Odin was the Norse god of wisdom, known as the "Allfather".<ref>Odin. (2009). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.</ref>
Although it is unclear whether he was worshipped amongst all the Germanic peoples, it would seem that he had achieved pre-eminence by the arrival of Christianity.<ref name=Britannica/>
He was usually depicted with one eye, which he is said to have sacrificed to gain knowledge,<ref name=Britannica/> when tied up around the great tree Yggdrasil. He rode an eight legged horse, named Sleipnir (Sleipnir's eight legs were bound into pairs to enable riding.)
He was commonly considered to have invented the runes, and was associated with poetry.<ref name=Britannica/> He is usually shown holding a spear.<ref name=Britannica/>
As the protector of warriors, it was he who ran Valhalla.<ref name=Britannica/> The Roman writer Tacitus associates him with the god Mercury/Hermes, although Mercury was not king of the Roman gods.<ref name=Britannica/> His Celtic equivalent may have been the Dagda, Ogma, or some of the various one-eyed gods so commonly found amongst them.
Variants and commemorations
Variants of his name, include Woden, Wodan, Óðinn (with eth), Godan and Wotan.
Wednesday is named for him in English.<ref name=Britannica/>
The Up Helly-Aa Song
- No more Thor's lurid Hammer flames against the northern sky;
- Before the Light the heathen Night went slowly rolling by;
- The waves are rolling on.
Odinic songs in Shetland
The German folklorist Karl Blind, claimed to have discovered Odinic works in Shetland.
In 1877 he contributed an article to Fraser's Magazine on old Scandinavian folklore, and was contacted by the Shetland antiquary Arthur Laurenson, who told him about the survival of "a Christianised version of the Rune Rime of Odin" in Unst. Blind consulted the preserver of the verse, George Sinclair, son of another Shetlander Robert Sinclair, and wrote up the discovery in an article Discovery of Odinic Songs in Shetland, Nineteenth Century, June 1879.
- Dumézil, Georges Gods of the Ancient Northmen (1973)
- Grimm, Jacob, Teutonic Mythology (1883–88, various reprintings)
- Lindow, John, Scandinavian Mythology: An Annotated Bibliography (1988)