Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon “Wōden” and the Old High German “Wotan”, the name is descended from Proto-Germanic “Wodanaz” or “Wōđanaz”. “Odin” is generally accepted as the modern English form of the name, although, in some cases, older forms may be used or preferred. In the compound Wednesday, the first member is cognate to the genitive Odin’s. His name is related to ōðr, meaning “fury, excitation,” besides “mind,” or “poetry.” His role, like that of many of the Norse gods, is complex. Odin is a principal member of the Æsir (the major group of the Norse pantheon) and is associated with war, battle, victory and death, but also wisdom, magic, poetry, prophecy, and the hunt. Odin has many sons, the most famous of whom is Thor.
Odin had three residences in Asgard. First was Gladsheim, a vast hall where he presided over the twelve Diar or Judges, whom he had appointed to regulate the affairs of Asgard. Second, Valaskjálf, built of solid silver, in which there was an elevated place, Hlidskjalf, from his throne on which he could perceive all that passed throughout the whole earth. Third was Valhalla (the hall of the fallen), where Odin received the souls of the warriors killed in battle, called the Einherjar. The souls of women warriors, and those strong and beautiful women whom Odin favored, became Valkyries, who gather the souls of warriors fallen in battle (the Einherjar), as these would be needed to fight for him in the battle of Ragnarök. They took the souls of the warriors to Valhalla. Valhalla has five hundred and forty gates, and a vast hall of gold, hung around with golden shields, and spears and coats of mail.
Odin has a number of magical artifacts associated with him: the spear Gungnir, which never misses its target; a magical gold ring (Draupnir), from which every ninth night eight new rings appear; and two ravens Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory), who fly around Earth daily and report the happenings of the world to Odin in Valhalla at night. He also owned Sleipnir, an octopedal horse, who was given to Odin by Loki, and the severed head of Mímir, which foretold the future. He also commands a pair of wolves named Geri and Freki, to whom he gives his food in Valhalla since he consumes nothing but mead or wine. From his throne, Hlidskjalf (located in Valaskjalf), Odin could see everything that occurred in the universe. The Valknut (slain warrior’s knot) is a symbol associated with Odin. It consists of three interlaced triangles.
Odin is an ambivalent deity. Old Norse (Viking Age) connotations of Odin lie with “poetry, inspiration” as well as with “fury, madness and the wanderer.” Odin sacrificed his eye (which eye he sacrificed is unclear) at Mímir’s spring in order to gain the Wisdom of Ages. Odin gives to worthy poets the mead of inspiration, made by the dwarfs, from the vessel Óð-rœrir.
Odin is associated with the concept of the Wild Hunt, a noisy, bellowing movement across the sky, leading a host of slain warriors.
Consistent with this, Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda depicts Odin as welcoming the great, dead warriors who have died in battle into his hall, Valhalla, which, when literally interpreted, signifies the hall of the slain. The fallen, the einherjar, are assembled and entertained by Odin in order that they in return might fight for, and support, the gods in the final battle of the end of Earth, Ragnarök. Snorri also wrote that Freyja receives half of the fallen in her hall Folkvang.
He is also a god of war, appearing throughout Norse myth as the bringer of victory. In the Norse sagas, Odin sometimes acts as the instigator of wars, and is said to have been able to start wars by simply throwing down his spear Gungnir, and/or sending his valkyries, to influence the battle toward the end that he desires. The Valkyries are Odin’s beautiful battle maidens that went out to the fields of war to select and collect the worthy men who died in battle to come and sit at Odin’s table in Valhalla, feasting and battling until they had to fight in the final battle, Ragnarök. Odin would also appear on the battle-field, sitting upon his eight-legged horse Sleipnir, with his two ravens, one on each shoulder, Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory), and two wolves (Geri and Freki) on each side of him.
Odin is also associated with trickery, cunning, and deception. Most sagas have tales of Odin using his cunning to overcome adversaries and achieve his goals, such as swindling the blood of Kvasir from the dwarves.
On September 2, 2009 an amateur archaeologist found a small silver figurine at Lejre in Denmark. It has been dated to around AD 900. The figurine is only 2 centimeters tall and shows a person sitting on a throne adorned with two beast heads and flanked by two birds on the arm-rests. The excavator interpreted the piece as a representation of Odin, Hugin and Munin. Scholars specialising in Viking Period dress and gender representations, however, pointed out that the person is dressed entirely in female attire, making it more probably a goddess such as Freya or Frigga.