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Author Topic: Are the Sun and Moon Vanir, Aesir, Jotnar or none of these?  (Read 2503 times)

Pteranotropi

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Are the Sun and Moon Vanir, Aesir, Jotnar or none of these?
« on: August 05, 2014, 11:33:58 am »
It's a question that has been bugging me for a while. Pretty much every single attestment seems to contradict each other: in Prose Edda Sól/Sunna is listed alongside Bil as an Ásynjur (though notably the two are noted seperately from the others), elsewhere as an elf (one of her names is Álfröðull, "elven-wheel/heaven/disc"), and Máni is appearently mentioned as a "jotunn" somewhere.


Any thoughts?

Megatherium

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Re: Are the Sun and Moon Vanir, Aesir, Jotnar or none of these?
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2014, 10:30:24 pm »
Quote from: Pteranotropi;154813
It's a question that has been bugging me for a while. Pretty much every single attestment seems to contradict each other: in Prose Edda Sól/Sunna is listed alongside Bil as an Ásynjur (though notably the two are noted seperately from the others), elsewhere as an elf (one of her names is Álfröðull, "elven-wheel/heaven/disc"), and Máni is appearently mentioned as a "jotunn" somewhere.


Any thoughts?


Yeah, sources are petty much contradictory on thse points. My opinion on the matter is that since Gods in Pre-Christian Germanic cultures were closely connected with a particular community, it seems unlikely that Sunna and Mani were not seen as "Gods", at least not in the same way that Thor or Frigga were. That doesn't mean that they never received some form of veneration, more like they were just seen as less interested in human affairs as some of the other deities.

I guess one may think of them as Jotnar in that sense, but likely they were not seen in the same negative light that some Jotnar were.
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Juniperberry

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Re: Are the Sun and Moon Vanir, Aesir, Jotnar or none of these?
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2014, 11:09:38 pm »
Quote from: Megatherium;154901
Yeah, sources are petty much contradictory on thse points. My opinion on the matter is that since Gods in Pre-Christian Germanic cultures were closely connected with a particular community, it seems unlikely that Sunna and Mani were not seen as "Gods", at least not in the same way that Thor or Frigga were. That doesn't mean that they never received some form of veneration, more like they were just seen as less interested in human affairs as some of the other deities.

I guess one may think of them as Jotnar in that sense, but likely they were not seen in the same negative light that some Jotnar were.

For some reason I have it in my head that the sun and moon were simply put in their place as mere celestial objects and that it was only later on that the boy and girl Mani and Sol were put in charge of charioting them around. So the sun and moon themselves aren't any type of spiritual being at all, the guardians are?

I think Sunna on the other hand, was an earlier Germanic goddess. Curious if she was seen as the actual sun, or as a guardian of the sun like Sol.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 11:10:09 pm by Juniperberry »
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Pteranotropi

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Re: Are the Sun and Moon Vanir, Aesir, Jotnar or none of these?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2014, 08:42:44 am »
Quote from: Megatherium;154901
Yeah, sources are petty much contradictory on thse points. My opinion on the matter is that since Gods in Pre-Christian Germanic cultures were closely connected with a particular community, it seems unlikely that Sunna and Mani were not seen as "Gods", at least not in the same way that Thor or Frigga were. That doesn't mean that they never received some form of veneration, more like they were just seen as less interested in human affairs as some of the other deities.

I guess one may think of them as Jotnar in that sense, but likely they were not seen in the same negative light that some Jotnar were.

 
Makes sense. I'm asking mostly because the Vanir gods are supposedly also closely tied to natural phenomena, while the Aesir Thor is also technically the personified thunder.

Quote from: Juniperberry;154910
For some reason I have it in my head that the sun and moon were simply put in their place as mere celestial objects and that it was only later on that the boy and girl Mani and Sol were put in charge of charioting them around. So the sun and moon themselves aren't any type of spiritual being at all, the guardians are?

I think Sunna on the other hand, was an earlier Germanic goddess. Curious if she was seen as the actual sun, or as a guardian of the sun like Sol.

 

I disagree strongly with this assessment for three reasons:


- Snorri (and many other christian writers) have a tendency to "humanise" the gods, to literally depict them simply as immortal humans, as befitting of their beliefs that the norse deities were simply humans that convinced them "dumb folks" that they were gods. It'd be no surprise that he applied the same to Sól and Máni, reducing them to mere chariot drivers.

- "Sól" and "Máni" are the words in Old Norse (and some surviving languages, like icelandic) for "Sun" and "Moon". As concurrent with the rest of the Indo-European paradigm, they would by default be the Sun and Moon.

- Other attestments suggest that they're primordial deities.


That said, we just can't know how relevant lunar and solar worship were in germanic societies. Both Sól and Máni named days of the week, which could mean relevance on the level of Týr, Odin, Frigg and Thor. And then there's the Merseburg charm calling Sunna to heal.

Materialist

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Re: Are the Sun and Moon Vanir, Aesir, Jotnar or none of these?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2014, 12:31:01 pm »
Quote from: Pteranotropi;154813

Any thoughts?


The reason why you're seeing different interpretations is because Scandinavians didn't have religions, they had belief systems that differed for each community, so you're seeing remnants of those beliefs. My advice is to pick which point of view makes the most sense to you.

Kyndyl

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Re: Are the Sun and Moon Vanir, Aesir, Jotnar or none of these?
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2014, 02:04:06 pm »
Quote from: Pteranotropi;154813
It's a question that has been bugging me for a while. Pretty much every single attestment seems to contradict each other: in Prose Edda Sól/Sunna is listed alongside Bil as an Ásynjur (though notably the two are noted seperately from the others), elsewhere as an elf (one of her names is Álfröðull, "elven-wheel/heaven/disc"), and Máni is appearently mentioned as a "jotunn" somewhere.


