The Aesir Gods and Goddesses

The Aesir (pronounced “ICE-ear”; Old Norse Æsir for multiple gods, Ásynjur for multiple goddesses, Áss for one god, and Ásynja for one goddess) were one of the two main tribes of deities venerated by the pre-Christian Norse and other Germanic peoples. (The second tribe was the Vanir.) Most of the best-known Norse gods and goddesses belong to the Aesir, including Odin, Thor, Frigg, Tyr, Loki, Baldur, Heimdall, Idun, and Bragi. Their home is Asgard, one of the Nine Worlds, which is located in the highest, sunniest branches of the world-tree Yggdrasil. In the Norse sources, Odin, the “Allfather,” is their chief. However, this is likely a relatively late development, and several convergent lines of evidence suggest that this role was originally occupied by Tyr.

The word “Aesir” is almost certainly derived from one of two Proto-Germanic words: *ansaz, “pole, beam, rafter,” or *ansuz, “life, vitality.”[1] In either case, we see that the Aesir were thought of as being the powers that hold the cosmos together, the animating personalities of the “forces of nature.” (See Pantheism and Animism.)

If you enjoyed this article, check out my book on the worldview at the heart of Norse mythology, The Love of Destiny: The Sacred and the Profane in Germanic Polytheism.

And if you’d like to keep up with my ongoing work here and elsewhere, the best way to do so is to follow me on Google+: .

References:

[1] Orel, Vladimir. 2003. A Handbook of Germanic Etymology. p. 20-21.