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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in odin's heiti

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Continuing with my exploration of the Names of Odin in alphabetical order, He doesn’t have many heiti, or by-names, beginning with the letter D.  However, the one we'll be discussing today is among my favorites of all of His names anyway because it tells us so much about the essence of who and what He is.  It is generally translated as meaning “Lord of the Dead.”  Lets break it down, though, and see if we can learn more from it than that.

The drottin part of the name means chieftain, or lord, and has a cognate in the Anglo-Saxon drihten. The particular connotation here is that of a military lord, the leader of a war band (from Proto-Germanic *druti). This implies the sort of kingship portrayed in Beowulf, for example; not necessarily a hereditary role, but one decreed by merit and ability, the man who is elevated to kingship because other men look to him and trust in his abilities, the ring giver and keeper of the web of oaths that tie a war band, a tribe, or a people together.

The other half of the name, drauga, means the dead, but here again a particular type of dead person is implied.  In Germanic belief, the “ordinary” dead go to Helheim, where they are perhaps reunited with their loved ones and have a period of rest and rejuvenation prior to being reborn or going on about whatever work lies before them between lifetimes.  Some dead, in my belief, go to the abodes of the gods they have served during life if those connections are strong enough and if the god desires their continued service and companionship.  The Poetic Edda and Snorri’s Edda alike tell us that the battlefield dead are divided between Odin and Freyja, with Frejya getting first pick.  (Ladies first, after all.)

But the draugr (singular) is in a category all his own.  As depicted again and again in the Icelandic sagas, the draugar (plural) are “walkers” or “those who walk again after death.” 

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A is for All-Father (Pagan Blog Project)

I've decided to participate in the Pagan Blog Project again this year, but in a more focused way than in my previous attempt at it in 2012.  (Actually, I'm not sure if I kept with it for that whole year or not, and I skipped 2013.)  This year, the focus is going to be entirely on Odin, specifically on His heiti, the epithets or by-names used to refer to Him throughout the surviving northern literature (known to heathens as “the lore”). Odin has so many names in these sources that I could count only about 5 letters of the alphabet for which there are no established heiti, and for those letters—assuming I can't come up with a suitable modern epithet to fill the gap—I will discuss some other aspect of His historical or modern worship.  It remains to be seen whether I'll write something for each week, or just one post for each letter. I've been seeing online a tendency to stereotype Odin into just one or two roles: as the aged patriarch of the northern pantheon, perhaps, or as a remote patron of mystics and kings.  In my many years of living and working closely with Him, I have seen many of His faces, some of which I hope to share here, at the same time as I hope, though delving into His many names, to reach an even deeper understanding of Him myself.

We'll start off with one of the most well-known and frequently used names for Him: All-father.  I don't gravitate towards this name much myself in my own practice, because I don't have a father-daughter relationship with Him, but the name itself doesn't refer to personal relationships so much as to His overall status as the father of gods and men.  In Snorri Sturluson's Edda (often called “the prose Edda,” the primary source text that's probably best known to the vast majority of heathens), Alfodr is used more or less interchangeably with Odin in referring to Him.

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