15 May 2012


Anne-Marie Zilberman: Larme d'Or (Tears of Gold)
Vanadís (“VAW-naw-dees”), one of the names of the Norse goddess Freya, was apparently given to Viking girls.

In the 13th-century Prose Edda, Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturlusson made this mention of it:
Óðr went away on long journeys, & Freya [his wife] weeps for him, & her tears are red gold. Freya has many names, & this is the cause thereof: that she gave herself sundry names, when she went out among unknown peoples seeking Óðr: she is called Mardöll (“Sea-Shining”) & Hörn (“Lady of Flax”), Gefn (“the Giving”), Sýr (“the Sow,” “the Protector”). Freya had the golden necklace Brísingamen (“flaming necklace”). She is also called Vanadís (“Lady of the Vanir”).


Its second element is the popular name suffix dís meaning “goddess.” The first element, Vana, means “of the Vanir” (= the tribe of Norse gods who are associated with fertility as opposed to the more warlike Æsir), & since Freya is the goddess of beauty, it is sometimes linked to Swedish väna “fair, beautiful.”


  • A chemical element, vanadium (V), takes its name from hers — maybe because its reddish ore vanadinite evokes the gold/amber tears that the love goddess sheds, pining for her absent husband.
  • There is also an asteroid named in her honor.
  • Vanadis is the eponymous heroine of German writer Isolde Kurz’s “great tragic novel” (1931).
  • Ásdís, currently Iceland’s 34th most popular female name, is a sort of counterpart of Vanadís, since it has as its first element Old Norse Ás, the singular form of Æsir, & thus could be interpreted as meaning “goddess of the Æsir” (perhaps a reference to Frigg).

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