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Aesir

From Academic Kids

The Aesir (Old Norse sir (pron. ['aiser] in Icelandic, singular ss, feminine synja, feminine plural synjur) are the principal pantheon of gods in Norse mythology. They include many of the major figures, such as Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Tyr. A second clan of gods, the Vanir, is also mentioned in the Norse mythos: the god Njord and his children, Freyr and Freya, are the most prominent Vanir gods who join the Aesir as hostages after a war between Aesir and Vanir. The Vanir were mainly connected with fertility, the Aesir with power and wars.

sa is the genitive form of ss. It is the root of the name satr (meaning "belief in sir"), used of a contemporary re-implementation of pre-Christian Norse beliefs. The form often appears as a prefix to indicate membership in the Aesir, for example, sa-Thor or sa-Loki.

These words appear to be derived from Proto-Indo-European *ansu- 'breath, god' related to Sanskrit asura and Avestan ahura with the same meaning; though in Sanskrit asura came to mean 'demon'. The cognate Old English form to ss is os 'god, deity' (as in the still-current surname Osgood). The word ss also means "beam" or "post" in Old Norse, but there has been no demonstration of etymological connection between the two words. Schefferus, a proto-ethnologist of the 17th century, held that aesir referred to 'Asian emperiors', that is, a pseudo-feudalic (shamanistic hereditary) leadership, emanating out from the Eurasian steppes into Europe in ancient time. No other scholar in the intervening centuries has found any evidence to back this contention.

The interaction between the Aesir and the Vanir is an interesting aspect of Norse mythology. While other cultures have had "elder" and "younger" families of gods, as with the Titans versus the Olympians of ancient Greece, the Aesir and Vanir were portrayed as contemporary. The two clans of gods fought battles, concluded treaties, and exchanged hostages (Frey and Freya are mentioned as such hostages). It is tempting to speculate that the interactions described as occurring between Aesir and Vanir reflect the types of interaction common to various Norse clans at the time. According to another theory, the cult of the Vanir (who are mainly connected with fertility and relatively peaceful) may be of an older date, and that of the more warlike Aesir of later origin, so the mythical war may perhaps mirror a religious conflict. On the other hand this may be a parallel to the historicized conflict between the Romans and the Sabines. The noted comparative religion scholar Mircea Eliade speculated that both conflicts are actually different versions of an older Indo-European myth of conflict and integration between deities of sky and rulership vs. deities of earth and fertility, with no strict historical antecedents.

The chronology of the cults would in that case not be pictured in the myths. However, only Odin and Thor were important in both myth and cult; an ss like Ullr is almost unknown in the myths, but his name is seen in a lot of geographical names, especially in Sweden, so his cult was probably quite wide-spread.

The Aesir stayed forever young by eating the golden apples of Idun, although they could be slain, as it was predicted that nearly all will die at Ragnarok.

The Ass rune

The ass-rune ᚨ was probably named after the Aesir. The name survives only in the Icelandic rune poem as ss, however, referring to Odin, identified with Jupiter:

ss er algingautr
ok sgars jfurr,
ok valhallar vsi.
Jupiter oddviti.
ss is aged Gautr
and prince of sgardr
and lord of Vallhalla.

The name of 𐌰 a in the Gothic alphabet is ahsa. The common Germanic name of the rune may thus have either been ansuz "God, one of the Aesir", or ahsam "ear (of corn)".

List of Aesir and Vanir

  • Baldr -- god of innocence and beauty
  • Bragi -- the bard (skald)
  • Forseti -- god of justice
  • Freya (a Vanir hostage) -- goddess of love and sex
  • Freyr (a Vanir hostage) -- god of fertility and love
  • Frigg -- chief goddess
  • Heimdall -- the watchman and guardian
  • Hod -- blind god of darkness and winter
  • Honir -- the indecisive god
  • Idun -- goddess of youth, fertility and death
  • Loki -- the trickster
  • Nanna -- wife of Baldr
  • Njord (a Vanir hostage) -- god of seamanship and sailing
  • Odin (also called Wotan) -- chief god, of wisdom and war
  • Sif -- golden-haired wife of Thor
  • Thor (also called Donar) -- god of thunder and battle
  • Tyr -- one-handed god of war
  • Ullr -- the hunter, tracker and archer
  • Vali -- the avenger
  • Ve -- brother of Odin, who gave men speech
  • Vidar -- god of silence, stealth, and revenge
  • Vili -- brother of Odin, who gave men feeling and thought

Template:NorseMythology

Template:Runes

External link

de:Ase fr:Ases is:sir it:Asen nl:Asen ja:アース神族 no:ser nn:sene pl:Azowie ru:Асы sv:Asar

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