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Odin the All-Father

Odin.

"I am the unknown Will, The Anger that threatens glory and ruin: Lord of Storms am I, in heaven high and caverns deep. I am the Father of the War, Odin for you, Wotan for him, Wayfarer, Wanderer, beggar, king, numen, genius, strength and ring."

Odin is the chief god in Norse mythology and is a widely revered deity and the king of the Norse gods. Odin is associated with healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, battle, sorcery, poetry, frenzy, and the runic alphabet, and is the husband of the goddess Frigg.

Odin is depicted as one-eyed and long-bearded, frequently wielding a spear named Gungnir, and wearing a cloak and a broad hat. He is often accompanied by his animal companions, the wolves Geri and Freki and the ravens Huginn and Muninn, who bring him information from all over Midgard. Odin also rides the flying, eight-legged steed Sleipnir across the sky and into the underworld. Odin is attested as having many sons, most famously the god Baldr and the more widely known Thor the thunder god, and is known by hundreds of names.

Odin is often portrayed as being an eminently honorable ruler and battlefield commander (not to mention impossibly muscular), but to the ancient Norse, he was nothing of the sort. In contrast to more straightforwardly noble war gods such as Tyr or Thor, Odin incites otherwise peaceful people to strife with what, to modern tastes, is a downright sinister glee. He maintains particularly close affiliations with the berserkers and other “warrior-shamans” whose fighting techniques and associated spiritual practices center around achieving a state of ecstatic unification with certain ferocious totem animals, usually wolves or bears, and, by extension, with Odin himself, the master of such beasts.

Odin’s preference for the elite extends to all realms of society. As the chief of the Aesir gods, he’s the divine archetype of a ruler. He’s the legendary founder of numerous royal lines, and kings are as likely as shamanistic warriors to claim him as their beneficiary. Odin is often the favorite god and helper of outlaws, those who had been banished from society for some especially heinous crime, as well. Like Odin, many such men were exceptionally strong-willed warrior-poets who were apathetic to established societal norms.

Odin frequently seeks knowledge in some manner and in disguise (most famously by obtaining the Mead of Poetry), at times makes wagers with his wife Frigg over the outcome of exploits, and takes part in both the creation of the world by way of slaying the primordial being Ymir and the gift of life to the first two humans Ask and Embla. Odin has a particular association with Yule, and mankind's knowledge of both the runes and poetry is also attributed to Odin.

Odin is given primacy over female beings associated with the battlefield, the valkyries, and he himself oversees the afterlife location Valhalla, where he receives half of those who die in battle, the einherjar. The other half are chosen by goddess Freya for her afterlife location, Fólkvangr. Odin consults the disembodied, herb-embalmed head of the wise being Mímir for advice, and during the foretold events of Ragnarök, Odin is told to lead the einherjar into battle before being consumed by the monstrous wolf Fenrir.

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