Odin is a god of many things. I mean that in the sense that he presides over them, or is the cause, or effector of them. Chief amongst them, perhaps, is death. Odin is the psychopomp, the ferryman who conducts souls from the land of the living to the land of the dead. He is the one who hands out death. As such he is the one who apportions victory in battle, as the one who controls death also controls the victory. From this he is also god of battle itself, and we see this function in the war-strategies he gifts certain of his chosen humans with, as well as in the berserkergang, the internal-style martial art his devotees fought with. He is god of poetry, and is the apportioner of inspiration. He is god of wine (and probably many if not all mind-altering substances). He is the god of seidh-craft. (A vaguely shamanic sort of practice. However, NOT identifiable with shamanism.) He is god of sex, in that where Thor boasts of jotuns slain, Odin boasts of women slept with. (This is sex for sex's own sake, rather than having to do with relationships.) These last two things also come together in a third way. Seidh practice may have involved various cross-gendered practices, such as cross-dressing or passive homosexuality. (This is not a certain thing. There are arguments both ways about it. But male seidh practitioners were often referred to as seidhberendur, and berendur was a coarse term in Old Norse for female genitalia, and was used to refer to homosexual men, amongst other things.) Thus Odin can also be seen as god of the transgendered of various kinds.
There is something that all of these things have in common. Death is the destruction of the physical self. Battle is the transcendence of the self in the moment, as seen in the berserkergang. Poetry writing in particular, and inspiration in general involve the loss of the self as it is caught up in the information coming in from the outside. Wine brings about loss of the self through dulling of the hugr. Sex is loss of the self in another, and in the moment. And seidh involves spiritual death and rebirth in a different form. Transgendering of course is loss of gender-self. All of Odin's functions at heart relate to the same thing. He is a god of the loss of the self, the death of the ego, in all the many ways that can happen.
Odin fulfills a god's role found in certain other religions as well. He is much like the Celtic Lugh, as well as a sort of combination of Hermes and Dionysos in Greek mythology. He is like the Slavic Volos as well, the Baltic Velinas, and possibly the Hindu Vata.
It seems that Odin began as the ancient Germanic god Woden, or Wotan. This is not precisely the same god. You could say their minnis (memories, subconscious natures) are the same but their hugrs (conscious minds, personalities) are, while related, a little different. This is because a god's hugr is affected by the way his people perceive him. Woden was originally a god of storm, and of the Wild Hunt (the train of the dead who ride through the night sky during the winter half of the year). He was a wanderer of the nine worlds, and was a creature of the Out-Worlds, the wild dangerous places outside the habitations of men. His aspect as Lord of Death was primary. He was a bloodthirsty god, completely uncivilized, and people were often sacrificed to him. (Though these were mostly condemned criminals and prisoners of war.) As Adam of Bremen said, "Woden; that means fury."
But this form was not the only one the god took. It seems that at some point, as the worship of Woden spread on the outside of Germany, that the perception of the god changed. He became known as the father of the runes, and as such became the father of magic. He became associated with the practice of seidh as well, possibly through contact of the ancient Norse with the Saami, a highly "shamanic" people. As these things happened, he began to take over many of the functions of and nature of Tiwaz, the Germanic god Snorri gives us as Tyr. He took over his position as All-Father, and largely seems to have replaced him as god of war. He became more worshipped by the aristocratic classes. He became more civilized (though at heart he was still drighten of draugs, lord of the dead), and those who pursued the intellectual arts appealed to him. Human sacrifice played a much lesser part of his worship, and in some areas was ceased altogether. In this form he was viewed as an exemplary model for those who would obtain wisdom. He was god of eloquence, a law-giver, king, and judge. He also came to be worshipped as a god of crops, of the fertility of the land. In this form he was known as Odhinn (pronounced Oth-in, where the th is soft as in "the").
