Riders to The Sea - Odin, written by Linda Munson Peth

The Runes
The Eye
Place Names of Odin
The Charm of the Road
Place Names and Other Names Taken From the Name of Odin
Odin, Saint Nick, Santa Claus, Krampus, Belsnickle, Schwarte Piet and Other Legendaries
Crom Dubh and Richard III
A missing Eye
The Mam

This is a rock.

Riders To The Sea: The Play


Because Odin was chief of the gods and had so many powers, names, and attributes, he was called the Allfather, the highest of the gods.

Odin was called the Allfather, the chief of gods, but he had many other names.


"Gangleri began his questioning thus: 'Who is foremost, or oldest, of all the gods?' Hárr answered:  He is called in our speech Allfather, but in the Elder Ásgard he had twelve names: one is Allfather; the second is Lord, or Lord of Hosts; the third is Nikarr, or Spear-Lord; the fourth is Nikudr, or Striker; the fifth is Knower of Many Things; the sixth, Fulfiller of Wishes; the seventh, Far-Speaking One; the eighth, The Shaker, or He that Putteth the Armies to Flight; the ninth, The Burner; the tenth, The Destroyer; the eleventh, The Protector; the twelfth, Gelding'" (http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/pre/pre04.htm).

"Who is foremost or oldest of the gods?"

The chief god of the Norsemen was Odin, Lord of the Dead and Masterful Magician. The Macmillan Illustrated Encyclopedia of Myths and Legends explains that:


"He was known by many names, each name showing a different facet of his personality: Odin, Voden, Woden, Wotan, Votan or Wuotan. The name Odin probably means furious...When he wandered among mankind, he wore a large blue cloak and a wide brimmed hat to conceal his missing eye...His missing eye resulted from his pursuit of knowledge. He gave it to the giant Mimir in return for a drink from a well into which seeped knowledge from a root of Yggdrasil, the world tree" (Cotterell, 140).

List of the Names of Odin

Talk: List of Names of Odin

Meaning of Name Odin at BabyNames.com

Old Man Winter

The Christian Bible contains many references to God the Father as an Old Man having a long white beard who acted as a judge of his people.

"Thrones were set in place and The Old One sat down." Daniel 7th Chapter, The Message by Eugene H. Peterson

Odin is pictured as having a long white beard, as is Father Christmas, Father Time, and numerous other personified characters that symbolize old age, the passing of time, the old and cold season of winter, and other personifications that describe the end of life.

Odin, the chief god of the Germanic pagans, is not necessarily the opposite of the Christian God, even though during the time of conversion from Paganism to Christianity he and all other pagan folk figures became tainted as either being Satan or Satanic.

Opposite or parallel symbolism is often a part of mythology, so that Hel, the goddess of the underworld is half light and half dark depending on the season of the year. Odin could either help or hinder an outcome, just as the Norse elves might work wonders or wreak destruction, depending on their inclination.

Byanna's Sunday and the cow skull

"Weary se'nnights nine times nine" and Fair is Foul and Foul is fair

Far Eastern relion offers insight on this theme The Buddhist I Ching by Chih-hsu Ou-i says  this on page 30:


"When good and evil oppose and overthrow each other, this is because of not having realized that the substance of their subtle essential nature is one, and seeing a mixture or jumble of descriptions of events.


Really heaven is dark, earth is yellow- the higher development of mind is an endless mystery; physical life on earth succeeds through balance. These cannot be changed. What is there to disapprove or doubt? What is there to do battle with?

'Further, Odin was referred to by many names in Skaldic poetry, some of which describe his appearance or functions; these include Síðgrani,[18] Síðskeggr,[19] Langbarðr,[20] (all meaning "long beard") and Jólnir[21] ("Yule figure").'

Father Time

Not only did Odin have many names, he also had many warriors. He was the Lord of  the "Night-flying Howling Host".

"In Figure 101 a bearded personage, ponderously crowned and bearing a ceremonial mace, stands surrounded by such a company, of which he is obviously the lord- as is Shiva, in India, of the young wind gods, the Maruts; and in Europe, Othin, of his night-flying Howling Host"
(Campbell, 114).

