A to Z Challenge Folklore

Odin #folklore #AtoZChallenge

O is for Odin

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A one-eyed king of the gods with two pet ravens — and he’s a warrior, sorcerer, mystic and more.

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Folklore

Teutonic Myth and Legend, by Donald A. Mackenzie, [1912]

ODIN was the chief ruler of the gods. He was tall and old, and his aspect was wise and reverend. White was his beard and long, and he seemed ever to brood deeply over the mysteries of life and death. He had but one eye, because the other he sacrificed so that he might be dowered with great wisdom. Indeed he had In his youth drunk deeply of the magic mead of Mimer’s well.

Every morning grave Mimer drank a draught with the Gjallar-horn, and Odin when he was yet young had deep desire to receive the wisdom and strength which the egg-white mead alone can give. He entreated Mimer to give him a draught, and the price he paid was an eye, which was cast into the well. From that hour when he drained Gjallar-horn he became worthy to rule over gods and men.

Many names have the gods, and for Odin there are nine-and-forty. And the reason is, as skalds have told, that people speaking different tongues must needs call the gods by different names, while the gods have also been given names according to their various attributes and the great deeds they have done.

Thus Odin was called All-father, like the Mighty One who was at “time’s first dawn”, because he was father of the gods; and Val-father, the father of the brave who dwell in Valhal in high Asgard.

When Odin sat in his high golden throne, he wore a cloak which was striped with many colours of sunset splendour and summer radiance. Its hood was blue as is the sky, and speckled with grey like clouds. His hat was blue also, and its broad brims curved downward like the heavens. When he left Asgard to travel over the worlds he wore a burnished helmet, and sometimes he went among men wearing a hat which was tilted to conceal the hollow of his lost eye.

As Odin sat brooding and listening in Asgard two ravens perched on his shoulder. Their names are Hugin, which is “reflection”, and Munin, which means “memory”. When day dawned Odin sent them forth, and they returned at eve to whisper in his ears all the doings of men. Thus was he called Rafnagud, the “raven-god”. He had also two wolf dogs, and they are named Gere, “the greedy”, and Freke, “the voracious”. These Odin fed with the food which was placed before him at the feast of heroes, for he ate not and for nourishment drank nectar.

Secret runes, which have magical influence, did Odin also invent. For nine whole nights he hung on the high branches of Ygdrasil, pondering and searching out the secrets of the mind and of the Universe. For the power of runes was before the beginning of man. They are mixed with fate, and their potency did Odin discover when he drank from Mimer’s well. They have also power over death and the world beyond. Runes there are to ward off strife and care, to charm away sickness and disease, to blunt the foeman’s sword, to break fetters that bind, to still the storms, to ward off the attacks of demons, to make the dead to speak, to win the love of a maid, and to turn away love that is not desired. And many more there be also.

When runes are carved in mystic symbols the powers they convey are given to the weapons, or to the men that bear them, for they govern all things and impart power to conquer and power to subdue. He who has a certain desire shall achieve it if he but knows the rune which can compel its fulfilment, for the runes come from Odin, the chief ruler of the Universe, the god most wise. His power and great knowledge are enshrined in them.

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The Element Encyclopedia of Fairies by Lucy Cooper

Ruler of the Aesir spirits of Asgard in Norse mythology, the all-father. Known as Woden in Old English, as well as being associated with war, victory, magic, death, wisdom, poetry, and prophecy, in folklore he was known as the leader of the wild hunt, in which his quarry was wood wives of the forest rather than souls of the dead. In his guise as wanderer, he appears as a one-eyed old man with a long, white beard and wide-brimmed hat.

*More can be read in the book.

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The Forest in Folklore and Mythology by Alexander Porteous

In Sweden, Odin is looked upon as the Wild Huntsman or spectral hunter. It is said that until very recently, when he was heard riding past in his boisterous career, attended by his ghostly host, the windows of all sick chambers were opened, so that the soul, if it thought fit to depart, might have an opportunity of joining Odin in the furious chase.

