4 Lessons we can Learn from OdinAugust 30th
There are a lot of ways of gaining wisdom and a lot of examples of Wisdom seekers and havers throughout classical and mythological literature: From King Solomon to Gilgamesh, Sophia to Joanne, Athena to Confucius. Yet no figure in ancient lore has quite the claim to knowledge that Odin does. Not only is Odin, or Wotan, known as the wisest of the Aesir (Norse gods) but there are at least three separate famous stories about him striving and sacrificing for Wisdom.
The most famous, of course, is his trading one of his eyes (hence the appelation, Odin One-eye) to Mimir (or, in some version, Odin just dropped it straight in to Mimir’s Well, the Well of Wisdom) for clarity and wisdom. Only slightly less well known is the story of the nine days Odin spent hanging from Yggdrasil, the World Tree, in exchanchage for the Runes of Wisdom, a magical language that allowed him to perform all sorts of sorcerous feats. If that wasn’t enough, Odin once spent a summer doing the work of nine slaves just to get to the Mead of Poetry, a mystical drink that gives inspiration (yet another form of wisdom). The exchange involved much trickery and theft, not to mention some shape changing, so odds are it was no easy task.
One would think that that after finishing all these adventures and feasting in his mead hall in Valhalla Odin, now ruler and “All-father” of all the gods, would be happy with his wisdom, satisfied with his knowledge. Not Odin- the stories tell us that this aqcuistitive god was the owner of two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, who spent their day flying around the world, seeing and remembering everything that took place on it, only to return at night to whisper all they saw into the ears of the All-father.
OK, nice stories but what do we really learn from it? How do these hyperbolic tales of an ancient religion affect our lives? Well, simply put , in the easiest form:
1. Wisdom requires sacrifice. Whether it’s throwing your eye in a well or just paying for college, the acquisition of knowledge always has a price.
2. Wisdom requires effort. While most of us aren’t willing to hang from a tree or get stabbed in the side for some information, there is always some work, some suffering or effort, that must be expended if we hope to learn.
3. Wisdom comes in many forms. From Runic letters to magical mead, from auto repair to astrophysics, there are a variety of forms that knowledge takes and we must be not only open to, but interested, in all of them.
4. You’re never done learning. We don’t have super-birds who can tell us everything but we do have computers, friends and co-workers who can let us in on information we may not yet know.
So, while the worship of Odin may only be recognized in five countries, there is no reason we can’t all take to heart some lessons from the All-father.