The modern spelling of "Odin" is due primarily to researchers' ignoring the distinction between the Icelandic letter for the soft th and the Icelandic letter for d. This is the way the name is rendered in modern times, in myth and folklore. For this reason many modern worshippers are returning to the spelling Odhinn. I would disagree with this practice, for the reason that the god we know now as Odin is not precisely Odhinn, just as Odhinn is not precisely the same as Woden. Minni is the same, hugr is different. For one thing, when the god was last worshipped, the world and his worshippers were both very different. They did not see things as people today see them. Exposing infants was still regarded as a necessity during famine. Prisoners of war were routinely executed. One had little if any moral debt to strangers. Going viking, which included murder, rape, and theft, was considered acceptable. And for another thing, the knowledge we have of Odin, coming from such sources as myths heard in childhood and scholarly works by modern authors, is changed by the long tradition of literature and folklore that has preserved the stories. A whole period of Germanic Romanticism produced works of art, poetry, opera, and more that painted and repainted Odin in different ways, as times changed. It could be argued that this is a corruption of Odin's nature, but as the changes are sprung from the evolution of the Germanic cultures, I think it much more appropriate to think of them as the way in which Odin himself has evolved.
The Odin of modern times continues the process begun in the transition from Woden to Odhinn. The intellectual is much more pronounced. He is god of the runes, and of seidh. He is god of death, but the psychopomp aspect, as well as the seidh-related aspect of death and rebirth are emphasized. He is still god of battle, but as the culture of the warrior is gone, and warriors with them, he is now more a god of the martial arts. Sacrifices to him are still of blood, but it is the blood of he who does the sacrificing. He has become a god of the individual, and individual development, especially those who seek wisdom and personal power. (At the same time he is a god of society, as the chief of all the gods.) He is seen as a god of transcendence, as his death upon the World Tree relates, as does the story of the sacrifice of Mimir's well. In this way he is god of the berserk and seidh-man both. He is the giver of inspiration and he who overcomes adversity. And he is still the mad leader of the Wild Hunt, and the Grim Reaper.
Odin had many, many names. These were called heiti. Each of them corresponded to a different part of his nature. Some of them seem extensions of him that are so well developed they have a near independent existence. In this sense they are hypostases. Some of his more common ones are:
Vegtam: this name means "Way-tame", and is the name under which Odin journeyed (or journeys) to Hel for the purpose of summoning a dead seeress to learn from her the future. This could be seen as a necromantic form of Odin.
Gangleri: this name means "Way-weary", and may refer to his nature as a wanderer.
Har: "One-eyed", reffering to his sacrifice at Mimir's well. In this way he can be related to as god of transcendence. This name also means "High", but more on that below.
Galdrfadhir: "Father of Magic".
Bolverk: "Evil-worker, or Harm-worker", refers to his winning of the poetic mead from the giants, and the evil he had to do to obtain it. But keep in mind it was a necessary evil, in that the worlds could not survive with the mead in the hands of the giants.
Harbarth: "Greybeard", could be seen as a term indicating wisdom. This was the form he appeared to Thor in - in disguise - in the funny yet revelatory poem The Lay of Harbarth. It may, for reasons relating to the same poem, also have to do with his role as the Ferryman, the psychopomp.
Alfadhir: "All-father", Odin as the creator of the worlds, and of men. Also Odin as chief of all the gods. In this way he is worshipped by some as a sort of symbol for the pantheon of gods as a whole.
Svipal: "The Changeable". Well, just look at all these names.
Hroptr: "Hidden", Odin as lord of the concealed, or the occult, and thus also of its finding out.
Sigfadhir: "Victory Father", the giver of victory in battle and, by extension, in all contests.
Ofnir: "The Entangler", which may refer to his battle-gift of the war-fetter, by which enemies are bound by magic, unable to move or attack..
Svafnir: "Luller to Sleep, or Dreams". As visions are a type of waking dream, this might be a way for the visionary to relate to Odin.
Oski: "Fulfiller of Wishes", Odin in his most benign aspect. This is the Odin Santa Claus comes from, who rides around the world at Yule leaving presents and punishments alike. In this sense he is served by "wishmaidens", who fulfill his will in the world.
Gagnrath: "Giver of Good Counsel".
Drauga Drottin: "Lord of the Dead, or Undead". The one who leads the hosts of the dead upon the earth in the dark half of the year.
Helblindi: "Hel-blind". No explanation of this name is recorded (but for my interpretation, see the Berserkergang article). In this aspect, Odin is said to be Loki's brother.
Wod: "The Furious, or Possessed". Odin as battle-god. Also Odin as lord of poetry and inspiration. Also Odin as leader of the Wild Hunt.
Hattr: "The Hooded, or The Hat-Wearer". This may refer to the seidh-practice of gaining visions by sitting for some time under a hood, effectively blind and cut off from the outside world. Also another common term by which Odin is known as leader of the Wild Hunt.
