The Third Race of Gods in Old Germanic Religion
     In many of the works of poetry and prose which have come down to us from the Old Teutons, we hear of two major races of gods: the Æsir and the Vanir. In only one of the remaining texts - that carved on the arm-ring found in Greenland (the only Older fuþark inscription found outside of Europe) - do we find record of the third race of gods, who left the cold north early in the battle for supremacy, rather than face defeat at the hands of the Æsir. Although the inscription is rather short, much may be inferred from its content as to the average Scandinavian’s attitude toward them, as well as to the general nature of their functions in Germanic religious thought.

Here follows the inscription:

Click image for full size.
and a transliteration (normalized, after Antonsen):

 I. ek erilaz Eirikiz haiteka : Eirikiz wrait runor ok fahido
 II. fuþarkgwhnijëpzstbelm(ng)do ||||| anir hlaupa undan asir :
 III. argr (r)agr anir: alu laukar ha ha ha ha : anir (r) agr argr an(i)r ||||| alu
 IV. anir : asir aut(a)n : westiz anir hlaupa (a)rgr : anir westiz heim : alu

and a translation:

 I. I the erilaz am called eirikr: eirikr wrote the runes and painted (them)
 II. fuþark ||||| (the) Anir escape the Æsir:
 III. cowardly/womanly (x2) Anir: magic words, ha ha ha ha: Anir cowardly/womanly(x2) Anir ||||| magic
 IV. Anir: Æsir from the east: westward the Anir ran argrly: the Anir westward home: magic

 Note: alu can also be interpreted as ale or beer, and laukar as leek, so III R(12-28) may be a comment on beer’s effect on the Anir (took a leek) and laughter at their inability to drink. 

     The rest of the translation is not subject to doubt, to my knowledge, by any of the leading runologists.

     In any case, we get a marvelously compressed view of the Teuton’s view of the cowardly (really argr) gods, the Anir, who run before Oðinn and his pals, and (quite possibly) can’t hold their alu.
     Like whipped dogs before a stern master, the Anir run off to the west to home, if we read l. IV correctly. Since the ring was found in Greenland, it is obvious that home for the Anir must lie in the Americas. But if that were the case, certainly some trace would have remained - in place-names, at least.
     In fact, such evidence of the Anir making it home is recorded for all the world to see, in a place name in the United States of America. Not in Minnesota, nor in Maine, not even anywhere in New England, this place-name evidence, and Möltke would surely agree with me here, is conclusive. The Anir lived at or near the present site of Ana-heim, California. Even the name of the local professional hockey team (a Norse kind of game) is indicative: the name "Mighty Ducks" is quite reminiscent of the Anir's hlaup-ing undan the Æsir.
 Note: Annapolis is also a possibility, even to the point of accepting both places as indicating the continued westing of the argr Anir.
Last Update: 20 June 2002