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Sam Stoker

Odin, Wōden, Fjölnir, Yggr, Alföðr...arguably one of - if not the - most prominent of Germanic gods (and even that origin is contested), there are over one hundred and seventy names for the wise and ancient god of war. He has so many attributes that it is difficult to be specific as to what he is actually the god of, since the list is so long!

Depictions of Odin date back as far as C2 BCE and he is notably referenced in the Old Norse Icelandic Sagas. The Ynglinga Saga tells the tale of a god demoted to chief who rules Asgard and leads armies into battle.

It is said that Odin gave his eye in order to gain powers of a seer. Other sources argue that his wife Frigg taught him the power of divination.

Ravens announce his arrival in Huginn and Munnin (thought and memory), the pair who fly all over the world bringing news to the Allfather. The birds have been depicted alongside Odin throughout history and as such he is also referred to in some texts as a raven god.

Married to Frigg, Odin is the father of Balder the sun god and Thor, god of thunder. Similarities have been drawn between the couple and Freyja and Óðr. Odin's hall is Valhalla where he oversees half of those who lost their life in battle, those whom the valkyries bring to him.

Tales of eight legged beasts, giant hounds and sorcery follow the battle-hardened sorcerer through Midgard. Odin is heralded as leader of the Wild Hunt, which in Scandinavia signals changing weather and war, and in the wider continent is linked to our modern Santa Claus owing to the Hunt taking place during Yuletide.

Odin's legacy reaches into our modern world, with Wednesday being another Norse named day, from Wōden's Day, as Thursday is to Thor's Day.

Here in the north of England, we of course have many remnants of our Viking history. Of relevance here is the well known hill Roseberry Topping in Cleveland. The obscure vision of the hill is said to have held significance with the vikings and they named it a variation of Odinsberg which, over the centuries, has morphed through Wōdensberg, Othensberg and other names to settle on Roseberry. The hill is now owned by the National Trust and followers of Odin may enjoy a hike to the summit.

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