All-Father Odin is not “Our Father who art in Heaven.” They are not the same. Odin is not a cuddlesome sky-father. Christian lessons of god’s goodness and greatness do not apply. He does not forgive your trespasses nor deliver you from evil.
Prayers to Odin are met with offers to tread the harsher path. He shows the path, but you must walk it. He cultivates in you the ability to fight for yourself. People often report that Odin finds them, and draws them into heathenism, draws them home. But that is different than truly dedicating yourself to him. He is father of the fearsome host, victory father, father of slain. The Valknut is called “knot of the slain” because it is pictured over those approaching their deaths. He is a god of warriors, not because he’s a warrior, but because is the god of death, victor over death, guardian of souls, brought out of the darkness and placed on the throne of Asgard. Odin gives you strength, by giving you trials which force you to be stronger.
Strength through Adversity.
Inspiration through Madness.
Clarity through Dreams. These are his gifts.
He will upset your life. He will find your weaknesses and poke at them, first with a stick, later with a spear, until you either overcome them or fall trying. You will learn new ways to be broken. He made extreme sacrifices for wisdom and knowledge, and expects his followers to sacrifice as well. He will kill parts of you. He offers wisdom to those who endure, but may betray to those who love or worship him. Don’t expect compassion for a handicap, injury, age, or weakness. Find where you are strong and capable in spite of any drawbacks. Crying out to Odin to give you strength as you fall will only results in you finding your own strength to stand back up, and face whatever is next. And there will be a next. And a next after that.
His wolves are named ravenous and greedy, for enough is never enough. The raven in your path is screeching “follow me! this way to adversity!”
Odin may reward you for giving it your all, even if you fail, but not by putting your life back together. That, you must do yourself.
If you want someone to lend you his strength, appeal to Thor.
If you want your daily bread, or your garden to grow, look to Frey, or Gefjon, or perhaps Nerthus.
If you want your craft business to thrive, your family to be safe, or the right words to say to your mother in law, honor Frigg.
For success in court or with the law, for justice to prevail, honor to be served, appeal to Tyr.
If you want wealth to fall out of the sky (or wash up on shore), sacrifice to Njord.
For finding the right words, know the difference between Odin and Bragi or Saga.
But when you call to Odin, in your next breath find your own strength and balance, and be sure what you asked for is what you are prepared for.
-D.W. Hansen, 2016