I have to admit, the Norse pantheon has never really called to me. I’m willing to entertain the notion that this is because I only really learned anything about it in adulthood, so I never had a child’s fascination and internal story-telling with this group of Gods. I do know that he does have some Mercurial connections in that he is a guide of souls. This is apparently why Wednesday (Odin’s day) is the English name for Mercury’s day in Romance languages (miércoles, Mercoledì, etc.).
One facet of Odin is as an intellectual God: he commands both magic and poetry and is very interested in language and knowledge. This connects with the story we’ve already encountered where he hung upside down on the World Tree for nine days and nights, “myself sacrificed to myself” in order to bring up the runes–language–from the well of Mimir. He also sacrificed an eye at Mimir’s spring in order to gain the Wisdom of Ages. With the physical trials Odin put himself through, he thereby has some connection with shamanism, and contemporary Norse shamanic practitioners today view Odin as their archetypal figure.
But Odin is largely an ambivalent figure. He’s connected with fury, madness, and wandering as much as he is with knowledge. He’s also a God of War and is repeatedly described as a bringer of victory. He’s also associated with trickery and cunning.
Unfortunately, without a great deal of research, I just don’t feel all that comfortable saying much about Odin or trying to figure out his energy. Roderick seems mostly interested in working with Odin’s shamanic side. He writes that some of Odin’s correspondences are the world-tree, the spear, and the runes and that his tools are living trees and the runes. His magical essences include black pepper, clove, hops, aconite, fly agaric, jimson weed, henbane, hemlock, and wolfbane (basically, hallucinogens). His direction is south and he rules enlightenment, inner vision, and deep insight. His animals are the raven and the wolf, and his sacred foods include all root vegetables, tree-ripened fruit, and ail. His stone is bone.
In honoring Odin today, make an altar that includes his sacred symbols. Light appropriately colored candles and intone his name, one syllable at a time (pronounced OH-din), until you feel his presence surrounding you. Once he has arrived, spend some time contemplating what it might mean to serve this aspect of deity. Take time to ask Odin what it would mean to live life through his energy, and listen for his answer.
Spend the day honoring this god by consulting the runes for yourself and for someone else.
Well, I really don’t have many items connecting to any of the symbols Roderick gave, so I decided to not build an altar. Instead, I grabbed an apple and a bottle of beer and climbed a tree! Once I got settled in a little “cup” of branches, I poured Odin out a measure of the beer and set aside a section of apple for him, and I shared his snack.
Let me tell you what: trees are not near as comfortable as I remember them being from my childhood. I can definitely see why hanging from one would be a trial. I could not settle. After five minutes of sitting in one position, I’d realize a branch was pushing on my back uncomfortably, or my butt was starting to go numb, or the bark was scratching up my arms. I don’t think I lasted more than 20 minutes.
Odin’s pretty hardcore…at least I learned that much.