The Vanir (singular Vanr) are a group of Gods associated with fertility, wisdom, and the ability to see the future. The Vanir were one of two groups of Gods venerated by the ancient Nordic pagans (the other being the).
The Vanir most likely symbolized the peaceful aspects of nature, in contrast with the Æsir who symbolized the violent aspects of nature.
God of War (2018)
The Vanir always had simmering tensions with their rival tribe, the Aesir. It was when the Aesir attempted to murder one of their leaders, Freyr, after the Vanir attempted an act of diplomacy with them that war finally broke out between the two factions of gods.
Despite their enemies' immense strength, the Vanir proved to be their equal and delivered devastating damage to the Aesir. Their battles raged on for centuries until both sides were finally fed up with the senseless conflict, having no choice but to compromise in order to achieve peace.
Mimir served as the ambassador of the two tribes, proposing that one of their leaders, Freya, was set to marry the King of the Aesir, Odin, a proposal that finally brought peace to both the Vanir and Aesir.
However, Odin's increasing paranoia forced Freya to leave him, thus breaking the fragile peace and once again igniting the war between the gods.
And since Odin banished Freya to Midgard and cursed her to never leave the Middle Realm so she couldn't explain her actions to her tribe, the Vanir ultimately believe that Freya betrayed them.
Powers and Abilities
Vanir are renown because of their natural affinity for magic, more specifically the arts of Seiðr. During one of their battles against the Aesir, their Seiðr spells where capable of pushing back what was described as the largest army ever gathered, creating tremendous losses for their enemy.
Ancient Vanir arts, known as the Old Magic, were capable of reanimating the dead, and some of them even had the ability to manipulate time itself.
One of the most significant accomplishments of Vanir magic is invulnerability to all threats, physical or magical, which Freya blessed or "cursed" Baldur with. The only thing that can break the spell is mistletoe; as Mimir describes, though Vanir magic is powerful, its rules remain slippery and elusive. It makes sense if anyone is a witch.
It seems the mystical ways of the Vanir can be taught to other races since Freya was the one who taught her former husband Odin the art of Seiðr, and Sindri, a Dwarf, went to Vanaheim to learn their magic in order to improve his smithing skills.
They also seem to be great builders, since the Vanir created the fabled, a ship that was capable of flying and was described as the best of ships.
- Njörd: The father of Freyr and Freya, God of the Sea.
- Freyr: One of the leaders of the Vanir, overlord of the Light Elves of Alfheim and the brother of Freya.
- Freya: A former leader of the Vanir, former Queen of the Valkyries, ex-wife of Odin and the sister of Freyr.
- Nerthus: A Vanir slain by Magni and Modi during the Aesir-Vanir War.
- In Norse mythology, the ship Skíðblaðnir (Old Norse "assembled from thin pieces of wood") wasn't created by the Vanir, but rather by a group of Dwarves known as the Sons of Ivaldi. It wasn't described as a flying ship either, but rather a ship that always has a favorable wind and could be folded and stored like cloth when not used.
- Apparently, the Vanir are aware of the existence of microbes, such as germs and bacteria, as Sindri recounted how he met a Vanir witch who told him about "little beasties" that live on everything and are so small, one cannot see them, and how they can make people sick. The witch also told him about the antibacterial properties of oak wood. Overall, it appears that the Vanir (barring the use of magic) are more ahead in the field of medicine in the time of the series is set in.