In the Norse society rules and laws were expected to be followed. Breaking norms led to that an individual was shunned and suffer some kind of consequence. Everyone could be punished for not following the rules. No-one stood above the law and gods were also expected to behave according to Norse standards.
The greatest of all Norse gods, Odin engaged in practices that were completely unacceptable in the Norse society. As a result of this, God Odin was exiled from Asgard, the Kingdom of Norse gods. He was scorned and labeled unfit to be called a god.
However, this didn’t bother Odin at all. He knew exactly what he had done and didn’t regret it. Nothing stood between him and his ambitions.
As previously discussed on Ancient Pages, God Odin was probably the most complex figure of all the Norse Gods.
In the Norse pantheon, Odin is considered as ‘Allfather’ and ruler of Asgard, but he was never entirely to be trusted.
Odin was a god of magic, wisdom and war, but his desire to gain knowledge was almost like an obsession.
It is said that the great Odin sacrificed an eye to Mimir, the Norse god of wisdom, in exchange for a drink from Mimir’s well located in Jötumheimr, one of the mysterious nine world of Yggdrasil.
God Odin And Norse Shamanism
In Norse mythology Seidr is the practice of magic and shamanism. Shamans played a very important role in the Norse society. These enigmatic beings were known for their unusual powers and they were credited with the ability to alter destiny. Beings who mastered Seidr were therefore as much feared as respected by people and even the Norse gods themselves.
God Odin and Goddess Freya practiced shamanism. To become a shaman, one had to go through a ritual that involved dying resurrection. This was the only way gain divine powers. Odin underwent the ritual in venture for the runes. The word “rune” comes from Old Norse and means “Secret knowledge and wisdom”. God Odin himself was regarded as “Father of the Runes”. The Vikings believed runes were created when their chief god Odin speared himself to the cosmic world tree, Yggdrasil in hopes of receiving secret knowledge.
The mot powerful of the shamans was a völva and her prophecies were feared among Vikings and Norse gods. Norns, known as ‘Shapers of Destiny’ in Norse mythology were masters of Seidr.
God Odin’s quest for knowledge led him to the practice of shamanism- He did gain supernatural powers and the knowledge he so deeply desired, but Odin was punished for his shamanistic practices and exiled from Asgard, the kingdom of the gods for 9 years!
That a male should engage Seidr was unacceptable and loathsome because it required him to assume the role of a women, both sexually and socially. Men who practiced Seidr were called calledergi (Old Norse for “unmanly”). In those days, it was the most horrible thing a man could be called. Men who pursued the practice of Seidr were banished from the society, scorned and laughed at. Practicing Seidr involved divination, clairvoyance, healing, bringing curses on individuals and controlling weather. It was something females were supposed to do.
So, naturally, God Odin had to suffer the consequences for becoming involved in the practice of Seidr. Not only was he exiled from Asgard, but he was also scorned for the feminine traits he adapted during the practice of Seiðr. To the pre-Christian Norsemen his practice made him a transgender who was unfit to be a God.
God Odin was never embarrassed by this because his greatest ambition was to gain knowledge and the practice of Seidr made him achieve his goal. God Odin’s shamanic spirit-journeys were thoroughly documented in the Ynglinga Saga and in the Eddic poem – Baldur’s Dreams. Odin’s journey to the underworld with his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir, is also chronicled.