||Þis ȝeƿrit mæȝ clǣnung þurfan tō healdenne tōgædre mid þǣm cynde bisena Ƿicipǣdies.
Bidde betera þis ȝeƿrit ȝif þū meahte.
|Þis gewrit hæfþ wordcwide on Nīwenglisce.|
Wōden is nama ānes þāra Þēodiscum goda, hwæs nama is of Mercurie on Englisce āreaht, for þǣm þe hē is þæt nīehste god tō Wōdne. His nama is oft gefunden in cynnreccennessum Engliscra cynelicra mǣgscīra. His dǣl wæs manigfeald; hē wæs god wīsdōmes and gūðes. Ēac lēodum þūhte þæt hē þæt god lēoðes wæs and drȳcræftes and sīðes and þǣre huntunge.
His nama is, on Īslendisce/Norene Óðinn (Ōðen gehāten on Englisce); Swēonisce Oden; Nīwum Englisce/Englisce (and Ealdum Seaxiscum) Wõden; Ealdum Franconisce Wodan; Alemannisce Wuodan; Þēodisce Wotan oþþe Wothan; Lombardisce Godan, and in Ealdgermanisce hit wæs *Wōðanaz, þe segde "se wōda" oððe "hē þǣre wōdnesse", for þǣm þe æreste hē wæs gūðgod: gelīce in Ealdgrēcisce se Grēcisca gūðgod Arēs oft hātte mainomenos þe segð "wōd".
Ac man wiþcwiþþ ymbe his rihtan andgiet in racum, as se nama is gemacod of òð and -in. On Norene mǣnþ òð '"wit, soul" be selfum and in fēgungum "heaðumægen, cāfnes" mǣnþ sēo endung -in "hǣsere, dryhten." Þus, Odin is dryhten þæs līfes þrace.
For þǣm Norþmannum his nama wæs sam mid beadwe and gecampe, siþþan hē hine onīewþ þurh þā lāra swā se sigebringend.
Óðinn wæs hīwhwierfend, and miht gehweorfan his fell and his scyppunge swā hē wolde. Man segde þæt he fōr on worulde in scuppunge ealdes mannes berendes stæf, ānēage, grǣgbeard, mid wīdecgum hæte.
Man geþēodode Óðen micle mid þǣm Wildan Huntoðe, farende hlūde þurh wolcnu lǣdende micelne here þāra ofslægenena, gelīce þǣm gode Rudra þæs Hinduiscan Rigvedasya. Ódinn and Frigg fōron ætgædre in þissum.
Onfōnd þāra Dēadra[adihtan]
Snorri Sturlusones Edda ātīefreþ þæt Ōðen wilcumaþ þā micelan dēadan cempan þe fēollon on beadwe in his sele, Valhalla. Þās gefeallenan, þā einherjar, feohtaþ mid Ōðene and mid þæm ōðrum godum in þæt wæl þæs endes þǣre worulde, Ragnarök.
In þǣm Norþmanniscum spellum, Óðin oft scyrpeþ menn to gūðe and sendeþ his Valkyrjur (þe segþ Wælcyrigan) tō sendanne sigu þǣr hē wysceþ and tō cēosanne þā dēade. Þis is tō gaderianne þā beteste wīgendas in his greatan healle þe hātte Valholl, þe segþ Wælheall, and hit hātte in Nīwenglisce Valhalla.
Hwīlum Óðinn scǣwþ hine selfne fore mannum. Sum wrītung sægde þæt æt ende þæs gefeohtes æt Brávellir, Óðinn þider ēode tō fetianne þone ealdan cyning Harald Hildetand. Helgi Hundingesbana wearþ genōg gūðmǣr and Dag his āðum wyscede þæt hē wricþ his fæder þe Helgi ofslōh, and Óðinn onlǣnde his spere tō Dage, and Dag ofslōh Helgi, þe ēode tō Valhallan and þǣr instæpe wearþ sum þāra lǣdendostra wīgenda.
Ōðen and Mercurius[adihtan]
Man cnǣwþ lǣssa ymbe Óðine (oððe Wōdne) swā nimend þāra dēada swā gelīefdon þā sūðerne Germanas. Se Romisca spellwrītere Tacitus wrāt þæt þā Germanas beēodon Mercurium, ac is gelīc þæt þis tācnode Wōden, for þǣm þe Mercurius (þe in Grēcisce hātte Hermēs) ēac wæs se sāwollǣdend (þe in Grēcisce is psychopompos). And Iulius Caesar wrāt þæt Mercurius is se grēatost god þāra Germaniscena in his bēc De Bello Gallico 6.17.1.