The Scandinavian god Odin had human victims regularly offered to him, and these were put to death by being hung on a tree and stabbed with a spear. One of his titles was “God of the Hanged” or “Lord of the Gallows”, and the Hamaval tells how, when young, he was sacrificed to himself in the same way, and represents him as saying:

“I know that I hung on the windy tree
For nine whole nights,
Wounded with the spear, dedicated to Odin,
Myself to myself.”

His mysterious wisdom came to him during the period of this ordeal.

*More can be read in the book.

Odin’s Tree. Image credit.

The Element Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells by Judika Illes

Thor’s Nettles

Odin may be the All-Father, leader of the Norse and Teutonic spirits, but for centuries the most beloved spirit of that pantheon was Thor, embodiment of courage and strength.

Nettles are sacred to Thor: wear nettles to banish fear and absorb a little of his courageous essence. This is most powerful if done on Thor’s days, Thursdays.

*More can be read in the book.

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The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes

In Denmark, Midsummer’s Eve has been celebrated since at least the time of the Vikings and is associated with Odin.

Important Aesir spirits include Odin and Thor. The Aesir were more aggressive than the Vanir, with a patriarchal orientation, and they were comparatively technologically advanced. Far less is known about the Vanir: theirs was a magical fertility orientation; they seemed to offer women more power. Important Vanir deities include Freya and Freyr.

Freya is clearly identified as a witch. When she first arrives in Asgard (the Aesir’s realm), she teaches the Aesir how to craft charms and potions. It is Freya who introduced Odin to runes and shamanism.

Odin

Also known as Odhinn, Wotan, Woden.

Odin, the All-Father, is the leader of the Aesir spirits, Lord of Asgard. Devotion to Odin once spread across the entire Germanic and Norse world. One-eyed Spirit of War, Wisdom, and Death, he is married to Frigga, a birth goddess: theirs is a marriage of complementary forces. Odin is Lord of ecstasy, shamanism, and occult wisdom. He is a patriarch, occult master, wandering wizard, trickster, and shaman.

Odin loves women, knowledge, and hospitality. He is a spiritual seeker himself. His thirst and quest for occult wisdom is endless. He willingly paid the price of an eye in order to drink from the Well of Knowledge.

Freya was his first teacher: she taught him charms and spell-casting and introduced him to the runes. Ultimately his quest for occult wisdom is a solitary pursuit: Odin famously pierced himself and hung for nine days and nights in shamanic ritual from the World Tree (Yggdrasil), dying a shamanic death in order to become a rune-master. The Tarot card The Hanged One may be understood to depict this ritual rather than a literal hanging.

Odin’s curiosity has no bounds; he refuses to be limited by boundaries of tradition or by restrictions of gender. Odin is curious and respectful toward what was traditionally “women’s magic.” His myth demonstrates that he is not ashamed to learn from women.

Odin wanders Earth dressed as a shabby, dusty traveler with a black hooded cloak, learning everything he can incognito. Those who are gracious to him in this guise are rewarded. Odin traditionally appears with a wide-brimmed hat sloping over his face to hide his missing eye. Similar images frequently appear on the tarot card, The Magician. Some historians believe that the traditional stage magician’s uniform is based on that of Odin, although others feel it honors Hermes, another wandering magician.

Odin has two ravens, Hugin and Munin—Thought and Memory. Every morning they fly all over Earth, then return full of news, gossip, and secrets to whisper in his ear.

Odin’s familiars are two wolves. He rides a magical eight-legged stallion, Sleipneir, whose teeth are engraved with runes. Odin rides where he will, all over the Earth but also over the Milky Way and through the sky.

*More can be read in the book.

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The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca by Rosemary Ellen Guiley

In Norse mythology, the patriarch god, Odin, drank magic blood from a cauldron of wisdom to obtain divine power.

*More can be read in the book.

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Further Reading:

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Folklore in a Nutshell by Ronel

In Germanic mythology, he is known as Woden. In Norse mythology, he is known as Odin. We’ll stick to Odin, though it’s worth mentioning that “Wednesday” is named after him: Woden’s day.

