According to Norse mythology, there were once a group of fertility and wild nature Goddesses and Gods. This group was referred to as the Vanir. They were the sworn enemies of the Aesir or the warrior Gods. The Vanir were reputed to bring youth, health, fertility, wealth and luck. They were also the masters of magic and lived in Vanaheim. The war between the Vanir and the Aesir is legendary and lasted for an exceptionally long period of time prior to the decision to make peace. To make certain the peace was kept as time passed, hostages were traded. The Vanir sent the wealthy Njord along with his children Freyr and Freya. These were the most renowned Gods of the Vanir.
The hostage sent by the Aesir was Honir. He was a large, handsome man the Aesir claimed was well qualified to rule. As the wisest man among the Aesir, Mimir accompanied Honir. The Vanir returned this gesture by sending Kvasir, their wisest man. Honir did not turn out to be nearly as wise the the Aesir had claimed. He was often given advice by Mimir. As time passed, the Vanir became suspicious of the answers provided by Honir when Mimir was not near. They eventually realized they had been cheated by the Aesir. Mimir’s head was cut off and sent back as retaliation to the Aesir. It was fortunate these circumstances did not cause yet another war. The Vanir Gods were eventually integrated with the Aesir. Very little information is available regarding the Vanir prior to this assimilation.
Freya was an integral part of the circumstances leading to the war between the Aesir and the Vanir. She was one of the main practitioners of the seidr. This art is one of the most powerful and terrible types of magic. In the ways of the historical seidr practitioners, Freya plied her craft from town to town looking for opportunities. When she eventually came to Asgard, she was using the name Heidor or bright. Asgard was where the Aesir lived. They sought her services with zeal and were very taken with her powers. It was not long before the Aesir realized Freya’s magic and selfish desires were pushing aside the obedience of the Aesir to the laws of kin loyalty and the value of honor. Freya was blamed by the Aesir for their own shortcomings. Aesir attempted to murder her and called her Gold-Greed or Gullveig. They attempted to burn her on three separate occasions, yet each time Freya was reborn from the ashes.
This was the beginning of the fear and hate between the Vanir and the Aesir. The hostility soon turned into a war. The rules of plain combat were used by the Aesir in battle. They used their weapons to fight with brute force. The Vanir fought using magic and the war lasted for a long time. Both sides continued to win and lose the upper hand. Once enough time had passed, the Aesir and the Vanir became tired of fighting and agreed on a truce. As was customary among the Germanic and Norse peoples, this was when the tribute was paid by sending hostages. After Mimir had been beheaded, Odin preserved her head by embalming it in magical herbs and chanting magical poems. When Odin needed advice, he would consult the head of Mimir and she would respond.
The Aesir and the Vanir realized the war had been too evenly matched and were weary of the long battle. Instead of beginning another war over the betrayal of Honir and the beheading of Mimir, the Vanir and the Aesir decided it had been a tragic misunderstanding. The two sides joined together to spit into a cauldron. Kvasir was created from their combined saliva. Kvasir was the wisest of them all and enabled both sides to pledge sustained harmony.
This particular tale was a paradigm for the Vikings regarding social relations. This is what set the precedent for the social relations of the Norse. The same purpose was served by the stories of the Norse, Roman, Irish and Indian.
This explained how both men and Gods were able to live together harmoniously despite the differences in their ambitions and interests. As the story revealed, the warriors, the Gods, the Goddesses, the agriculturalists, the kings and the merchants were able to live together in peace and harmony.