Odin in Norse Mythology — The Norse God of War and Death

Odin in Norse Mythology — The Norse God of War and Death

Who was Odin in Norse Mythology?

Odin, also known as Woden or Wotan, was the chief god of Germanic mythology, the son of Bor and grandson of Buri. He was particularly favoured by the Vikings and rose to prominence in the eighth and ninth centuries. These seafarers and raiders were attracted by Odin’s love of battle as the “father of the slain”, for, in Valhalla, an immense hall in the divine fortress of Asgard, the one-eyed god was said to preside over the Einherjar (“glorious dead”).

Introduction to the Mythical Odin

Introduction to the Mythical Odin

The one-eyed god, the wanderer, the all-father, Odin. Many Pantheon’s of deities, both fictional and from real-world mythologies, feature a singular god that acts as a king or leader over many other gods. In Norse mythology, this God is Odin, the all-father, a central figure in the mythology and Lord of many of the other deities in the Pantheon.

Odin was seemingly an important figure in the religions of certain Germanic peoples for centuries, and divided between all of his different aspects and representations is known by over 200 different names.

This article will focus on the various tales associated with Odin, as described by different Icelandic texts from around the 1200s. The authenticity of these texts concerning the actual beliefs of the North Germanic peoples is a subject for debate.

Within Norse mythology, Odin likely represents more attributes and concepts than any other deity, is associated with war, death, royalty, wisdom, knowledge, sorcery and poetry.

It seems that Odin displaced Tyr, whom the Romans had identified as the sky god of the north European peoples. Tyr retained his interest in war, but Odin was looked upon as the inspiration for hard-bitten warriors. He alone had the power to inspire men in battle to a state of berserk rage in which they feared nothing and felt no pain.

Origin of Odin — Creation of Things

Origin of Odin — Creation of Things

There were two realms at the beginning of time—one filled with cold mist and the other with raging flames: and a primordial void between the two. Eventually, the two intermingling elements combined in the void and formed the first living creature, Ymir, also known as a giant.

Along with Ymir, there was also a giant cow that he suckled on for nourishment, and from his sweat came more Giants, the Jotnar. On the other hand, the cow licked the salt from the nearby ice and this licking came the first god known as Buri.

In turn, Buri had a son who married a Jotnar who gave birth to three sons, one of whom was Odin.

Odin and his brothers then slew Ymir, the primordial giant and the great rushing of blood that flooded from his body drowned the great cow, as well as the rest of the Jotnar, except for two.

These two went on to repopulate the race of giants. Odin and his brothers then took the corpse of Ymir and used it to help create the earth. Using his flesh to make the soil, his bones to make mountains, and his teeth to make boulders and stones. They used his skull to create the sky and Sparks from the realm of fire to make the Sun, Moon and Stars.

They created a race of Light Elves and a world for them and the Dark Elves deep under the earth. They made sprites, spirits and animals to inhabit the earth, and then, they needed something to worship them, so they created humans.

They built a fence using Ymir’s eyebrows around the earth to protect the humans from the Jotnar, and finally, they created the realm of Asgard, high above the world, so that they could watch over their creations.

Odin’s Consort and Children

Odin married Frigg, who is said to know the fate of all but says nothing of it. In addition to Frigg, his wife in Asgard, Odin had many other wives, and he fathered several sons, although the exact number of these sons are unknown.

Among these, he fathered Thor, god of thunder; Baldr, god of light; Víðarr and Váli, god of vengeance.

Odin and Loki — Becoming Blood Brothers

Odin and Loki - Being Blood Brothers

He also took note of a certain Jotnar capable of taking any shape he wished to a far greater extent than other giants, known as Loki. Odin liked Loki’s wit and charm and asked him to become a blood brother, to which Loki agreed. The two swore to be true brothers to one another, and he brought Loki into Asgard, where the others accepted him.

However, Loki developed a great reputation as a spiteful trickster, trusted by neither the gods nor the Giants, but always managed to talk his way back into their good graces.

