Why Did Odin Hang Himself from Yggdrasil? – The Endless Quest for Wisdom

Published Categorized as Tree Symbolism
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Odin is the chief god of the Norse pantheon.

He’s also associated with wisdom, magic, and poetry.

And he hangs himself.

Odin isn’t the only god who suffers in order to gain knowledge. In Greek mythology, Prometheus suffers eternal punishment for bringing fire to mankind.

And in Hinduism, Shiva dances inside a circle of fire to destroy the universe so that he can be reborn and start the cycle anew.

Jesus itself have a very similar story to Odin’s.

Why do these gods go to such extreme lengths for knowledge?

The answer is simple: because they know that knowledge is power.

Odin hanging from Yggdrasil

Who is Odin?

Odin is the most revered of all Norse deities, known by many titles including the All-Father, King of Asgard, and Patron of Rulers.

Odin was known for his desire for knowledge and willingness to do anything to gain it. He is especially known for his many quests for wisdom and knowledge. One account tells of him hanging himself from the world tree Yggdrasil in order to gain more wisdom. He sacrificed his eye in exchange for a drink from Mimir’s well and practiced seid magic with help from a Vanir goddess named Freya.

In Norse mythology, Odin is the most revered god and is often depicted as a wise and powerful ruler of Asgard. He is also known for his trickster and shamanic powers, as well as his quest for wisdom.

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Why did Odin hang himself?

Odin, the most revered Norse god, once decided to hang himself on a branch of Yggdrasil for nine days and nights. During this time, he forbade other gods from granting him food and water until he got what he desired. At the end of the ninth night, Odin was able to perceive the runes which unlocked various mysteries. This decision was made in order for Odin to gain greater knowledge of the universe and its secrets – with the knowledge of runes he learned powerful charms that could heal physical/mental wounds, bind and defeat enemies, put out fires etc.. Thus becoming one of the mightiest beings in cosmos.

The benefits of Odin’s act of self-sacrifice

Odin’s quest for knowledge began with his desire to acquire the power and wisdom of the Norns, who controlled fate through their use of runes.Odin gained the knowledge of the runes by becoming one with Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life in Norse mythology.

Odin made extreme self-sacrifices such as losing one eye while drinking from Mimir’s well or piercing himself with a spear while being hanged from Yggdrasil in order to gain further insight into certain areas of life that were previously unknown or misunderstood by him before this point in time.

Odin’s act of self-sacrifice accomplished the goal of understanding the runic mysteries, which could only be understood among the dead. To achieve this goal, Odin sacrificed himself on Yggdrasill, the world tree. He hung from it for nine days and nights before being pierced by a spear and left to die. During this time he gained knowledge about the runic mysteries of life and death which he then used to return to rule over Asgard and continue his reign as primary warrior god.

My question as a student have always been: Why? What were the benefits?

1. By hanging himself, Odin acquired the knowledge of the Runes

To achieve this goal, Odin decided to prove his worthiness by hanging himself from Yggdrasil without any aid from other creatures or beings. During this ordeal, he forbade anyone from offering him food or drink in order to demonstrate his willingness to sacrifice anything for knowledge.

At the end of the ninth night, Odin was able to perceive the runes which unlocked powerful charms that allowed him to heal wounds, defeat enemies, bind them with spells, put out fires and awaken the dead among many other feats of magic.

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2. Odin became one with the World Tree, Yggdrasil, and gained knowledge of the cosmos.

Odin gained access to the powerful runes that were carved onto the tree by the Norns, or Fates. The runes gave him knowledge of and power over destiny, allowing him to heal emotional wounds, bind enemies with magic spells, protect his friends in battle and more. However, this knowledge could not prevent his fate at Ragnarok.

3. Odin sacrificed his ego to gain wisdom and enlightenment

Odin sacrificed his ego in order to gain wisdom and enlightenment. He traveled far and wide, interacting with seers, prophets, kings, philosophers and other wise beings in an effort to acquire as much knowledge as possible. He also used his ravens Muninn (‘memory’) and Huginn (‘thought’) to gather information from around the world each day.

4. Odin underwent a rite of initiation and became a true warrior

In “Havamal”, one of the poems in the Codex Regius of the Elder Edda, it is described how Odin voluntarily sacrificed himself on Yggdrasil tree without bread and drink until he died. This act of self-sacrifice was in order for him to gain possession of the priceless runes, which allowed him to exert control over the world.

Odin’s self-sacrifice is similar to other acts of sacrifice that people make in order to gain knowledge.

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We sacrifice our time, money and sometimes health in order to learn new things or obtain valuable information. For example, students may have difficulty focusing on their studies due to distractions such as social media or television shows they enjoy watching but they still continue studying because they know that knowledge will help them later on in life.