The Mythic Image By Joseph Campbell, M. J. Abadie, pg 114

Since Odin was a Germanic god, how did the stories of Odin become so prevalent in Ireland? The Norse Vikings raided the coast of Ireland repeatedly, pillaging and later building settlements there. Gradually, words and customs and religious beliefs were exchanged with the Irish. Some of the Irish gods had similar qualities and mythologies to those of the Norsemen, so as in many other merging cultures, the Northern gods either took their places among the Irish deities or took over their identities.
The cult of Odin was brought to Ireland via these Northmen. Place names in the British Isles and Europe originated from the name Odin. Many of these names do not sound like the word Odin in English. Nevertheless, scholars have found the origins of many place names in Europe and the British Isles based upon the worship of Odin. There is an Odin, Minnesota in the United States.
The name of Odin is still linked to place names in England today. For example, the city of Wormshill in Kent, England:
"is thought to be much older, its name derived from the Anglo-Saxon god Woden (a version of the Norse god, Odin) and meaning "Woden's Hill...The University of Nottingham's Institute for Name-Studies has offered the suggestion that the name means 'shelter for a herd of pigs"

In English, the days of the week are named after Germanic gods. Wednesday means "Odin's day".

Wednesday - Odin's and Wodan's Day

Wormshill, Kent, England

St. Giles Church, Wormshill, Kent, England


What were those names collectively?

"III. Gangleri began his questioning thus: "Who is foremost, or oldest, of all the gods?" Hárr answered: "He is called in our speech Allfather, but in the Elder Ásgard he had twelve names: one is Allfather; the second is Lord, or Lord of Hosts; the third is Nikarr, or Spear-Lord; the fourth is Nikudr, or Striker; the fifth is Knower of Many Things; the sixth, Fulfiller of Wishes; the seventh, Far-Speaking One; the eighth, The Shaker, or He that Putteth the Armies to Flight; the ninth, The Burner; the tenth, The Destroyer; the eleventh, The Protector; the twelfth, Gelding."



Since the Norse were obsessed with riddles, how can we know if those warriors were not manifestations of himself and his different names?




There may be other explanations of why Odin had so many names. In Man, Myth & Magic, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown, there is a chronicle of the Lombards, the Origo Gentis Langobardum:


"Here Frija persuades her husband by a trick to give a name to the tribe who sought her help. She turned Woden's bed to face the East, then told the people to come out at sunrise, the women with their long hair hanging over their faces. 'Who are these Longbeards?' asked Woden in surprise, and since he had bestowed a name on them, he was bound to give them the gift of victory that went along with it" (Cavendish, 965).


If a name means victory, then Woden had victory after victory.

Further reading furnishes explanations of Odin, the multi-faceted personality of the North. Sometimes he appeared in full battle rage, sometimes as a trickster or shape-changer and, at still other times, as a skilled sorcerer: 

Odin's name is also associated with triads of gods. One of his names was Thridi, a third part of a trinity. The idea of a trinity existed in pre-Christian religions. Pagan gods were often found in groups of three, and there were many such groups.


This explanation from The Encyclopedia of Religion gives the reader more understanding about the number three:  "Moreover Odinn often appears in triads of gods and is even called Thridi, A third..."(Eliade, 57).


Synge, the author of Riders to The Sea, was friend to Yeats wrote these lines emphasizing triads:


                    "John Synge, I and Augusta Gregory thought...

                    We three alone in modern times had brought

                    Everything down to that sole test again,

                    Dream of noble and the beggar man"



A triangle is made from thirds.The use of triads in mythology continued in use even in the age of chivalry:
"A knight, Jacques de LaLaing, erected a pavilion on an island in the river Saone with statues of a lady and a unicorn - the lady was apparently drenched in tears and the unicorn had three shields around its neck, colored white, violet, and black - representing, respectively, ax, sword, and lance.On the first of the month, knights who wished to challenge Jacques were invited to come and touch a shield to indicate which weapon they would use" (Bouchard, 104).

The presence of triads, not always strictly Christian, still exists in some forms in old churches. For instance, St. Mary at Tarranr Crawford, Dorset, England has wall paintings with themes common in the Middle Ages.
"Another allegory illustrated here is the 'Moral of the Three Living and the Three Dead'. A trio of kings with all the trappings of wealth meet up with three skeletons, who warn them against reliance on transitory riches" (Brabbs, 101).
The triad motif is ancient and seems to give extra creedence to the allegory.

The King Arthur Cycle of Mythology furnishes a character, Merlin, who is a magician like Odin. In King Arthur, Dark Age Warrior and Mythic Hero, a character named Lailoken is described as a "semi-mythical madman" from the Lowlands of Scotland and is also called a Wildman. He and Merlin have many of the same characteristics. Both are described as laughing three times because of precognition and prediction.
As in the cult of Odin, Lailoken "predicts the threefold death for himself...The motif is an extremely ancient one, deriving from the self-initiation, or false-death of the shaman..." (Matthews, 47).
Is it possible to know if Merlin was linked to the cult of Odin or was another manifestation of man's need to create a mythical purveyor of magic to solve  the difficult problems of those times?

