At first glance, to those who have not heard the legends, the image of Odin mounted on his steed Sleipnir and holding aloft his spear Gungnir, would strike a figure of a warrior king. Fearsome he was, but behold a king with the wisdom of Solomon. Fierce looking in his winged helm, they may assume he lost his eye in one of many battles. Battles there were,but not as one would think. Odin sacrificed his own eye, at the request of Mimir, to drink from the Well of Knowledge. Reflect for a moment, on a painful time in your life. You have brought a certain knowledge away from this period, have you not?

It is told that with cunning or seduction, he won the Mead of Poetry from Gunnlod, and shared a bit with man. Here is the origin behind the power of the ryhme and the Bard. Before the time of written record, who would weave your legend into the fabric of your ancestors?

Do you know how to write? Do you know how to read?
Do you know how to tint? Do you know how to try?
Do you know how to ask? Do you know how to offer?
Do you know how to send? Do you know how to slaughter?

(from The Havamal)

This is the gift of Odin. The quest for knowledge.  Beyond his artistic rendering of the fierce warrior, he is also depicted as the wanderer, carrying a staff and wearing a floppy hat. Tolkien wrote that he thought of Gandalf as an ‘Odinic Wanderer”. How inspirational it is, for someone to quest for knowledge unhindered by the trapping of status, to believe there are lessons to learn among the least. Humble and sacrificial as we know this character, picture now Odin, as he approaches Yggdrasil, The World Tree, where he merges the Tree of Life with his own death. Odin hangs, pierced by Gungnir, for nine days and nights. At the end of the torment, in his own blood in the snow, he is given the Runes.

Now mankind is given the opportuniy to read and know. To create on their own. These stories may seem a fairy tale to you, but there was a time not so long ago where those in power preferred to be the only literate, to withhold knowledge for their gain. Learning is a quest that can be made until you draw your last earthly breath.


(Sculpture from artist Monte Moore.)