The Myths and legends
There have remained few written sources and oral legends in the humanity with a clear indication that the Sacred name of the Father God is Odin and also where His other names, by which He is known to people, are given.
At present the remembrance of Odin has remained only as of the High God of the Northern mythology. According to it God Odin is the High God of the Scandinavian pantheon. He animated the first people by creating them from the branches of the World Tree of Life, that is why He is also called Alfred (“Father of All”) and Hor (“High”). In West Germanic mythology and pantheon the names Wodan or Wotan correspond to the name Odin. The etymology of the name Odin - Wodan denotes inspiration and prophet’s gift. Odin’s power is based not only and even not so much on strength as on great wisdom and magic abilities.
Tacitus (I century A.D.) described Wodan by the Roman name of Mercury whose name was connected with the same day of the week Wednesday (“Germania”, IX). In VI–VIII centuries a great number of inscriptions with the names of Odin and Wodan still existed throughout Europe. In the Second Merseburg Charm (on horse’s healing), written down in X century, Wodan appears as the principal character and bearer of magic power. There is evidence of Wodan’s veneration by German tribes: Franks, Saxons, Angles, Vandals, Goths.
In the later German legends He appears as the leader of “the wild hunt”– of the souls of fallen warriors (Einherjar) and master of the heavenly Paradise (Valhalla). Odin’s heavenly guard is constantly fighting, dying and resurrecting again for new battles.
Odin was the first and leading Áss. He was the son of Borr and Bestla. He had brothers Vili and Ve.
Odin’s mother Bestla was giant Bolthorn’s daughter. Odin was Frigg’s husband and the Father of other Gods of the race of Aesir. In particular, Frigg bore him son Baldr, and from love affairs with Rindr and Grid he had sons Vali and Vidar. Thor is also considered Odin’s son.
Odin appears under numerous names and nicknames: Ygg (“terrible one”), Grimnir (“masked one”),Hroptr (“sage”), Harbard (“grey beard”), Hnikar (“overthrower, thruster”) and others. The list of Odin’s names is given in “Grimnir's Sayings” and in the “Poetic Edda”.
He was also known by the name of Jolnir (“Father of solstice”).This bearded old man arrived during the winter solstice and asked permission to stay at somebody’s house. People willingly shared food with Him and let Him in because in future it would bring happiness and the refusal to shelter the wanderer might lead to terrible misfortune. This Odin’s image served as a prototype of today’s Santa Claus and Ded Moroz. Odin often changes guises.
Odin lives in Asgard in the heaven habitation covered with silver and called Gladsheim. There he sits on the throne Hlidskjalf.
In the heavenly realm near Odin His guard, the fallen warriors, live. Militant Valkyries serve Odin and distribute by His order victories and defeats in battles.
Odin is considered the God of War and the sower of military strife, God of the military guard and soldierly fate, and also the patron of Heroes. Odin is also regarded as the initiator of the firstÆsir–Vanir war because he threw a spear into the army of Vanir. His spear Gungnir (“missing no aim”) is the symbol of the military power and military magic and is Odin’s consistent attribute. Odin has another magic attribute that is ring Draupnir “generating its own species”.
According to legends, a rainbow shows up in the sky every time when the Great Odin opens the door to Asgard to have a look at the world of men.
Mystic animals serve Odin: they are ravens and wolves. The names of His ravens are Huginn (“thinking”) and Muninn (“remembering”). The names of His wolves are Geri (“the greedy one”) and Freki (“the ravenous one”). Odin has a magic horse Sleipnir (“slipping”) on the back of which He easily moves through all the worlds and spaces.
Odin is single-eyed, wears a blue coat and a slouch hat. There exist two explanations of why Odin is single-eyed. According to the first one He gave one of His eyes for getting wisdom. According to another explanation He still has two eyes. He looks at the world of men with one eye that is why men can see this eye, and with the second eye he looks at the Divine World that is why people cannot see this eye.
Odin sacrificed himself to himself when, pierced by his own spear, he had been hanging on the World Tree Yggdrasil for nine days; after which he quenched His thirst for knowledge with the sacred honey from the hands of His mother's father giant Bolthorn and also got from him runes, the bearers of wisdom. This Odin’s “sacrifice” described in “The sayings of the high one” in “Poetic Edda” presents a shamanic initiation rather than a military one. It is a myth about the initiation of the first shaman.
There exists another very similar plot in “The Sayings of Grimnir”. Odin in his disguise as a wanderer Grimnir captured by King Geirröth has been kept between two fires for eight nights till young Agnarr gives Him to drink. After which Odin begins to prophesy and makes Geirröth fall down upon his sword.
Odin’s trip to Hel, where he wakens völva (a prophetess) sleeping a mortal sleep and extorts Gods’ destiny from her, is a shamanic one (“Prophecy of the Völva” in “Poetic Edda”, “Baldr's dreams”).
