From Iceland — Gods Of Iceland: Óðinn, The Wise Fool Of Valhalla

Gods Of Iceland: Óðinn, The Wise Fool Of Valhalla

Gods Of Iceland: Óðinn, The Wise Fool Of Valhalla

Published October 8, 2021

Reetta Huhta
Photo by
Adobe Stock

Superpowers: Wants to read up on everything.
Weaknesses: Has only one eye.
Modern Analogy: That weirdo from your school, who probably reads too much for their own good.

As the Icelandic winter draws in we’re reaching for our comfy traditional lopapeysa sweaters, the beautiful woollen garments which have been keeping Icelanders warm for generations. They’re available for international delivery through our online shop, and ours are hand-knitted right here in Iceland from local wool.

Have you ever encountered a peculiar person who seems to live their life liberated from the boundaries of social norms? The kind of person who decides to take no notice of what’s considered normal in society and lives their own life to the fullest? Well, we have found just the right god to represent those people, and he’s none other than the ruler of Valhalla himself, Óðinn.

A one-eyed masochist

Óðinn is what one could call a wise fool, a character that might seem foolish at first but later comes to be seen as a holder of great wisdom. The appearance and acts of this bizarre god raise questions of his sanity. That cloak wearing, long-bearded guy gouged out one of his eyes just to get a sip of Mimir’s well, and sacrificed himself to himself by wounding his body with a spear called Gungnir. As if that wasn’t enough, he then hanged himself from the world-tree Yggdrasil, where he remained until he grew tired of death and brought himself back to life using sorcery. No wonder he’s called the ruler of possessed. He even owns two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, with whom he has daily chats.

So far Óðinn appears to be a complete moron. I mean, what kind of a fool rips out their eye as a payment for water? Just pack your own bottle the next time you go on an adventure. Also, why does he talk to the ravens, and—most importantly—who sacrifices themselves to themselves?!

“No wonder he’s called the ruler of possessed.”

Wisdom weighs more than pain

Believe it or not, there’s a perfectly good explanation for all of his doings: the quest for wisdom. He’s done all sorts of freaky things in the name of obtaining greater knowledge. Óðinn’s yearning for wisdom seems to be never-ending, and he’s willing to pay any price for it: He gave his eye to Mimir, because the water running in the well is said to impart cosmic knowledge. He sends his ravens each morning to the world to collect information, which they then share with him. And when he hung and wounded himself, he learned to create the runes.

So next time you come across a person who seems a bit weird, don’t underestimate them. They might be onto something.

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