Friday, May 6, 2011

Odin Winning the Mead of Inspiration

Odin won one of his greatest gifts to gods and men, the Mead of Inspiration. In order to do this Odin had to shape shift into an Eagle form, as he needed the power of flight. 

This mead was prepared from the blood of the wise giant Kvasir, who was created by the gods. He was killed by dwarfs, who mixed his blood with honey and brewed the marvelous drink. 

When the dwarfs also killed the father and mother of a giant, Suttung, he took vengeance on them by placing them on a rock and leaving them to drown. To ransom their lives, they had to give up the mead, and Suttung shut it up within a mountain.

Odin set out to win it back for the gods, by a devious plan. He joined the men of Baugi, Suttung's brother, when they were working in the fields, and offered to sharpen their scythes with a wonderful whetstone. It was so efficient that they fought to possess it, and finally all nine were killed with their own sharp scythe-blades. 

Odin then offered to do the work of nine men in their place, if Baugi would in return promise him a drink of his brother's mead. But when the time cam Suttung would not agree, so Odin persuaded Baugi to bore a little hole in the mountain, and he crawled through this in the form of serpent. 

He met Suttung's daughter inside, and stayed there three nights with her, persuading her to let him take three drinks of the mead. In three draughts he emptied the three casks which held it, and then flew off to Asgard in the form of an eagle. He was pursued by an angry giant, also in eagle form. The gods had set out vessels to receive the mead, and Odin spat it out into them just in time, before Suttung could catch him. 

Thus the Mead of Inspiration came into Odin's possession, and he allowed the gods and his followers to drink from it. It could give to him who drank the power to compose poetry, or to speak words of wisdom. 

An intoxicating drink was probably an essential part also of the ritual sacrifice to Odin. The arrival of Odin with the mead may be the subject which inspired one of the carvings on the Gotland stones. Instead of the usual scene of a warrior arriving on horseback to be met by a woman with a drinking  horn, an eagle is shown in his place and the horn is held up to him. 

Brightest of Odin's Blessings,

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