Paulus Diaconus (þe segþ Paulus se Dīacon) wrāt nēah þǣm ende þæs 8an gēarhundrede, and þǣrinne he sægde þæt Wōden (þe hē wrāt Guodan) wæs se hēafodgod þāra Langbearda, and hē and ǣrran wrīteras sægdon þæt Wōden wæs Mercurius: sēo þā bōc History of the Langobards, I:9. Þurh þā samnesse, Paulus wrāt þæt þā Germanas gelīefdon þæt Wōden wæs, and þæt þæs godes fruma wæs ne in þissum tīde ac gēo and ne in Germaniam ac in Grēclande. Robert Wace ēac segþ þæt Wotan is Mercurius. Viktor Rydberg in his bēc ymbe Teutonic Mythology, wrīteþ ymbe sume ōðre gelīcnessa Wōdenes mid Mercuriō, and þæt bēgen brōhton lēoðsangscip tō mannum.
Se Norþmannisca nama Ōðinn goes back to an earlier *Wōðinaz, consistent with the initial consonant of the West Germanic form of the name. Adam von Bremen etymologizes the god worshipped by the 11th century Scandinavian pagans as "Wodan id est furor" ("Wodan, which means 'ire'."), a possibility still commonly assumed today, connecting the name with Old English wōd, Gothic wōds, Old Norse *ōðr (see Odr), Old High German wuot, all meaning "possessed, insane, raging".
In gemānum Proto-Germanisce se nama wæs *Wōðinaz, þe ēaðe mæg bēon of Indo-Europeiscum *Watinos. Ac man seah þæt Englisc Woden nis riht sam-cynn Germanisces Wotan, and þæt þǣrþurh folc gehweorf Wotan to folgienne þæt andgiet "se wōda", and swīðe æfter þæt þā Germanas wurdon Crīstnas and man seah Wotan swā deofol, ac þā Norþmenn and þā Engle hēoldon þone nama swā hit ǣrra wæs. And gelīce in ealdum Grēcisce Arēs hira gūþgod oft hātte Arēs mainomenos þe segþ "wōd Arēs".
Ān meahtlicnes is þæt se nama wæs geborgod of þǣm Wealhcynne, ymbe þā tīd Tacites hwonne Germanisc and Wīelisc cynn wǣron wiþ hīe on ǣgðerre healfe þǣre Rīne, and is gecynde þǣm Wīeliscan prēostlican gefērscipe þāra Vates. Þæt Wīelisce word is æt ende genumen of þǣre ilcan wyrte (meahtlīce Frum-Indisc-Europisc, ac gesōðod in Wīelisce and in Germanisce ānum) swā þā Germaniscan word for "dēofolsēoc", ofer beclipod, *vāt-, mid with a more general meaning of "spiritually excited", also preserved in the Irish word for "poet", fáith. If the word is indeed a loan from the Celtic, it may be an important hint to the dating of the Proto-Germanic sound changes.
Se Prose Edda segþ þæt Bestla and Borr ācennedon Óðin and þæt hē hæfde bróðru Vé (þe is Wéo) and Vili (þe is Will) and þā þrēo gebrōðru niðerwurpon þone forstþyrs Ymir and macodon þone woruld of Ymis līce. Man oft spræc ymbe þā þrēo gebrōðru ætgædre.
Óðinn and Jorð ācennedon þone brēmostan sunu Þórr, and his nama segþ Þunor, and Jorð segþ Eorþe. Ac his wīf and gemæcca wæs sēo gyden Frigg, and þā gecnāwenoste ealdspell secgaþ þæt Frigg wæs sēo lufiende mōdor hira suna Baldr).
And se blinda god Hoðr þurh misgelimpe ofsloh his brōðor Baldr, and æfterra Óðinn and þā þyrsen Rind ācennedon Vali, and Vali cwōm of Rindes cwiðe fullweaxen and wæpned and hē swerode āþ þæt ne wolde dōn niht and ne baðian oþþæt he wrece on Hoðe.
And manige cynecynnas sægron þæt Óðinn wæs sum hira ealdfædra þurh ōðre suno. For traditions about Odin's offspring see Sons of Odin.
