There are two groups of gods in Norse mythology the warrior gods known as the Aesir, and the gods of fertility and wealth known as the Vanir or Vana. The Vanir were considered to be the bringers of health, youth, fertility, luck and wealth, and masters of magic. The Vanir live in Vanaheim.
In the early days a dispute arose between the Vanir and the Aesir in which they came to arms (see Gullveig). They were at war for a long time before they decided to call a truce; when they realized that they could accomplish more together than by fighting each other. Which resulted in the trading of hostages between the races. The Vanir sent Njord to live in Asgard with his two children, Freyr and Freya, while the Aesir sent Hoenir, Mimir, to live in Vanaheim.
Hoenir however, was not as smart as the Aesir claimed he was and it was Mimir who gave him advice. The Vanir grew suspicious of the answers Hoenir gave when Mimir was not around. Eventually they figured out that they had been cheated and they cut off Mimir's head and sent it back to the Aesir. Fortunately, this betrayal did not lead to another war and all the gods of the Vanir were subsequently assimilated with the Aesir.
The name "Vanir" might be derived from the old-Norse word vinr which means "friend".
The Vanir included Aegir, Bragi, Frey, Freya, Heimdall, Hnossa, Holde, Idun, Nanna, Nerthus, Njord, Ostara, Ran, Skadi, Svol and Ull.
Old Norse: Vinr
See Also: Aesir