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Odin, Sacrifice, and the Search for Wisdom

For nine days and nine nights Odin hung from the world tree, Yggdrasil, pierced with a spear, without food and water, on a quest to obtain the sacred knowledge of the runes. The idea that wisdom is a thing that requires sacrifice – that it’s a thing that might be traded for, or something that might be won, like an object – permeates mythology, but what does it mean, to see wisdom this way? Odin is said to have been sacrificing “himself to himself” – how does that relate to the pursuit of wisdom, and what is wisdom, anyway?  (more…)

Creativity, Magic, and The Mead of Poetry

Mead of PoetryThe war between the Vanir and the Aesir ended in a truce, symbolized by the two warring factions spitting into into a jar, that was then fashioned into a man – the wisest of men – Kvasir, who could answer any question. Kvasir traveled far and wide, sharing his wisdom, until he came to the home of two dwarfs, Fjalar and Galar. The dwarfs told him that they wanted to speak with him, but when they had lured him to a secluded place they murdered him, instead, and drained his blood into two jars (Son and Bodn) and the kettle Odrarer. They added honey to the blood of Kvasir and mixed it, creating the mead of poetry, a magical drink that when imbibed could turn anyone into a scholar or poet. They told the gods that Kvasir had choked on his wisdom, and considered the matter settled. (more…)