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Preserved from an 11th-century manuscript, the poem is, according to Bill Griffiths, "one of the most enigmatic of Old English texts".
The section that mentions Odin is as follows:. A serpent came crawling but it destroyed no one when Woden took nine twigs of glory, and then struck the adder so that it flew into nine pieces.
There archived apple and poison that it never would re-enter the house. The emendation of nan to 'man' has been proposed. The next stanza comments on the creation of the herbs chervil and fennel while hanging in heaven by the 'wise lord' witig drihten and before sending them down among mankind.
Regarding this, Griffith comments that "In a Christian context 'hanging in heaven' would refer to the crucifixion ; but remembering that Woden was mentioned a few lines previously there is also a parallel, perhaps a better one, with Odin, as his crucifixion was associated with learning.
The Old English rune poem recounts the Old English runic alphabet, the futhorc. Due to this and the content of the stanzas, several scholars have posited that this poem is censored, having originally referred to Odin.
Woden was equated with Mercury, the god of eloquence among other things. The tales about the Norse god Odin tell how he gave one of his eyes in return for wisdom; he also won the mead of poetic inspiration.
Luckily for Christian rune-masters, the Latin word os could be substituted without ruining the sense, to keep the outward form of the rune name without obviously referring to Woden.
In the poem Solomon and Saturn , "Mercurius the Giant" Mercurius se gygand is referred to as an inventor of letters. This may also be a reference to Odin, who is in Norse mythology the founder of the runic alphabets, and the gloss a continuation of the practice of equating Odin with Mercury found as early as Tacitus.
The 7th-century Origo Gentis Langobardorum , and Paul the Deacon 's 8th-century Historia Langobardorum derived from it, recount a founding myth of the Langobards Lombards , a Germanic people who ruled a region of the Italian Peninsula.
According to this legend, a "small people" known as the Winnili were ruled by a woman named Gambara who had two sons, Ybor and Aio. The Vandals , ruled by Ambri and Assi , came to the Winnili with their army and demanded that they pay them tribute or prepare for war.
Ybor, Aio, and their mother Gambara rejected their demands for tribute. Ambri and Assi then asked the god Godan for victory over the Winnili, to which Godan responded in the longer version in the Origo : "Whom I shall first see when at sunrise, to them will I give the victory.
Meanwhile, Ybor and Aio called upon Frea, Godan's wife. Frea counselled them that "at sunrise the Winnil[i] should come, and that their women, with their hair let down around the face in the likeness of a beard should also come with their husbands".
At sunrise, Frea turned Godan's bed around to face east and woke him. Godan saw the Winnili and their whiskered women and asked, "who are those Long-beards?
Godan did so, "so that they should defend themselves according to his counsel and obtain the victory". Thenceforth the Winnili were known as the Langobards 'long-beards'.
Writing in the mid-7th century, Jonas of Bobbio wrote that earlier that century the Irish missionary Columbanus disrupted an offering of beer to Odin vodano " whom others called Mercury " in Swabia.
A 10th-century manuscript found in Merseburg , Germany, features a heathen invocation known as the Second Merseburg Incantation , which calls upon Odin and other gods and goddesses from the continental Germanic pantheon to assist in healing a horse:.
Phol ende uuodan uuoran zi holza. Phol and Woden travelled to the forest. Then was for Baldur 's foal its foot wrenched. Then encharmed it Sindgund and Sunna her sister, then encharmed it Frija and Volla her sister, then encharmed it Woden , as he the best could, As the bone-wrench, so for the blood wrench, and so the limb-wrench bone to bone, blood to blood, limb to limb, so be glued.
In the 11th century, chronicler Adam of Bremen recorded in a scholion of his Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum that a statue of Thor, whom Adam describes as "mightiest", sat enthroned in the Temple at Uppsala located in Gamla Uppsala, Sweden flanked by Wodan Odin and " Fricco ".
Regarding Odin, Adam defines him as "frenzy" Wodan, id est furor and says that he "rules war and gives people strength against the enemy" and that the people of the temple depict him as wearing armour, "as our people depict Mars".
In the 12th century, centuries after Norway was "officially" Christianised, Odin was still being invoked by the population, as evidenced by a stick bearing a runic message found among the Bryggen inscriptions in Bergen, Norway.
On the stick, both Thor and Odin are called upon for help; Thor is asked to "receive" the reader, and Odin to "own" them. Odin is mentioned or appears in most poems of the Poetic Edda , compiled in the 13th century from traditional source material reaching back to the pagan period.
The meaning of these gifts has been a matter of scholarly disagreement and translations therefore vary. During this, the first war of the world, Odin flung his spear into the opposing forces of the Vanir.
While the name of the tree is not provided in the poem and other trees exist in Norse mythology, the tree is near universally accepted as the cosmic tree Yggdrasil , and if the tree is Yggdrasil , then the name Yggdrasil Old Norse 'Ygg's steed' directly relates to this story.
