Publicada por Arith Härger / 4:17 PM /
There is no extant myth of where the people of the Vanir came from. They themselves, when asked, have simply said that they settled Vanaheim when a piece of Ymir's body (said to be his pelvis, as it is the most fertile area) became a stable continent in a stable world. They do not trace any descent from Ymir's children, and may have come from outside the Nine Worlds. The first mention of them in myths is when Odin and his brothers run across them, act rudely, and a war is started. They are an agricultural people, practicing fertility rites and the occasional human sacrifice.
Hospitality rules are very important to the Vanir. While they have a good deal of importance everywhere in the Nine Worlds, the Vanir are particularly picky about them. While any of them will likely give you a three-day guest-right stay in their homes, there are rules about being a good guest. First, offer to help with whatever farm labor they require. If you don't know how to do anything, ask for a task that takes little skill and can be learned quickly. If they happily put you to work, you are in. Don't shirk; do your best job. If they politely decline to give you a task, it isn't because they consider you too fine a guest to be put to work, it's that they don't like you that much, and don't want you to be considered like part of the family, if only for a few hours. If they won't allow you to help, they likely don't want you back.
At one point, the Vanir fought a war with the Aesir, and after much loss of life both sides called it a draw. The point of mentioning this war is that people tend to underestimate the Vanir as warriors. They are not as openly warlike as the Aesir - in fact, there is a strict peace set on their world that it would do anyone ill to break - but they are just as skilled at the arts of warfare, and should not be dismissed. Be courteous and polite to these "mere farmers", or they may decide that you have violated their rules of hospitality, which in some parts of Vanaheim is a killing offense.
As part of the treaty terms of the war, the Aesir and Vanir exchanged hostages. Each side agreed to send over some members of great wisdom so that the other could benefit from them. The Aesir sent over Mimir and Hoenir, but they turned out to be unsatisfactory; Hoenir refused to talk about anything, and Mimir did nothing but babble. One senses either resentment at their hostage status, or an implicit order to keep quiet. The Vanir, however, were insulted, and hacked Mimir's head off and sent it back to Odin with Hoenir. Odin resurrected the head and dropped it down a well, where Mimir is doomed to answer questions for eternity or until Odin decides to release him.
On the other hand, the Vanir hostages consisted of Njord, the god of ships and sailing, and his twin children Frey and Freya, the gods of fertility and love. The presence of the latter two seemed to be part of an ongoing deal to provide Asgard with food. Odin was especially eager to get hold of Freya, and not just for her beauty; she was the mistress of the seidhr-magic that he wished to learn. Not only were the Vanir hostages accepted as full voting members of the Aesir, when their people returned the other hostages, scorned or beheaded, no revenge was taken upon the all-too-important Njord, Frey, or Freya. The end result is that Asgard has a strong Vanir voice in its councils, while Vanaheim is fairly free to ignore Asgard, secure that its hostage-gods are quite safe there.
The three of them are allowed to come home and visit Vanaheim, as long as they do it one at a time. Njord can be found in Vanaheim in the spring and high summer, usually on a boat. Frey comes home around Lammas for his yearly role in the all-important fertility-based Ing ritual, and stays until the first snows. Freya presumably comes home some time in the winter and stays to see the spring open onto the land, her favorite time of year.