Merlin made a shrewd deal and got Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon, as an infant to raise as the future king of Britain.
In Arthurian legend, the name Pendragon originates from Cornwall and means, according to some sources, "Bear Chief Dragon of the Britons"  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornish_folklore).
"By the earliest accounts, the first man to bear the name Pendragon (from Pen Draig, meaning «head dragon» or «chief dragon») was Ambrosius Aurelianus, or as the Welsh call him, Emrys Wledig. He took the name for himself after seeing a comet shaped like a dragon crossing the night sky, and his banners also bore the image of a dragon"

Odin and Merlin from the legend of King Arthur have many similar features. 
"...the Norse Volsunga Saga. In this greatest of all Viking sagas can be found the model for Arthur's Sword in the Stone. The tale also provides some clues to the origin of Merlin the Magician, who can clearly be seen in the character of Odin, the Viking's all powerful wizard-god" (Matthews, 34).  

Tricksters, Clowns, Magicians, Jesters & Fools

Another mythological seer was Merlin the Magician, "The Welsh Seer" (Matthews, 42).

The Sagan of the Volsongs has some similarities to the the Arthurian legend The Sword In The Stone.

The Song of The Volsungs

Merlin said that he searched for the dragon's egg.
This is a fossil.


The Havamal - Collection of Wisdom Poems

The Runatal - Lord of the Gallows

A twig in the path
Even a chance finding might be considered an omen.

Third time's charm, as the saying goes, and three times three is nine.

The book The Norsemen in the Viking Age tells how the oral tradition in skaldic verse helped them organize their genealogies. They concocted "cousinhoods" and connected lines of male ancestors with stories and nicknames. "Theodoric, the king in the second episode, lived NINE-MEN-AGES AGO" (Christiansen, 246).

Considering the nature of the nine sacrifices of different kinds that were hung from trees, it is interesting to note that meat was hung from trees in other cultures.
There are other cultural references about hanging people, animals, or flesh in trees that widens understanding of just what is meant. The book Son of Old Man Hat by Walter Dyk, a Navajo, tells about what they did with the meat after they butchered sheep:
"We butchered them and put the meat on the trees...The trees outside the hogan were decorated with meat."
 Putting the meat on trees kept it out of reach from animals. Even today, campers hang their food in trees to prevent bear attacks.

Since Odin was a wanderer and appeared in disguise, he was sometimes referred to as "the old man", a seemingly generic term, but sometimes understood more specifically as an archetype. As an archetype, the Old One or the Old Man often appeared in folk tales and songs.


Once such song called "Hold Your Hands, Old Man", Child Ballad #95, is found in many forms, and these versions have found their way into our times.  


The Ozark (Missouri) version is one among  many, and there are thirteen British variations. The following three verses show the main elements of the song which include hanging on a gallows tree, a question of forfeit money to avoid death, and a form of the Norse prayer in the moments just before death, found as the supplicant says that he sees his parents and family in the distance.


                    "Oh father, have you brought my gold?

                    Father, have you paid my fee?

                    Or have you come to see me hung

                    On yonder gallows tree?


                    Neither have I brought your gold,

                    An' neither have I paid your fee,

                    But I have come to see you hung

                    On yonder gallows tree.


                    Hold your hands, old man,

                    Hold 'em a little while,

                    For I think I see my mother a-coming,

                    At a distance far away"

                    (Randolph, 143).

Old Man Winter

Byanna's Sunday and the skull


The message behind the legend of Odin's missing eye seems to be a bad one by modern standards:


The pursuit of knowledge will result in the loss of an eye or some other thing valuable to the self. You have heard the expression used sometimes as an oath, "I'd give my right eye for ___" as an example of swearing an oath.


What would be the psychology behind that?  Could it be that those who held power in days of old wanted to keep the rest of the population in intellectual darkness and serfdom?  Knowledge is power. Who would do all the grunt work if the serfs became educated?

Here is a strange twist on missing eyes.


In talking about wave function in a system's quantum state, psi ( Psi (uppercase Ψ, lowercase ψ) is the 23rd letter of the Greek Alphabet ), there is a way to predict the probability of a particle showing up at a particular place or with particular momentum is given by the square of the amplitude of psi. In Teleportation, The Impossible Leap, this question is asked "Why the square of the amplitude of psi and not psi itself?"


He continues, "Because psi is a complex function - complex in the mathematical sense

that it contains terms that involve the square root of minus one √-1, (written as i)...

Using the amplitude (also known as the modulus) is a process that gets rid of all the i's" (Darling, 69).

Many cultures have heroes and villians missing an eye or seeming to misss an eye.


The Irish epic hero Cuchullain also had a curious feature about his eye. When he became furious, working himself into a battle rage, one of his eyes would become much larger than the other and grossly swollen.

