Daily Deity (Nov 16): Odin

This week, I’ve decided to go the “theme” route and over some Norse deities. Wednesday’s deity is Odin, the Big Daddy of the Norse pantheon.

More on the flip…

“Odin” is an anglicized spelling of Icelandic/Old Norse Óðinn [o’thit’n]. It means either “lord of the life force” or among Medieval Christian writers, the “furious.”

Odin exists in the other Germanic languages: as Modern English Woden; Old English (and Old Saxon) Woden (hence “Wednesday”); Old Franconian Wodan; Alemannic Wuodan; German Wotan or Wothan; Lombardic Godan. It may also be in Robin Hood in English, earlier “Hooden” Odin was often represented as wearing a cloak, and named “Grim” (hooded). Since most Germanic mythological literature was preserved in Old Norse, the name is usually written “Odin” in Modern English rather than the native “Woden.”

For a modern image of Odin, watch “Lord of the Rings” and look at Gandalf. Big hat, grey beard, wandering the countryside helping/meddling here and there… IIRC Tolkien based Gandalf on Odin :-).

Odin sacrificed himself to gain knowledge (the runes), in a manner reminiscent of Christ’s sacrifice but which pre-dates it and so is not merely a Christian gloss on the old legends.

“Odin appears in Norse myth in many numerous roles. As a bringer of victory in war, patron of magic, as psychopomp, and of course as the chief god, the All-Father of gods and men. The root óð also means poetry and implies religious ecstasy, so it not surprising that Odin is also the god of inspiration.”

BTW, for those not familiar with the Norse alphabet, the ð is an “eth,” not a “d,” and is pronounced like a soft “th” (the thorn, Þ, is a hard “th”). The thorn is also good for smileys — I don’t know about Macs, but in Windows you can hold down the shift ALT key while typing “0222” on the keypad. A little CompSci with our theology ;-Þ. (Ed. note. I goofed on the ALT key thing when I originally wrote this.)

Meanwhile, a reminder that I’m open to suggestions on this topic. If someone would like to see a specific deity or pantheon, let me know! If someone wants to do a “DD” post, I’m cool with it, just speak up ahead of time so we don’t get duplication. Weekends, especially, I may not be online to post and would appreciate someone filling in. You don’t have to use Godchecker’s Deity of the Day if you don’t want to :-).

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