Thursday, January 29, 2009

Words of the High One

It's getting close to time for more work on my Ravens of Odin tattoo, so I'm of a mythological mind tonight. I've been re-reading the Havamal, or Words of the High One. It's words of wisdom passed on by Odin himself, supposedly. There's wisdom for travellers and guests, general advice for all, his quest for the Runes, and songs of spells he knows. Though couched in old-school (really old-school) wording, if you update some of the situations, the wisdom still applies. For example:

-Let a man never stir on his road a step

without his weapons of war;

for unsure is the knowing when need shall arise

of a spear on the way without.

In other words, be prepared...of course, if I didn't think I'd get arrested, I'd literally always have my sword or axe with me, but that's just me.

Immortality through great deeds is spoken of, as well:

-Cattle die, and kinsmen die,

Thyself too soon must die,

but one thing never , I ween, will die-

fair fame of one who has earned.

Wisdom in waiting until one has experienced something before passing judgement on it:

-Praise day at even, a wife when dead,

a weapon when tried, a maid when married,

ice when 'tis crossed, and ale when 'tis drunk.

Although, if you don't praise your wife while she's alive, she may make you wish you were dead.

Odin's seeking of the knowledge of the Runes is a gripping part of the I touched on in my earlier post about my tattoo and Norse myth, Odin underwent pain and sacrifice to gain knowledge, to better prepare for Ragnarok, the Norse Armageddon. He impaled himself on the world tree, Yggdrasil, with his spear Gungnir:

-I trow I hung on that windy Tree

nine whole days and nights,

stabbed with a spear, offered to Odin,

myself to mine own self given,

high on that Tree of which none heard

from what roots it rises to Heaven

None refreshed me ever with food or drink,

I peered right down in the deep;

crying aloud I lifted the Runes

then back I fell from thence.

Death and rebirth is a common theme in many religions, but how bad are you that you impale yourself?? Man, that's one tough god.

I've always been interseted in Odin, as he's god of war, poetry, sorcery, and death. He rules over skalds and berserkers alike. He obtained the Mead of Poetry, and could also incite battle rage in individuals and armies by throwing his spear overhead. He studied magic for use in healing, battle, lovemaking, and speaking with the dead. His ravens brought him news from the Nine Worlds, and his wolves Freki and Grere (Ravener and Greed) sat at his side in Asgard. His eight-legged steed, Sleipnir, would carry him across the land, sea, and sky. Unlike most gods who represent one aspect, Odin is multi-faceted...body, spirit, and mind. I suppose this is why I'm so interested in him. I took one of those goofy online quizzes once to see what god you most resemble...I got Odin by 78% (with Tyr following up with a close 70%). And I named my dog after him as well.

I think the Old Norse religion is one of the most interesting ones...we get taught the Greek myths in school, but the fellas from the cold North are given short shrift. If you have an interest in things Norse, check out the Havamal. It's not too long, and it's good reading. Hail to you all!


Lana Gramlich said...

You might enjoy some Celtic mythology & poetry as well. For example, the Welsh Gododdin poem is a tale told of a battle lost after a night of too much drinking. ;)

Scott said...


I've done some reading of the Celtic stories, but I do need to do some deeper delving into them. I shall take thy reccomendation!

Charles Gramlich said...

Battle was a big party for the celts eh?

Virginia Lady said...

Your interest in Odin and Norse mythology is intriguing. I have to tell you about my husband's similar interest in Thor.

It is such that on our wedding day, we may have even been blessed for right in the midst of the ceremony (which was in our living room with a civil celebrant) a thunderstorm came through and the loudest crack of thunder hit right outside the windows we were next to.

When it came time to leave for dinner, everyone else had already been frantically using umbrellas, we stepped outside and the deluge became a ltitle drizzle until we were in the car, and then it resumed, until we arrived at the restaurant and it drizzled again. Leaving us only slightly dampened.

Our friends always think he's joking when he talks about Thor. I, however, know to respect the deities. They have power when you least expect it.

Scott said...

Charles, it sounds like it.


You never know who's listening or watching...