Chapter 3: The War of the Gods
Before jumping into the story, mind that this war isn't the Ragnarok. The War of the Gods happened long before Ragnarok Doom of the Gods. It was a combat between two god tribes: the Vanir and the Aesir. Though most of the times we can see a good relationship between two god tribes, there was a time that gods were in conflict with each other.
THE WAR OF THE GODS
Freya the Vanir goddess of beauty, sex, and war was famous for practising the ard of seidr. Seidr was a kind of magic that one could see the future and intervene into to change it. Like other seidr practitioners, Freya took up the life of a wanderer travelling around the world to spread her magic. She became more and more famous for that and finally, the reputation reached the gate of Asgard.
Freya in disguise being slain
As the Aesir gods (who lived in Asgard) learnt of Freya's power, they set out to commission her. Under the name of Heiðr("Bright") and a new disguise, Freya came to the home of Aesir gods. Like other cases, the magic and power of Freya astonished Aesir gods. But they soon realized that the magic of this witch gradually made them reveal their shortcomings. Their selfish desire to seek for Freya's power drove away all of their loyalty, values of honor, and obedience to the law.
Blaming the witch Heiðr for playing a trick on the gods, they decided to slay the witch. Gullveig ("Gold-Greed) was how they called Freya. Three times they tried to burn her with the magic flame, three times Freya rose from the ashes like a phoenix.
Because of this, the Vanir and the Aesir gods were full of hatred toward each other. Once the hatred reached the peak, the war was inevitable. The Aesir fought with the rules of combat with forces, weapons, and skills. Meanwhile, the Vanir fought with the magic and natural power of their own. They just continued the war. The two tribes rivalled each other on the battle and each time each tribe gained the upper hand.
Finally, the two tribes felt weary after continuously days of fighting. They decided to call a truce. The two sides concluded a way to pay tribute to each other by sending hostages to live among other tribes. Freya, Freyr, and Njord (who fathered Freya and Freyr and also the ruler of Vanaheim land of the Vanir). Hoenir and Mimir from Asgard came and lived in Vanaheim.
Freya, Njord, and Freyr
Njord, Freya, and Freyr came to live in Asgard just in peace. However, the same things didn't happen in Vanaheim and the Vanir gods thought it was kind of disrespectful toward the Vanir god tribe. The story was when the Vanir gods discovered the Hoenir from Asgard didn't know anything and he was indecisive and depended too much on Mimir. The Vanir felted that they had been cheated in the peace treaty. So they beheaded Mimir and sent it back to Odin the Allfather. Odin put the head of Mimir on the magical, well of Mimir.
But even the first truce was broken, they felt too tired to jump into the battle and fighting each other. They came together and created the w creature who was the wisest in Norse mythology.
SOME WAYS TO INTERPRET THIS STORY
We don't really know how the Vikings interpreted this story in the past. But one thing we can see clearly from this story was the harmonious life between the people of different background, different interests and ambitions. At the beginning, the two tribes lived in peace as no one would ever dare to lift a finger onto the people of the other tribes.But the two groups finally came to form the war. However, as the war finally ended, the two lived harmoniously together when the Vanir and the Aesir exchanged hostages. Indeed, this story can explain how the people of the different mindset and belief could live together.