Chapter 5: The Hidden Meaning of Odin's Eye Sacrifice

Posted by Ms Elly on

Chapter 5: The Hidden Meaning of Odin's Eye Sacrifice 

Odin was the Viking Supreme God who the Vikings worshipped a lot and respected the most. He was the ruler of Asgard and father of many famous gods. Odin was associated with many kinds of power and values. He was the god of war, poem, knowledge, and god of inspiration. The only shortcoming that we can see in Odin was that he wasn't physically complete. Odin had only one eye. But the story of Odin's eye sacrifice turns out to be no shortcoming of him. It is one of the greatest literal symbolism of Norse mythology. 


In the past, Odin was born with fully complete. He looked very much like a normal human. In fact, the human looked very much like Odin because Odin created the human based on the appearance of himself and other gods. Odin had two eyes to observe the world. 

There was only one thing that this powerful god couldn't resist himself from: wisdom. Odin was so much into knowledge and wisdom. He was willing to go to any lengths only to gain more knowledge. He heard of the Well of Mimir containing the source of wisdom. He didn't hesitate a second and went on to achieve the holy water. 

Image of Odin one eye explained

Arriving there, Odin met Mimir the guardian of the well. Because every drop of the holy water carried an amazing source of knowledge, it wasn't easy to gain one drop, let alone a drink of it. But Odin was willing to do anything to quench his thirst for knowledge. Mimir asked Odin to sacrifice one eye to the well and he could drink the water. We don't know how the conversation went but Odin did sacrifice his eye to gain a drink of the holy water. The moment Odin drank the water, he lived his life with an infinite source of knowledge. 


 I bet the first time many of you read the story how Odin was one-eyed, you just feel astonished wondering why he could make such an unfair trade. But if we dig deep down under the story of Odin's eye sacrifice, we can see that the story contains many ways to interpret. From such interpretations of our own, we think Odin was trying to deliver some lessons to the future offspring. 

No sacrifice was too great for knowledge

Odin was the golden example to this interpretation. There were two times that Odin made very famous sacrifice to gain knowledge: Odin's eye sacrifice and physical sacrifice to know runes. As mentioned above, Odin would go to any lengths just to see and know more. He was willing to venture many things of his own to gain the new things of the universe. He never hesitated a moment when it came to the pursuit of knowledge. Generally, if anyone shares the same values with Odin, they should try to venture more to gain knowledge.

But remember that Odin knew exactly what types of knowledge he wanted to get. The knowledge Odin desired helped him to answer the questions of his own and others. A little reminder is to be wise when choosing what you are going to learn, especially in case you need to invest something into it. 

From chaos to peace

What is the symbolism of the eye do you think? Probably, many of us think of the positive side. But what I mean here is the negative side of this symbolism. The chaos of life, the troubles, the unfairness, etc. are all observed with our own eyes. From our observation of bad vibes, we become upset and even lose all of our hope in life. Odin might have been through the same situation. He traded his eye because what he saw might have ached him so much. 

The hidden meaning lay in the name of "Mimir". Odin threw his eye to the Well of Mimir. The world "Mimir" means the Rememberer. This seemed to instruct the gods to follow the footsteps of the ancestors and live their life with ancestral traditions and wisdom. Here we can interpret: Odin exchanged his perception of chaos to gain the perception of peace guided by his ancestors. 

External For Internal

We must coin a new title for Odin: God of Trading. He seemed to be very excellent at trading. People might think he conducted unfair and hilarious trades. But anyone who study and want to share the same values with Odin will never think the same. 

Odin had two eyes but he gave up one. Odin had two sources of external observation but he gave up one. He didn't give up entirely his two sources, we have to remember. He still chose to keep for himself an eye to observe by himself what was happening around. He knew that in certain cases, the internal insights might prevent us from being flexible to solve the problems and to reach our goals. The visual observation is something that can keep you updated and aware of the surrounding. Meanwhile, the internal wisdom serves to help you consider and value the situation. Together, the external observation and internal wisdom help us to rid of all the troubles. 

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