Wednesday is Woden’s Day

odinToday is Wednesday, or Woden’s Day. Woden, or as he is more commonly known, Odin, is the most powerful of the Norse gods. But he goes by many other names as well: Allfather, Father of the Slain, High One, and Destroyer, among others.

He is the god of wisdom and war. In his hand he carries the spear Gungnir (Swaying One), which was made by dwarves and always hits its mark. By his side sit the wolves Geri and Freki (both names mean “greedy” or “ravenous”). Odin does not need to eat food, so he feeds all his food to the wolves.

The Allfather keeps track of what happens in Midgard (Earth) from his high seat in his hall. His two ravens, Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory) fly out into the world every morning and return every evening to whisper in Odin’s ears all they have witnessed.

Odin may be powerful, but he was not universally loved. That title goes to Thor, who is much more beloved by the common person. Odin was the god of kings and high born men. But even to his favorites, Odin could be capricious; he’d favor a king for years and then decide, in the midst of battle and for no reason, to kill him. Odin claims it is because he wants his favorites fighting by his side when Ragnarok, the end of the world, comes to pass. When that happens, all the warriors in Valhalla will join the gods to fight the forces of evil.

Gandalf.

Gandalf.

Odin the Wanderer (1896) by Georg von Rosen

Odin the Wanderer (1896) by Georg von Rosen

The Allfather is usually seen wearing a floppy hat and a long cloak. The image of Gandalf, from Lord of the Rings, bears a huge resemblance to Odin.

 

The most telling mark of Odin is his one eye. But that will be a story for a future post!

 

 

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7 Responses to Wednesday is Woden’s Day

  1. Kilian Metcalf says:

    Just curious and too lazy to look it up, wondering why four days in the English week are named for Norse Gods? And how did that Roman god sneak in on the weekend?

    • kimberlysbarton says:

      I think the Germanic people simply replaced the Roman names for their own gods. The only exception being Saturday (Saturn’s Day). Sunday is Sun Day and Monday is Moon Day.

      • Kilian Metcalf says:

        Did the Germanic tribes worship Norse gods? So ignorant here. Quick, ask me a question about the Tudor dynasty so I can feel smart again.

        • kimberlysbarton says:

          The Scandinavian and Germanic gods are basically the same. Woden is actually the older, Germanic name, that morphed to Odin. I don’t know all of the etymology though.

  2. It makes me sad when people created gods and goddess that were so cruel, like wasn’t life harsh enough back then? But i suppose this is how they coped with those painful events.

    • kimberlysbarton says:

      They weren’t all cruel and capricious. Thor was well loved. Freyr, Freya, Frigga, Balder…I can’t think of any stories in which they were cruel.

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