“The third among the Æsir is he that is called Njördr: he dwells in heaven, in the abode called Nóatún. He rules the course of the wind and stills sea and fire; on him shall men call for voyages and for hunting. He is so prosperous and abounding in wealth, that he may give them great plenty of lands or of gear; and him shall men invoke for such things. Njördr is not of the race of the Æsir: he was reared in the land of the Vanir, but the Vanir delivered him as hostage to the gods, and took for hostage in exchange…..
Gylfaginning, Prose Edda
Of the Vanir, Njörðr represents all things bountiful, natural, flourishing. He is the Giving God, generous with his gifts and guidance. He resides in Nóatún ‘ship enclosure/place of ships’, and through this he is associated with the shore, trade, travel and the promises of lands beyond. One can imagine looking out at the sea, bare feet sinking into the wet sand, and watching ships launch into the unknown, heavy with hope and the bodies of eager men.
Njörðr is a god of potential, of good fortune. He is the god of the tides, and fair winds. He sits in direct contrast with Aegir and Ran, who perhaps better represent the dangers of the sea, the depths of it, the wild untameable nature of it. He calms, he nurtures, and he controls. This in turn reflects his rather measured nature in the sagas, rarely rising to anger, and often speaking in defence of his children when the need arises.
Perhaps one of the most famous stories around Njörðr is his marriage to Skaði, as ill-fated as it was – perhaps representing a similar sort of story to Gaia and Ouranos. That is to say that as the earth and sky are to always be separate domains, so too should the sea and the land.
Nonetheless, Njörðr and Skaði go their separate ways seemingly very amicably, which is par for the course for the Vanir god.
Today, Njörðr remains an important deity in heathen spaces, often at the centre of blots and rituals. But, how do you see him? What does Njörðr represent to you?