While others have shared information on Jotuns and the Realms they inhabit, I’ve found that it primarily doesn’t work for me. This doesn’t mean that I’m wrong, or that the others are wrong, but it means that I can’t rely only on their information. I think the Tribes are large enough that we may be getting different ‘families’ in a manner of speaking. Some of it is a bit wibbly-wobbly, and I have no idea why I’m getting the info I’m getting. Feel free to take it with a grain of salt, YMMV, you do you, etc.
History (not extensive or complete)
I initially ran into the idea of the Jotuns and Vanir (typically considered Elves) once being one race in one Realm on Sebastian’s blog. I could see it making sense on a certain mental level, but I filed it under ‘interesting; come back later’ and went on. It wasn’t until I was trying to figure out why there was a Vanic flavored crossover in something I was being conveyed in relation to Jotuns that I returned to this idea.
I can’t indisputably prove it, but I can’t explain the crossover without entertaining the possibility that the Jotuns and Vanir were once an undifferentiated race in a Realm that wound up being split into ‘Jotunheim’ and ‘Vanaheim’. The People did another round of splitting, and I’m honestly not sure if the initial Realms were portioned up again or if new Realms were discovered.
I think the Dark Elves primarily split from the Jotuns, though Some did leave Vanaheim. I think the Light Elves primarily split from the Elves in Vanaheim, and the remaining People are Who we call the Vanir. I’m pretty sure Sebastian has covered this while talking about the Vanir at some point (or something similar), but I pretty much had to figure out the splitting on my own for things to mentally click.
Because the environments in Muspelheim and Niflheim lent themselves to specifically focusing on fire and snow / ice affiliation, the Flames became the Family of Fire and the Snowflakes and Icicles became the Family of Snow and Ice. They seem somewhat related, in a distant fashion, and have formed specific cultures set up around Their Family affiliation and Realms. Many families make up the overall Family, so there can be a wide difference between what one finds out from members in the same Family.
From the initial split, Jotuns primarily carried animal shape shifting into Jotunheim. Some Tribes kept the primary animal that had been shared with the Elves – Wolves, Bears, and Serpents. Some combined different animals – the variety of bird shape shifters (Crane, Eagle, Goose, Owl, Raven, and Swan) were consolidated into the Talons Tribe (ravens, crows, owls, and vultures are the most common preferred forms). Some have expanded the options but primarily kept the affiliation – the Scales Tribe can be any fish, but often goes with salmon.
Elemental Tribes slowly formed as elemental forces in Jotunheim and magic / powers were combined by animal / Ice / Fire mixed heritages. The largest elemental Tribes are Ocean (Ice / Scales), Mountain (Ice / Fire / Bear), Tree (Mountain / Ocean), and Lightning (Fire / Talons). Some Tribes or individuals migrated back to Muspelheim and Niflheim due to Their affiliations / forms preferring the environments in those Realms – Lava (Fire / Mountain), Desert (Fire / Mountain / Serpent), Wind (Snow / Fire / Talons), and ‘Snowy’ individuals with enough Snow heritage to have what we consider arctic or polar forms (wolves, owls, fish, polar bears).
It took Tribes requesting to return to Their ancestral homes and significant displays of intermarriage for the People of Niflheim and Muspelheim to seriously consider the invitations put forth by Jotunheim to be considered Tribes. The Families had rejected previous invitations on the basis of not wanting to be forced to assimilate and lose Their cultures. However, agreements were eventually reached for the Flames, Snowflakes, and Icicles to be dual citizens in Jotunheim for a lack of better phrasing.
Niflheim and Muspelheim are still their own Realms, and the Families are still self-governing with Their own cultures. Being recognized as Tribes and Jotuns allows for easier and more mutually beneficial trade, travel, and assistance between the Realms. The Families are represented with the rest of the Tribes in ceremonial rites and government matters, although They may send Their own representatives and ambassadors to other Realms. It depends on how the politics between the Realms are going; sometimes it’s more beneficial to send Someone from the Families, and other times it’s more beneficial to send Someone from Jotunheim.
Several cities and halls are known from Lore accounts in Jotunheim, but with the three Realm alliance, a more neutral location closer to the borders with Muspelheim and Niflheim became the government capital of Jotunheim (the Capital, though I’m sure I’m getting a ‘translation’ as it were of the place’s name). Dignitaries and ambassadors from other Realms can reside there without running into territorial rules from one Tribe to another. The location was also chosen due to its proximity to a sacred site where ceremonial rites and magic are done to bless Jotunheim. It contains stone formations and resembles Stonehenge, which seems appropriate for a place called the Henge.
While the Jotuns of Jotunheim wanted to include the Families of Muspelheim and Niflheim among Their Tribes, They haven’t sought Familial reconciliation on a formal level and welcomed People Who split away. Political relations and trade agreements are the primary extent of interacting with the now separate cultures (particularly aimed at the Light Elves and Dark Elves).
The Vanir were kept at a distance in terms of politics and trade during the initial stages of splitting away while differences in cultures were established. However, the political relationship between the Jotuns and the Vanir have been considerably more friendly than the relationships either group has had with the Aesir. Wars, hostages, the kidnapping of three high ranking children, and probably specifics that I’ve never heard of. This is approximately the stage of relationships that is shared in the Lore.
These relations and the divisive attitudes between the Aesir and Jotuns are pretty far in the past when compared to agreements, attitudes, and politics now. However, the divisive context may wind up coming through in how some Faces of Deities react towards other Deities and how some Deities were formed as children. With my upg of Sigyn’s childhood, this is noticeable and significant. There’s still been almost 2000 years, depending on how Midgard time translates to other Realms, and relations are not the same.
The establishing of cultures within split off People and slowly building up amicable relationships has occurred over this time period between the Jotuns, Families, Light Elves, and Dark Elves. The Dwarves are an unrelated race Who took some time in forming alliances with these other Realms, but now cooperate reasonably enough. While the Vanir have been friendly enough, the Jotuns of Jotunheim in particular needed to strengthen Their relationship with the Vanir for land-health reasons.
The Silent Winter is a significant marker in history, but it’s been split into a separate post to keep this somewhat manageable.