Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

Norse God, combining two Teutonic deities: Tiwaz, the Sky Father, and Wotan/Woden, a war-god. Favoured by aristocrats and warriors, he has over 50 titles, including "All-Father", "the Hooded One" and "the Hanged God". Two ravens, Hugin and Munin (Thought and Memory), are his informers, His ring Draupnir spawns nine more rings on every ninth night. He flies on his eight-legged horse Sleipnir and goes among humans disguised. To gain wisdom, he traded one of his eyes for water from under the World-Tree, Yggdrasil. Runes appeared at his feet after he had wounded himself with his spear and hanged himself for nine days. At Ragnarok, the Doom of the Gods, he faces the giant Wolf Fenris, who kills him.

He is a sacrificed god. His suffering is not for Fertility or Redemption. Mounting a tree, self-inflicting pain to gain wisdom, and the sense of flying are characteristic experiences of Shamans. Odin is a battle-lord, but no great warrior. He casts his spear over armies to determine the outcome, advises on strategy and chooses who will form his army of the slain in Valhalla. He is the forerunner of the cloaked, supernatural stranger, and Lord of the rings. [FS]

see also: Nordic Fantasy.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.