calm, soothing waters of his domain. Water is a symbol of tranquility, and the tranqiuil mind is a primary focus of spiritual practice. Hoenir's waters do not simply represent inner-peace, but the energizing of the Spirit through that peace with the power of creation. Like the fetus of the womb we seek to gain serenity and peace of mind from the primordial sea, the sea of creation or convergence. We meditate, we chant, we pray in the hopes of becoming one with the divine, as a child does in the womb of its mother. These waters are sacred, as they are one of the primal elements that formed when the heat froze the ice. Because of this, Hoenir is considered to be a priest among the Gods, who will be "able to choose the lot-wood" (LIII.88) once he returns to his position after Ragnarok.
Lodur: Son of Burr and Bestla, 'Father' of Heimdall as caretaker of the Grotti-Mill, and father of Mani, Sol, and Njord with Natt. Lodur is the caretaker of the Grotti-Mill, which is in the ownership of his grandson, Frey. As custodian of the mill, which is turned by nine giantesses that are also called "wood- wives" (iviðjur Völuspá 2, they are the nine woods of the Need-Fire), he became the 'father' of Heimdall, God of the hearth-fire (Heimdall means 'Home-Light'), formed from the sparks of the mill as it rotated. This was the first Need-Fire and thus made the nine "wood-wives" Heimdall's 'mothers.' Lodur's name means "The Fire-Producer" or "The Blazing" for this very reason. Lodur is also one of the creator Gods who made the worlds and humans, completing the Spirit (Odin)/Water (Hoenir)/Fire (Lodur) triumvirate of Burr's sons. Lodur became the leader of the Vanir after the Folkwar and will continue to hold this position up until Ragnarok.
Lodur's spiritual lesson is one of passion, letting the fires of life burn within as you continue on your quest for enlightenment. But these fires must always be tempered with Hoenir's waters so that Odin's Spirit does not get burned up in the process. In other words, be passionate about the things you love and care for, but never overdo it. Odin teaches us to be moderate in our affairs, and to not take things to the extreme. Passion is a good and positive thing if it is balanced with wisdom (Odin) and tranquility (Hoenir). This is a very powerful lesson.
Njord: He is the son of Lodur and Natt, Father of Frey, Freya, Hlif, Hlifthrasa, Bjart, Blik, Blid, Frid, and Eir with Frigga. Njord is God of navigation, trade, and prosperity. Our ancestors had no issues with wealth and success, and some have suggested that the Vikings were the first true capitalists. Eastern cults typically developed out of areas where poverty and savagery were the norm; so instead of aspiring towards something better, they preferred to glorify their impoverished status. Not that we would ever scoff at the less fortunate, and in Odinism there are edicts towards living a simple life and being kind and compassionate to those in need. However, there is also a doctrine of ambition, of striving towards greatness and achieving your maximum potential to become the best you can be—financially, physically, and morally. Njord represents success in this manner, and shows us that we must take action in order to have a better life.
Njord's spiritual lesson is one of risk-taking. The true key to success lies in one's willingness to take a certain amount of risks in order to achieve their goals. Everything in life is a risk. Even walking out of your house involves the possibility of being hit by a car or killed. But those taking dynamic risks for a better life are much more involved, and these risks taken can make or break you. In life, in love, in faith, and in business we have to learn when to take a chance and bet on our own abilities and wisdom. Spiritually speaking, this involves stepping out of your comfort zone in order to experience new things or learn new techniques towards your advancement. Meditation, hypnotism, stada (yoga), etc. are all of great benefit and can aid you greatly in your journey, but you must be willing to take the first step. Or it could be a matter of putting yourself out there for the benefit of your community, helping to plant the seeds so that our folk may benefit a prosper. You will never reap the benefits of life or of spiritual practice if you are not willing to take a chance.
Frey: He is the son of Njord and husband of Gerd. As the owner of the Grotti-Mill, which churns out the powers of the elements, he is considered our God of fertility foremost, since the mill is used to crush up the bodies of Etins to make crop yielding soil (Earth element). Besides this, it turns the stars in the sky (Air), controls the ocean's ebb and flow (Water), and grinds the sparks whence the first Need-fire came. As owner of the mill, these powers can be said to be within Frey's domain, making him a very important deity indeed. In fact, he is usually placed next to Odin and Thor as the three most favored divinities and the three Storm-Gods. Odin controls the winds that bring the clouds, Thor strikes the clouds to make the thunder that heralds the rains, and Frey actually makes it rain. All three are needed in the process, and all work in conjunction with one another, which is why all three are prayed to at Harvest time. Beyond this, Frey is also God of male sexuality and potency, and was often depicted with a large erect phallus.
