Odin, the man of a thousand faces

You probably didn't notice this when you stopped to ask the only hitchhiker walking on the 864 road on route to Asbyrgi canyon for directions, that two crows were following him. If you would have paid closer attention, you would’ve discovered that he called them Hugin and Munnin. He walked like he didn’t know where he was going and behind the hood of his sweatshirt he hid the fact that he was missing one of his eyes. He told you to continue going straight and wanted to tell you the story of when there was nothing at the canyon now known as Asbyrgi.

This man has had many names and faces throughout the centuries. Amongst the gods he is known as the man disguised as a walker, a hitchhiker, a traveler. They’ve called him - Wuotan, Wotan, Wodan amongst others. You may know him as Odin. This is the story of when Odin rode across the lands of Iceland on the back of his 8-legged horse. From a time when Iceland was known as Asgard and the gods inhabited its plains.

A long time ago, Asgard was ruled by Odin and inhabited by the tribe of the Aesir. The Aesir were warrior gods: Thor and Loki were among them. And Odin was the Allfather, the origin of all the stories that they knew.

Odin liked to roam around the world to learn the stories of gods, giants and men. That is how he gained his wisdom, wandering and observing. It was also how he lost his eye. Legend says that Odin was disguised as a traveler — much like the time you saw him by the 864 road — and had no idea it was him, in search of the well that contained all the knowledge of the world.

The well was somewhere in Jötunheim, the land of the giants, and was guarded by the giant Mimir, or what was once his head. They said whoever drank from this well would obtain eternal knowledge and unlimited wisdom, which is why Odin was willing to do anything to get even the smallest sip from it. So when Mimir asked him for one of his eyes he didn’t think twice. Odin took it out with his own hands, all in exchange for a drink and as a result gaining eternal wisdom.

Sleipner was already there when Odin lost his eye but he wasn’t always there. He appeared a little after the gods finished building Asgard and all of its palaces. He was the result of Loki’s deceptions, who gave birth to him in the form of a mare and offered it to Odin so that he could travel through seas, skies and lands. One day as they rode along the plains of North Iceland, Sleipner’s stomping footprint created Asbyrgi canyon, famous for its horseshoe shape.

Considering the fact that Asbyrgi is 3 km high and 1 km wide, we could say that Sleipnir was several kilometers tall and Odin a much more.

Open your eyes when you drive along the endless roads of the ancient land of Asgard. Any walker could be him, any horse could be a descendant of the great Sleipner. If you missed last week’s episode, here is Odin’s story:

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