5. Through his suffering, Odin became closer to mankind

Odin’s act of self-sacrifice helped him become closer to mankind because he sacrificed his eye in exchange for a drink from Mimir’s well, hung himself on a branch of Yggdrasil and used the knowledge gained from the runes to gain powerful charms that could heal physical/mental wounds, bind and defeat enemies, get out of constraints, put out fires, wake the dead.

As a result, Odin became one of the mightiest beings in the cosmos and gained great respect from mankind due to his willingness to sacrifice anything for wisdom.

6. Odin gained the ability to heal and foretell the future

As a result of his act of self-sacrifice, Odin gained the ability to:

  • See the future and influence fate.
  • Heal emotional and bodily wounds with rune spells.
  • Bind enemies with runes and render their weapons useless.
  • Free himself from constraints.
  • Put out fires.
  • Expose and banish practitioners of black magic.
  • Protect his friends in battle by waking the dead or winning lovers (for example, Freya).

7. Odin became one with Mimir, the well of wisdom

When Odin became one with Mimir, the well of wisdom, he gained access to incredible knowledge and magical powers. To acquire this knowledge, he had to make a terrible sacrifice: he had to break his solemn oath not to drink from the well, then cut out Mimir’s tongue so that he could not reveal its secrets. Afterward, Odin kept Mimir’s head alive and preserved it by sprinkling herbs on it so that it would not decay. Whenever Odin wanted knowledge or advice from Mimir’s talking head, all he had to do was talk with him.

8. Odin showed his devotion to the gods and courage in the face of death

Odin showed great courage and determination in his act of self-sacrifice. He was always seeking wisdom, even at great personal cost, and indeed it wasn’t easy because he had to pay a high price for these treasures.

For instance, Odin got the seid (seidr) gift from a Vanir goddess, Freya, who shared it with all the Aesir gods and goddesses, and Odin became the chief practitioner of this magic could see the future and influence the fate of others.

9. Through his act of self-sacrifice, Odin showed his dedication to the Viking spirit

Odin’s act of self-sacrifice shows his dedication to the Viking spirit. By voluntarily sacrificing himself on Yggdrasil tree without food or drink for nine long nights, Odin showed his determination and willingness to go to any lengths in order to acquire the priceless runes and their unlimited power.

This sacrifice not only demonstrated his desire for knowledge, but also showed that he was willing to make any sacrifices necessary in order to gain it.


Why is the story of Odin hanging from Yggdrasil so similar to that of Jesus on the cross?

Both Odin and Jesus were sacrificed by hanging from something and being stabbed by a spear. They both spent time in darkness (Odin in the dark waters below, Jesus in hell). Neither of them received help from other deities.

Odin gained knowledge for his sacrifice, while Jesus forgave sins for his sacrifice. Odin hung for 9 days, while Jesus died after 3 days on the cross.

What is Odin’s quest for wisdom?

Odin’s quest for wisdom was never-ending. He traveled far and wide to interact with the wisest beings he could find, including seers, prophets, kings and philosophers. He also used his ravens Muninn and Huginn to gather information each day, as well as Mimir’s bodiless head which he preserved after the Vanir beheaded him out of anger.

Furthermore, Odin resorted to lying and betrayal in order to acquire knowledge such as when he stole the mead of poetry brewed from honey and Kvasir’s blood. Finally, Odin made extreme sacrifices such as losing his eye while drinking from Mimir’s well or pierce himself with his spear while being hanged from Yggdrasil in order to gain more knowledge before Ragnarok came upon them all.

What is the mythological significance of Odin hanging himself?

Odin once decided to hang himself on a branch of Yggdrasil in order to understand the mysteries of life and death. This decision was made after he had lost an eye while achieving wisdom at the spring of Mimir at Yggdrasil’s foot, so that he could learn the runic mysteries of the dead before returning to rule over Asgard and humankind.

The story of Odin’s hanging serves as an allegory for both Christianity’s death-and-resurrection myth (Harrowing of Hell) and Mesopotamia’s Inanna’s Descent into the Underworld story, which dates back thousands of years earlier than Odin’s ordeal.

Who is Rati in Norse mythology?

Rati is a goddess in Norse mythology who is associated with the act of weaving. She is often depicted as sitting on a loom, weaving the fates of gods, humans, and other creatures in the nine worlds.

In Norse mythology, Rati’s name can be found in various literary sources including “The Poetic Edda” (a collection of poems about Norse gods), “Heimskringla” (a history book about Norwegian kings), and “Gylfaginning” (a section of the Prose Edda which explains how different aspects of life were created).

What is Yggdrasil?

Yggdrasil is a tree in Norse mythology that connects the tangible world of Midgard with the intangible worlds of gods, giants and other creatures of myth.