Cuchulain, the Hound of Ulster by Eleanor Hull This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923.

"In the Mesoamerican Aztec culture, there was also a god with a patch over his missing eye. He was the twin brother of Quetzalcoatl and was called Xolotl. He "took the shape of a deformed dog. When people prayed to Xolotl, his response depended on the way his ears were pointing."


His nature was unpredictable and destructive.


"As a symbol of the hardships he had endured, he had a burst eye. He was worshipped as a god of the ball game and twins" (Wilkinson, 108).

The "burst" eye conjures up the image of a stylized sunburst. Maybe the origin of  Odin's missing eye stems from ancient sun worship, the sun being a single bright blazing eye looking down upon man.

In classical literature, the Cyclops had only one eye which was put out by Odysseus. The Cyclops said to Odysseus:


"Now comes the weird upon me, spoken of old. A wizard, grand and wondrous, lived here--Telemos, a son of Eurymos; great length of days he had in wizardry among the Cyclopes, and these things he foretold for time to come: my great eye lost, and at Odysseus's hands. Always I had in mind some giant, armed in giant force, would come against me here. But this, but you--small, pitiful and twiggy-- you put me down with wine, you blinded me."


Everything about the cult of Oden is paradoxical and, especially, duplicitous. The one eye of Oden is suggested by the gesture of winking with the implied meaning of "It's a joke; don't you get it?"  In the same way, this winking, behind someone's back, as it were, implies amusement and exclusion of an outsider from a group "in-the-know" or, to use another proverb, in the instance of speaking over-the-head of an initiate who may, as an apprentice, one day become a journeyman  and eventually a master. The old saw "Let's put him through the ropes" seems to be an instance of duplicitous meaning, just as one who acts like an expert and operates at a higher level may be told to "get off his high horse".

The Courage to Create discusses the idea of the physical eye and "Seeing deeply", showing that the eyes, the windows to the world, could be credited for the intake of knowledge.


"The poet Rilke also was struck by Apollos' prominent eyes with their quality of seeing deeply. In his 'Archaic Torso of Apollo'...speaks of'...his legendary head in which the eyeballs ripened'..." (May, 119).

Since the language of the cult of Odin is so cryptic, this excerpt from Windmills makes you wonder how this reference evolved:


"An elaborate vocabulary developed to describe different parts of windmills. Historically, many parts of the mill were called by feminine terms. The outside stone body of the mill was called the skirt, the center part was the waist, and the grinding surface was referred to as the dressing. For example, a cry from the miller to his assistant- 'Don't choke her eye!' - indicated that the wheat should not be fed into the hopper too quickly" (Brooks, 23).

Odin wore his gorm cloak. Gorm means blue. In one interpretation of the origin of the surname Gorman "a man in his little blue suit" is given as the meaning of the name.  Maybe it was sometimes understood as his birthday suit.
Scholars of history have evidence that Celtic warriors used lime to bleach their hair and woad to die their bodies blue when they went into battle naked. They also wore blue tattoos over their bodies. Perhaps that is the better meaning of the surname Gorman.

Sleipnir is Odin's magical eight-legged steed, and the greatest of all horses. His name means smooth or gliding, and is related to the English word "slippery".

Sleipnir means smooth or slippery.

Wikipedia and Sliepner

Sleipner, like a a spider, has eight legs and spins, and so did the mythical Norns. Since the Norns "spin yarns", you can't be sure your fate is based on the truth.
Maurya's sons were riding on horses. If this were a riddle, it might be guessed that the two horses riding together had eight legs.

As Odin's horse, Sleipner is considered the greatest of all horses on earth.
He is sometimes linked with the color blue just as his dog Garm is. This was probably because the Celts painted their bodies with a blue dye called woad before they went into battle and had blue tattoos all over their bodies.

Odin's horse Sleipnir
is suggestive of a funeral. That would not be odd, since Odin is the Lord of the Dead. Sleipnir's eight legs are thought to represent four men (two legs apiece) carrying a corpse.

In some legends, Odin, riding Sleipner, leads his host in the Wild Hunt.
Whether under the name of Grim or Wotan, Odin, or the Gallows God, he leads a terrifying hunt in the sky. The prey might be men or animals. It may be that the Wild Hunt was practiced by devotees on the ground under different names, mimicking the actions of the gods.
This myth serves as a memorial of all the dead and the mythical routes they take to and from their graves.

The theme of resurrection occurs in this myth. Looking at the Viking burial customs described by Ibn Fadlan, it can be seen that when the corpse of the kings is dug up, this is a resurrection theme.

