It is said that Odin is the “highest and most ancient of the Aesir”.
It is also said that Odin “rules all things, and mighty though the other gods are, yet they submit to him like children to their father.”
Odin is the son of Bor and Bestla, who is the daughter of the giant Bolthorn.
He has two brothers: Vili (will) and Ve (sacred enclosure?).
Odin and his brothers killed the giant Ymir, the first being. From his body they made the earth, from his blood the seas and lakes. Rocks are his bones. The sky they made from his skull.
Odin and his brothers also created the first people from logs they found on the sea shore. The mans name was Ask (ash) and the female was Embla (vine).
Odin has many names. He is often called All-Father (the father of all), Val-Father (the father of the slain), Hanga-god (god of the hanged), Hapta-god (god of prisoners), Farma-god (god of cargoes), among others. I wrote an article on this called “The many names of the Norse god Odin“.
In Sweden Odin was often called “Odin the Old”.
In skaldic poetry “land” was often called Odin’s wife. He is also often called the ‘god of earth’.
The name Sweden comes from ‘Svidur’, one of the names of Odin.
In the “Gylfaginning” (the tricking of Gylfi) a king of Sweden called Gylfi, who called himself Gangleri, travels to Asgard to find out about the gods. There he meets three rulers on three thrones. The one on the lowest throne is called ‘High’. The one on the middle throne was called ‘Just-As-High’. The man on the highest throne was called ‘Third’. All these names are different names of Odin.
(Gangleri with High, Just-As-High, and Third in an Icelandic manuscript)
Odin’s wife is Frigg, the daughter of Fiorgvin.
His sons are Baldr, Meili, Vidar, Nep, Vali, Ali, Thor, Hildolf, Hermod, Sigi, Skiold, Yngvi-Freyr, Itreksiod, Heimdall, and Saeming.
Odin has two ravens which sit on his shoulders. These are Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory). He sends them out over the world to bring back news of happenings. It’s for this reason he is called Rafnugod (raven god).
The image of the raven seems to of been used as Odin’s emblem.
Odin is supposed to have a banner, much like a flag. It’s called the raven banner. It is said that these were flown during battles oftentimes. When they flapped in the wind it was believed Odin was there and on their side. One version of what this may of looked like is shown below:
This banner is shown on a coin from 924, which is the only known depiction of it:
Odin’s horse is called Sleipnir. It has eight legs.
Odin has a spear called Gungnir. It was said that the spear never stopped in its thrust.
Odin has a ring called Draupnir. Every eighth night nine rings of the same weight will drip out of it.
Odin sits on a seat called Hlidskialf. There he is supposed to see through all the worlds and see everyones actions, understanding everything.
Odin sacrificed an eye at Mimir’s well. The master of the well is called Mimir. The water from this well is supposed to contain much wisdom and learning. Odin wanted to take a drink of it. Mimir would only let him take a single drink from this well if he sacrificed his eye. His eye is supposed to be at the bottom of the well.
Odin is credited with the discovery and creation of runes. In a poem in ‘Havamol’ he describes how he hung himself, an offering to himself, for nine days. Then the runes were revealed to him.
Odin has been called the ‘song smith’ and is much associated with poetry. He is credited with stealing the ‘mead of poetry’ from a frost-giant.
It is said that Odin does not need to eat food. Wine is food and drink for him. The food that is put on his table are given to two wolves, Geri and Freki.
Odin’s death will be at Ragnarok when Fenriswolf will swallow him up.
There are many tales of Odin being a traveler on the earth. Usually he is described as being an old man with a staff and a wide brimmed hat. On these travels he’d often ‘test’ the behaviour of people, to see how courteous and friendly they were. This was done a lot with kings. He often punished people if they were unkind and rude.
Some accounts seem to describe that he was an actual man, a king, who was turned into a god. This was particularly endorsed by Snorri Sturluson who has given us most of the accounts of the Norse gods. I wrote an article about Odin as a man called “Some thoughts on the accounts of the Norse god Odin as a man“.
Sacrifices were often made to Odin. There are many accounts of kings being sacrificed to Odin.
A sacrifice to Odin generally required a person to be pierced with a spear and then hung.
It is said, in a number of sources, that Odin was a king in Uppsala, Sweden.
Many Norse kings trace their descent to Odin. Even many of the lineage of Anglo-Saxon kings have his name as an ancestor.
Odin seems to be associated with magical pillars.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen