Thor’s Day Alert #6: President Odin
Happy Thor’s Day, everybody!
Since we’ve just elected a new president here in the (hopefully) improving US of A, I thought today would be a good day to talk about Asgard’s leader, Odin.
Odin is the most complex of the Norse gods. Warrior and shaman, spearman and skald, he is both loved and feared by those he rules. In many ways, Odin is a study in contrasts — most of which I can’t address in one blog post.
So just some quick hits today. An Odin primer, if you will:
Odin is Thor’s father. Indeed, Odin is father to numerous gods (and mate to a few women). But this isn’t why his most famous nickname is Allfather. He’s called this because he’s the oldest of the Norse gods, and because among them he is solely omnipotent.
Odin came to power in the most old-school of ways: through an unquenchable thirst for knowledge . . . and bloodshed. To kick off his campaign, he and his brothers murdered the Frost Giant Ymir, who created not only the first human, but giants and dwarves as well. The argument could be made that Ymir was Odin’s great-grandfather.
Following this ruthless act Odin switches from destroyer to creator. With the help of his brothers Vili and Ve, he raises Ymir’s broken skull and with it forms the dome of the sky. From Ymir’s flesh they create the earth, and within his encircling eyebrows, the earthly realm of man known as Midgard; Ymir’s blood formed the seas; his bones, cliffs; his hair, trees; and from his brains, storm clouds.
From two trees Odin and his brothers create a pair of humans to populate Midgard. The man’s name was Ask and the woman’s name was Embla (as in Ash and Elm, perhaps?). And from them descend the rest of the humans in Midgard.
In Prose Edda, we hear nothing more of Vili and Ve. I don’t know about you, but something tells me Odin’s brothers went the way of good old Grandpa Ymir.
And that, my peeps, is how to win a kingdom — Norse style.