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  • Writer's pictureJeff Monday


One of my favorite moments to write during 'Jom the War Bringer' was when the hero (Jom, duh) listens to a story from a very old source. Although the teller of the story is never explicitly named in the book, it was hinted at. The story was a retelling of how the speaker--Odin--learned 18 powerful magic spells (charms) that would ultimately help Jom defeat his own foes. That legend, beautiful and poetic, is just as powerful now as it was when it was written.

Called the Havamal, this retelling by Odin is part of the Poetic Edda which has survived as one of our primary sources of Nordic mythology and is definitely one of the oldest legends I incorporated into the Story King Chronicles. Here's some of the original poem:

Wounded I hung on a wind-swept gallows For nine long nights, Pierced by a spear, pledged to Odin, Offered, myself to myself The wisest know not from whence spring The roots of that ancient rood.

They gave me no bread, They gave me no mead, I looked down; With a loud cry I took up runes; From that tree I fell.

Nine lays of power I learned from the famous Bolthor, Bestla' s father: He poured me a draught of precious mead, Mixed with magic Odrerir.

Waxed and throve well; Word from word gave words to me, Deed from deed gave deeds to me.

I've always had a fascination for Odin. If the only knowledge you have of him comes from the Thor movies, I beg you to take a moment and read up on him. I mean, he sometimes rides around on an eight-legged horse! HOW COOL IS THAT??? Always by his side are his two ravens, Thought and Memory and two wolves, the Ravenous and the Greedy.

He's the god of war but also the god of poetry. He's the patron of both outlaws and rulers. He's the head of the gods yet is always striking off on his own. And yet all these disparate qualities blend together in a way that encompasses everything yet is beholden to nothing.

Is it any wonder then why I like this figure? Ever since I was a child, everyone wanted to put me in boxes. I'm this, not that and don't cross the line. And I, of course, have fought against that mentality ever since. Not only does Odin have no interest in your rules, he can back it up with a bolt of lightning if needed. He's the ultimate outsider who's loving and poetic and kicks ass and RIDES AN EIGHT-LEGGED HORSE!

Now, to be fair, Odin is known to be ruthless, incite war just for the primal joy it brings and will manipulate anyone he needs to in order to accomplish his sometimes random goals. So, you know, there's that.

But he did give up one of his own eyes for ultimate wisdom. And hung himself from the World Tree Yggdrasil.

Cause, sometimes you have to "sacrifice yourself to yourself."

So basically, Odin is way more than the father of Thor. And even in this day and age, we could learn from his stories. Oh, and if you see a raven watching you, treat it well. Besides being super scary smart, it just may be something much, much more.

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