Odin’s Hunger for Knowledge and Wisdom—Being One-Eyed

Odin’s Hunger for Knowledge and Wisdom—Being One-Eyed

In those days, Odin would often walk among the humans and disguise a wise old wanderer, testing the hospitality of those he visits. He also utilized two Ravens, Huginn and Muninn, who travelled the world daily to provide him with information of every scrape of news they saw or heard tell of —giving him the name of Raven God. The birds’ names mean “thought” and “memory”, respectively.

Odin was a relentless pursuer of wisdom and knowledge and would sacrifice much in these pursuits. On one occasion, he went to the world tree, Yggdrasil, and hung himself from its branches for nine days before finally learning the secrets of runic letters.

These runes contained great power, and with their magic, he became the wisest and mightiest being in the cosmos. This, however, was not enough for him, and he craved more knowledge.

From his throne, he spied upon the realm of the savage Jotnar and noticed one that was very wise. This giant controlled the well of wisdom were one of Yggdrasil roots ended and drank its waters every day to become ever wiser.

Odin went to this Jotnar asking for a single drink from the well; the giant agreed, but only if Odin’s shared his all seen vision with him. He promptly plucked out one of his own eyes, placing it in the well before having a drink. From then on, he possessed only a single eye but was truly the wisest of the wise.

Powers and Abilities of Odin

Powers and Abilities of Odin the allfather in Norse mythology

As the Lord of the Æsir gods, Odin is staggeringly powerful, perhaps the most impressive of his kind. He, alongside his siblings Vé and Vili, was assigned as the strongest Æsir their time.

Immortality: Odin, as a Norse God, is immortal, having lived for a long time. Just an adequately structured weapon or an incredibly amazing one resembling Fenrir can murder him.

Superhuman Strength: He had a huge measure of superhuman strength as the Ruler of the Æsir, being, in any event, stronger than Baldur and Tyr. It is even conceivable that his solidarity, if not in the actual sense, rivals and outperforms that of his child Thor, the Lord of Solidarity.

The only being to outperform his strength is Starkaðr, Fenrir and Surtr, the last of whom would take both Odin and Thor to overcome in Ragnarök and the previous one bound to eat up Odin to death.

Superhuman Toughness: He should be very sturdy as he had the option to endure a conflict with Ymir, the first being, who is normally a strong creature of the Frost Giants. During Ragnarök, Odin likewise endures a fight against Surtr, Ymir’s sibling and the most grounded Fire Giants.

Supernatural Authority: Odin is an amazing and talented magician, an expert of numerous otherworldly expressions, including old sorcery. He likewise took in Seiðr from Freya. Odin is likewise the just one from the Æsir gods who utilize enchantment, which alongside his actual capacities, makes him significantly more imposing.

  • Dark Breath: Corruption of magic, Odin made to go about as a hindrance to the individuals who needed to arrive at the most elevated mountain in Midgard. Just the unadulterated Light of Alfheim could dispel it.
  • Condemnations: He can project reviles so powerfully that not even Freya can lift them regardless of her own profoundly expressed Vanir capacities. He can keep individuals from leaving a Domain, just as changing the Valkyries into tremendous, actual variants of themselves, a demonstration that made them incapable of completing their obligations of shipping those murdered in the fight to Valhalla.
  • Hiding Spell: He can hide occasions that happen to other people, regardless of whether the individual is an amazing seiðr who can see into what’s to come.
  • Information Ingestion: He can, in some way or another, assimilate individuals’ information into himself, utilizing enchantment as he did with the seiðr Gróa.
  • Security Sorcery: He can project amazing assurance charms on objects making them rugged, for example, making the tree Mimir being immune to Thor’s hammer.

Calling: As the Raven Ruler, Odin can bring ravens to notice and assemble data across the domains.

Shapeshifting: As referenced in the Lost Pages of Norse Fantasy, Odin could shapeshift into a little or a major bird.

