Also Woden or Wotan, he gives his name to Wednesday.
The high-god of the Norse Pantheon, as described by late-medieval sources. His worship is connected with the cult of the dead, viking warrior culture, poetry and magic. He has hundreds of name and hundreds of aspects; he is the shapeshifter god. His most used name, Odin, means Master of Frenzy, from the proto-germanic Wodh (inspired state, rage, frenzy) and the proto-germanic suffix: -inn (master). He is therefore the master of the exalted state of creation or destruction, in battle or poetry, where you reach beyond yourself and tap into divinity. It is a state that bears comparison to Gnosis.
Odin most often appears as an old bearded one-eyed man, in a grey hooded cloak or with a wide-brimmed hat. In fact, the figure of Gandalf in J.R.R. Tolkien's books, is rather closely modelled on Odin's description in medieval literature and poetry.
His attributes are the spear, the gallows, the raven and the wolf. His hall is Valhalla (Hall of the Slain) where he is surrounded by the Einherjar, the honoured dead. The Einherjar are those who fall in battle. Odin's daughters, the Valkyries (Choosers of the Slain) bring them to Asgard, the home of the Gods. Freyja takes half of them to her hall, and Odin takes the rest. Every day, they fight; every night, they feast. They form his army, to fight the forces of chaos in the final battle of the Gods and the end of the world, Ragnarok.
Odin's horse is the eight-legged Sleipnir. Odin's ravens are named Huginn and Muninn (Mind and Memory). They travel the world to bring him tidings of all that happens. Odin's wolves are Geri and Freki (Greed and Gluttony).
Odin is said to have sacrificed his eye in the well of Mimir in exchange for the gift of Foresight.
Odin is the Norse god that is most often connected with stories of human sacrifice. Those sacrificed to him were supposedly hung and killed with a spear at the same time. They would then join him in Valhalla.
In the poem Havamal (the words of the High, i.e. Odin) he is said to have sacrificed himself to himself in order to gain the secret of the Runes. Impaled by his own spear, he hung from Yggdrasill, the World Tree, for nine days and nights, until he fell screaming down and saw the Runes, attaining their knowledge and becoming the god of language in the process.
The stories of Odin's sacrifices closely parallel many stories of shamanistic rituals, apart from that of the crucifixion of Jesus, obviously.
Poetry and magic are closely related in the Old Norse world. As the god of magic Odin is both involved in the practices of Seid (which has more to do with Shamanism), i.e. using natural forces, foresight, travelling through worlds etc., and Rune magic, i.e. the use of secret knowledge and spells. Seid in Old Norse sources seems closely connected with the female principle as men practicing it are scorned as homosexuals, while women doing the same are revered. Rune magic and magical poetry, on the other hand, are connected with the male principle, and seen as fit for warriors. That Odin becomes the patron of both types (possibly usurping the former from the goddess Freyja) indicates his androgynous nature as a god.
Come Ragnarok, Odin will be devoured by the great wolf Fenris.