Odin is closely connected with the World Tree joining different worlds. The latter is even called Yggdrasil literally meaning “Ygg’s horse” that is Odin’s horse.
There is a Well of Fate at the roots of the World Tree in Asgard where three Norns- enchantresses live: Urd, Skuld and Verdandi. Norns’names are interpreted differently: Urd – “fate” or “past”, Verdandi – “becoming” or “present”, and Skuld – “debt” or “future”. Norns admeasure life to a man and spin his course of life. A man is born at the moment when they weave his thread into the global pattern, and he dies when they knot the thread and cut it.
Norns come to every newborn’s cradle to determine his fate. Apart from the weaving and telling of fortune and human destinies, Norns take care of Yggdrasil. Their direct duty is to water this Tree, coat its ancient bark with silt that supples everything and to frighten away different animals that are trying to gnaw Yggdrasil all the time in order to wreck it, that is to destroy Life.
The World Tree, that is the world's backbone, connects and nourishes nine worlds lying on three levels: in the underworld (Helheim) giants live, in the heavenly abode (Asgard) gods (Aesir ) live, and in the middle world (Midgard) humans live.
Every morning Gods under Odin’s direction assemble at the roots of the Tree.
Odin is the father of sorcery and magical incantations, the owner of the magical runes, the God of Wisdom. Odin owes his wisdom partly to the honey that is sometimes plainly called the honey of inspiration and poetry. Odin obtained this honey from the giants, thus becoming the God of poetry.
In “Prophecy of the Völva” there is a hint that Odin gives his eye to the giant Mímir for the wisdom contained in his honey spring. Though at the same time Mimir is said to be drinking honey from the spring where Odin’s eye is hidden, so Odin’s eye itself, in its turn, represents the source of wisdom.
Odin is the divine title meaning “expert on runes”, “devoted” and “priest”. Competing in wisdom He wins the wisest giant Vafthrúdnir. Odin is the embodiment of reason, not separated from shamanistic intuition and magical craft – from cunning and guile.
Odin together with other sons of Borr raises the Earth and arranges Midgard, finds and vivifies wood images of the first people.
At the end of times in the last battle called Ragnarök Odin fights with wolf Fenrir that swallows Him down. In its turn the wolf is defeated by Vidar, Odin’s son.
Saxo Grammaticus in “Deeds of the Danes” (XIII century) represents Odin and other Gods as ancient kings. It is from Wodan that descend Anglo-Saxon kings. The Danish royal lineage of Scyldingas (according to the Anglo-Saxon epic about Beowulf) derives its origin from Scyld, Odin’s son. According to the “Volsunga Saga” Odin is the progenitor of the legendary royal Völsung clan to which Sigurd, the famous hero of the Germanic epic, also belong.
There is a legend that Odin came to the north of Europe, according to one version, from Caucasia, according to another version, from the Central Asia where he had moved from Altai. Amenably to this legend the chief of one of Turkic nations (before XI century the Rus' people,the Slavs and others were called Turkomen) had a vision, after which he took the name of Odin and lead his clan to the west and to the north, taking under his control great territories (there is also similar information in “Poetic Edda”). Besides, that is why the Runic alphabet in Altai, Mongolia, Siberia and runes found in Europe are identical.
A lot of holidays are dedicated to Odin (Wodan,Wotan) and to all His Divine pantheon. The most famous of them is the holiday of the Father God and Mother Goddess’s Wedding or the holiday of Fertility and Spring that is celebrated every year on the night of the 30th April/1st May. As Europe became christianized this holiday got the name Walpurgis Night and in the eyes of Christians turned into the yearly witches' Sabbath when one even can see Odin at the head of his “wild hunt”.
On the whole that is all left in the memory of people about the Father God, Great Odin. Nevertheless this information is enough to emphasize the main things:
· God Odin is a Live God, Giving Life and Taking Life Away;
· God Odin is the progenitor of all the Life in the World, the Creator of the World Tree of Life, theForefather;
· God Odin is the Divine Father of the humans, the Father God;
· God Odin is the Teacher of the human beings, the Source of Wisdom and Knowledge;
· God Odin is the God of Warriors (the sacral meaning of the word “warrior” is executing the will of God, laying down and defending the Divine Laws of the Being);
· God Odin is the God of martial art and military magic;
· God Odin is the Lord of all the worlds, of the Heavenly Paradise, physical world of men and underground nether world;
· God Odin has many guises and is almighty; He is unique and has no equal;
· God Odin is the King of the Gods, the Progenitor of all royal dynasties of men;
God Odin has the Divine Spouse, Mother Goddess, in harmony with whom He performs, creates and rules.