Wednesday is Woden’s Day

Odin’s Sacrifice

No pain, no gain. You can’t get something for nothing. Everything has its price. We’ve all heard these sayings, some of us, perhaps, even live by them. To attain what we want, whether it be a minor goal to get in better shape, or a huge dream like making it to the Olympics, some sacrifices must be made. The bigger the dream, the bigger the sacrifice.

In Norse mythology, Odin made a huge sacrifice. Odin sacrificed his EYE.

Odin wanted knowledge; not just any knowledge, but the knowledge of the Universe. He traveled to the Well of Urd, also known as the Well of Wisdom, to visit the god Mimir (Mee-meer), who was the guardian of the well. The Well of Urd is the well that nourishes the World Tree, Yggdrasil, the tree in which all of the nine worlds of humans, gods, giants, dwarves, and elves live. Because the World Tree grows in its water, the Well of Urd houses all the knowledge of the universe.

The World Tree Yggdrasil

When Odin approached the god Mimir, he asked if he could drink from the Well. Being a good guardian, Mimir told Odin he’d have to make a sacrifice if he wanted to drink. The Well contained too much deep wisdom to offer to just anyone. A great sacrifice was required.

Odin gave Mimir his eye. Mimir then gave Odin a drink from the Well of Wisdom. From that moment on, Odin gained extensive knowledge. Odin is the Norse god with the most wisdom and is the most far-seeing.

I find a deep symbolism in Odin giving up his eye in order to gain wisdom. After all, the eye is the vehicle through which we see, and being able to “see” clearly is usually considered a sign of wisdom. As I mentioned in a previous blog, the god of war, Tyr, sacrificed his right hand to the wolf Fenrir. That was the appropriate, the ultimate, sacrifice for a war god—his right hand, his sword hand. 

For the god of wisdom, the god who wants to know everything, who wants to see everything that goes on in all the worlds, the sacrifice of his eye is the most symbolic sacrifice of all.

Odin is always depicted in art and in stories as having only one eye.

Odin the Wanderer (1896) by Georg von Rosen

Wodnesdaeg, in Old English, means Day of Woden