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 tree.
They gave me no bread,
They gave me no mead,
I looked down;
With a loud cry i took up runes;
From taht tree i feel.""The Havamal" or "Song of Odin"
The Sacrifice of Odin
The two familes of gods once fought a war in which the Vanir were the victors due to their ability to predict the future. This was a gift that Odin was determined to gain for himself.
After peace was declared, hostages were exchanged as a guarantee against future hostilities. Odin's brother, Hoenir, went to live in Vanaheim, home of the Vanir, while Njord and his children, Frey and Freya, made their abode in Odin's realm of Asgard. Once this exchange was accomplished, Odin decided to put himself through a terrible ordeal, and for nine days and nights hung from the world tree, Yggdrasil, wounded by his own spear:
By this self-sacrifice, Odin gained the knowledge of the runes. However, he still did not think that he had sufficient wisdom to use them, so in order that he might drink from the well of memory, Odin paid a terrible price by plucking out one of his own eyes.
Now Odin had knowledge of the future, yet he still did not believe that he knew enough, so he turned to the Vanir goddess Freya and persuaded her to teach him magic. Only then did Odin finaly feel that his position as a king of the gods was secure... at least, until Ragnarok, the day of doom that he had been fated by the web of Wyrd. For although Odin had the knowledge of the runes, it was the implacable Norns who first wrote them.
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