Besides Sleipner, there was another type of horse that Odin rode.


This tree Yggdrasil was the center point of the nine Norse worlds.  The book Witches, An Encyclopedia of Paganism and Magic elaborates:


"The term originates in the fusion of Ygg, one of the epithets of OTHIN, and the Old Norse word drasil, a horse, meaning literally the horse of Ygg, a euphemism for a gallows tree" (Jordan, 190). 


This is helpful in understanding the Norse use of figurative language. In this illustration one sees how the words are tied together, one to the other, as part of the linked usage of magic to words as well as to the riddles hidden within the words. The tree is linked to Odin and to the gallows by means of the figurative horse, which would carry the victim to the underworld by Odin the Commander of the Dead."

The book The Word Museum tells us that like Odin had his many names, so too, the gallows or hanging tree had many names, one of which was Tyburn-blossom.

"A young thief or pickpocket, who will in time ripen into fruit born by the 'deadly nevergreen' the great gallows, known as the Tyburn tree. [Grose, DVT] SEE figging-law, little snakesman, moon curser, swell-mobsman" (Kacirk, 199).

A further commentary on Norse figurative language is found in a discussion about The Gotland Stones, in this case the Ardre stone:

"That clearly in the case of the lower figure, that is entwined with vines and so indicates that it is not a living body.  Likewise, this also may indicate that the two figures above, shown intertwined with vines are also being shown as being dead, and thus the entanglement is symbolic: to illustrate to the person looking at the stone that it is meant to represent a corpse.  (Although there are corpses shown on other stones that are not depicted in the same way, which would indicate it wasn’t a universal symbolism.)  This is suggested in the Ardre stone, but the continuing tradition of heathen representations after the adoption of Christianity led to a representation of the crucifixion in a way that would be understood by the Danes who saw it, without there being any doubt as to what it meant."

The idea that the entangled foliage that surrounds pictures and carvings of The Green Man as a motif is symbolic of a corpse seems to be an acceptable interpretation. So does the old term "deadly nevergreen" and perhaps also "deadly evergreen" to describe the gallows.

Although there are still  many spring festivals in England with a walking Green Man all done up in green paint and foliage, this is a reborn Green Man, symbolic of resurrection. The other half of this idea is the Green Man's corpse surrounded by leaves and garlands.

There is also the idea that men hid themselves in the forest and foliage while spying on passersby, such as in the tales of Robin Hood.

Robin Hood is Odin, the god of the full year

At one time it was not unusual to see gibbets across the countryside in England. A corpse might be left hanging for some time before it was taken down from the gibbet. The dead person may have been cast into a nearby area of woods where grass and plants may have covered it in time.

A worm or serpent ran at the root of Yggdrasil.  This serpent (and probably also dragon) calls to mind the Garden of Eden and the temptation of the first humans by Satan using the world's first recorded instance of puppetry by speaking through a snake.

The cult of Odin included a pack of wild men riding with him in the lead


In picturing Odin in the Wild Hunt riding with his men and dogs, The Word Museum tells us about:


"yeth-hounds Hounds without heads, supposed to be animated by the spirits of children who have died without baptism" (Kacirk, 221).


Beheading was a form of execution and sometimes a cultic practice.

Mimir's severed head

A Pictish Warrior With Severed Heads

The English aristocracy carried on the traditions of the Wild Hunt even as the cult of Odin began to wane.

"The medieval English aristocracy loved no leisure activity more than hunting. Jousting, feasting, dancing, gaming, and polite conversation might have rounded out these activities, but none compared to the total cost, time and effort that the aristocracy devoted to hunting...
the entire infrastructure of the hunting establishment was focused on chasing down, killing, and breaking (butchering a hart with a maximum of physical and emotional investment."

The Art of Hunting: Or, Three Hunting Mss By William Twiti page 148

How did Odin know so much? Legend has it that two ravens named Huginn and Munnin, one at each ear, whispered to him all they had learned from flying about the earth, observing and gathering information. In Man, Myth & Magic, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown it says:


“According to the Prose Edda, while his body lay sleeping, Odin could take the shape of various creatures, including that of a wild beast or bird. Odin's ravens were not fierce flesh-eating birds; Huginn and Munnin represented thought and memory - the mind's ability to go roving as in a shaman's trance" (Cavendish, 497).


(Is "hugger mugger" related to Huginn Munnin?"

The noun HUGGER-MUGGER has 1 sense: 1. a state of confusion; ritual accompanied by complicated and purposeless activity that obscures and confuses

In the play Riders to The Sea, Maurya's two daughters do a lot of low talking and whispering to each other, meaning not to disturb their mother any further. It might be imagined that they are like Odin's two crows.