He is associated with wisdom, healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, war, battle, victory, sorcery, poetry, frenzy, and the runic alphabet. Jack of all trades, by the sound of it.

His wife is Frigg, he has many sons, most notably Thor and Baldr, he has two ravens, Huginn and Muninn who go around the nine worlds collecting new information for him, he is usually accompanied by his two wolves, Geri and Freki, and he has a magical, eight-legged horse named Sleipnir which he rides across the sky, water and underworld. His pets might be the best aspect of him, seeing as his many sons are by women who aren’t his wife.

Odin is usually portrayed as a one-eyed, long-bearded, old man wearing a cloak and broad rim hat. He is in charge of Valhalla, where fallen warriors go, and the Valkyries work for him. Berserkers are closely affiliated with him. In some folklore, he is the leader of the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession of the dead through the winter sky.

Whether Germanic or Norse, this is one eclectic guy.

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Odin in Modern Culture

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Odin is an important character.

Odin Borson was the former King of Asgard, protector of the Nine Realms, father of Hela and Thor, the adoptive father of Loki, and husband of Frigga. During the ancient times, he was worshiped as the god of wisdom by the inhabitants of Earth. Once the greatest warrior in all the Nine Realms, over the centuries he learned how to appreciate peace, eventually banishing his own daughter to Hel when she attempted to subjugate the entire universe. When Thor almost provoked a new war with the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, Odin stripped him of his powers and exiled him to Earth, leaving Loki to take the throne.

Learn more about Odin and the Marvel Cinematic Universe here.

Odin is a character in Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase books.

Odin is described in The Sword of Summer as a barrel-chested man with massive arms. He has close-cropped gray hair, while his beard is cut square, to accentuate his hardened, weathered face. His empty left eye socket is covered by a black patch, while his right eye is dark blue. At the end of The Sword of Summer Odin wears a short-sleeve Hotel Valhalla polo shirt, along with a massive sword hanging at his side.

Learn more about Odin and the Magnus Chase world here.

In a Google search of Odin in modern culture, this book popped up:

The Raiders of Folklore Adventures: An Eye of Odin Prequel

raiders of folklore cover

Four Adventures – Three Heroes – Two Worlds – One Destiny
A prequel to The Eye of Odin, this collection of four novellas offers readers a deeper look into the history of Grayle Rowen, Sarah Finn, and Brenna Bjorndottir, and their enthralling–and often dangerous–world.

Check it out on Goodreads here.

And if you love The Lord of the Rings, you might see the similarities between Gandalf the Grey and Odin.

gandalf the grey
Gandalf the Grey. Image credit.

He wore a tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak, and a silver scarf. He had a long white beard and bushy eyebrows that stuck out beyond the brim of his hat.“—The Fellowship of the Ring, “A Long-expected Party

Odin in My Writing

Origin of the Fae: Odin
Odin is the ruler of what mortals know as the Norse Pantheon. He holds more knowledge than any of the other deities, and continuously gathers more through his two ravens who travel the worlds. His Realm runs parallel to Faerie. For the longest time he has been bored with life.

odin translation english afrikaans
Odin woke up to someone yelling his name. 
He groaned and fell back on the mattress. Wednesday. Wodin’s Day. His day. He rubbed his hands over his face and grimaced. Back in the day he had been honoured when the mortals had named a day of the week after him. Now… each time someone said the name of that infernal weekday, it was as if they called out to him. 
Breaking the Habit (Irascible Immortals #1) by Ronel Janse van Vuuren
Learn more about this book here.

Where did you hear about Odin for the first time? What do you think of him? Any folklore about Odin you’d like to share? Check out my Pinterest board dedicated to the subject.

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7 thoughts on “Odin #folklore #AtoZChallenge”

  1. Excellent info! I think I first heard someone say “Odin watch over you” when I was very little. But it wasn’t in English and I didn’t think much of it. So I didn’t hear the name again until college, in a course about the Old Gods of Roman, Greek, Norse, and some other ones. (None of the Asian ones, that was a different class.)

    J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

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