(Wane, Wæn, Wæni, Wen, Uuani. Old Norse: Vanir)
ᚹ Ƿenne bruceþ, ðe can ƿeana lyt
sares and sorge and him sylfa hæf
blæd and blysse and eac byrga geniht.
he makes no use of the Wæne who no little of woes
pain and sorrow, and has for himself
wealth and joy, and sufficient protection too
- Old English Rune Poem
The Wæne are a group of 'gods' connected with the Underworld and its twin symbolism of vegetation (fertility) and minerals (productivity and craftsmanship) and as the grave. Though the group-name Wæne does not appear in Old English texts as a divine name a small number of suggestive hints and references do occur. In Norse mythology, the Vanir are a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, nature, magic, and the ability to see the future. Not only do the Wæne and Vanir share a name but they also seeming share the same hedonistic and orgiastic character.
(Ægili, Egil, Aigil. Proto-Germanic *Agilaz)
Ægil is the brother of Welund and Slegðyrse and husband of the Swan Maiden Aliruna. He is a master archer, bowyer and protector of the home. A panel of the Franks Casket showing Ægil and his wife enclosed in a keep, with Ægil shooting arrows against attacking troops of giants (eotenas). The name Ægili is written with runes above the archer.
(Geot, Angengeot, Siggeot; Weothulgeot.)
The name Geat appears in many of the royal lineages of the Anglo-Saxons and reach far back to the elder gods. The linguistic associations to Geat itself are to pour, to pour blood, to pour seamen, to ejaculate and so spread fertility to the land. His name alludes to watercourses, the flow of streams, rivers and waterfalls. Geat as a sacral god is associated with sexual promiscuity and sacrifice, the sacred marriage and regeneration of the land. One who dies as a vegetation God in the autumn and arises again in the spring.
(Helid, Helia, Heliae, Helio, Heile, Helið and Gelith)
Helith is name recorded in several medieval and later publications as names for a pagan deity who was venerated in the southwest of early Anglo-Saxon England, perhaps connected to healing wells and springs.
A man, a hero whose name implies health, wealth, good fortune and to be whole or complete. Helith is in the cry of "wassail" (was hál - 'be you healthy') to ensure a persons health and good luck; present in the greeting hál wes þú, meaning 'be thou hale' ('be in good health') and as we wish others to be hale and hearty.
(Hrethe, Hrede, Hreth, Rhedam, Rheda, Rhed.)
"...a Dea illorum Rheda, cui in illo sacrificabant, nominatur…"
- Bede, The Reckoning of Time.
Bede records that Hrēðmōnað is analogous to March, and details that "Hrethmonath is named for their goddess Hretha, to whom they sacrificed at this time". Bede notes that Hrēðmōnað occurs between Solmōnað (February), so named due to the offerings of cakes to the gods during the month, and Ēostermōnað (April), named after the goddess Ēostre.
Hretha, 'The Glorious One' is the splendour, glory and triumph over winter. As seen above she is sacrificed to during the month of March a time when the soil becomes visible under the snow and becomes fit for ploughing. The dragging of the plough back and forth across the earth may be seen as a metaphor for weaving, the subsequent crop in bloom becoming the garment produced. Weaving may also be seen as a further metaphor for the passage of time and so mark the passage/triumph over winter and the splendour of the summer to come.
As a spring goddess Hretha may be thought of as a herald of the future summer, Hrēðmōnað (March) being the last month of winter. She is the glorious and honourable victor in the battle over winter but also cruel, fierce and rough as all warriors (and the March winds) must be. Hretha guides the plough and is clothed in splendid, glorious garments on her return following the lean months of winter.
(Ingwine, Ingwin, Ing, Ingui, Enguz, Old Norse: Yngvi, Old High German: Inguin; Proto-Germanic: Ingwaz.)
ᛝ [Ing] wæs ærest mid Eástdenum
gesewen secgum, oð he síððan eást
ofer wæg gewát. wæn æfter ran.
þus Heardingas þone hæle nemdon.
"[ᛝ] Ing was first amidst the East Danes
seen by men, until later eastwards he
went across the waves, the wagon ran after,
thus the Heardings named that hero."
- Old English Rune Poem
The name Ing occurs in the 'king lists', where he stands several generations above the historical figures and so is presumed to have a mythical, legendary and divine status. A potent fertility deity and horned god Ing is closely associated with stags, the earth and the summer months. On the "Gundestrup Cauldron" sits a horned figure, in one hand he holds a torc indicating his nobility and in the other a serpent, essentially a being of the earth, of the underworld and so of death.
A torc, the so-called "Ring of Pietroassa", part of a late third to fourth century Gothic hoard discovered in Romania, is inscribed in much-damaged runes, one reading of which is "gutanī [i(ng)]wi[n] hailag" and may be translated as "to Ingwi[n] of the Goths holy".
