Odin: the ‘Raven God’


Odin and his aides by Carl Emil Doepler (1882)

As a great fan and admirer of Norse mythology, I thought that today I would blog about the wonderful mythology surrounding the God Odin who was often referred to as ‘The Raven God’.  The picture above shows Odin holding his spear named Gungnir, to either side of his are his wolves Geri and Freki (both have a meaning for ‘ravenous’ and ‘greedy’) and his ravens, Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory and/or mind).

Grímnismál from The Poetic Edda (describes them from the perspective of Odin:

Huginn and Muninn
Fly every day
Over all the world;
I worry for Huginn
That he might not return,
But I worry more for Muninn

The Poetic Edda (circa 10th Century A.D.)

In Gulfaginning (chapter 38) it is said that the two ravens sit upon Odin’s shoulders.  He sends them out at dawn and they return in the evening with news on what they have found. In the poem above,  Odin is worried about losing the two ravens, which serve as a really strong metaphor for himself.  Losing his ‘thoughts’ is bad , but losing his ‘memory’ or ‘mind’ would be a worse thing by far!

Such wonderful poems go as far back as the 10th Century A.D. (and sometimes even earlier) in Scandinavian and Icelandic literature. It would be a crime if they were lost or forgotten about and left unread in dark, long forgotten corners of libraries.  I believe that it our responsibility as authors, readers and fans of fantasy to reanimate elements of this wonderful literature into modern fantasy works.  This can act as a catalyst to excite people to read more of these original wonderful stories and this is important as they form an integral part of our world heritage.


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