12 September 2011


Vár, goddess of marital vows: Vorin’s mythical predecessor
This spunky Norwegian appellation is associated with spring and rooted in Norse mythology.

More commonly spelled Vårin (a name shared by 195 Norwegian women, while only four spell it Vorin), she is an elaboration of Vår (bearers: 109) – the modern form of the Old Norse name Vár, which meant “pledge, faith,” personified as a goddess of wedding vows and other oaths, and also happens to coincide with the Norwegian word for “spring.” Pronounced VOH-reen in Norwegian, or as the more English VOHR-in, this would make a strong, meaningful alternative to popular unisex-style choices like Corinne, Rowan, Morgan or Devin.

Admittedly, the Viking girls’ name Vár is hard to pin down. Vár was their word for both “truth” and “spring” (the season), and could also come from varr “attentive, aware, wise.” The mythology is similarly vague: Vár was the name of a minor Ásynja (plural: Ásynjur), i.e., a female goddess in charge of war or government (the latter being Vár’s domain), but she and another Ásynja goddess, Vör, are sometimes blurred. The scholar Rudolf Simek argues that Vár, Vör and other lesser Ásynjur are “vaguely defined figures” who should be seen as goddesses of female protection, “and yet clear differences were made between them so that they are in many ways similar to the ancient pagan Matrons.”

From the c.1220 Prose Edda, Gylfaginning XXXV:
Then said Gangleri: Which are the Ásynjur? Hárr said: Frigg is the foremost...
[then goes on to describe Sága, Fir, Gefjun, Fulla, Freyja, Sjöfn, and Lofn]
The ninth is Vár: she harkens to the oaths and compacts made between men and women; wherefore such covenants are called vows.She also takes vengeance on those who perjure themselves.
This deity supervised human promises, private and public, particularly the contract of marriage. In Old Norse, the language of the Vikings (spoken from about 700-1300 AD), várar signified “solemn vow, oath.” Anytime a Viking violated his or her marital vows, or otherwise broke their word, they must have believed Vár would punish them accordingly.

Hárr continues his speech:
“The tenth is Vör: she is wise and of searching spirit, so that none can conceal anything from her; it is a saying, that a woman becomes ‘ware’ of that of which she is informed.”
Sounds to me like the goddess of feminine intuition. Simek has linked her to the valkyrie Geiravör, suggesting that this “chooser of the slain” may have gotten her name from Vör’s prefixed by ger “spear.”

In closing...
This updated mythological name sounds slightly dramatic, resembling the intense words vortex and voracity, but I think she’s really quite wearable and light (like spring, her resident season): a cool Scandinavian name, foreign yet perfectly accessible – familiar, even. And the goddesses enshrined in these two syllables stand for truth and integrity; how beautiful is that?

Similar: Toril, Voirrey, Morven, Morveren, Evren, Bevin, Vårunn

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