Expert Soldier: As the Lord of Asgard, Odin was a capable warrior with hundreds of years’ worth of fight preparation and experience. In any event, during his more youthful years had the option to murder Ymir alongside his siblings. Close by Thor, Odin would be fit for crushing Surtr, the Early-stage Fire Monster and a profoundly extraordinary warrior during Ragnarok.

High Acumen: Odin is incredibly canny and intelligent, as even Mimir, the most brilliant being alive in every one of the Nine Domains, recognized his cunning, saying that he is nearly just about as smart as he trusts himself to be. From having heard the prediction of Ragnarok, he had the option to sort out that Kratos and Atreus will influence it. Mimir’s falsehood did not trick Odin that he had forfeited his eye for information, effectively concluding that Mimir had tricked him and the well of information was in reality loaded up with enchantment stimulating mushrooms to give even a divine being dreams.

Expert Torturer: Odin was known to be an inventive and talented torturer, as he tormented Mimir for a long time to the point that Mimir said that he would prefer to die than keep on being tormented, Odin.

Ragnarök — The Doom of the Gods

Ragnarök — The Doom of the Gods
Painting by Peter Nicolai Arbo, 1872.

As life continued on earth and the gods continued to battle against the Jotnar, Odin’s son Baldr began to be troubled by ominous dreams that threatened his life. Due to the machinations of Loki, Baldr was eventually killed, seemingly through an accident.

Although none suspected Loki of playing a part in his death, his jealousy and spite Eventually got the best of him, and he admitted openly to being responsible before fleeing.

The gods demanded the punishment of Loki from Odin, who used his all scenes site to locate him. The Æsir captured Loki and tortured him, bringing guilt to Odin which meant his kinship bond with Loki was broken.

This broken oath, among others in Asgard, led the gods to the events of Ragnarök (meaning “doom of the gods” or “twilight of the gods”). Rather than being an apocalyptic end of days, Ragnarök instead foretold the end of a cycle of time, followed by rebirth and eventually another Ragnarök.

For the Æsir gods, however, knew their days were limited—Odin especially. Yggdrasil began to wilt, and brother turned against brother in this time of imminent destruction. Odin and the Æsir gathered as many strong and brave warriors as possible in the halls of Valhalla, and the Jotnar were growing ever bolder in their attacks.

It was a hard time in the world of men with death and depravity rampant, an age of axe and sword, with a deadly winter and the world waiting to fall into ruin.

Finally, Ragnarök had come. The greatest battle that history could muster took place, and although Odin Led a vast host of warriors into the war, he was swallowed up by the dread wolf Fenrir.

In the end, the Æsir lost the battle, and the world was plunged into darkness as Yggdrasil broke and fell.

In time, a new day dawned, and the next cycle began, but people did not forget the deeds of the gods.

In conclusion

Of course, there are several smaller tales related to Odin beyond just these. Stories of his relentless pursuit of wisdom and his wanderings across the realms. These tales showcase Odin’s imperfections and similarities to mortals. His willingness to trick or deceive others and his legendary wisdom.

Odin is the patron of many, from Kings to outlaws, shamans to seers. He represents those who are willing to work and sacrifice to obtain that which they desire and welcome only the most worthy of warriors into his Hall of Valhalla.

The Norsemen were a hardy and capable people, and their belief in figures such as Odin likely Pushed them to continue to pursue strength and wisdom much like the all-father.

Poem to Odin

“I am the unknown Will,
The Anger that threatens glory and ruin;
Lord of Storms am I,
In heaven high and caverns deep.
I am the father of the War,
Odin for you, Wotan for him,
Wayfarer, Wanderer, beggar, king,
Numen, genius, strength and ring.”

By Artur Balder (American Writer), invocation of the Nordic god Odin, from “Invocations and Oracles”, Germanic Appendices, Volume V of the Teutoburg Saga, as quoted in advance posting (30 September 2014).
Image Sources: KejaBlank, Blake Rottinger, BiagioDAlessandro, The American Reader.


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