Odin is associated with hanging and gallows ; John Lindow comments that "the hanged 'ride' the gallows". On the mountain Sigurd sees a great light, "as if fire were burning, which blazed up to the sky".
Sigurd approaches it, and there he sees a skjaldborg a tactical formation of shield wall with a banner flying overhead. Sigurd enters the skjaldborg , and sees a warrior lying there—asleep and fully armed.
Sigurd removes the helmet of the warrior, and sees the face of a woman. The woman's corslet is so tight that it seems to have grown into the woman's body.
Sigurd uses his sword Gram to cut the corslet, starting from the neck of the corslet downwards, he continues cutting down her sleeves, and takes the corslet off her.
The woman wakes, sits up, looks at Sigurd , and the two converse in two stanzas of verse. In the second stanza, the woman explains that Odin placed a sleeping spell on her which she could not break, and due to that spell she has been asleep a long time.
Sigurd asks for her name, and the woman gives Sigurd a horn of mead to help him retain her words in his memory. The woman recites a heathen prayer in two stanzas.
Odin had promised one of these— Hjalmgunnar —victory in battle, yet she had "brought down" Hjalmgunnar in battle. Odin pricked her with a sleeping-thorn in consequence, told her that she would never again "fight victoriously in battle", and condemned her to marriage.
Odin is mentioned throughout the books of the Prose Edda , authored by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century and drawing from earlier traditional material.
In the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning chapter 38 , the enthroned figure of High Harr , tells Gangleri king Gylfi in disguise that two ravens named Huginn and Muninn sit on Odin's shoulders.
The ravens tell Odin everything they see and hear. Odin sends Huginn and Muninn out at dawn, and the birds fly all over the world before returning at dinner-time.
As a result, Odin is kept informed of many events. High adds that it is from this association that Odin is referred to as "raven-god". In the same chapter, the enthroned figure of High explains that Odin gives all of the food on his table to his wolves Geri and Freki and that Odin requires no food, for wine is to him both meat and drink.
Odin is mentioned several times in the sagas that make up Heimskringla. In the Ynglinga saga , the first section of Heimskringla , an euhemerised account of the origin of the gods is provided.
It was the custom there that twelve temple priests were ranked highest; they administered sacrifices and held judgements over men. Odin was a very successful warrior and travelled widely, conquering many lands.
Odin was so successful that he never lost a battle. As a result, according to the saga , men came to believe that "it was granted to him" to win all battles.
Before Odin sent his men to war or to perform tasks for him, he would place his hands upon their heads and give them a bjannak ' blessing ', ultimately from Latin benedictio and the men would believe that they would also prevail.
The men placed all of their faith in Odin, and wherever they called his name they would receive assistance from doing so.
Odin was often gone for great spans of time. While Odin was gone, his brothers governed his realm. His brothers began to divvy up Odin's inheritance, "but his wife Frigg they shared between them.
However, afterwards, [Odin] returned and took possession of his wife again". According to the chapter, Odin "made war on the Vanir ". The Vanir defended their land and the battle turned to a stalemate, both sides having devastated each other's lands.
As part of a peace agreement, the two sides exchanged hostages. In Völsunga saga , the great king Rerir and his wife unnamed are unable to conceive a child; "that lack displeased them both, and they fervently implored the gods that they might have a child.
It is said that Frigg heard their prayers and told Odin what they asked", and the two gods subsequently sent a Valkyrie to present Rerir an apple that falls onto his lap while he sits on a burial mound and Rerir 's wife subsequently becomes pregnant with the namesake of the Völsung family line.
Gestumblindi said:. Heithrek said:. Local folklore and folk practice recognised Odin as late as the 19th century in Scandinavia.
In a work published in the midth century, Benjamin Thorpe records that on Gotland , "many traditions and stories of Odin the Old still live in the mouths of the people".
Local legend dictates that after it was opened, "there burst forth a wondrous fire, like a flash of lightning", and that a coffin full of flint and a lamp were excavated.
Thorpe additionally relates that legend has it that a priest who dwelt around Troienborg had once sowed some rye, and that when the rye sprang up, so came Odin riding from the hills each evening.
Odin was so massive that he towered over the farm-yard buildings, spear in hand. Halting before the entry way, he kept all from entering or leaving all night, which occurred every night until the rye was cut.
Thorpe notes that numerous other traditions existed in Sweden at the time of his writing. Easy is it to know for him who to Othin Comes and beholds the hall; Its rafters are spears, with shields is it roofed, On its benches are breastplates strewn.
Artist depiction of the gate to the Hall of the Fallen. Source: Deviant Art by najtkriss. It honors the slain warrior and king, Eric Bloodaxe and provides the first known mention about Valhalla c.
I woke the einherjar told them to rise quickly for benches to be strewn dishes to be washed I bade the Valkyries to bring the wine for the great kings will be coming.
As noted, Odin and his Valkyries select half of the dead Viking warriors to go to Valhalla. Therefore, just how or why Odin and his Valkyries chose certain people and not others is not explicit.
