Norse Mythology

The Norse Creation Myth and Wars in Heaven

What was the Norse war in heaven?

As in the case of so many Indo-European-based mythologies, Norse mythology has its war in heaven between two sets of deities. In Celtic Ireland it was the Firbolg against the Tuatha de Danaan. In Greece it was the old Kronos alliance against the Zeus-led Olympians. In the Norse world it was the Vanir against the Aesir.

One day the Vanir Gullveig, who was possibly really the goddess Freyja, came for a visit to the Aesir in Odin’s hall. When she spoke at length about her love of and lust for riches, the angry Aesir threw her into the fire. This happened three times, but each time Gullveig (now Heid—the shining one), being a true enchantress, emerged whole from the fire. When the Vanir heard of the violent treatment of their Gullveig, they decided to make war on the Aesir. The Aesir, too, prepared themselves for war and Odin started things by hurling a spear into the midst of the Vanir. The Vanir used their magic spells to destroy the walls of Asgard, and the Aesir destroyed much of the Vanir home, Vanaheim. The war became stalemated, and finally the two sides decided on a truce and, in the Norse manner, exchanged leading members as a guarantee of good intentions. Njord, Freyr, and Freyja went to the Aesir. The Aesir sent the wise god Mimir and the god of long legs, Honir, to the Vanir. Thinking the Aesir had somehow tricked them, the Vanir decapitated Mimir and sent his head back to the Aesir, but Odin, using his trickster powers, revived the head so that it could speak to him and become the source of his wisdom. We are reminded here of Bran’s talking head in the Welsh myth. Eventually the Aesir and Vanir merged and became the new Aesir.


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