Shannon https://shannonkotono.wordpress.com/ is marrying Freyr in August (yay!). Many of us are celebrating Freyr and the Vanics in general this August by devoting their blog posts to them. Though early, this is my first.
I ran across this response to a question on Yahoo Questions. I think it succinctly discusses a major challenge for those of us who follow the Vanic deities.
“We who are Vanatru have no Poetic Edda, no Snorri. No Vanic myths survive in either oral or written form. What survives of our Northern European ancestors is a fragmented and christianized Aesiric mythology. What Aesiric mythology says about the Vanir is very little. It mentions only three of the Vanir by name, Two are hostages from the First War, Njordr and Freyr. The third and, in my opinion, most important is Freyja. Freyja, as far as I can tell, is never referred to in the primary Aesiric sources as a hostage.
Besides having no surviving written mythology we also have no living oral or folk tradition. Put briefly, we who are Vanatru have no surviving mythology apart from the grains that are sprinkled in the surviving fragments of Aesiric mythology.
That no Vanic mythology remains is very important for us to accept and understand. It means that we have no cosmogony, no cosmology, no thealogy or theology, no way of life handed down to us from those before us who were Vanatru.
It means that we cannot fill the vacuum with Aesiric mythology. Aesiric mythology is just that, Aesiric, not Vanic.
It means that reconstruction is no option for us. We have nothing with which to work. We cannot reconstruct out of Aesiric sources what it once meant to be Vanatru.
However, we do have the Vanir. The Vanir live. They are with us and we with them. Our relationship is mutually true.
We can ask of them many questions and receive many answers.”
This obviously puts us at a disadvantage. I’m unsure why there is no surviving Vanic lore to speak of. Not that there’s a ton of Aesic lore, either. It is said that history is written by the victors. While it is declared in the lore that the Aesir/Vanir War ended in a truce, and with an exchange of hostages, looking at the lore we have would certainly imply that the Aesir won and that their words, traditions, and lore were therefore more important.
Freyr courts Gerd from Asgard. He thought that no one would want them together. While he is Vanic, she’s a Giant. This posts its own issues, as the relations between Gods and Giants are challenging at best. I wonder if he feared that he wouldn’t be allowed a wife as a hostage. What rights hostages had isn’t made clear by the lore we have.
In the end, though, the Vanic deities are deities of (among other things) life. It makes some sense that we’d have to create a living tradition in order to worship them.
And, we should count ourselves lucky. There are deities about whom we know far less.
I highly suggest The Troth’s publication, Idunna. Downloads and print issues are quite affordable, and there are entire issues devoted to the Vans as a whole and many Vanic deities individually.