Any thoughts?

 
ok I'm going to tell you my interpretation. I believe that Sunna and Mani are Jotun/Jotnar. I've seen reference where they've been said to be humans that were taken and put in charge of the sun and moon. I've heard of people seeing them as "distant" members of either the Aesir or Vanir.  But since my interpretation /views is that the Jotnar/Jotun are the most primal of the three, then it would make sense that something as elemental as the sun and moon, would be a member of that group. That's my opinion and experience.

Juniperberry

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Re: Are the Sun and Moon Vanir, Aesir, Jotnar or none of these?
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2014, 01:13:23 am »
Quote from: Pteranotropi;154942
Makes sense. I'm asking mostly because the Vanir gods are supposedly also closely tied to natural phenomena, while the Aesir Thor is also technically the personified thunder.


That's not necessarily true.  Giants are the manifestations of the natural world. The Aesir are the mitigators of the natural world.  The giant is the storm, Thor is the force that lessens it. Thunder would be the sound of his hammer as he broke up the storm/giants skull, but not Thor himself.

Think of how Thor was called on to protect a wedding ceremony. Do you think they were inviting Thunder and Lightning, or do you think they were inviting Thor to protect against the storm?


 

Quote
I disagree strongly with this assessment for three reasons:


- Snorri (and many other christian writers) have a tendency to "humanise" the gods, to literally depict them simply as immortal humans, as befitting of their beliefs that the norse deities were simply humans that convinced them "dumb folks" that they were gods. It'd be no surprise that he applied the same to Sól and Máni, reducing them to mere chariot drivers.


I'm kind of fond of euhemerism myself.

Given the power that ancestors are seen to have anyway in early Germanic religiosity, it's not much of a stretch to assume that some stopped becoming human dead after several generations and became alfar or gods instead. See, The Road to Hel.

Also, I think it'd be rather interesting to look at Mani and Sol as most likely deceased children (from a particular tribe), and then explore what impact the dead were believed to have on the passing of time (sun and moon), considering also that it's the dead that tell of future events and the shaping of wyrd. So in that way, would they really have to be 'mere' chariot drivers?

Quote
- "Sól" and "Máni" are the words in Old Norse (and some surviving languages, like icelandic) for "Sun" and "Moon". As concurrent with the rest of the Indo-European paradigm, they would by default be the Sun and Moon.


Yes, it's part of the myth that Sol and Mani were actually named for Sol and Mani and that's one reason why they were chosen to be the drivers. Think of how many people name their daughters Star. Or, Moon Zappa even.

Quote
- Other attestments suggest that they're primordial deities. That said, we just can't know how relevant lunar and solar worship were in germanic societies. Both Sól and Máni named days of the week, which could mean relevance on the level of Týr, Odin, Frigg and Thor. And then there's the Merseburg charm calling Sunna to heal.

 
It seems like you're under the impression that I don't think they are relevant or important at all. I'm not disagreeing that the sun and the moon are relevant things, obviously they very much are. And they'll continue to be relevant to us at the most basic level whether we categorize them appropriately or not. But I can understand wanting to discover what meaning you can take away from them on a more spiritual level, and so I thought I'd share some ideas with you.
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I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Aiwelin

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Re: Are the Sun and Moon Vanir, Aesir, Jotnar or none of these?
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2014, 01:14:11 pm »
Quote from: Pteranotropi;154813
It's a question that has been bugging me for a while. Pretty much every single attestment seems to contradict each other: in Prose Edda Sól/Sunna is listed alongside Bil as an Ásynjur (though notably the two are noted seperately from the others), elsewhere as an elf (one of her names is Álfröðull, "elven-wheel/heaven/disc"), and Máni is appearently mentioned as a "jotunn" somewhere.


Any thoughts?

 
It's been my opinion as of late that the neat little categories some modern Heathens like to use, Aesir Vanir and Jotun, were rather more fluid concepts to the original Germanic tribes.  Snorri in his Eddas made visible efforts to organize a pantheon that seems to have been more localized and tribal than many realize.  See for example Skadhi, who while technically a giantess married to a Vanir according to Snorri, was well integrated into Asgardian society.

To me, Sunna and Mani are the guardians and drivers of the sun and moon, and are worthy of veneration for this.  In my Heathenry, the specific divisions are much less important than each deity's (or being, if you prefer) area of interest.  I honor Frigga and Gerdh equally in my practice, unconcerned that one is technically Aesir and the other technically Jotun, because each has an interest in things that I do in my day-to-day life.  I find that my spiritual life has gotten considerably less complicated once I stopped trying to classify exact divisions and started getting to know each deity individually :)
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Re: Are the Sun and Moon Vanir, Aesir, Jotnar or none of these?
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2014, 03:22:02 pm »
Quote from: Pteranotropi;154813
It's a question that has been bugging me for a while. Pretty much every single attestment seems to contradict each other: in Prose Edda Sól/Sunna is listed alongside Bil as an Ásynjur (though notably the two are noted seperately from the others), elsewhere as an elf (one of her names is Álfröðull, "elven-wheel/heaven/disc"), and Máni is appearently mentioned as a "jotunn" somewhere.


Any thoughts?


This is more from a Nothern Tradition perspective but I have the impression that the sun and moon were part of the creation story when the sky was created. They came from the same stuff the stars were made from. Sunna and Mani where then choosen to pull them on their path and guide them through the sky. I have seen them addressed as Jotun in most cases. There father, Mundilfari, is sometimes called a man and sometimes Jotun. I tend to think of them as Jotun myself.

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