Book: Heathen Gods And Rites Some Frequently Asked Questions by The Troth
Our gods belong to two “tribes”, the Aesir and the Vanir. Our myths speak of a time when the Aesir and Vanir were at war, but made a truce and exchanged members. This myth may be based in part on historical battles between human tribes who later formed an alliance; at the same time, it reflects the ways in which our gods work together. Perhaps the best-known of the Aesir is Odin.
He is the god of many things: inspiration, ecstasy, poetry, healing, the runes, and death. Frigga, whom we see as Odin’s wife, protects homes and families. Thor is the storm-god who defends the world of humans. The lightning is his weapon, the Hammer; the rain that he brings makes the fields fruitful. Tyr is the upholder of right order and justice, both among humans and in the universe. Heimdall is the watchman of the gods, and also the progenitor and teacher of the human race.
The Vanir are sometimes called “fertility gods”, but they are far more than that; they are the gods of all the things in this world that we are meant to enjoy, whether good harvests, sexual love, or riches. Frey is invoked for peace and plenty; he and Odin were also the founders and protectors of many dynasties of Heathen kings. His sister Freya rules over magic, sexuality, and riches, but is also a battle goddess—she takes half of those slain in battle to be with her. Their father Njordh watches over the sea, ships, sailors, and trade.
The Jotnar or “giants" are a third group of powerful beings. Many of our myths tell of fights between the gods and the giants. However, the Jotnar are not "evil" as the word is usually understood. On one level, some of the Jotnar represent the impersonal forces of nature: not malicious, but sometimes destructive, and not especially heedful of human concerns. Yet others of them are depicted as wise and helpful. In fact, some giants have been adopted among the gods, and nearly all our gods have giants in their ancestry.