Óðinn – Odin The Allfather

Odin (from Old Norse Óðinn) the Allfather. In Norse Religion, Odin is associated with healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, battle, sorcery, poetry, frenzy, and the runic alphabet, and is the husband of the goddess Frigg. Odin was known in Old English as Wōden, in Old Saxon as Wōdan, and in Old High German as Wuotan or Wōtan, all stemming from the reconstructed Proto-Germanic theonym wōđanaz.

References to Odin appear in place names throughout regions historically inhabited by the ancient Germanic peoples, and the day of the week Wednesday bears his name in many Germanic languages, including English.

Odin the Allfather
Odin riding Sleipnir

In Anglo-Saxon England, Odin held a particular place as a euhemerized ancestral figure among royalty, and he is frequently referred to as a founding figure among various other Germanic peoples Forms of his name appear frequently throughout the Germanic record, though narratives regarding Odin are mainly found in Old Norse works recorded in Iceland.

Odin has one eye and a long beard, he wields a spear named Gungnir. He is often accompanied by his animal companions—the wolves Geri and Freki and the ravens Huginn and Muninn, who bring him information from all over Midgard—and rides the flying, eight-legged steed Sleipnir across the sky and into the underworld. Odin is attested as having many sons, most famously the god Baldr with Frigg, and is known by hundreds of names. In these texts, he frequently seeks greater knowledge, at times in disguise (most famously by obtaining the Mead of Poetry), makes wagers with his wife Frigg over the outcome of exploits, and takes part in both the creation of the world by way of slaying the primordial being Ymir and the gift of life to the first two humans Ask and Embla. Odin has a particular association with Yule, and mankind’s knowledge of both the runes and skaldic poetry is also attributed to him.

In Old Norse texts, Odin is given primacy over female beings associated with the battlefield—the valkyries—and oversees Valhalla, where he receives half of those who die in battle, the einherjar. The other half are chosen by the goddess Freyja for her afterlife location, Fólkvangr. Odin consults the disembodied, herb-embalmed head of the wise being Mímir for advice, and during the foretold events of Ragnarök, Odin is told to lead the einherjar into battle before being consumed by the monstrous wolf Fenrir. In later folklore, Odin appears as a leader of the wild hunt, a ghostly procession of the dead through the winter sky. He has also been associated with charms and other forms of magic, particularly in Old English and Old Norse texts.

Odin is frequently listed as a founding figure among the Old English royalty. He is also either directly or indirectly mentioned a few times in the surviving Old English poetic corpus, including the Nine Herbs Charm and likely also the Old English rune poem. In the Nine Herbs Charm, Odin is said to have slain a wyrm by way of nine “glory twigs”. Preserved from an 11th-century manuscript, the poem is, according to Bill Griffiths, “one of the most enigmatic of Old English texts”.