"CATHLEEN. Give me the ladder, and I'll put them up in the turf-loft, the way she won't know of them at all, and maybe when the tide turns she'll be going down to see would he be floating from the east.

[They put the ladder against the gable of the chimney; Cathleen goes up a few steps and hides the bundle in the turf-loft. Maurya comes from the inner room.]

MAURYA (looking up at Cathleen and speaking querulously). Isn't it turf enough you have for this day and evening?

CATHLEEN. There's a cake baking at the fire for a short space (throwing down the turf) and Bartley will want it when the tide turns if he goes to Connemara.

[Nora picks up the turf and puts it round the pot-oven.]"

Irish Turf Lofts - "there is a loft over which is the sloping roof. Here the children sleep."

Babd is The Crow

Where did the origins for many of these beliefs and tales come from, such as the importance of preternatural light? Some must have been derived from Mother Nature:

"Maurice Maeterlinck, in his classic The Life of the Bee, cited an experiment in which a fly was able to escape from a bottle in which it was placed more readily than did a bee...Maeterlinck challenged this conclusion, stating: 'Turn the transparent sphere [bottle] twenty times, if you will, ...and you will find that the bees will turn twenty times with it, so as to always face the light. It is their love of light, it is their very intelligence, that is their undoing in this experiment..." (Longgood, 56)".

Clochan na Carraige, stone beehive hut

As a traveler, Odin would sometimes appear in disguise to those he met on the road, one of many reasons why he was known as a trickster, and possibly, the reason he was considered a shape changer.

A highwayman and a hobo could be considered archetypical figures, so this type would continue throughout history.


In times when travel was dangerous because of highwaymen, it could be understood that, however dangerous the highway might be, it would be even more dangerous to venture off the path into a surrounding forest.


 Nevertheless, from ancient  to modern times, people traveled the highways, fleeing from bad conditions or seeking better ones.


During the Depression in America in the 1930's, many people became hobos and traveled by train and on foot. There was and is a secret culture of these hobos, with secret signs and campgrounds.


Not everyone who wandered belonged to that culture. 


Johnny Appleseed became an American legend before the Depression.

Carl Sandburg, a great American poet, also traveled as a hobo in his early life:

Hobo Terms and Signs

Hobo signs might be compared to other arcane symbols such as magic words, incantations and spells, and word formulas.

Magic words that functioned as a charm to unlock difficult puzzles are found in numerous works of literature. For instance, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves contains magical formula words.
"Iftah ya simsim", more commonly known as Open, Sesame, are the magic words in English that open the entrance to the cave in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.
There is treasure in the thieves' cave. Ali Baba's brother learns the secret words from him and enters the cave, but he forgets the words to get out of the cave and is found and killed by the band of thieves. They cut his body into four quarters, which the tailor later sews back together.
In this story, there is the image of a cave which is opened by means of magic words. There is also the image of Cassim's body being cut open by the thieves.

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Open Simsim, Close Simsim, Sewing the body back together

Geometry used as occult symbols

Math and magic Symbols

Burkert says that the pentagram had a secret significance and power to the pythagoreans, and was used as a password or symbol of recognition amongst themselves.

Preserved bodies found in peat bogs in Europe might be connected to the cult of Odin or a similar cult.  The Tollund Man is commemorated by the poet Seamus Heaney in his poem, which reads in part:


"Some day I will go to Aarhus
To see his peat-brown head,
The mild pods of his eye-lids,
His pointed skin cap.

In the flat country near by
Where they dug him out,
His last gruel of winter seeds
Caked in his stomach,

Naked except for
The cap, noose and girdle,
I will stand a long time.
Bridegroom to the goddess,

She tightened her torc on him
And opened her fen,
Those dark juices working
Him to a saint's kept body..."


As, perhaps, a"Bridegroom to the goddess", this man is sacrificed in a pagan religious rite.

Tollund Man Official Site

Seamus Heaney and "Tollund Man"

There is archeological evidence to support the details given in the myths of Odin that ritual sacrifice to the gods was practiced in the prescribed rites. One of three or several methods falling into Odinic practice were used: strangling, a blow with a sharp object, and  fire.


For instance, the Lindow Man was found, much like Tollund Man, preserved in a bog, having been garroted and struck in the head with a weapon.


Miranda Jane Green tells us of this in Celtic Myths:


"A clear example is Lindow Man, a young male of Iron Age date (c. 300 BC ), who suffered  severe blows to his head, was garroted and had his throat cut before being thrust face down in a shallow pool in Lindow Moss, Cheshire; before he died he may have eaten a ritual meal consisting of a whole meal bread..." (Green, 68).

