Lessons from Odin
The Hávamál is an Old Norse poem collected alongside other works (now known together as the “Poetic Edda”) in the Codex Regius in the 1270’s. The name of this poem translates as “Sayings of the High One,” and to that end it is a compilation of proverbs attributed to the Norse god, Oðinn. In the mythology of the northmen, Oðinn was thought to be the wisest of all the gods, and the Hávamál represents an attempt to convey that wisdom to Men. Modern practitioners of Norse Heathenry (sometimes also called “Ásatrú,” “Forn Sed,” “Urglawwe,” or a host of other names) tend to view this poem similarly to the way Christians read the Old Testament book of Proverbs. Some heathens believe that the Hávamál represents actual, literal words spoken by the god Oðinn, but most recognize that these proverbs were recorded by very human beings, and therefore the text is not usually ascribed the same sort of infallibility as Christians claim for their own holy books.