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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…)