The story of Christ is a reversal of these sacrifices. The enemies of God put him to death, rather than an angry god being appeased by the death of its adherents.

Similarly, the Tarot cards can be read in two ways, the face card having a separate meaning if it is turned upside-down or right-side up.

Here are some examples from the Christian Bible of senseless and viciously cruel religious practices of the ancients:


"You who immolate children in the wadies, behind the crevices of the cliffs...Among the smooth stones of the wadi is your portion, these are your lot." Isaiah 57:5-6.


The footnote for this text reads:


"...the people adored slabs of stone which they took from the streambeds in valleys and set up as idols. Therefore, it is implied that they will be swept away as by a sudden torrent of waters carrying them down the rocky-bottomed gorge to destruction and death without burial."




"While you approached the king* with scented oil, and multiplied your perfumes; While you sent your ambassadors far away, down even to the netherworld." Isaiah 57:9


The footnote for this reveals what these figures of speech are about: "The king: the pagan god Molech. Ambassadors: children sent to him through a sacrificial death."


The Catholic Bible, Personal Study Edition, New American Bible, New York, Oxford University Press, 1995.

The cult and Oath of Odin did not disappear after the appearance of Christianity, as some might suppose. The Oath was still taken in relatively recent times, and many of the ritual secrets and sacrifices are still to be found in some places, although it is not certain if the origins are understood to be from ancient times. Father Time could not seem to displace such a deep rooted custom.

"Even after the Norman invasion in 1066, when the Normans effectively wiped out all the early imagery and replaced it with Roman style, still oaths were commonly sworn “By God and by Odin”   (http://mitlivinghistory.co.uk/an-english-christmas/).

Even after the Norman invasion in 1066, when the Normans effectively wiped out all the early imagery and replaced it with Roman style, still oaths were commonly sworn "By God and by Odin".

The Odin Oath

Unfortunately, the practice of magic and spells often involved harm.


In Celtic Myths, this thought ties the cult of Odin to Samhain:


 "one Irish tradition involved the triple killing of a king, by burning, wounding and drowning, at the feast of Samhain" (Green, 69).


"The Lord said to Elijah: "Leave here, go east and hide in the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan. You shall drink of the stream, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there...Ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening.." 1 Kings 17:2-6 The Catholic Bible, Personal Study Edition

A group of crows is called "a murder".

Two Ravens/Magpies

Young Craw, Dialogue Poem Between Two Scottish Crows

"The eye that mocks a father,/ And scorns a mother,/ The ravens of the valley will pick it out,/ And the young eagles will eat it."
Proverbs 30:17, International Inductive Study Bible, ASV

So the figure of the glossy black raven, crow, or magpie and their scavenging habits as well as their innate intelligence could be used to typify a punishment in the Bible.

Odin's Whisperers, one to each ear, implied at the very least, the birds' great intelligence.

Ravens - "those who feed on Yggr's barley"

Kråke is Norweigen for crow and Kraken means...

The Hindu god Krishna, the dark one, had many names just as Odin did. Krishna was considered to be eighth out of a total of ten incarnations of Vishnu before the end of the world came. The tenth was thought of as a white horse.


The Norse legends spoke of Ragnarok, the final battle and end of the world.


In the Sixth chapter of Revelation of the Bible, the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is riding a white horse.

The theme and type of ritual killing found in the cult of Odin was not merely limited to the Norse.The pagan gods were vicious and bloodthirsty all around the globe.


Going further south in the Americas we read the text accompanying the photographs on page 102 about the Moche culture in National Geographic, July, 2004:


"His hand grips a severed head, his fanged mouth snarls, and the decapitator god evokes the fearsome wrath of the Moche..."


"his hand grips a severed head, his fanged mouth snarls, and the decapitator god evokes the fearsome wrath of the Moche..."

A bas relief on page 109 is accompanied by text that reads: "For prisoners of the Moche...Naked and bleeding and bound with nooses, they were led into the ceremonial plaza...A Moche priest adorned in gold slit their throats one by one."


 Frigg (or Frigga) is said to be Odin's wife.  She is a spinner, just as the Norns are. That means she also determines how long people get to live and what happens to them (fate). One of Odin's names is "Angan Friggjar", the Delight of Frigg.

Odin's domestic life is just as complicated as he is. It would seem there was some confusion about the goddess Freya, reputed to be Odr's (another of Odin's names) wife.


She seems to be indistinguishable from Frigg, Odin's (other? real?) wife. Some also think she sometimes goes disguised under the name Gullveig, not unlike Odin who seems to have more names and disguises than anyone can keep track of.

 If Freya and Frigg have evolved from the same folk source, they are possibly two variations of the same person.  If they are actually the same person, then they may be appealing to the two different brain hemispheres. 

