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Illustrated Guide to Mythology

Odin


Odin is the god of Valhalla and the celestial fortress Asgard. He rules over war, death, wisdom, and knowledge. He is portrayed in a winged helm or floppy hat with only one eye, riding Sleipnir, carrying a spear called Gungnir, and accompanied by two ravens.

Odin
Odin

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Odin is the king of the gods, and presides over Valhalla, where warriors are taken by Odin and his Valkyries if they have fought valiantly enough. Odin created the world after a fight with the king of the Frost-Giants, Ymir. After defeating the king, along with his two younger brothers Vili and Vé, Odin used the pieces of his body to create the earth. Together they gave life to the world’s first two humans Ask and Embla. Odin later married Frigg, the goddess of marriage and motherhood. While Odin is associated with war, he spent a lot of time traveling the world in different forms, gaining knowledge and passing special tests.

Odin traveled to the ash tree Yggdrasil to seek out the giant talking head of Mimir, who guarded the Spring of Knowledge. Odin asked for a drink from the Well, and Mimir asked that Odin sacrifice his eye in return. After Odin considered the sacrifice carefully, he gouged out one of his eyes and offered it to Mimir. Mimir accepted the sacrifice and allowed Odin to drink from the spring which gave him eternal cosmic knowledge.

Odin also made another sacrifice of himself to gain knowledge of runes and to restore his youth. He stabbed himself with his spear and hung himself from the ash tree Yggdrasil for nine days and nine nights. At the end of his ordeal, he was able to read the ancient Germanic alphabet and his youth and vigor were completely renewed.

Odin was told by Mimir that he will be defeated by a giant wolf called Fenrir at the battle of Rangarök, the Doom of the Gods and the destruction of the cosmos, which will bring about rebirth of the cosmos.

Odin Quick Reference

Parents

Bor and Bestla


Domain / Power

  • Valhalla
  • Asgard
  • War
  • Death
  • Wisdom
  • Knowledge

Symbols

  • one eye
  • winged helm or floppy traveler's hat
  • Sleipnir
  • spear
  • two ravens

Notable Myths

  • Mimir’s Well of Wisdom
  • Hanging at Yggdrasil
  • War with Ymir

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