It appears that the Norse afterlife was simply a continuation of this one and that Norse religion did not assign people to certain places in the afterlife based on moral merit or lack thereof, such as in the concepts of heaven and hell in Christianity.
Additionally, Christianity influenced parts of the imagery that he added — some of which had nothing to do with the ancient Norse religion.
Today when we hear or read about Norse mythology, we think of the stories like fanciful fairy tales: the imaginative stuff of books and movies designed to entertain us.
However, for the Germanic and Norse people, their religious beliefs and pantheon of gods had a pervasive bearing on their everyday lives. For them, the gods truly existed.
As such, the Vikings tried to do what was necessary to appease the gods with their actions. For example, they held regular rituals on a private and community basis.
They made sacrifices in exchange for specific divine blessings such as fertility, a bountiful harvest, or a successful battle.
Perhaps their beliefs about Valhalla were the reason why the Vikings were among the bravest and fiercest warriors in history. Their battles in this life may have been merely a tryout for the elite army in the afterlife.
If they could prove themselves, perhaps the king of the gods would select them to live out the last days of the cosmos like brave and honored kings in preparation for the final battle of Ragnarok.
Kimberly is a writer and the content manager for Historic Mysteries. If she's not plunging down the SEO rabbit hole, she's visiting some ancient site in Italy, where she currently lives in the middle of an active caldera.
Kimberly will continue to venture around the world and write about the history she encounters. I dreamed I rose up before dawn to clear up Val-hall for slain people.
I aroused the Einheriar, bade them get up to strew the benches, clean the beer-cups, the valkyries to serve wine for the arrival of a prince.
Hrungnir goes in, demands a drink, and becomes drunk and belligerent, stating that he will remove Valhalla and take it to the land of the jötunn, Jötunheimr , among various other things.
Eventually, the gods tire of his boasting and invoke Thor, who arrives. Hrungnir states that he is under the Aesir's protection as a guest and therefore he can't be harmed while in Valhalla.
After an exchange of words, Hrungnir challenges Thor to a duel at the location of Griotunagardar , resulting in Hrungnir's death.
In chapter 34, the tree Glasir is stated as located in front of the doors of Valhalla. The tree is described as having foliage of red gold and being the most beautiful tree among both gods and men.
A quote from a work by the 9th century skald Bragi Boddason is presented that confirms the description. Valhalla is mentioned in euhemerized form and as an element of remaining Norse pagan belief in Heimskringla.
In chapter 8 of Ynglinga saga , the "historical" Odin is described as ordaining burial laws over his country. These laws include that all the dead are to be burned on a pyre on a burial mound with their possessions, and their ashes are to be brought out to sea or buried in the earth.
The dead would then arrive in Valhalla with everything that one had on their pyre, and whatever one had hidden in the ground.
In chapter 8 of Fagrskinna , a prose narrative states that after the death of her husband Eric Bloodaxe , Gunnhild Mother of Kings had a poem composed about him.
I waked the Einherjar, bade valkyries rise up, to strew the bench, and scour the beakers, wine to carry, as for a king's coming, here to me I expect heroes' coming from the world, certain great ones, so glad is my heart.
The god Bragi asks where a thundering sound is coming from, and says that the benches of Valhalla are creaking—as if the god Baldr had returned to Valhalla—and that it sounds like the movement of a thousand.
Odin responds that Bragi knows well that the sounds are for Eric Bloodaxe, who will soon arrive in Valhalla. Odin tells the heroes Sigmund and Sinfjötli to rise to greet Eric and invite him into the hall, if it is indeed he.
Sigmund asks Odin why he would expect Eric more than any other king, to which Odin responds that Eric has reddened his gore-drenched sword with many other lands.
Eric arrives, and Sigmund greets him, tells him that he is welcome to come into the hall, and asks him what other lords he has brought with him to Valhalla.
Eric says that with him are five kings, that he will tell them the name of them all, and that he, himself, is the sixth. In this illustration from a 17th-century Icelandic manuscript, Heimdall is shown guarding the gate of Valhalla.
The concept of Valhalla continues to have influence in modern popular culture. Examples include the Walhalla temple built by Leo von Klenze for Ludwig I of Bavaria between and near Regensburg , Germany , and the Tresco Abbey Gardens Valhalla museum built by August Smith around to house ship figureheads from shipwrecks that occurred at the Isles of Scilly , England , where the museum is located.
References to Valhalla appear in literature, art, and other forms of media. Examples include K. Ehrenberg's charcoal illustration Gastmahl in Walhalla mit einziehenden Einheriern , Richard Wagner 's depiction of Valhalla in his opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen — , the Munich , Germany-based Germanic Neopagan magazine Walhalla — , and the comic series Valhalla — by Peter Madsen, and its subsequent animated film of the same name A video game with the title Assassin's Creed Valhalla was released in November The Walhalla temple above the Danube near Regensburg , Germany.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Enormous hall located in Asgard, in Norse mythology. For other uses, see Valhalla disambiguation.
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