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Yggdrasil helps the Vikings understand their place in a mythological universe that is mostly hidden from them. It is mentioned in both the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, two 13 th century compilations of older Norse sources. Yggdrasil features in two stores: Odin’s quest for knowledge of runes and the prophecy of Ragnarok (the end of days).

What is the symbolism behind Odin’s sacrifice?

The symbolism behind Odin’s sacrifice is that in order to achieve something of greater value, one must be willing to give up something that is less valuable. In this case, Odin sacrificed his physical pain in order to gain knowledge and understanding of the runes, which he believed was more valuable than his physical well-being. The lesson behind this myth is that we should be willing to make sacrifices in order to reach our goals and objectives in life.

What does the spear wound represent in Norse mythology?

In Norse mythology, Odin’s sacrifice on the World Tree, Yggdrasill, represents a symbolic death and piercing by a spear or lance.

This myth is often seen as related to the Christian story of death and resurrection, as well as Inanna’s descent into the Underworld in ancient Mesopotamia.

The symbolism behind Odin’s sacrifice represents his willingness to give up his life in order to gain wisdom or enlightenment; similarly, Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross so that humanity could have eternal life through his resurrection after three days.

Who are the Norns in Norse mythology?

The Norns are three goddesses who shape the fates of creatures in Norse mythology. They live at the Well of Urd and control the past, present, and future of everything that exists in the Nine Worlds.

The Norns consist of three individual goddesses: Urd (The Past), Verdandi (What Is Present), and Skuld (What Shall Be). People could use their names to deduce their respective abilities in shaping fate; for example, knowing that “Skuld” meant “what shall be”, one could guess that it referred to what will happen in the future. The Norns were powerful beings whose decisions affected everyone else’s lives; therefore, it is not surprising that Odin would seek their counsel on important matters such as his own fate.

What is the Mead of Poetry?

The Mead of Poetry is a magical drink that has the power to grant knowledge and poetic skills.

It is made from the blood of Kvasir, a wise Vanir god, mixed with honey. The two vats it is stored in are called Bodn and Son and anyone who drinks from it will gain knowledge and skill in poetry. It was first brewed by two dwarfs named Fjalar and Galar who killed Gilling’s unnamed wife after she became annoying to them due to her loud grieving over her husband’s death. The dwarfs then offered their precious mead as compensation for releasing them from captivity at the hands of Suttung, a giant who was angered by his mother’s murder at their hands..

What is the cosmic significance of Odin hanging from Yggdrasil?

The cosmic significance of Odin hanging from Yggdrasil is that it represents the sacrifice of a god in order to gain ultimate wisdom and understanding.

Odin’s quest for wisdom had cost him an eye when he achieved wisdom at the spring of the talking head, Mimir, at the foot of Yggdrasill. By doing so, he acquired knowledge about life and death which enabled him to continue ruling over Asgard and mankind.

How does Odin’s hanging relate to other mythologies?

The myth of Odin’s hanging is similar to the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection in Christianity. Both stories involve a deity sacrificing themselves by hanging from a tree and being pierced with a spear. In both cases, the deities gain wisdom from their ordeal and are able to return to life after three days.

However, there are also differences between these two stories:

  • Odin is driven by his own curiosity and desire for knowledge whereas Jesus’ sacrifice is for the forgiveness of mankind’s sins;
  • Odin sacrifices himself to himself while Jesus sacrifices himself for others;
  • Odin hangs on Yggdrasil for nine days while Jesus dies on the cross after three hours;
  • Odin is abandoned by his fellow gods while Jesus has support from his disciples during his crucifixion;
  • Jesus is thought to be the Tree of Life Himself
  • Christianity is based on monotheism while Norse mythology has many gods who must work together towards common goals.

In celtic mythology there is also a tree of life which is a general symbolism but Norse and Celtic are not the same, and Vikings were not celtic people.

Was Odin hung upside down?

Yes, Odin was hung upside down. In Norse mythology, Odin sacrificed himself on the world tree Yggdrasill in order to gain wisdom from the dead. The myth states that Odin mounted his horse—the drasill —as “the Terrible One”—Ygg , and hung on the “windswept tree” for nine days and nights.

Odin hanging from yggdrasil poem

The original Odin hanging from yggdrasil poem:

Hávamál – The Words of Odin the High One
from the Elder or Poetic Edda (Sæmund’s Edda)

translated by Olive Bray
and edited by D. L. Ashliman

Odin's Quest after the Runes

I trow I hung on that windy Tree
nine whole days and nights,
stabbed with a spear, offered to Odin,
myself to mine own self given,
high on that Tree of which none hath heard
from what roots it rises to heaven.

None refreshed me ever with food or drink,
I peered right down in the deep;
crying aloud I lifted the Runes
then back I fell from thence.

Nine mighty songs I learned from the great
son of Bale-thorn, Bestla's sire;
I drank a measure of the wondrous Mead,

By leslieszabo

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