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November 14, 2023
Discover Odin, the Norse God of War and Wisdom
As we draw closer to the Yule season, the figure of Odin becomes prominent in our holiday celebrations. This important figure in Norse mythology is known today through folklore as well as pop culture. In this blog post, we will discuss the history of this god of war andwisdom as well as his associations with Yule.
Odin’s Origins in Northern Europe.
Odin can be traced through the long history of Northern Europe, from the Roman occupation through the Viking age. Thus, he hasvaried attributes and a rich mythology. In most instances, he functions as a god of war, wisdom, and poetry. Other spellings of his name include Wodan, Woden, or Wotan. He is also called theone-eyed Allfather, the other eye he gave up in exchange for wisdom. He was often depicted with wolves or ravens, or riding through the sky on the back of his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir.
In heroic literature, he was the protector of heroes. Before a war, Odin was called upon to offer advice and gifts. In some Germanic cultures, he would also determine whether certain battles or individual warriors would be victorious or not. After a battle, Odinwould have his Valkyries scavenge the battlefield to bring the souls of the slain to his warrior paradise, Valhalla. From this practice, Odin became closely associated with the dead, which is apparent during Yuletide.
Odin, Yule, and the Wild Hunt.
Odin’s association with the Yule season dates far back to old Norse and Germanic pagan traditions. One of the most famous legends is that of The Wild Hunt, a phenomenon where an army of spirits ridesthe winter storms of the Yule season. The Wild Hunt is made up of the spirits of those who experienced untimely death, whether from illness, accidents, or of course, battles. Included also are animals associated with death, land spirits, and deities, Odin being one of them. If you venture outside in the darkness of mid-winter nights, you might spot this horde in the sky, or worse, be picked up by one of the spirits and dropped miles away from your home. Sometimes members of the hunt would enter towns and homes to cause chaos.
There are some contradictions in historical texts on who exactly leads this Wild Hunt every year; some believe it is Frau Holle, who we will discuss in the next blog post, and others believe it is Odin. Nonetheless, we can conclude that, due to his close associations with the dead and his reputation for riding through the sky, Odin plays an important role in the Wild Hunt.
Connect with Odin.
Yule is the perfect time to connect with Odin since his presence is ever more prominent during this season. Many will start celebrating this season with well-known traditions such as decorating anevergreen tree or preparing a Yule log. You can find ways to incorporate Odin into these practices by using icons such as ravens or wolves to call him into your space. You can also use ingredients in your seasonal witchcraft such as tobacco, ash or elm leaves and bark, or chamomile. Leaving out food offerings is also popular during Yule; common offerings would include bread, crab apples,and cured meats.
Other activities you could try during this season would be throwing runes, which have their roots in Norse traditions. You could also build an altar and light a candle for Odin on the Winter Solstice.Our Odin Offering & Spell Kit includes anything you may need to get started on your journey with Odin. You can buy this and other supplies for the Yule season from our online store, or visit us in person at our brick-and-mortar store.
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