When Odin claimed the Mead of Wisdom and Poetry it was the final episode of a larger mythic cycle covered partly by the Prose Edda and partly by the Poetic Edda. It records the origins of the mead and its passage through existence, returning full circle to its starting point. Along the way, the mead is met by several of the beings who inhabit the World Tree; suggesting all of these different beings contribute to the progress of wisdom itself.
The mead’s first ingredient came about when the Aesir and Vanir Gods agreed a truce after their futile war. They all spat into a vat and out of their spittle arose a being called Kvasir.
The Vanir Gods are associated with wilderness, nature, fertility and possibly magic. The Aesir Gods seem more associated with the protection of social order, “civilization” and religious observance. Kvasir embodies their differences and their common peaceful interest. He contains everything those deities stood for, a compendium of cosmological knowledge. As Snorri Sturlason stated in the Prose Edda “He was so wise that no one could ask him a question that he could not answer”.
Ken or Kennaz is the rune most associated with the Autumn Equinox, and it represents a flaming torch that lights up the darkness, leading to flashes of enlightenment. I had such a flash today when reading about it in Nigel Pennick’s excellent book “Runic Astrology”. Continue reading
By Rosemary Taylor, Shamanic Practitioner
As I explained in my last article, Odin Part One – Journeying God of Magical and Social Wisdom, Odin travels throughout the Nine Worlds in his quest for wisdom and to avert his own prophesied end, told him by a Seeress. He gains amazing resources along the way, including the runes and the mead of wisdom and poetry. He grows in magical and transformative power.
I also ventured that gaining this kind of occult wisdom may not be everyone’s path in life. If this path is your choice then you might well ask what were the processes, the methods by which he gained such power? Enough information is given in the Poetic and Prose Eddas to establish that he engages in forms of initiation and sacrifice in order to alter or expand consciousness, gaining knowledge of himself and the nature of reality. Continue reading
By Rosemary Taylor
Odin – such a complex character: a warrior, god of poetic inspiration, shapeshifter, leader of the Aesir Gods; husband; father; and mysterious man of the road. Often depicted as a lone traveller, a wide-brimmed hat pulled down over his face hiding his true identity, ravens perched on his staff or upon his shoulders.
I was told he has 99 names, which in itself seems to demonstrate his variety and changeability; sometimes these names are “fake IDs” that disguise and protect him as he travels through the nine worlds seeking wisdom. Continue reading
In order to interpret the metaphors contained in ancient myths, one has to first of all understand that they were meant to act as mnemonics, and so they were based on characters that our ancestors drew in the stars over their heads. In this way, these nomadic nocturnal wanderers and seafarers could carry their memory guide with them; they only had to look up and it was there.
This is no less true of the stories of the Celts, the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse – loosely known as the Northern Tradition. However, the stars of the Northern Tradition are not the same as those that were valued by the Greeks or the Egyptians astrologers, who created classic Western astrology. Therefore, to correctly interpret the stories of our ancestors in the northern hemisphere, we must know which stars were important to them. Continue reading