Odin: 9 Ways to Work With the Norse Germanic AllFather
Is the Master of Ecstasy calling to you? Odin is a Norse god who rules over wisdom, war, magick, and sovereignty. Odin is known by many many names. Wodan, Wotan, All Father, One-Eyed Seeker are but just a few. He is the ruler of the Aesir and steward of Asgard. He can make for a formidable enemy or a noble ally. But if you’re new to his energy, how do you work with Odin? Here we seek to answer “who is Odin” and teach practitioners how to work with his unique presence.
Who is Odin?
Odin is making his mark on modern culture even as we speak. From TV shows like American Gods to the latest video game releases (I’m looking at you Assassin’s Creed Valhalla), Odin seems to be everywhere. And this is nothing new. Even in ancient times, Odin’s name was spread far and wide. Depending on the region and Germanic tribe, his name might have been different. Sometimes he was called Wotan or Wodan. Sometimes Grimnir, Bruni, Blindi, Gautr and many more. See a list of Odin’s many names here.
But where did Odin truly come from? There’s a few origin theories, including that Odin was an actual person. He might have been a King from the Middle East who migrated to Northern Europe. Then became the ancestor to many Northern European peoples including the Norse and Germanic tribes. Others say he is merely a mythical figure from the Eddas. We believe he is everything. And more. Odin’s stories are too numerous to cover here, and it would be difficult to fully answer the question “who is Odin?” But I will tell you how he became known as the All Father.
Odin’s Breath = Life
Odin was the son of Bor and Bestla, along with his brothers Vili and Ve. The brothers ventured far and wide exploring all things. And they decided the giant Ymir, made from the place where fire and ice danced together, had to die for life to be created. Once the brothers three succeeded in killing Ymir, they used his body to create life. They made soil from his flesh and mountains from his bones. Once they had finished creating the world, they looked for inhabitants but were disappointed that none existed.
So, they found two driftwood logs – one of Ash and one of Elm. The Ash proved resilient and beautiful, while the Elm proved graceful and tough. The brothers sat the logs upright and Odin used his breath to bring them to life. They were no longer logs; they were people. This is how Odin came to be the All Father. It is his breath that brought humans to life.
What is Odin the God Of?
So what is Odin the God of? Odin is complex as one would expect from the creator of all things. He is the archetypical sage, but this is not always the side of Odin his devotees need to experience. He teaches what it means to be a warrior, an individual, a seeker, a wanderer, a student, a teacher, a master, a ruler, an outlaw, a trickster, a poet, a shaman, an oracle, and so much more! Whichever of these archetypes you need to learn from is the face Odin will show you. Odin is associated with wisdom, inspiration, ferocity, magick, the dead, self-empowerment, transformation, shape shifting, leadership, academia, travel, and is generally good to approach for any matter really since he is the father of all.
Signs Odin is Calling You…
- You’ll start seeing his name everywhere – in books, on TV, etc. You might even start hearing songs dedicated to Odin (via Heilung or Danheim)
- There might be a sudden change in your life, an unexpected sometimes painful change
- He will literally show you his face in real life and in real people – an old man with a beard on the side of the road, a construction worker, etc.
- You might see his symbols or signs everywhere you go including the Valknut, Yggdrasil, and runes like Ansuz
- The Hanged Man tarot card might keep popping up in readings
- The Marvel character Odin might start popping up everywhere (yes, Odin communicates through this guise because it’s a form we know and understand)
- You might be recently drawn to writing, taking up the runes, Seidr, or traveling for sacred purposes
- Odin’s sacred animals will appear as signs to you including the raven, wolf, bear, hawk, eagle, and other birds
9 Ways to Work With Odin
Odin is one of the most responsive deities I have ever known. In the nearly 11 years that we have worked together, he never ceases to amaze me with the speed and vivid signs he gives when I ask. I have also known individuals whose experiences with Odin are wrathful, harsh, or capricious. He favors leaders, writers, academics, worthy warriors/soldiers, women of the occult, nomads, truth seekers, and those that travel in the liminal spaces. There are many ways to work with this all-knowing God, but here are our favorites:
Odin made a lot of sacrifices. He sacrificed his eye to his Uncle Mimir to drink from the well of wisdom. He hung himself upside down from Yggdrasil (the world tree) without food or water with a spear piercing his side until he was nearly dead to gain the wisdom of the runes. Odin loves self-sacrifice. The more you love something and the longer are willing to give it up, the better the reward Odin will bestow upon you. Or rather, the better the reward Odin will teach you how to bestow upon yourself.
2. Dedicate Altar Space to Odin
I know we say this about all deities, but it’s true! Having an altar space dedicated to Odin gives him a gateway into this world. And, Odin has a pretty healthy ego about him and likes to be honoured. Things you can add include beer/mead bottles, The Hanged Man tarot card, the rune Othala or Ansuz, raven/crow feathers, horseshoes, wolf photo/paw print/fur (all ethically sourced of course!)