Óðinn hæfþ þæt eahtasceancan horse Sleipnir, and þæt ofhēawen hēafod þæs dwearges Mímis and hit forewītegode þā forþgesceafte. His Valkyrjur þegnodon hine gaderende þā sāwla beorna ofslægenra in gefeohte and brōhton hīe to Wælhealle þǣr Óðinn wunode in Ásgarðe, þǣr þā sāwla wurdon þā Einherjar, þe willon þurfan feohtan mid Óðine in þǣre gūðe æt Ragnaroke. And þæt nama Einherjar segþ Ānheremenn, for in Wōdnes healle hīe sind ealle in ānum samum herge, þéah þe ǣrra libbende on eorðan hie wǣron in manigum hergum and fyrdum.
Brynhildr, sum þāra Valkyrja, wearþ ūtgeworpen of his þegnscipe, ac Óðinn gemiltsode and settede híe in healle and ymb hīe hring fȳres tō þæs þe ānne se heardost mann mihte sēcan weddan hīe. And Sigurðr āhreddede hīe. And æfterra Vali ofslōh Hoð.
Odin has a number of magical artifacts associated with him: the dwarven spear Gungnir, which never misses its target, a magical gold ring (Draupnir), from which every ninth night eight new rings appear, an eight-legged horse (Sleipnir) and two ravens Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory) who travel the world to acquire information at his behest. He also commands a pair of wolves named Geri and Freki, to whom he gives his food for he himself consumes nothing but wine. From his throne, Hlidskjalf (located in Valaskjalf), Ōðinn could see everything that occurred in the universe.
The Valknut is a symbol associated with Odin.
The Norsemen gave Odin many nicknames; this was in the Norse skaldic tradition of kennings, a poetic method of indirect reference, as in a riddle. See List of names of Odin. The name Alföðr ("Allfather", "father of all") appears in Snorri Sturluson's Younger Edda. It probably refers to the Christian God in that book, but it may have referred to Odin at an earlier date. (It probably originally denoted Tiwaz, as it fits the pattern of referring to Sky Fathers as "father".)
Englaþēod, Seaxcynn and Geotcynn brōhton Wōden tō Bretene ymbe þǣm 5th and 6th gearhundedum, continuing his worship until conversion to Christianity in the 8th and 9th centuries. Woden is the carrier-off of the dead, but not necessarily with the attributes of Norse Odin. Woden is also the leader of the Wild Hunt. The familial relationships are the same between Woden and the other Anglo-Saxon gods as they are for the Norse.
- Þȳ folgað Wectan cynn: Witta, Wihtgils, Hengest and his brōðor Horsa, and of him Cantawara cyningas.
- Þȳ folgað Bældæges cynn: Brona, Friðugar, Freawine, Wig, Gewis, Esla, Elesa, Cerdic and of him Westseaxna cyningas.
- Þȳ folgað Caseres cynn: Tytmon, Trygils, Hroðund, Hryp, Wilhelm, Wehha, Wuffa and of him Ēastengla cyningas.
- Þȳ folgað Wihtlæges cynn: Wermund Engla cyning, Offa, Angelþēow, Eomer, Icel and of him Miercna cyningas.
Englisc ealdbēc onginnaþ ymbe þā ylde þæs conversion from the old religion. Although whatever stories recording his part in the lives of men and the gods are lost, Woden's name survived in many settlement names and geographical features.
- Wōdnesdīc þe nū hātte Wansdyke
- Grīmesdīc þe nū hātte Grimsdyke
- Wōdnesburg þe nū hātte Wednesbury
Details of Migration period Germanic religion are sketchy, reconstructed from artefacts, sparse contemporary sources, and later the later testimonies of medieval legends and placenames. According to Jonas Bobiensis, the 6th century Irish missionary Saint Columbanus is reputed to have disrupted a Beer sacrifice to Wuodan (Deo suo Vodano nomine) in Bregenz. Wuodan was the chief god of the Alamanni, his name appears in the runic inscription on the Nordendorf fibula.
Pagan worship disappeared with Christianization, from the 8th century in England and Germany, lingering until the 12th or 13th century in Iceland and Scandinavia. Remnants of worship were continued into modern times as folklore.
