Pagan Portals: Odin

Title: Pagan Portals: Odin: Meet the Norse Allfather
Publisher: Moon Books
Author: Morgan Daimler
Pages: 122 pp
Price: $10.95/$5.99

This book is a hybrid of academic and devotional material. The Pagan Portals series is aimed at pagans who want to learn about various pagan topics, and this volume is suitable for the pagan and heathen general reader.

The introduction indicates Daimler draws on both academic sources and personal experiences in this book. The introduction also includes a short version of the Heathen creation story, as background information for talking about Odin, who is the heathen creator, along with his brothers. Each chapter except the final one has both a lore section and a gnosis section. The lore section includes quotes from literature, interpretation, and discussion of history. The gnosis section which follows is called “Odin In My Life” and is the author’s personal experiences about the topic of the chapter.

The first chapter deals with some of the most common aspects and spheres of influence of Odin, such as inspiration, the dead, magic, etc. It also lists names of Odin, with translations and citations. The list of names is similar to the list in Icelandic Magic, but does contain one surprise: Fjorgyn. The Fjorgyn/Fjorgynn divine twin pair are usually considered to be Frigga’s father and Thor’s mother, the female twin Fjorgynn being an alternate name for Jord, but this book cites an instance in which the male version referred to Odin. Gods’ lineages and aspects are not necessarily like humans’ and this instance reminds of the line “I am the mother of my father” in the poem “The Thunder, Perfect Mind.” In the section immediately after the list of names, in which the author tells about Odin’s family and important beings, Fjorgynn is identified as a name of Jord. There are brief descriptons of various beings, such as Vali, and of various types of beings, such as the Einherjar. There is a reference to the alternate versions of Baldur’s major myth in the entry on Hodur, but the section on Baldur does not include it, possibly in an attempt to keep each description similar in length. I would have liked that part to include the alternate stories, overall the glossary of important beings is a good section. The “Odin In My Life” part is about the author’s experiences with Odin under various of his names. For example, she honors him as Yulefather at Yule, and as Raven-god for divination.

In the second chapter, “Odin in Mythology,” the author begins with summaries and commentaries on the Eddas and Sagas. They are good basic introductions to the lore. There is nothing revolutionary or controversial about them. Daimler relates how cautious some members of the Heathen community are about Odin. In the “Odin In My Life” section, the author tells her story of becoming heathen. The details are specific to the author, but the journey to Heathenry will be a generally familiar story to Heathen readers.

The third chapter is about Odin outside of Norse sources. This section summarizes myth and other lore about Wodan and Woden, who are similar but perhaps not exactly the same as Odin. The chapter contains some information that Heathens who only read the Icelandic material may not know.

In the fourth chapter, “Symbols, Animals, and Items,” the author debunks the idea that Valhalla is like a heavenly reward. Daimler explains the Valknut, runes, the ravens Huginn and Muninn, et cetera. They are good explanations, if a little short.

Chapter Five is the “Modern World.” Inevitably, this chapter deals with more controversial things than the previous chapters. The author mentions some of the issues one might encounter as a modern follower of Odin, including racism.

The author then goes into various ways to relate to Odin. For example, Odin as healer. Here the author presents lore such as the Merseburg Charm, and then discusses her personal experiences with Odin as healer, in a nonspecific way. In the endnotes of the chapter, she does tell the story.

There is a big section on fulltrui,”= or patron gods. First there is the patron god in history, and then in modern practice. The author tells what a fulltrui is and what it isn’t. Daimler explains that having a fulltrui does not necessarily give one a godphone, and does not necessarily mean one will have a sense of the constant presence of the god(s.) Daimler seems to convey that there is something wrong with having a godphone or constant presence, which is surprising in a book that otherwise presents religious experiences positively.

There is a meditation to meet Odin, and a discussion on offering to him. The author tells a great story about how she came to have the Odin Staff she uses in seidhr work.

The sixth chapter is on Magic. It talks about runes, and has the standard lore quote from Tacitus about them. It also presents seidhr, spae, and uti-setta. This is generally a good chapter.

Chapter 7: Prayers and Poetry, the final chapter, is different from the others. It doesn’t have a lore section and a gnosis section. It dives right in with the author’s poetry inspired by Odin, starting with a prayer for such inspiration. I really enjoyed the poem that starts with drinking mead and tells how the author feels while receiving inspiration to write.

Over all, this book is a good primer on Odin for pagans and Heathens interested in including him in their practice. I recommend it for that purpose.

[Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners and other books. She has been a gythia since 1989, published Berserkrgangr Magazine, is a godspouse of Odin and his brothers, and currently manages the Asatru Facebook Forum and writes the Pagansquare blog Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen. She lives with her mom and her black cat in Henderson, Nevada, where she ran for public office in 2010 and 2013, and is active in her local dance, arts, and pagan communities.]