3. Altar Offerings for Odin
In addition to keeping space for him, giving offerings is another great way to honor the All Father, as with any deity. All of these are merely suggestions and, as always, go with what resonates for you. Mead/beer/wine/alcohol in general, tobacco, blood, red meat (especially wild game).
4. The Number 9
Odin hung himself in sacrifice for 9 days and 9 nights from the Yggdrasil. He starved, was dehydrated and in the between worlds by the end of the 9 days but he gained the runes. Because of this, 9 is one of his sacred numbers. Ways to incorporate the number 9 into your practice: sacrifices for 9 days and 9 nights, tying 9 knots in your magickal workings, honouring Odin especially on the 9th of the month and in September (which is a modern addition), and change your offerings every 9 days. As well as wearing the Valknut symbol as an amulet.
5. Odin’s Menagerie
Odin has a few important animal associations. Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory) are Odin’s watchful ravens that fly over the world every night and return to Odin every morning to report. Sleipnir is Odin’s eight-legged magickal steed born from, and gifted by, Loki. Sleipnir is beautiful and gallops across the land and sky with the symbols of Hel upon its skin. And then there are Odin’s wolves, Geri and Freki. The wolves eat all the food from Odin’s table as Odin need only mead to survive and represent his ravenous and greedy nature. When you give an offering of meat, its an offering to Geri and Freki.
6. Sacred Celebrations
Odin is not short on holy days and can be especially celebrated at the following times of the year: April 15th is known as Sigrblot (aka the first day of summer) when it was typical for the Norse to make a sacrifice to Odin for victory in the coming summer battles. April 22nd is Yggdrasil day when trees are honoured, and since Odin hung from the Yggdrasil, honouring him on this day is also recommended. October 31st was known as the Last Sheaf, or the last harvest, and was dedicated to Odin and his dead.
Yule season is also particularly special since one of Odin’s many names is Jolnir, meaning “Yule-One.” Each year starting at the sunset of the Winter Solstice (around the 20th of December or the 20th of July), Yuletide would begin. The celebrations would last for 12 days (hello 12 days of Christmas) and end around the 31st of December or 1st of August when Odin had finished his yearly Wild Hunt. The Wild Hunt is when the distressed dead returned to earth to ride with Odin and bestow blessings and gifts of abundance for those who leave offerings of food and drink.
7. Elder Futhark Runes
Odin sacrificed himself to gain the wisdom of the runes. Rune magick is a veneration of Odin all in itself whether it’s through divination, study, or sigil. Runic magick is POWERFUL. If you are going to attempt any runic magick, please remember the two R’s: respect and research. Know what you’re getting into and respect the power you draw to yourself through your work with runes. So long as you heed these two precautions, all will be well.
Odin is big on worthiness and believe me when I say that if he believes you to be unworthy, he will let you know swiftly. Now before anyone gets a complex, hear me out. Many times, I have seen Odin turn on practitioners who either didn’t take what they were doing seriously or who thought themselves unworthy. You must go into runic magick with confidence, focus, and reverence. Also, it’s important to attune yourself to the runes. You will need to preform a ritual to accomplish this.
Wednesday is the day of the week that belongs to Odin. It is the day of Mercury and in Norse the name Wodanaz translates to mean “Germanic Mercury.” Any magick performed on Wednesday where Odin is called upon to aide is particularly auspicious.
9. Reading and Writing
Odin is a scholar. He loves to learn and to know and to continuously feed his conscious and subconscious mind. He is a lover of scholars, teachers, leaders, sages, and occultists. Reading the Norse mythos is a must if you are to be a devotee of Odin. He loves being prolific and the Norse are a people of stories. Stories are how Odin’s narrative continues to garner the attention of people around the world. If you’re more academic, you may want to read The Poetic Edda which is the primary source for Norse pagan beliefs. It was written between 1000 and 1300 C.E. and can be obtained by going to Sacred-Texts.com. If you like more modern reading, I highly recommend Neil Gaiman’s book Norse Mythology.
As for writing, Odin loves poetry, verse, and really great stories. Writing works of fiction, poems, or even music is a great way to honor him. And don’t worry about it sounding too outlandish, Odin loves drama!
Learn more by listening to our podcast all about Odin:
Grab your set of Odin Grimoire Pages here:
Who is the Wayfaring Witch, Allorah Rayne?
Allorah Rayne is a practitioner of amnestic wayfaring witchcraft and has been part of the online spiritual community since 2012. Her introduction to Tarot was the age of nine and she pursued more intensive learning at fifteen. Allorah is the founder of Wayfaring Witch ©. She is also the co-founder of Spread This, Witches!, a community centered divination organization. Contact her on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and YouTube or by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org