Many places are named after Odin, especially in Scandinavia, such as Odense (Denmark) and Odensbacken (Sweden), but also places in other Germanic countries, such as Wednesbury (Englaland), Wodensberg and Odenheim (Germany), and Woensdrecht (Netherlands). Almost all German Gaue (Latin, pagi) had mountains and other places named after him under such generic names as Wodenesberg, Wuodenesberg, Godesberg and Gudensberg, Wodensholt, etc.
Odin wæs þæt āne god in Scandinavian mythology to demand human sacrifice at the Blōts. Adam of Bremen relates that every ninth year, people assembled from all over Sweden to sacrifice at the Temple at Uppsala. Male slaves, and males of each species were sacrificed and hung from the branches of the trees. The practice of sacrifice is one reason why Thor was much more popular among the commonfolk. Committing suicide was also considered to be a shortcut to Valhalla.
As the Swedes had the right not only to elect king but also to depose a king, the sagas relate that both king Domalde and king Olof Trätälja were sacrificed to Odin after years of famine. Sēo ēac sacred king.
It was common, particularly among the Cimbri, to sacrifice a prisoner to Odin prior to or after a battle. The Orkneyinga saga relates a (and uncommon) form of Odinic sacrifice, wherein the captured Ella is slaughtered by the carving out of a "blood eagle" upon his back.
More significantly, however, it has been argued that the killing of a combatant in battle was to give a sacrificial offering to Odin. The fickleness of Odin in battle was well-documented, and in Lokasenna, Loki taunts Odin for his inconsistency.
Sometimes sacrifices were made to Odin to bring about changes in circumstance, a notable example being the sacrifice of King Vīkar (detailed in Gautrek's Saga and Saxo). Sailors in a fleet being blown off course drew lots to sacrifice to Odin that he might abate the winds; the king himself drew the lot and was hanged.
Sacrifices were probably also made to Odin at the beginning of summer, since Ynglinga saga states one of the great festivities of the calendar is at sumri, þat var sigrblōt "in summer, for victory"; Odin is consistently referred to throughout the Norse mythos as the bringer of victory.
The Ynglinga saga also details the sacrifices made by the Swedish king Aun, who, it was revealed to him, would lengthen his life by sacrificing one of his sons every ten years; nine of his ten sons died this way. When he was about to sacrifice his last son Egil, the Swedes stopped him.
The goddess Fricg is seen as an adept of the mysteries of seid (shamanism), a völva, and it is said that it was she who initiated Odin into its mysteries. In Lokasenna Loki abuses Odin for practising seid, condemning it as a unmanly art. A justification for this may be found in the Ynglinga saga where Snorri opines that following the practice of seid, the practitioner was rendered weak and helpless. Another explanation is that its manipulative aspects ran counter to the male ideal of forthright, open behaviour.
Odin was a compulsive seeker of wisdom, consumed by his passion for knowledge, to the extent that he sacrificed one of his eyes (which one this was is unclear) to Mimir, in exchange for a drink from the waters of wisdom in Mimir's well.
Some German sacred formulae, known as "Merseburger Zaubersprueche" were written down in c 800 AD and survived. One (this is the second) describes Wodan in the role of a healer:
Further, the creation of the runes, the Norse alphabet that was also used for divination, is attributed to Odin and is described in the Rūnatal, a section of the Havamal. He hanged himself from the tree Yggdrasil, whilst pierced by his own spear, to acquire knowledge. He remained thus for nine days and nights, a number deeply significant in Norse magical practice (there were, for example, nine realms of existence), thereby learning nine (later eighteen) magical songs and eighteen magical runes. The purpose of this strange ritual, a god sacrificing himself to himself because there was nothing higher to sacrifice to, was to obtain mystical insight through mortification of the flesh; however, some scholars assert that the Norse believed that insight into the runes could only be truly attained in death.
Some scholars see this scene as influenced by the story of Christ's crucifixion; and others note the similarity to the story of Buddha's enlightenment. it is in any case also influenced by shamanism, where the symbolic climbing of a "world tree" by the shaman in search of mystic knowledge is a common religious pattern. We know that sacrifices, human or otherwise, to the gods were commonly hung in or from trees, often transfixed by spears. (See also: Peijainen) Additionally, one of Odin's names is Ygg, and the norse name for the World Ash —Yggdrasil—therefore means "Ygg's (Odin's)horse". Another of Odin's names is Hangatyr, the god of the hanged.
