Odin's Names and How Odin Gained Them

Posted by Ms Elly on

Odin's Names and How Odin Gained Them

In Norse mythology, Odin was the chief god of Aesir god tribe dwelling in Asgard. Odin was known as the High One and he embodied many values that the Vikings back then desired and worshipped. Yet, Odin was also among the most complicated and unpredictable figures in Norse mythology. He had many names for each story of his journey. In this blog post, we trace back to the roots of four of Odin's famous names and the stories behind them. 

Hoárr - "One Eyed"

Whether you know Odin through modern art or Norse mythology, you are likely to see Odin as an old man with an eye only. The truth was that Odin originally had two eyes. But he traded one eye for the thing he desired the most - knowledge. 

In Norse mythology, Odin symbolised wisdom and military intellect while gods like Thor presented the physical strength. He loved knowledge and he strived everyday to keep himself surrounded with new source of knowledge. He had a pair of ravens who would fly the Nine Worlds and come back to tell him what they had seen around the cosmos. He had a High Throne to observe everything in the cosmos as well. He could possibly exchange what he had for more wisdom, even his eye. 

Knowing that the water from Well of Mimir could give him an infinite source of knowledge, Odin embarked on his journey to the Well. There he met Mimir the Guardian of the Well who promised to allow him to drink the holy water if he showed he deserved it. Mimir told him to give up one eye for the water to prove himself. And yes, he did trade his eye into the Well. After this occasion, although he had only one eye to observe the world, he had an infinite source of knowledge in return. 

Odin the Allfather

Odin the Allfather lost his eye to gain an infinite source of wisdom

The lesson here is about the balance in internal and external knowledge. There will be things that we cannot settle with external viewpoints. Rather, we have to dwell deeper into it with internal wisdom. 

Valdr galga - "Ruler of Gallows"

Gallows is a structure where a person will be hung. In Norse mythology, Odin once hung himself on a tree to gain knowledge. 

As mentioned above, Odin could possibly exchange everything he had for knowledge. Of course, the investment was wise and well considered before it was carried out. This time, Odin hung himself on a tree to learn the Runes.

Runes were known as the Wheel of the Cosmos that carried the philosophy of everything. Odin learnt that only those who proved themselves deserve it could learn Runes. So he travelled to the Yggdrasil Tree of Life. 

There he made a sacrifice for himself by hanging on the Tree for nine days and nine nights without eating or drinking anything. He refused any help from other gods. His body was stabbed with his Gungnir spear during the sacrifice.

After nine days and nine nights, Odin released himself from the "gallows" and finally learnt the runes. He became the first god in Norse Pantheon that could read runes. 

Allfather - "Father of all gods"

In Norse mythology, Odin fathered many sons and nearly all of them were great and important gods in Asgard. 

Odin was the father of Thor Norse god of Thunder and Storm. Thor was the defender of Asgard who wielded the Mjolnir hammer to defend not only the gods but also humanity. He also gave humans his blessings in their ceremonies. 

Thor God of Lightning and Storm

Thor Norse god of Thunder and Storm

Odin fathered Baldur the Prince of Asgard. Baldur was the God of Shining that everyone loved him not only for his beauty but also for his kindness and generosity. Baldur survived Ragnarok the Doom of Gods and was believed the lead the surviving gods into the new world. 

Heimdall the Guardsman of Asgard was also a son of Odin and nine beautiful Sea Maidens. He was raised with special ways and grew up to be a special god. He had perfect eyesight that could observe those approaching in all direction from a far distance. His hearing was perfect as he could hear the grass growing up down in Midgard. 

Odin had an obscure son named Vidar. No one knew the true power of Vidar in Norse mythology until Ragnarok. Prior to that, he spent most of his time sitting in his garden. But during Ragnarok, on hearing the death of Odin, Vidar was the one that sought revenge for Odin. He killed Fenrir the monstrous wolf swallowed Odin. 

Bági ulfs - "Enemy of the Wolf"

The sworn enemy of Odin in Norse mythology was Fenrir the wolf. Fenrir was the son of Loki and a giantess. From the beginning, the gods knew about the prophecy of their demise. The prophecy said that Odin would be swallowed by a giant wolf who was Fenrir. 

Fenrir the Wolf in Norse mythology was the enemy of Odin the Allfather

Fenrir the Wolf in Norse mythology was the sworn enemy of Odin


Odin attempted to prevent Ragnarok to happen, yet he unintentionally harboured hatred within Fenrir the Wolf. Since Fenrir was a little pup that showed no harm to the cosmos, he was brought to Asgard to live yet no one dared to approach the pup. When he grew up to be a giant wolf, Odin decided to chain the wolf up so that he couldn't harm anyone. And there Fenrir was bound to the rock where he laid until Ragnarok. 

From the beginning to Ragnarok, Fenrir could do nothing to change his life. What he could was to wait for Odin to decide where he would live. This, of course, made Fenrir hate Odin a lot. That's why Odin became the enemy of the Wolf. 

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