Vili and Ve: The Gods of Creation

Together with their brother Odin, Vili and Ve are considered to be the first of the Aesir. They created the …

Together with their brother Odin, Vili and Ve are considered to be the first of the Aesir. They created the world out of the remains of the giant Ymir and also gave life to the first humans.

Short Facts

Tribe: Aesir

Gods of: Creation (Vili of consciousness, intelligence, movement, reason and understanding) (Ve of appearance, countenance, expression, features and senses).

Sons of: Borr and Bestla

Brothers of: Odin

Name in Old Norse: Vili and Ve

Other names: While in the Prose Edda Odin is said to create the world with Vili and Ve, in the Voluspa it is said that Odin was accompanied by Hoenir and Lothur. It is not unlikely that they are in fact the same as most gods are known under different names in the Eddas and sagas.

Vili and Ve responsibilities

Vili & ve
Lorenz Frølich, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Fighting against Ymir, creating the world, giving life to the first humans, and briefly ruling Asgard in the absence of Odin. Vili bestowed motion and logic to the first humans while Ve provided them with facial expressions and their senses.

Vili weapon/domain of power

Divine consciousness, understanding and world-building

Ve weapon/domain of power

Creating the world, outward appearance, and ability of senses

Origins of Vili and Ve

Vili and Ve are the brothers of Odin Allfather. They are the sons of the primordial god Borr and the jotunn Bestla. Odin is the eldest, Vili the middle, and Ve the youngest. These three gods are the primary Aesir and they are viewed as ancient deities. Vili’s name means ‘will’ and Ve’s name means ‘temple’ in Old Norse.

Vili and Ve’s attributes lie in obscurity. There is nowhere mentioned if they were gods of a specific range. Yet, their involvement in the creation of the world and the making of the first humans is noticeably stated.

The creation of the world

In the beginning, there was nothing but the Yawning Void (Ginnungagap), flanked by Niflheim and Muspelheim. Between these realms, the giant Ymir was born and along with him a giant cow named Audhumbla. From Ymir’s sweat, the first Jotnar came into being. Not long afterward, Audhumbla brought forth the first of the gods, Buri. From Buri then came Borr and from him came Odin, Vili and Ve.

Vexed by the constantly growing numbers of the Jotnar, Odin, Vili and Ve decided one day to take action. When Ymir the giant fell asleep, the three gods attacked him. A terrible battle ensued then, in which Ymir was slain and the divine brothers were victorious. Ymir’s blood rushed then from his body and drowned most of the Jotnar.

Free from the giant threat, Odin, Vili and Ve put Ymir’s dead body in the center of Ginnungagap. There, they used the giant’s vast form to create the world. Ymir’s blood became the oceans, his flesh became the land, his bones the mountains and his hair the trees. Without delay, Odin, Vili and Ve shaped the lands of Alfheim, Asgard, Helheim, Jotunheim, Midgard, Svartalfheim and Vanaheim. And that is how the Nine Realms and the whole world came to be.

The first humans and Odin’s exile

With everything settled and done, Odin, Vili and Ve chose to travel through the Nine Realms. One day, while walking on a shore they came across two tree trunks lying on the sand. Intrigued by their presence, the three gods decided to infuse life into them. A man and a woman soon came into existence. Their names were Ask and Embla respectively, and they were the first humans.

First humans
Lorenz Frølich, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Life however wasn’t the only thing the humans received from the gods. Odin, Vili and Ve bestowed special gifts upon their new creations. Odin gave them spirit, Vili gave them intelligence and movement, and Ve gave them appearance and senses. Ready to live on their own, Ask and Embla were decreed by the gods to live in Midgard.

Vili and Ve are two essential gods regarding the creation of the world and the first humans. Unfortunately, nothing else is known about them except for a mention by Loki during the feast in Aegir’s hall. According to this, Vili and Ve are said to rule Asgard for a short period of time following Odin’s exile. Also, what is more interesting is that Loki accuses Frigga of sleeping with her husband’s brothers.

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Mentions in the old texts

In the Poetic Edda, Vili and Ve are attested in the poem Lokasenna.

In the Prose Edda, Vili and Ve are mentioned in Gylfaginning.

Vili and Ve are also brought up in the Ynglinga saga.


Are Vili and Ve the same as Hoenir and Lothur?

Although not stated explicitly, Odin, Vili and Ve (the sons of Borr) create the first humans in the Prose Edda. In Voluspa however, Lothur and Hoenir are the gods who together with Odin create Ask and Embla. Now, that can be quite confusing. As Vili, Ve, Lothur and Hoenir aren’t so much mentioned in the old texts one can’t be sure about them. A likely theory suggests that Hoenir and Lothur are different names for the primeval deities Vili and Ve. Despite their popularity, the Norse gods bear many names. Since they never appear again in the course of the myth nothing can doubt the previous statement. If that is so then the diversity of the tale of the first humans can easily be explained.

What happened to Vili and Ve?

After Odin was exiled, his brothers were called upon by the Aesir to rule in his stead. They accepted the proposal and proved to be wise leaders. But, something happened and they were soon replaced by Ullr. Could it be that they have tricked Frigga into sleeping with them? Or did they act unlawfully and made the other Aesir expel them from Asgard? No one knows for sure, as the old texts are silent about them.

Featured Image Credit: Sokol_92, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of author

Vasilis Megas

Vasilis Megas (a.k.a. Vasil Meg) lives in Athens, Greece. He is a Greek- and Norse Mythology enthusiast. Vasilis has written and published 16 books - mostly fantasy and science fiction - and he is now working as a content writer, journalist, photographer and translator.

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