This idea is called, "The Diamond theory of God". The Diamond theory is that all gods and goddesses are facets on the giant "diamond" which is the supreme God (higher consciousness). And that people looking at the diamond from different directions (viewpoint/cultures) see dif. facets of that diamond. This is a very comforting theory for those who have family members in different religious paths. Also, Christians who are trying hard to be tolerant and understanding of Pagan religions often adopt a theory like this in order to be able to accept the pagans on the one hand, and yet maintain a sense of superiority on the other hand. For some, it allows them to form a mental framework whereby they can accept that SOME of the Pagan traditions are Right and make sense, without thier OWN security in their particular religious path being threatened (ie. they can say, "Well you Pagans sure got THAT right, but that's only because your gods are "aspects" of my god!").
The Aesir and Vanir are not "manifestations" of anyone or anything else. They are wholly separate and distinct entities. If you think that the gods are just "aspects" or "manifestations" of other gods, then why bother looking into alternative religious paths? Ultimately all gods are the same if you subscribe to the "Diamond Theory." I mean, if you believe Zeus and Odin are both "manifestations" of some other "higher" source, then who cares what you call it?
I chose to return to the ways of my ancestors because I respect their wisdom, the insight of their spirituality, the myths and legends appeal to me, the gods are real and present. If they are "manifestations" of something else, then nobody's particular religious path really means squat. It's all the same. We can all be one big pink, warm-fuzzy, happy family, all calling the "higher power" by its various manifestations! As it happens, there is a large body of evidence that suggests that the gods are NOT facets or manifestations of some higher power. Read on to find out what this evidence is!
To me, saying that Odin or any of the gods is a manifestation of something else is an insult to the gods and to my people. It invalidates the gods. It implies that those who know them only as one aspect or manifestation, are really out of touch with their full character. It paints a picture of my religion as just one possible version of a greater truth that permeates everything. And while that may be true about certain universal things... things that are true
for all people on all religious paths; I don't believe it to be true about the gods. It just sort of turns my stomach when I hear this.
--(From Greg Shetler:)--
And even if anybody doesn't want to accept that theory, they should
consider some of the implications of their own "diamond"/universalist
theory very closely:
1) The Supreme Being is incapable of conveying such a simple concept to mankind, or at least was incapable of doing so until now.
2) If he was capable but chose not to, then he lied to mankind
throughout the ages about his nature, leading to many holy wars and
religious conflicts. We can only assume that must have been his intent.
3) Either 1 or 2 above imply that the Supreme Being is insufficiently
powerful to get what he wants directly, and must rely on imperfect
methods, indirections, and subterfuge - which imply that the Supreme
Being is less powerful than any of the "aspects" that supposedly make
4) Such a Supreme Being is paradoxical, inconsistent with the original
hypothesis, and self-contradictory.
Bye-bye, "diamond"/universalist theory.
----end quote from Greg -----
Expanding on #2 from above, let's just think about that a bit. If the supreme being has all these "aspects" of his divine self, then WHY would he go to war with himself all throughout history? Why would JEHOVAH in the Old Testament of the Bible say, "I am a jealous god?" How could he be jealous of himself? Or do all the aspects of the supreme God NOT KNOW that they are aspects of something greater? If the supreme being has literally hundreds... maybe thousands of aspects (gods) that are not aware of their own nature (but we clever humans figured it out!) then wouldn't that make the Supreme Being clinically psychotic? Such a theory is self-contradictory, as Greg points out above.