Odin' s Sacrifice
The Thirst For Knowledge
Frigga tried to stay calm when she saw her husband enter her great hall at Fensalir. All - Mother walked hesitantly over to her husband, and slowly removed his eye patch. Although she had tried to prepare herself mentally, Frigga gasped in horror when she saw his wound and moved several steps backwards away from Odin. Her husband had several scars on his body, but none matched the horror of his missing eye. " How is my husband this day ? " she asked nervously. Odin tried to reassure her with a smile. " Do not worry my wife. I will keep the wound covered with a patch ! " he told her to alleviate her worries. Frigga looked up at her husband, and concentrated on his remaining good eye as she spoke. " Was it worth the cost my dear ? " she asked with a hint of anger in her voice. Odin stepped forward and put his arms around his wife. " Yes ! An eye was a small price to pay for a such a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. Although I lost an eye I now see all things with greater clarity than ever before ! " he told her. Frigga placed her head on Odin' s broad chest, and held him tightly. " I am glad that my husband found what he has been searching for. " she whispered to him.
Odin gently pushed his wife away to arms length, and lowered his head. " The knowledge that I have gained has made me much wiser, but I am afraid that I must now go beyond a simple sacrifice, and be willing to give even more to gain the ultimate wisdom of the universe. " he explained. Frigga quickly spun around out of his grip ! " And what will my husband give as a sacrifice this time ! ? " she asked angrily. Odin grabbed her shoulder and spun her back around to face him before answering. " Everything ! If necessary everything ! " he told her.
" What could my husband possibly want this time ?! " Frigga asked with tears in her eyes. Odin kissed his wife gently on the forehead . " There is a force in the universe that is very powerful ! I do not know what form it takes, but I am certain that it exists . If I were to possess such a powerful magic I could heal the sick and lame ! I could make the dead rise up and speak to me ! I could use this power to help our friends, and to defeat our enemies ! " Odin told her in a very excited manner. Frigga then looked her husband straight in the eye. " Or you could die trying to obtain such a power ? " she asked sternly. Odin kissed his wife on the forehead again, and replied : " Yes ! "
Frigga turned her back to her husband again. " I don' t suppose it would do any good to try and talk you out of such a dangerous venture ?! " she asked with a bit of hope in her voice. Odin stepped forward, and placed his hands on Frigga's shoulders. " I love you more than anything my dear, but I have no choice. I am considered to be the All - Father, and in that role my duty is clearly to my children. If possible I must find a way to obtain this incredibly powerful magic, and use it to benefit my children, and our friends in the nine worlds. " Odin explained to her. Frigga shrugged her shoulders to get out of Odin' s grip, turned and said angrily : " Even if it means losing your life ! ? " Odin nodded. " Even if it means sacrificing myself ! " he told her. Frigga found that she had to walk away to prevent her husband from seeing her cry. " Then you must seek out this knowledge. " she said weakly as she left the hall.
Odin did not delay ! The moment Sunna' s first rays of light shone into his bed chamber, and onto the All - father's heavily bearded face, he rose up, dressed, and headed for the field behind his great hall. There pacing back and forth nervously was his horse Sleipnir. Odin received this wonderful eight - legged horse from his blood brother Loki, and proudly showed his fast mount off to anyone who came to visit. Odin, however, became quiet when he was asked which horses begat such a wonderful foal, for the circumstances were a little unsettling even for him to discuss.
As Odin finished saddling his prize horse he patted it on the shoulder, and whispered in its ear : " We have a long journey my friend, and I will need you to ride hard and fast to reach our destination ! " Sleipnir reared up on its four hind legs, and made a sound that was more like the roaring of a bear than the gentle whinnying sound that a horse normally makes. Odin laughed, for he knew that Sleipnir was looking forward to a long hard ride. When Sleipnir had calmed down, Odin mounted his fast horse, and headed for the Rainbow Bridge.
Long before Sleipnir reached the gates to Bifrost, Heimdall heard him approaching, and stood stoically ready to challenge the rider. Today the guardian of Asgard's bridge knew that the rider was Odin . Sleipnir, unlike any other horse in Asgard, made a distinct noise when it galloped with its eight legs. It was impossible to mistake for any other horse ! Heimdall normally liked to put on an angry face when he halted a traveler who came before him. Odin, as Heimdall knew all too well, would see right through this, so there was no need for pretense. As Odin trotted up in front of Asgard's golden gates Heimdall smiled. " Greetings great Odin ! " he bellowed. Odin had to work hard to restrain Sleipnir. His eight - legged horse did not like to stop once it reached full gallop. " Hello my old friend ! " Odin answered. Heimdall grabbed hold of the great horses mouth strap to help All- Father steady his horse before asking : " And where is the great Odin traveling to at such an early time in the morning ? " If anyone else but his wife Frigga, or Asgard's sentinel had asked such a question, Odin would have been outraged, but by Odin' s own decree anyone entering or leaving Asgard had to state where they had been, or where they were going, depending on whether they were entering or leaving. Odin leaned over Sleipnir' s neck, and said to Heimdall in a half whisper : " I am on my way to Niflheim, and beyond to find Yggdrasil' s deepest root ! " Heimdall gazed up at All - Father with a questioning look. " And why does great Odin seek Yggdrasil' s deepest root ? " the sentinel asked. Odin smiled. " I am on another quest for the the great knowledge and wisdom of the universe ! " Odin replied. Heimdall laughed as he let go of Sleipnir' s reins. " Then All- father had best be on his way ! " Heimdall told him as he pushed open the golden gates. As Odin rode swiftly away Heimdall said under his breath : " Have a safe journey my old friend ! "
Odin rode swiftly through the realms of the Light Elves, Midgard, and Jotunheim. He did not slow until he reached Svartalheim. There he stopped to greet his children, the Dwarves, whom he had taken from Ymir's flesh when they were like maggots, and gave them understanding, and the appearance of men. Odin spoke with many of the Dwarves before heading to Eitri and Brokk' s blacksmith shop. The brothers were busy working hard on a sword blade when Odin walked through their doorway. Eitri saw him first and greeted him warmly. " I am greatly honored that the great All - Father himself is visiting my humble shop ! " he told Odin. Brokk stopped stoking the fire with his bellows when his brother greeted Odin. " Yes ! We are very honored ! " Brokk chimed in. Odin put on a big smile as he greeted the master blacksmiths. " It is good to see you boys again ! " he told them as he shook their hands one after the other. Eitri saw that Odin was carrying Gungnir with him and asked : " Is there something wrong with the spear that was made for All - Father ? " he asked hoping that there was. Odin quickly waved his hand back and forth in front of him . " No ! No, of course not. Ivaldi' s sons made for me a very splendid weapon. It has served me very well over the years. " he told the Dwarves. " I was just wondering if you could sharpen it a bit. I need it to be razor sharp ! " he added.
