Old Norse: Óðinn, Odínn. Pronunciation: Oh-din
Other names: Othinn. Anglo-Saxon: Woden, Old High German: Wotan, Wothan
Lombardic: Godan Alemannic: Wuodan Proto-Germanic: Woðanaz. “The Furious (or raging) God”.
Wednesday is named after him (Woden’s day).
Odin is the chief divinity of the Germanic pantheon, the foremost of the Aesir, and unequivocally the most complex of all the Germanic Gods. Odin is a son of the Giants Bor and Bestla. He is called the Alfadir (Allfather), for he is the creator of the Germanic Peoples and the father of many important, powerful Gods and human heroes. With his wife Frigga, he is the father of Balder, Hod, and Hermod. He fathered Thor with the Earth goddess Jord, and with him the giantess Grid became the mother of Vidar.
He is seen as especially a god of wisdom, a patron of poets, thinkers, and artists. Of all the gods, Odin is the one who seems to take the most active part in the affairs of humans, and the one who appears most often in the writings of the Germanic peoples.
Odin is also a God of magic, war and death. He is the founder and an expert in rune magic and the giver of spiritual ecstasy and magical arts to the mystics and Shamans. He hung for nine days, pierced by his own spear, on the world tree. Here he learned nine powerful songs, and the Twenty-four runes that comprise the Elder Futhark. Odin won the runes by ritually sacrificing himself on the world tree for nine days and nights, wounded with his own spear. Odin has only one eye, which blazes like the sun. His other eye he traded for a drink from the Well of Wisdom, and gained immense knowledge.
Odin has only one eye, which blazes like the sun. Always searching for more knowledge and power, Odin sacrificed his other eye for a drink from the Well of Mímir (“Memory”). He won the mead of divine inspiration and poetry by seducing the giant-maid Gunnlod who had been guarding it. To his chosen ones, Odin gives knowledge, victory, divine inspiration, magic, the fury of the berserk-warrior, and death when he sees fit, in order to bring them to him.
Odin is also skilled in the arts of necromancy and can make the dead speak to gain in wisdom and insight. His hall in Asgard is called Valaskjalf (“shelf of the slain”) where his throne Hlidskjalf ( Gate tower) is located. From this throne he observes all that happens in the nine worlds. The tidings are brought to him by his two ravens named Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory). He also resides in Valhalla, where his chosen heroes reside once their earthly life is over.
Odin is master of Wode – that which constitutes the ‘greater’ or ‘higher passions’, governing heightened states of personal awareness and self such as agony, ecstasy, and rage. It is the very source of that which feeds and drives ‘divine madness’ or ‘divine inspiration’. The wode can be experienced through altered states, such as in certain trance and ‘active’ meditation workings or ordeal, and once stimulated, is utilized in shamanic functions and in bringing on the berserker’s rage -though doing so requires refined skills of control and a well-disciplined will.
Odin’s attributes are the mighty spear Gungnir, which never misses its target, and with which he dooms his chosen ones to die in battle. He also possesses the ring Draupnir, from which every ninth night eight new rings appear, and his eight-footed horse Sleipnir (slippery hoof). He is often accompanied by his two wolves Freki and Geri (both names mean “Greedy”) who serve as his watchdogs, and to whom he gives his food, for he himself consumes nothing but wine.
At the dawning of time, Odin and his brothers Villi ( Will) and Ve ( Sacred Enclosure ) shaped the universe and created the Germanic peoples.
In his physical incarnation, Odin usually appears as a gray bearded man, tall and thin, with a dark blue cloak and an eye patch or wide-brimmed hat tilted to hide his missing eye.
Odin is assisted by the Valkyries (“Choosers of the Slain”) who work his will, bringing the bravest warriors to the various halls of the Gods where they prepare themselves and ready their strength against the coming of the end of the world: Ragnarok.
Odin is indeed a stern tester of his children, and is sometimes considered a capricious God who would betray his chosen champions and gave them a glorious death defeat instead of the victory and life that they deserved. But to those that are wise in their perception will know that Odin is a god of foresight, careful weaving of plots, and long-term agendas and that his purpose is always clear: “For the great gray Wolf ever gapes at the realm of the gods and man.” He calls those he loves the best first to his side and thus swell the number of his valiant legions to strengthen the hosts of the gods for the last battle so that life and knowledge can be preserved and the new world born after the old is destroyed. To await the end of time and stave off the doom of all.
During Ragnarok, on the day of the final battle, Odin is prophesied to be killed by the wolf giant Fenrir, and be succeeded by his son Baldur.