A Gift Begets a Gift
The foundation of any relationship with a deity or other spiritual entity in Heathenry is through the giving of gifts. Whether you wish to build a personal relationship with a deity or just wish to show honor to your ancestors, making an offering is the best way to start.
Offerings for the Vanir
The Cliff notes version: When in doubt, offer gold or pork. Or mead, of course.
The Lady does like high-quality items, but not all offerings need to be expensive. Anything that is given from the heart will do.
Food: Chocolate; fruit (raspberries, strawberries); honeycomb; honey; candy.
Drink: Mead; fruit liqueurs (I have a homemade raspberry-honey liqueur that I make specifically for Her); chocolate liqueurs; Goldschlager. Anything that is sweet and spicy; sweet wines; sweet, dark beer. Non-alcoholic drinks could be apple cider, fruit nectars, and sweet coffee drinks.
Other offerings: Fresh flowers; amber; gold; jewelry; beeswax; love songs; erotica; “all acts of love and pleasure”. I also have a friend who offers Freya her tears; I believe that Freya thrives on any intense emotion that you care to offer to Her.
Lord Ingvi-Freyr, in general, is much less high-brow in his likes and dislikes than Freya. He is a god of farming as well as a god of kingship.
Food: Pork, in any form. (I tend to offer him pulled pork.) Venison. Apples, bread, and barley (or other grains). Nuts and legumes. Seeds of all kinds.
Drink: Rich, dark beers. Herbal liqueurs. Apple cider (both alcoholic and non-).
Other offerings: Gold; coins; antlers. Sheaves of wheat or other grains. Images of deer or stags. He’s a fertility deity, so anything phallic is also very appropriate. Leaving the last sheaf of wheat from your field standing is a very traditional offering for Freyr (as well as several other agriculture gods and landvaettir).
In my experience, Njord is a very generous deity. He is often content enjoying whatever the other Gods are being offered, and he’s also often happy to share his offerings with any other deity.
Food: Fish, seafood, and pork. Clam chowder with crusty bread. Herring and rye crackers. Gold-covered chocolate coins; chocolates made with sea salt or in the shape of seashells.
Drink: Dark beer; gin; vodka. Or, anything that you have available. (Currently, He has a bottle of Death’s Door gin from a local distillery.)
Other offerings: Gold, beads, shells, spices, and anything else than has been used/can be as currency. Tobacco, either smoked in a pipe or offered loose. Seashells; fishing gear; boats; anchors.
Though not listed in the Eddas, Nerthus is sometimes seen by modern Heathens to be one of the earliest Vanic deities. Since she has so many similarities with Freyr (agriculture/fertility deity; traditional procession in a wagon), a lot of the same offerings can be made to Her. As her name is also etymologically cognate with Njord’s, so offerings for Him may also work for Her. Historically, Nerthus’s offerings were often thrown into bogs, so giving your offering into a body of water would be particularly meaningful.
Food: Beef and pork. Root vegetables; greens (both the bitter and the mild ones). Whole-grain breads and cheeses of all kinds.
Drink: Cow or goat’s milk. Stout or other dark beers.
Other offerings: Gold or amber necklaces, or other valuables. I’ve also heard of people offering Nerthus their secrets, if you have any; She takes them off of your chest and keeps them safely tucked away under the earth.
(Vanir, by marriage to Njord)
Unfortunately, Skadi is not as easy-going as Njord. She doesn’t suffer fools and does not value much of what our modern consumer culture has to offer. However, what She does value is hard work, and intent followed up by action. Hunting, fishing, and self-sufficiency are in Her domain. (And booze. She is a Norse deity, after all.)
Food: Raw (or extremely rare) meat–something you caught and killed yourself, ideally. Jerky. Berries and other produce that can be gathered in the wild.
Drink: Vodka or other clear liquors.
Other offerings: Time spent alone in nature hunting or hiking. Donations of time or money to protect natural areas or to help save the wolves.
(Vanir, by marriage to Freyr)
Gerd is the beautiful ice jotun whom Freyr saw standing in the courtyard (or garden) of her father’s hall. Heathens often see her as representing the cold, hard ground of winter which is thawed and made fertile by Freyr’s summer heat, so anything having to do with the growing of food in gardens or orchards are within Her domain.
Food: Fresh produce, especially if it is from your garden. If you do not grow any of your own food, local, seasonal produce will work as well.
Drink: Wines and fruit liqueurs. Apple cider.
Other offerings: Fresh flowers. Seeds and plants. Time spent building and tending your garden. Any of the products of your garden.
This thrice-burned, thrice-reborn elder stateswomen of the Vanir tribe who helped start the Aesir-Vanir war loves all things fiery and gold. To her go the fire-alarm chiles, blackened salmon, and bitter, dark chocolates. She is definitely one of those deities who are not “safe,” so it may be best to have a clear goal in mind when deciding to build a relationship with Her.
Food: Smoked fish or jerky. Cinnamon candies, edible gold, chocolate, or candied ginger. Also, anything that is “en flambé”.
Drink: Goldschläger or Fireball whiskey. Spiced, alcoholic hot chocolate.
Other offerings: Gold. (Sorry, but Her name does mean “gold intoxication”, after all.)
(Above: The current booze stash for the Vanir altar. Gin for Njord; beer for Freyr, Nerthus, and Njord; Bailey’s for Freya; German herbal liqueur for Freyr; Goldschlager for Gullveig; raspberry honey liqueur for Freya; and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey whiskey for everyone. Photo by author.)
There you have it. When in doubt, remember–what the Gods will appreciate most is that you took the time and effort to make an offering and to start building that relationship. (Also, mead is a good thing. Buy some. Or better yet, brew your own.)