Frey's spiritual lesson is that of a man's love for his woman and children. This love is so vital to our society that its loss is considered to be one of the determining factors in the coming of Ragnarok. The sad thing is that we are already seeing this happen today. Many of the men in western civilization, mainly driven by a media propaganda machine and a loss of proper societal paradigms, have relegated themselves to being grown up children who would rather indulge in frivolities than ever take on any real responsibilities. We have moved from the model of Frey, where male sexuality is a powerful force used to build loving, committed relationships; to the model of Loki, where it is used to 'conquer' as many women as possible, leaving far too many single moms in its wake. If we are to forestall that collapse of our civilization we must return to Frey's model of being real men, men who are sexual and responsible, who love their families and understand their duty to them.
Heimdall: He was born from the sparks of the Grotti-Mill as it was turned by the nine ividjur or "wood- wives" (the nine woods of the need-fire), who are thus called his 'mothers,' as Lodur is his 'father' for being the caretaker of the mill. Because of this, Heimdall, whose name means 'Home-Light,' is God of the hearth-fire. Fire was considered to be the ultimate protection against monsters and demons by our ancestors, so Heimdall is also the protector of the Gods and of the Bifrost bridge, keeping the Etins at bay. The controlled flame was one of the principal hallmarks of civilized man, as he evolved from hunter- gatherer-nomad to farmer-homesteader. The hearth-fire became the central symbol of civilization itself, so it was only proper that the God of the hearth-fire came to humans to bring them the tools to further their society, as we are told he does in the lore. He traveled as a babe on a self-propelled boat to the shores of Svithjod (Sweden), carrying with him a sheaf of grain and other implements he would use to teach the mortals. As he grew up among the humans he showed them the fundamental aspects of agrarianism, taught them law and the virtues of freedom, gave them the runes and the lore of our faith, and helped them to establish fixed settlements and homes. As his greatest gift, he blessed the lines of all three classes when he when he went among them to bless the conception of their sons—Thrall, Karl, and Jarl. Thus, all of our folk were given the blessings of the Gods.
Heimdall's spiritual lesson is that of the teacher. He came to Midgard and taught human beings how to reach a higher level of culture and living. His entire existence here on earth was focused on teaching and helping others, which is exactly what we should aspire to. To teach is to change lives, for the lessons you give to another could forever alter the way they think and view the world. It is an important duty with an important responsibility, for no spiritual discipline can be manifested without teachers to pass it on.
Odur: Son of Egil and Groa, father of Hnoss, Gersemi, and Asmund with Freya. He is the great adventurer of our lore. Born an Alf from the Ivaldi family, Odur's quest takes up a good portion of our sacred epic. It deserves such a prominent place, for it contains some of the most beautiful motifs in our entire tradition. Chivalry, love, romance, brotherhood, danger, intrigue; Odur experienced all of this and more when he sought to save Freya from the giants and thus win her hand in marriage. In doing so, he gained his mother's charms of protection, actually changed destiny, wielded the most powerful weapon in all the worlds (Gambanteinn), rescued Freya, married her, then became a God himself. He is celebrated in our faith because, like Odin, he did not gain his divine status by birth or strictly by marriage, he actually earned it with blood, sweat, tears, and his own good fortune. This put him in place as the consort of the most beautiful of Goddesses, which gave him high honors in Asgard.
Odur's spiritual lesson is one of achievement. Life is for the bold of heart, who will face danger and take action when something needs to be done. We accomplish nothing resting on our laurels waiting for other people to take charge. For any spiritual practice to work or any religious movement to thrive there must be a willingness to act and achieve. Our accomplishments mean something, and become a part of who we are, a part of our legacy. As Odur overcame his lower-ranked position to become a God—one of the Vanir—so too must we be ambitious and strive for greater achievements and higher aspirations.