Postcards From Asgard: Odin's eye- Part 2
After defeating the wise and ruthless giant Vafthruthnir in a battle of wits Odin continued down the path to the well of knowledge. When finally he came upon the shining waters and the giant sitting with his back against the world tree. So begins Odin's Eye- Part 2
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"Good-day, Mimer," said Odin, entering; "I have come for a drink from your well." The giant was sitting with his knees pulled up to his chin, he had a long white beard falling over his folded arms, and his head nodding; for Mimer was very old, and he often grew tired and dozed off while guarding his precious spring. Mimer woke and frowned at Odin.
"You want a drink from my well, do you?" he growled. "Well! I tell you this, no one drinks from my well."
"That may be, but you must let me have a draught from your gilded horn," Odin insisted, "and if you do, you may name your price for it.
"Oho, so I can name my price can?" asked Mimer, keeping a watchful eye on his visitor. For now that he was fully awake, his great wisdom was telling him that this was no ordinary stranger. "And just what, will you give me for a drink from my well, and just why do you want it so much?"
"I can see with my eyes all that goes on in heaven and upon earth," said Odin, "but I cannot see into the ocean's depths. I cannot know the hidden wisdom of the deep, —the wisdom that lies at the bottom of your shining spring. My ravens whisper many secrets to me, but I want to know all things. As for payment, I care not the cost, I will give you whatever you ask in return for your draught of wisdom."
Then Mimer examined the stranger up and down. "You are Odin, the son of Buri, chief of the race of gods," he cried. "We giants were here long before you, and our wisdom we have gained during all these ages when we were the only beings in all the cosmos, is a precious thing. If I grant you a draught from my well, you will become like one of us, This would make you a wise and dangerous enemy. It will be a great price Odin, which I shall demand for so mighty a gift."
Now Odin grew impatient for the sparkling water. "Ask of me what you will Mimer," he frowned. "I have promised that I will give it." he grumbled.
"You said anything, then, how about leaving one of those far-seeing eyes at the bottom of my well?" demanded Mimer, in hopes that Odin would refuse. "This is the only payment I will take."
Odin smiled. It was indeed a great price, he held pride in his noble beauty. But he glanced at the magic fountain bubbling mysteriously in the shadow, and he knew that he must have the draught. Odin reached in his belt and removed a dagger, then proceeded to cut out his right eye and toss it in the well.
" Now give me the gilded horn," he demanded. "I had pledged my eye to you for a draught to the brim, and so I have delivered!
Though he did not want to, Mimer filled the horn from the fountain of wisdom and handed it to Odin. "Drink, then," he said; "drink and grow your wisdom. For this will be the beginning of great trouble between your race and mine."
Mimer was indeed wise, he foretold the truth. But, This warning fell on deaf ears. Odin was only concerned about the wisdom that was to be his. He grasped the horn eagerly and emptied it without delay. From that moment he became wiser than anyone else in the world except Mimer himself.
When he went away from the grotto, Odin had left at the bottom of the bubbling well one of his fiery eyes, which looked up through the magic waters, shimmering like the reflection of a star. This is how Odin lost his eye, and why from that day he was careful to pull the brim of his low over his face when he wanted to pass unnoticed. For by this someone could easily recognize the wise chief of Asgard.
In the bright morning, when the sun rose over the mountains of Midgard, old Mimer drank from his sparkling well a draught of the water that flowed over Odin's far seeing eye. Doing so, from his underground grotto he saw all that happened in heaven and on earth. He had also become wiser from the bargain. It seemed almost that Mimer had perhaps gotten the best of it; for really he lost nothing that he could not spare, while Odin lost what no man would want to part with,—one of the great windows where one looks out to perceive the world.
But this is not the end of Odin and mimer’s tale for not long after this, the Aesir quarreled with the Vanir, The descendants of Ville and Ve, had become bitter enemies of theirs, and there was a legendary battle, and afterward they end the two sides made peace; and to prove that they meant never to quarrel again, they exchanged hostages. The Vanir gave the Aesir old Niord the rich, the lord of the sea and the ocean wind, with his two children, Frey and Freya. This was certainly a gracious gift; for Freya was the most beautiful maiden in the world. Her twin brother Frey, was almost as fair. To the Vanir, in return, Odin gave his own brother Hoenir. And with Hoenir, he sent Mimer the wise, whom he had taken from his lonely well.
Now the Vanir made Hoenir their chief, They knew he had to be very wise because he was the brother of great Odin, who had become famous for his wisdom. However, they did not know the secret of Mimer's well, how the ancient giant was far wiser than anyone who had not sipped of the magic waters. It is true that at the meetings of the Vanir Hoenir gave great counsel. But only because Mimer whispered in Hoenir 's ear like a puppeteer, all the wisdom that he shared was never his own. Hoenir, in fact, lacked great wisdom and was all but helpless, without Mimer. He did not know what to do or say. If Mimer were absent, he would look nervous and frightened, and if anyone questioned him be always answered:—"Yes, ah yes! Now go and consult someone else."
Of course, the Vanir soon grew very tired of such useless answers from their chief and would begin to suspect the truth. "Odin has tricked us," they said. "He has sent us his halfwit brother with a witch to tell him what to say. Ha! We will show him that we get his joke." So they cut off poor old Mimer's head and sent it to Odin as a present.
No one truly knows what Odin thought of the gift. Was he glad that now there was no one in the whole world so wise as himself? Maybe he was sad for the danger he had thrust a poor old giant who had not harmed him in any way, except to be a giant of the race which the Aesir hated. Perhaps he felt a tinge of shame about the trick he had played on the Vanir. Odin had gained a great understanding of the workings of magic and sorcery. His new wisdom allowed him to prepare Mimer's head with herbs and charms so that it could sit up by itself quite naturally and He knew how to speak to the dead. Odin would keep Mimer near him, and The giants head would teach him many useful secrets which it had not forgotten.
So, in the end, Odin fared better than poor old Mimer, whose only offense was knowing more than anyone. Not much has changed since Odin’s time, as even today it is dangerous to know too much about the dealings of those who shape our society and shape our destiny. Thank the gods that our politicians and media work so hard to keep us safe.
Thanks for reading! Next time we find out how Thor got his hammer. How may heads will be lost this time? Come back and find out!