He’s the restless, boundary crossing, prophetic sorcerer, the necromantic eternally wandering conman. If he’s a god of warriors, it’s The Already Dead kind, leader of souls. In this, he has more in common with Hermes Kthonios, with Dionysos, than say the Classical Zeus.
To be sure, his Mysteries can be and are accessible in war, but they are also found it the forbidden places, the execution sites which are external to society, but central to the numinous, the taboo. They are also found in the “unmanly” arts of magic, the asocial acts of exiles and outlaws.
When Tyr makes sacrifice of his warrior’s hand to preserve social cohesion? Odin rips out his own eye for his own ends, sacrifices himself to himself, because he is obsessed with gaining esoteric wisdom. To be sure, gods and men benefit, but that’s not the primary reason.
As such, using schemas which place Odin as exemplar of stability and social order seems naive at best and shallow at worst.
I’ve said before that he truly is a monster, in the original sense of the word - that of an omen, warning, or portent. A sign and signifier of the fundamental UNTRUSTWORTHY, and disruptive strangeness of the numinous. That he has mastered these esoteric powers, and thusly is still able Bring Forth (the root meaning of poetry, as a word) to his own advantage is an echo of the ambiguity and inhumaness associated with witch and shamanistic figures throughout the histories of various cultures including the so-called West.
It’s this Bringing Forth that gets reductivised into so-called Fertility. While Old Norse culture appears patrilineal, we nonetheless need to recall that the Disir echo a similar reflex in various Germanic and Indo-European cultures - the Matrones or clan Mothers. This power to Bring Forth life was recognised by our forebears and was probably the subject of its own cultic Mysteries.
The reason I mention this is because, while he is given the heiti Allfather, Gelding is also applied. Whether this is an ironic allusion or symptomatic of witchfigures being seen as barren, I’m not sure, however given reference to his subsisting on wine, thus marking him as unusual even amongst the gods, the signifier of ambiguity and strangeness is worth noting.
Odin’s potency is always nonstandard. Not for him the ithyphallic attributes of Freyr, or even the phallic symbolism suggested by Mjolnir. Instead, if anything, for all his womanising, his power comes from receptive, negative capability. His genderbending, his willed sacrificial submission, the giving up of a vital organ.
This is not Skyfather territory. To echo Hunter S. Thompson: “When the going gets Weird, the Weird turn Pro.”
As such, if this was more understood, I feel as if Heathenry would benefit, not only as an illustration that there are multiple ways to experience the numinous and undergo the processes of Being, but also because more people might understand that there is more to it than some 19th century caricature of a deep and rich worldview.
There is a whole level of nuance and subtlety, vibrancy and complexity which get left out, to say nothing of adaptability and ontological mobility we miss by haphazardly attempting to make things fit what we’re used to.
To paraphrase: He is not stranger than we suppose, he is even stranger than we Can suppose.