Insight into the Function, Form and Relationship Between Odin and Thor

          Odin has long been viewed in connection with the wind and inspiration, while Thor has been related to willpower, strength, and action. These two forces, in an elemental or alchemical context, represent two distinct functions of the self-development of the Superindividual, Übermensch, Buddha, Druid, Shaman, Monk, Priest etc. The two parts of this mechanism include first the fire, which in this metaphor would be a symbolic “inner” fire, regarded centrally within the gut or deep in the lungs. Some would equate this to the Will and the willingness to act on instinct and intentions with confidence and clarity. The second part is the wind or air, represented by Odin, as the fanning breath that inspires the fire to grow and develop. Fire needs breath. As we’ve all seen, wind or breath is what inspires fire to rage, dance, live, generate more energy and produce more heat. In this regard, Thor is our internal flame, the force of Will, strength and action within us, while Odin is the oxygen, wind or current that breathes inspiration (like a bellows) onto the internal flame, causing it to rage and ultimately be “inspired” to grow and conquer more. These two deities, represented by Wind and Fire, are necessary to form the self-actualized and potent man. This man is concrete in focus and intensity, able to live in strength, wisdom, and constant action. 

          Unifying the two forces of Odin and Thor seems to have been accomplished and utilized by certain classes and aspects of society, as not everyone was meant to form and manipulate the fire that exists within. Traditionally, this would have been a practice of the Priest/King and Warrior classes, who’s function was to control chaos and keep alive the organism of society. Essentially, these Priest/Kings were embodiments of the Gods on Earth, and the same responsibility would be bestowed upon them, usually ending in their sacrifice if crops failed, famine ensued, or war was lost. Although the unification of these two forces is necessary for certain individuals and both deities were widely worshipped and observed alongside each other, the two cults of Odin and Thor were highly different in their more basic, daily, and practical functions. There were completely different lifestyle qualities, goals, skills, approaches to life, and ultimately different methods in overall purpose and intent. The cult of Thor generally resides around the community, fertility, farming and the “thrall” lifestyle that most humans experienced within the tribe or larger group. Because of this, Thor was the most widely worshipped of the ancient gods and was the chief deity observed by the common folk. Thor protects man from chaos and endows power into material forms. This force keeps man strong and determined, acting in accordance with honor and vitality. Thor represents the physical and temporal qualities of human life, things we can build, destroy, and manipulate in accordance with our Will.

          The esoteric meaning of this deity is rarely observed and utilized but is very beneficial and powerful when introduced and practiced with other occult techniques and connotations. This occult function of Thor can be seen most clearly in the Siberian and Sami Pagan religions, who venerate the Thunder god “Horagalles,” which translates to Old Man Thor. Through Shamanic/Odinic techniques they use the element of Thunder to induce trance through rhythm, inducing the visionary travel and prophetic hallucinations famous to their practice. Here it seems the Thunder God takes on the more singular roll of community protector, Shaman, student of wisdom and the living bridge or messenger of the gods. It is possible that this sorcery was originally a single, unified practice, until eventually splitting into multiple cults and focuses as people spread out of the Northern Steppes.

The Norse god Óðinn, from a 1760 Icelandic paper manuscript (Copenhagen, Danish Royal Library, MS NKS 1867 4º, f. 94r)

          The cult of Odin is a much different beast when approached in a focused and direct way. As I’ve stated, many Pagans, past and present, acknowledge and venerate both Gods, but it is fair to say that most Germanic Pagans lean one way or the other when it comes to utmost devotion and dedication of spirit. Odin is a self-development, war, and artist God, one associated with mantic wisdom and mad obsession to obtain knowledge and conquer new metaphysical territory, whether for the good or bad, helpful, or detrimental. The Odinist develops the self, and in doing so thus inspires the community to follow suit, acting in accordance with the archetype (or one of the many archetypes) of the God. Odin is the god of nobility, artists, and kings, the ones whom the myths, legends, and culture of the tribe is associated with and known for. Through acts of brilliance, magic, prophecy and wisdom, Odin (and his devoted) inspire and pass on wisdom and tradition to the rest of the community. This inspiring force ultimately leads the tribe towards greatness, stirring the “flame” of Thor to burn powerfully within the soul of the group, instigating excellence from all instead of the enabling of weakness and brittleness.

          When it comes to esoteric, occult, or alternative views on these Gods, we can easily see their different function in the psychology of the human mind. However, when brought into union, we can see how this formula of wind and fire is necessary (and without lack of potency) when it comes to developing strong, wise, and sturdy acolytes. Greatness and madness go hand in hand; like wind and fire. Odin and Thor, in the soul of the sorcerer or warrior, must be unlocked and unified to become completely unhinged in potential and intensity.

Allegany, New York
Winter, 2022
Photo by Ariale Miller.

The Swastika and the Wheel of Time

Unlike we are raised to believe in the modern world, time is not a linear phenomenon, but a circular one. It exists indefinitely, without beginning and without end, spinning like a wheel around us. The Swastika is a symbol of this endless cycle and a mirror of its’ pattern. It can be seen in the seasons, in the stars, and in the cycles of the ages. It is a sign of power, of eternity, and of the sun.

Some cultures revere the Swastika as an omen of good luck or good fortune, such as in Asian or Native American cultures. Others view it as a solar icon and a depiction of the cycles of time, such as the Indo – European “Horse Cult” tribes of Eurasia. In the North, it was usually associated with the god Thor, symbolizing the hammer and cosmic order. Almost every culture around the world has their own form and function of the Swastika shape, with a fairly small range of meanings (usually overlapping) between them all.

It’s curious that this symbol would show up so often, in all cultures and ages. No other symbol can grasp this kind of usage on such an organic, widespread, and global level. It is clear that the symbol holds enormous power, for even just a glance of it can arouse interest, mystery and awe. Unfortunately, we’ve had our relationship with this symbol destroyed by modern history and the systematic destruction of true learning, but I don’t think it will ever be suppressed fully. It still appears in all religions and spiritual practices, in some shape, form, or function.

Whether you use a Sun-Wheel, a Swastika, a Kolovrat, or any other thing associated with these, you are almost always going to have an overlap in meaning. Ironically, the Swastika is one of the only things all humans have in common with each other, and it is very much associated with peace, luck, and the attraction of good fortune. Perhaps this symbol can bring us back our individual power and heal our collective species, creating a new Golden Age of human greatness.

This symbol should never inspire fear or thoughts of evil. It has never and will never be associated with those concepts. Modern perspectives, ignorance and projected hate have baptized this symbol in taboo and darkness. If we allow this symbol to die, we may lose one of the most powerful and unifying concepts within the human psyche. It holds our entire history in its’ grasp and holds the memory of the circular layers of time that we inhabit; reminding us to worship the most important of our stars, the Sun.