As alluded to in the 'Rune Poem' Ing is associated with the progress of a wagon which can be no other than the seasonal procession of a cult vehicle of a similar type to that of Nerthus. As a sacred partner of Nerthus, sacral king and husband, Ing is a symbol of fruitfulness and fecundity. The wagon procession heralded rites of self-indulgence in which excessive drinking, eating and sexual activity ensured both the continuation of the tribe and the release of social tensions through a period of sanctioned chaos.
Bare breasted Nehalennia sits with her attendant hound at her side and a basket of fruit at her feet, upon her head she wears a winged cap and about her neck a large necklace. She posses a ship that may travel on land, upon silted rivers and against the tide.
Nehalennia's indulgence is sought by those who travel especially those who are on business, her breasts are bared to indicate the fertility of commerce, the basket of fruits/apples/bread too depict fertility and again the wealth and the bounty of trade. The dog at her side is a symbol of protection.
(Njoerd, Njorth, Njörðr, Nodens)
To the god Neptune Nodons
- Inscription at Vindolanda, Hadrian's Wall
Consort of Scede and sister of Nerthus. Njord is the personification of the bountiful sea and coastal lands, he is associated with seamanship, sailing, fishing and the 'whita' known as Nicoras. He is able to raise a tempest and calm stormy seas by his control of the winds. He is a patron of hunting and hounds and may be sought by those in need of healing.
(Sceadu, Scado, Skaði)
Beowulf was breme, blæd wide sprang,
Scyldes eafra Scfedelandum in.
Beowulf was well-known, his fame spread widely
as the heir of Scyld in the Scede-lands.
Scandinavia, the shadow, the cold mountainous north and the winter itself. She is the scathing wrath of the winter storm from which we hope to survive unscathed. Huntress, she is sister to Wuldor and consort of Njord.
Alongside his brothers Ægil and Welund is one of a trio of master craftsmen. Each are great hunters and each married to a beautiful Swan-Maiden, in the case of Slegðyrse it is to Swanhwit (Swan-White); Ægil to Aliruna and Welund to Swanhild.
Wada - "Keeper of The Ford"
(Wade, Wadde, Vadi, Vathi,Wate.)
Wada is the 'Keeper of the Ford', and acts as both ferryman and protector. He is immensely strong with white hair reflecting the river current, fast flowing water and the white foam of the rapids. To assist his passage he has a boat called Guingelot (Wingelock), he is associated with travel especially over water. Wade is the father of Ægil, Slegðyrseof and Welund - in turn he is the grandfather of Wudga.
(Wéland, Wēland, Wayland the Smith. Old Norse: Völundr, Velentr; Old High German: Wiolant; Proto-Germanic: *Wēlandaz, from *Wēla-nandaz, lit. "battle-brave".)
Welund tasted misery among snakes.
The stout-hearted hero endured troubles
had sorrow and longing as his companions
cruelty cold as winter - he often found woe
- The Lament of Deor
Weland is a divine craftsman, a maker of magical swords, armour, jewellery and other items such as a set of wing which he manufactured and used to escape from captivity. A bound God, hamstrung and crippled. He is the brother of Ægil and Slegðyrse and husband of the swan maiden Swanhild.
Weland is associated with Wayland's Smithy, a burial mound in the Berkshire Downs. This was named by the English, but the megalithic mound significantly predates them. It is from this association that the superstition came about that a horse left there overnight with a small silver coin would be shod by morning. This superstition is mentioned in the first episode of Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling, "Weland's Sword", which narrates the rise and fall of the god.
(Widia; Witege, Wittich, Witige; Vidigoia, Vidrik, Vidga, Verlandsson; Proto-Germanic: *Widigaz)
... me ce bæteran
buton ðam anum, ðe ic eac hafa,
on stanfate stille gehided.
Ic wat þæt hit dohte Ðeodric Widian
selfum onsendon, ond eac sinc micel
maðma mid ði mece, monig oðres mid him
golde gegirwan, iulean genam,
þæs ðe hine of nearwum Niðhades mæg,
Welandes bearn, Widia ut forlet,
ðurh fifela geweald forð onette.
... a better sword
except the one that I have also in
its stone-encrusted scabbard laid aside.
I know that Theodoric thought to Widia's self
to send it and much treasure too,
jewels with the blade, many more besides,
gold-geared; he received reward
when Nithhad's kinsman, Widia, Welund's son,
delivered him from durance;
through press of monsters hastened forth.'
The son of Welund by Beadohilde and so the grandson of Wada, 'The Keeper of The Ford'. He is the companion of Hama and like him perhaps a vigilant warrior God. Wudga wielded the sword Mimung, forged by his father, as was the helmet he wore. His mount was the stallion Schimming (Schimmel, Skemming, Skemmingi; Old English scimerian or scymrian), one of the finest horses of its age - the horse was as fast as a flying bird and was great and fine in all respects. In the Anglo-Saxon fragment known as Waldere, Wudga (Widia) is mentioned together with his father Wayland in a praise of Mimung, Waldere's sword that Weyland had made.
Wuldor - 'Wielder of Glory'
The winter, fair in face and ruler of glory, the splendour of the shining winter sky. Brother of Scede and associate with mistletoe, the hunt, hunting dogs and wildfowl.