Eitri took the three bladed spear from All - Father, and immediately walked over to the sharpening stone. As he ran the blade over the hone he said over his shoulder : " I am greatly honored that you would come to my shop to have your spear sharpened . " he told Odin. Odin smiled. " The honor is all mine my little friends ! You made such wonderful presents for the Aesir. Gullinborsti, Draupnir, and of course the great hammer Mjolnir were easily as fine of gifts as were the ones we received from Ivaldi' s sons ! " Odin told the Dwarves.
Eitri smiled from ear to ear as he worked on the All - Father's blade. The Dwarf took his time, slowly and meticulously sharpening Gungnir, until it was perfect. Before giving it back to Odin Eitri polished the blade giving it a mirror like shine. Then right in front of All - Father the little Dwarve pulled out one of his coarse hairs and ran it over the blade, cutting it cleanly in two. When Odin saw how perfect the sharpened blade was he patted Eitri on the shoulder, and thanked him for his fine work. " Boys it has been wonderful to see you again, but I must be going. I still have quite a distance to travel on my journey, and I am afraid that time is of the essence ! " Odin explained as he shook both of their hands again. As Odin was leaving Brokk exclaimed : " The great Odin is always welcome in our blacksmith shop ! " Odin waved to the brothers as he kicked Sleipnir into flight, and headed to Hel.
Before Odin could cross over the Gjoll river, and enter Hel, he had to cross over the Gjallarbru. This bridge was guarded by a Jotun maiden, and was the only way into the lower regions. Odin knew the maiden' s name to be Modgud, and she, like Heimdall in Asgard, was a lone sentinel who stoically protected the entrance to the nether worlds. And just as Heimdall knew that it was Odin who approached, so too did Modgud. " Halt ! " she commanded in a high squeaky voice. There was no friendly greeting, or even a respectful smile, as the two confronted one another. Modgud spoke first. " What does the son of Borr want here in the land of the dead !? " she asked in a mocking tone. Odin' s eye narrowed as he replied : " I have not come to visit the dead, or the creature I placed in charge of them. I have ridden for days in search of the deepest of Yggdrasil' s roots that reach out into the unknown universe. " he explained. Modgud laughed as she stepped aside. " I am sure Mistress Hel will be glad that you are merely passing through. Be on your way Odin of Asgard, for I am tired of looking at you ! " she told him with a wicked laugh.
Odin kicked his horse, and sped across the Gjallarbru without saying another word. As All- Father expected, Hel was waiting outside of her hall Eljudnir as Odin approached. Although he did not want to stop he felt that he owed the mistress of the dead at least a few words. As he trotted up to where Hel stood, she put up her bony hand, not as a greeting, but to make the Lord of Asgard stop. Sleipnir slowed to a walk, and then as Odin pulled on the reins the great eight legged horse stopped directly in front of the dark Goddess.
" Why have you come to my hall of the dead unannounced Odin of Asgard ! " she asked in a monotone voice. Odin laughed. " Not to see you mistress of Hel, I assure you ! " he replied. Hel tried not to sound angry as she asked : " Then why does the thundering of your horse's hoofs disturb me then ? " Odin leaned over and looked the half dead creature in the eyes. " I am here to find the deepest root, ...... the place where Yggdrasil's seed broke open, and the great world tree began. " he told her. Hel' s eyes narrowed. " You speak the truth, or at least half of the truth. If you have no business here then you should leave this place at once ! For I have many things to tend to, and so little to work with ! " she told Odin as she slowly walked back into her hall.
Odin rode for another full day before he reached the root that protruded the deepest into the unknown universe. As he stood on the solid ash wood of the root at the end of the nine worlds he looked out into the distant universe, and saw thousands of narrow tendrils reaching out in all directions, as far as his eye could see. These thin fibers were sucking the energy from the deepest parts of the universe to energize the world tree. It would be from here, just above these tiny fibrous roots that Odin would begin his journey of sacrifice.
End Chapter 1
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2014.
Next : Chapter : 2 : The Lower Tree