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By Asushunamir
(Written for Ecclasia)


Odin is Scandinavian, of the North pantheon. He is a god of war, magic, poetry, cunning, wisdom, and the dead. He is King of the Aesir, the race of Norse gods. He is known as the "All-Father." The Aesir gods under the leadership of Odin, included Balder (god of beauty), Bragi (god of eloquence), Forseti (god of meditation), Freyr (god of fertility, who originally was from the Vanir), Heimdall (guardian of the bridge), Hod (the blind god), Loki (god of fire and ally of the frost giants), Njord (the sea god, and another ex-Vanir), Thor (god of thunder), Tyr (god of war), Vili (brother to Odin), Ve (brother to Odin), and Vidar (Odin's son). The goddesses included Freya (the fertility goddess), Frigg (Odin's wife), Sif (Thor's wife), and Idun (keeper of the apples of youth). Odin is the son of Bor and Bestla. Other names Odin is known by are Woden, Wodan, Wotan, Allfather, Ygg, Bolverk [evil doer], and Grimnir.

The Vanir were wild nature and fertility gods and goddesses, sworn enemies of the Aesir, and were considered to be the bringers of health, youth, fertility, luck and wealth, and they were masters of magic. After many years of war, the Vanir and the Aesir decided to make peace, so they traded hostages to maintain the peace.

Odin has only one eye and is often depicted wearing a hat pulled low to conceal his missing eye. He traded his other eye for a drink at the Well of Wisdom, also called Mimir's Well, where it is said he gained great knowledge. Odin hung for nine days on Yggdrasil, the ash world tree, pierced by his own spear. There he learned nine powerful songs, and nine runes from the Tree of Life. Odin can make the dead speak in order to question the wisest among them.

He lives in Valhalla, the Hall of the Slain, attended by the Valkyries. Valkyries were originally thought of as dark angels of death, who soared over the battlefields like birds of prey, meting out fate in the name of Odin. Half of the chosen heroes, the greatest of all the fighters were gathered up and taken away to Valhalla, the heavenly abode of Odin and the other gods. Valkyries are Odin's daughters through Freya, and form an all female military squadron known by any of the following: Odin's Battle Maidens, Shield Maidens or Choosers of the Slain.

Odin has two ravens, Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory), who always keep him informed of events on Earth. He also has an eight-legged horse called Sleipnir. The horse was the offspring of Loki, who in mare form seduced a giant's horse named Svadilfari. Sleopnir could travel to the underworld and through the air. Odin's spear, which never misses its target, is called Gungnir. His magic ring is called Draupnir, from which on every ninth night eight new rings appear. It was this ring that Odin laid on his son Balder's funeral pyre and which Balder returned to Odin from the underworld. The wolves Freki (fierce) and Geri (greed), to whom he gives his food, also accompany him. Odin himself consumes nothing but Mead.

His hall in Asgard, one of the Nine Worlds in Norse mythology, is called Valaskjalf ("shelf of the slain") where his throne Hlidskjalf is located. From this throne he observes all that happes in the nine worlds: Asgard, the topmost level of the nine worlds; Alfheim, the home of the light elves, the world that Freyr ruled over; Vanaheim, home of the Vanir before the end of the war between the Aesir and Vanir; Niflheim, the world of cold and darkness, where Nithog chewed at the roots of Yggdrasil; Midgard, the home of mankind, the place where men had their home; Muspelheim, home of the fire giants; Jotunheim, a freezing, mountainous land, home of the Jotuns, given to the giants by Odin after the creation;Svartalfheim, home of the dark elves; and Hel, the world that the creature known as Hel resides. Hel was a goddess of death and the underworld, daughter of Loki and Angerboda, sister to Fenris and Jormungand. According to the Prose Edda, Hel was terrible to look at, one-half of her was greenish black and the other a livid white, with flesh that seemed to be rotting like that of a corpse and her face was gloomy, grim and sinister.

He has the power to change his appearance and adopt different disguises. Some of the aliases he uses to travel incognito among mortals are Vak and Valtam. Wednesday is named after him (Wodan).

Odin is primariy a war god, and much of what he does throughut his reign is in preperation for the "Final Battle" called Ragnarok, a great and final battle between good and evil. We see this from his personal sacrifices; giving up his eye for wisdom, and hanging from the Yggdrasil to lear the Nine Songs, and the Eighteen Runes, to having his ravens keep tabs on all that was happening in the Nine Worlds at all times, to his selection of warriors (through the Valkyries) to aid him in battle, and their constant retraining through death and rebirth in Valhalla. Although Odin was slain in this battle by Fenris, Loki's giant wolf, Odin's consolation was the foreknowledge that his resurrected son Balder would be worshipped in his stead in a new age and new land which would rise from the sea. Even with a mighty army of heroic warriors, Odin, through his knowledge of the future, knew the outcome of Ragnarok: The battle would be fierce, and the gods would end up dying, but they would take the forces of evil with them, thus saving humanity.

Once again we witness through our Gods and Goddesses the Wheel of Life ever turning and manifesting itself and giving us our place through the cycle of birth, growth, maturation, decline, and death. Blessed Be Deity, Blessed Be!


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Odin and his Ravens artist is unknown.

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This page last updated January 6, 2005