Odin – The One-Eyed Wise God Of The Norse Mythology

Odin (originally known in Old Norse as Óðinn and in Old English as Wōden) is one of the most important divinities in the Norse mythology. He is part of the Æsir branch of gods along with (among others) Frigg (his wife; the goddess of wisdom), Baldr (his son with goddess Frigg; god of justice), Thor (his son; the god of lightning), or Týr (god of glory).

Odin is the god of knowledge, poetry, and wisdom, who is generally referenced in the Old Norse literature as a one-eyed long-bearded lone wanderer among mortals, occasionally bringing fortune as a traveller or bard. When in Valhalla, the mythical realm which is under his rulership, he is mentioned by the same sources as a powerful ruler among his peers, sitting on his large throne, wielding his spear (called Gugnir) that was crafted by the dwarves, accompanied by his two wolves (Geri and Freki; both meaning either ‘the ravenous’ or ‘greedy one’) and by two ravens (Huginn and Muninn; meaning ‘thought’ and ‘mind’ respectively) who regularly scout Midgard, the realm of humankind in the Norse cosmology.

‘Odin rides to Hel’ by English artist W.G. Collingwood. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Odin was a pivotal deity worshipped by the Norsemen both during the Late Iron Age and the Viking period as he was allegedly responsible for the gift of life, the creation of the Runic alphabet (or ‘futhark’) and, consequently, of poetry and literature (as a matter of fact he is attributed as the author of all proverbs and sayings of the Hávamál). He is often said to seek for more knowledge in his quests, sometimes also obtaining the so-called ‘mead of poetry’, a legendary beverage that enriches one’s intelligence exponentially and can help anyone solve any problems or riddles. In addition, Odin was closely associated with the bygone Yule festivals (that subsequently turned into present-day Christmas holidays).

He is also recounted in the mythologies of other Germanic-speaking peoples during a timeline that stretches from the Roman era to the Migration period. His name can be found under many variations and forms in Old Norse and known to have been mentioned in several ancient Eastern Germanic languages (such as Gothic, Lombard, or Burgundian) as well as in Anglo-Saxon, Old Saxon, and Old High German. With respect to the history of the Anglo-Saxons and the Lombards, Odin held a privileged place amongst the divinities worshipped by both as he was the mythical founding figure of their royalties.

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