Swā þæt hēafodgod ealra Germaniscra goda, onfēng syndrigne ymbþanc of þǣm frumum spellbodum. For example, his day is the only day to have been renamed in the German language from "Woden's day", still extant on Nīwum Englisce Wednesday to the neutral Mittwoch ("mid-week"), while other gods were not deemed important enough for propaganda (Tuesday "Tyr's day" and Frīgedæg "Frīge dæg" remained intact in all Germanic languages). For many Germans, St. Michael replaced Wotan, and many mountain chapels dedicated to St. Michael can be found, but Wotan also remained present as a sort of demon leading the Wild hunt of the host of the dead, e.g. in Swiss folklore as Wuotis Heer. However, in some regions even this mythology was transformed so that Charlemagne led the hunt, not Odin.
Snorri Sturluson's record of the Edda is striking evidence of the climate of religious tolerance in medieval Iceland, but even he feels compelled to give a rational account of the Aesir in his preface. In this scenario, Snorri speculates that Odin and his peers were originally refugees from Troy, etymologizing Aesir as derived from Asia. Some scholars believe that Snorri's version of Norse mythology is an attempt to mould a more shamanistic tradition into a Greek mythological cast. In any case, Snorri's writing (particularly in Heimskringla) tries to maintain an essentially scholastic neutrality. That Snorri was correct was one of the last of Thor Heyerdahl's archeo-anthropological theories (see The search for Odin).
In manigum Germaniscum sprǣcum is se nama þæs fēorðan dæges þǣre wuce (if one counts from Sunday) is frequently, "Wotanes Dæg" oþþe "Wōdenes Dæg", (Wōdnesdæg on Englisce. Geefnett Norþwegisc, Denisc and Swēonisc onsdag, Niðerlendisc woensdag; ǣnlīce se efenweorða dæg on Þēodisc is ānfealdlīce "mid wucu" (Mittwoch)). This is thought to translate the Latin Dies Mercurii, "Mercury-day" (cf. French mercredi), owing primarily to Tacitus' linking þāra twēgra goda.
Onstandende gelēafan on Ōðene[adihtan]
The spread of Christianity was slow in Scandinavia, and it worked its way downwards from the nobility. Among common people, beliefs in Odin would linger for centuries, and legends would be told until modern times.
Sēo endenīehste beadu, in þǣre þe þā Norenan tealdon sige tō Ōðene, wæs sēo Beadu Lenan in 1208 . The former Swedish king Sverker had arrived with a large Danish army, and the Swedes discovered that the Danish army was more than twice the size of their own. Naturally, the Danes got the upper hand and they should have won. However, the Swedes claimed that they suddenly saw Odin riding on Sleipnir. Accounts vary on how Odin gave the Swedes victory, but in one version, he rode in front of their battle formation.
Þā Norþrigan sægdon lange spell ymbe ānēagedne rīdere mid brādbrerdedum hæte and blǣhǣwenum cyrtele þe bād smiþ tō scōgenne his hors. The suspicious smith asked where the stranger had stayed during the previous night. The stranger mentioned so distant places that the smith would not believe him. The stranger said that he had stayed for a long time in the north and taken part in many battles, and this time he was going to Sweden. When the horse was shod, the rider mounted his horse and said "Ic eom Ōðen" to the stunned smith, rode up in the air and disappeared. The next day, the battle of Lena took place.
Scandinavian folklore also maintained a belief in Odin as the leader of the Wild Hunt (Åsgårdsreia in Norwegian). His main objective seems to have been to track down and kill the forest creature huldran or skogsrået. In these accounts, Odin was typically a lone huntsman, save for his two wolves. Originally, he was armed with a spear, but in later accounts this was sometimes changed to a rifle.
|Getalu Þēodisc Goda | Ēse | Wēna | Entas | Ylfe | Dweorgas | Wælcyrgan | Einherjar | Wyrda
Wōden | Þunor | Ing | Frēo | Logðer | Balder | Tīw | Yggdrasil | Ginnungagap | Ragnarök
Poetic Edda | Prose Edda | Þā Saga | Volsung Cycle | Tyrfing Cycle
Rūnstānas | Eald Norþmannisc sprǣc | Rihtwrītung | Later influence
Wīcinga Ieldu | Scop | Kenning | Blōt | Sīeþ | Getalu
|Þā Nigon Worulda Þēodisc Hǣðenscipe | Menn, stedas, and þing|