Frigg seems to be the more respectable of the two, despite her name, while Freya would be thought to be slightly more, well, flexible. For one thing, she was depicted as riding a boar in battle and laughing about it in bed.

'In addition...for the practitioner to receive wisdom from the dead, a practice known as utiseta, 'sitting out,' or sitja á haugi 'sit on a barrow'".

"There was always danger in utiseta, for a person who dared it might be attacked by the haugbui or corpse who dwelled in the barrow.."

St.Cuthman hauls his mother in a wheelbarrow.

A wild boar obeys St.Kewe

Since Odin had white hair and a white beard, it is amusing to consider that the Northern people might have imagined him appearing in the disguise of a polar bear.


The Old Man is a designation for the polar bear, who is also a wanderer.


"Lapps refuse to speak the polar bear's real name for fear of offending him. Instead they call him "God's dog" or "the old man in the fur cloak."

Polar Bears

Odin was a trickster and often appeared in disguise as an old man. Other cultures had leaders who possessed much the same qualities as Odin.
In Finland, an old legend tells that Snow was personified as "king of cold". His name was Snaer which means "the old man" (Cavendish, 2813).
He lived to be 300 years old, and he had three daughters named Thick Snow, Snowstorm, and Fine Snow.

(Winkum, Blinkum and Nod) Are nursery rhymes really that innocent? Likely not. Triangles seem to have sinister applications in a lot of places.


This trio from old nursery rhyme/lullaby fame has a shady side. "Up to no good", they triangulate.  This gang signals its intentions to its members: one winks, another blinks and the third gives them the nod.  Then they move in for "the kill" - triangulation

Three Blind Mice is a well known nursery song. One person thinks the origin of this song was from the time of Scotland's Queen Mary:

It seems more likely that the elements of this rhyme are far older than Queen Mary, since she didn't really do exactly as the formula (or spell) requires.

Also, it is possible to read the words in more than one way with slight variations to the wording. For instance, it is possible to think "they all ran after the farmer's wife", implying that they were chasing her, or "they all ran" after the farmer's wife who cut off their tails, meaning she was after them.


Cutting off their tails may imply sexual mutilation.

The Illustrated Three Blind Mice

Their god is blind.

How To Make a Golem

A Golem is created by intense meditation.

The Monkey's Paw

Gypsy by Carl Sandburg

Hans Christian Anderson

Lyrics to Oh Death by Dock Boggs

Death and the Lady 2

New Year's Ode

While Odin was called the chief god, he was more distant to the common people.
The next most prominent god was Thor. He was very popular and not mysterious like Odin. He was often pictured as a fisherman.
One such portrayal was found on the Gotland picture stones, "some twelve of the carved scenes can be related...but nine others cannot...One stone, Ardre viii, carries seven episodes: Thor's fishing and hook-baiting..." (Christiansen, 242).

Although Thor and Frey are different gods, both are pictured in or driving carts.


"Thor sat in the middle. He was the most highly honored...Thor was arranged to sit in a chariot...There were goats, two of them, harnessed in front of him...The rope round the horns of the goats was of twisted silver...


...in the late tenth century a wooden idol of Frey" would be drawn in a wagon from farm to farm, accompanied by a living woman who rode beside it as was called 'the wife of Frey'...the statue was welcomed with feasting when it reached the farm" (Simpson, 168).


This "wife of Frey" sounds very much like a volva. It may be that "the wife of Frey was a title given to all volvas.


Other details of Thor and Frey during this festival time include "Oracles were taken, by throwing down pieces of wood with markings on them, which were called 'sacrifice chips' or 'lot twigs'...in the Swedish temple of Thor there were huge, heavy bronze hammers, whose clanging imitated the noise of thunder" (Simpson, 169).

Norse Gods

 The Mythic Image, discusses the time period of an eon. The Norse deities were waiting for Ragnorak, the end of  time:


"...for example, in India the number of years assigned to an eon is 4,320,000; whereas in the Icelandic Poetic Edda it is declared that in Othin's warrior hall, Valhall, there are 540 doors, through each of which, on the 'day of the war of the wolf,' 800 battle-ready warriors will pass to engage the antigods in combat. But 540 times 800 equals 423,000.


Moreover, a Chaldean priest Berossos, writing in Greek ca. 289 B.C., reported that according to Mesopotamian belief 432,000 years elapsed between the crowning of the first earthly king and the coming of the deluge" (Campbell ,72).


This shows an example of how numbers and time were important as motifs in other cultures.

Odin and the Cult of Witches

Wren's Day

The Wran Boys

Meaning of iota


Riders to The Sea, Biblical Implications