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Odin, the one-eyed hanged man

5 Apr 2021 | Norse

What would you do to become the wisest creature in the universe? Have you ever wondered why Odin is missing one of his eyes? What Happened? A fight? A battle? Not at all. Know more about Odin’s sacrifices


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We all have heard of many stories about the search for knowledge, but none of them is as strong and violent as Odin’s quest for wisdom.

It is known that, more than anything else in the cosmos, Odin craved wisdom. In his quest, he has searched throughout all the 9 worlds and risked anything to achieve his goal.

Sources tell us about the time he travelled to the roots of the World Tree, Yggdrasil. His plan was simple: find the Mimir and drink from his well.

Mímir was one of the wisest beings in the universe and got his knowledge from his well, Mímisbrunnr, located at the bottom of Yggdrasil. It is said that Mímisbrunnr, was one of the 3 wells located in the roots of the gigantic tree and that it had the property to store all the knowledge of the creation also passing it on to those who drink from it.

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The problem was that Mímir would not give anything from the precious well without asking for something in return at a high price. When Odin arrived and asked to drink from it, Mímir was unconditional:

— If it is knowledge you seek, you, Allfather, like anybody else will also need to pay the price! I shall have one of your eyes in exchange for a sip.

As said before, this was a problem, but not for Odin, the almighty king of the Asgardians. Without hesitation, the god scooped his eye from his face and gave it to the well.

Then, the deal was sealed. Mímir dipped the god’s horn in the well and gave away the draught. This was his first sacrifice.

In future passages, he found the decapitated head of Mímir and embalmed it with herbs and charms, keeping it with him almost all the time in case he needed advice.

The Allfather’s ultimate sacrifice

In another passage, the bards tell the stories of his second sacrifice. This time, even harsher.

Odin caught himself many times watching the work of the Norns. The Norns were beings that controlled the destiny of all mortals and gods. As they decided the fate of everyone, they carved runes on the trunk of Yggdrasil.

They were the only ones that could read them, as the runes were only revealed to those who were worthy. And the unstoppable Odin knew that.

One day he decided it was time to acquire this new knowledge, but, to do that, he needed the ultimate sacrifice. Before acting, he forbade the other gods to help him, not even a sip of water or fruit would touch his lips.

He decided to hang himself and that he should stay there until the task was done.

He threw a rope around one of the branches of Yggdrasil and wrapped around his neck. Then he jumped. That was not enough. To make sure the sacrifice was true, Odin took his spear Gungnir and pierced himself.

For 9 days and 9 nights, he was there, not dead and not alive, calling for the runes. He only stopped when he sensed something different, something taking shape. The runes accepted his tribute. Reborn and victorious, the god´s cry of joy could be heard in all the cosmos.

“I am worthy! I have the knowledge!”


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