Lord of shamanism, ecstasy, and esoteric wisdom, Odin is the patron of poetry, magic, and the heroic dead. Known as the All-Father, he is a patriarch, an occult master, a restless,wandering wizard, and a formidable trickster. The patron of witches, occultists, and spiritual seekers, Odin is a magical practitioner and spiritual seeker, too. His thirst and quest for wisdom is endless. Odin willingly traded an eye for one mouthful of water from the Well of Wisdom. Determined to master the runes, Odin pierced himself and then hung for nine days and nights in shamanic ritual on the World Tree. He died a shamanic death in order to be reborn as the rune-master. The Tarot card The Hanged Man may depict this ritual, not a literal hanging.
Devotion to Odin once spread across the entire Germanic and Norse world. Other versions of his name include Votan, Woden and Wotan. Wednesday is his sacred day, literally Woden’s Day. He reputedly answers to over 175 different aliases and noms de guerre. Odin’s familiar ravens, Hugin and Munin – “Thought” and “Memory” – fly all over Earth each morning, returning with news, gossip, and secrets to whisper in his ear.
Odin travels all over Earth as well as through the sky, riding his magical steed and leading a procession of spirits, ghosts, heroes and heroines. Their passing is signalled by storms and powerful winds. Post-Christianity, this parade of spirits became known as the Wild Hunt. The Church described it as a parade of the damned, and warned the faithful to keep away lest they be ensnared and forced to join. Odin is the primary Wild Hunter. Sometimes he leads the Wild Hunt alone; sometimes he is accompanied by a female co-leader. Allegedly, if you hear a raven’s caw at night, it means the Wild Hunt – and Odin – draw near.
Odin sometimes wanders Earth in the guise of a shabby, dusty traveler. The clue to his identity tends to be his missing eye, although it is not always easy to spot. He may also travel disguised as a bird. Those who are gracious to him are rewarded. Those who are rude eventually regret their behavior.
Odin continues to be venerated in various Neo-Pagan spiritual traditions like Asatru, as well as by witches. He stars in Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle of opera and appears in many works of fiction, including a pivotal role in Neil Gaiman’s 2001 novel, American Gods.
If you find yourself in New Orleans this weekend, wander on over to Witchy Living – they will be hosting a book launch and signing for Judika Illes on Friday October 15th, followed by a special workshop on “Spells and Spirits of Samhain” on Saturday October 16th. http://witchyliving.com/judikailles.html