Vanaheim, as its name implies, is one of the nine worlds that surrounds Yggdrasil, the world tree. Little is really known about Vanaheim or its location, so right up front I urge you to take a shamanic journey with the intention of discovering it. Vanaheim is the home of the Vanir, one of the other groups of Old Norse diety. This group of goddesses and gods is more associated, than any other, with fertility and nature . . . the reason why I love Vanaheim.
I suggest, if you want to find Vanaheim, that you head West from Asgard. One of the poems in the Poetic Edda, states that the Vanir god Njord went eastward when he went to Asgard as a hostage at the conclusion of the Aesir-Vanir War. Presumably, then, to get from Asgard to Vanaheim one would travel West from Asgard.
Both Asgard and Midgard contain the suffix "gard" which would seem to imply that they are fenced in (see my last blog post). All of the other worlds in Norse cosmology end in the the -heim suffix which means "home". This, to me at least, indicates that these other worlds are not fenced in, not surrounded by walls or build like a fortress. Thus I like to think of Vanaheim as a place in nature.
Vanaheim is the home of the Vanir. Unfortunately very little is known about them . . . another good reason to visit them. Some late Norse literary sources portray them as being among the most widely and passionately venerated of the pre-Christian Norse deities and a group that is somehow different from the Aesir.
Let's start with the gard part of Asgard. Gard, in ancient Germanic, referred to "fence" as in innangard and utangard. The innangard were those who lived inside the fence, they were the law-abiding, peaceful, civilized members of society. The utangard on the other hand were the those who lived beyond the fence, the uncivilized, wild, anarchic people. Asgard epitomizes the innangard and is the home of the Aesir, one of the two tribes of gods (the Vanir is the other tribe of gods). Asgard is located in the sunniest, highest branches of the world tree, Yggdrasil, and is accessed via Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge, that connects Asgard with Midgard, our present abode
The Aesir were thought of as the powers that held the cosmos together. The most well known of the Aesir are Odin, Thor, Frigg, Tyr, Loki, Baldur, Heimdall, Idun and Bragi. We will take a look at some of them in a future blog post.
The only point of access to Asgard from Midgard where we reside is via Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge, which is guarded by Heimdall on assignment from Odin. If you want to take a shmanic journey to Asgard then I recommend that your first gain the trust of Heimdall so that he will let you cross the Rainbow Bridge. Heimdall requires less sleep than a bird, has eyesight so keen that he can see for hundreds of miles by day or by night, and hearing so acute that he can hear grass growing on the ground and wool growing on sheep. Here he watches and listens, holding the horn Gjallarhorn or Resounding Horn at the ready, which he sounds when intruders are approaching. Don't think that just because you are taking a shamanic journey that you can sneak up on him or surprise him. I suggest an offering of ale, and an honest explanation of why you want to enter Asgard. He may not let you in the first time so visit frequently and gain his trust. I also recommend that you travel with a pure heart and without weapons. I find it foolhardy to try and intimidate, coerce, or surprise a Norse god.
I'm Dr. Dave, an eclectic shaman. I lived and worked in Bolivia and Peru for over six years, where I and was trained by Andean Shamans, and today practice eclectic shamanism.