High, Just-as-High, Third: Three forms met by Gylfi, a man who sought wisdom. Under these separate yet interdependant aspects, this Odinic trinity can be worshipped as the hidden teacher of the mystic or the martial artist, the god whose lessons are revealed through intermediaries or hidden sources.
One of the first things that strikes the student of Odin is the relationship Odin has with women, both in general and in certain particular instances. I would even say that his life and power are almost totally defined by the feminine.
Odin is married to Frigga, who is said to know all things but to keep her own counsel. She advises him, and is ruler of his household. A couple of stories survive that show her getting the better of him when they are divided on an issue. It seems probable, as the majority of the goddess' lore did not survive to modern times, that these were part of a larger, partly humorous body of folklore that show that even Odin cannot stand against Frigga. Frigga has the nickname "Rival of Iordh", so Snorri tells us, as well as the nicknames "Rival of Rind" and "Rival of Gunnlodh".
Odin is also married to Iordh, who is the Earth. (And may be a goddess grown from the earlier tradition of Nerthus, Eartha.) In this way Odin has a partner as god of crops and the fertility of the land. Related to this connection is the bond they share as parents of Thor, whose lightning bridges the storm and the earth. She may be identical with the goddess Fiorgyn, according to some scholars, and as such would be the mother of Frigga. Iordh is called by Snorri "Rival of Frigga", "Rival of Rind", and "Rival of Gunnlodh".
Odin is said to be married to Freya, under the name Odhr. His roving nature forces him to periodically leave her and wander the nine worlds. When this happens Freya follows after in her chariot, searching for him.
Another of Odin's wives is Saga, goddess of history, who dwells in Sokvabek, where cool waves murmur. There she and Odin spend some time each day joyfully drinking from golden cups as he listens to her songs about olden times.
Odin is married as well to Rind, a human princess who only submitted to his advances under threat, and who bore his son Vali, who avenged Baldur.
Odin had a brief affair with Gunnlodh, when he swindled the stolen mead of inspiration away from her. She became the mother of Bragi, the most eloquent of gods. There is a rune (mystery) in this.
He is also married to the wave-maidens; Gialp, Greip, Egia, Augeia, Ulfrun, Aurgiafa, Sindur, Atla, and Iarnsaxa, who were the mothers of Heimdall, guardian of the Bridge Bifrost.
He is also said to be married to the giantess Grid, who is the mother of Vidar the Silent, who never speaks and will survive Ragnarok and avenge Odin's death. She also gave Vidar the giant shoe with which he will do this.
No account of the rivalry between Frigga and Iordh and Rind and Gunnlodh remains, but it seems likely to once have existed. It seems that most of Odin's time must be taken up by one or the other of his relationships and the group dynamics reffered to above.
And additionally, each of these relationships produces something integral to Odin and his plans, anything from children that can fulfill certain roles to the wisest of counsel.
Odin also seems, as he mentions in the Lay of Harbarth, to have many other relationships as well, particularly with seidh-women or prophetesses (as I am taking the term "witch-women" to mean). This would potentially be a good way for modern female practitioners of those arts to relate to him.
When Odin wishes to learn that which is unknown he summons up a dead seeress, a woman. When he sought the runes, the other mystery he is known for besides seidh, he died and went to Hel for it, the realm of Hela, a goddess. It was Freya who taught seidh to Odin in the first place. He is served most closely by the valkyries, female warrior spirits. And the possibility that Odin engaged in transgendering rituals makes even some of his internal nature feminine. It seems that in every way, large and small, Odin's power comes from, is defined by, and even limited by the feminine (especially as the Norns, to whose laws of cause and effect even Odin is subject are female).
There are three myths, I think, that best show Odin's nature, and the path he has taken to attain the knowledge and power that it is his nature to seek. The first of these is his sacrifice on Yggdrasil. He hung himself on the tree for nine days and nights, wounded by his own spear. The Havamal relates this tale as "I know I hung on that windswept tree, / Swung there for nine long nights, / Wounded by my own blade, / Bloodied for Odin, / Myself an offering to myself: / Bound to the tree / That no man knows / Whither the roots of it run. / None gave me bread, / None gave me drink. / Down to the deepest depths I peered / Until I spied the runes. / With a roaring cry I seized them up, / Then dizzy and fainting I fell. / Well being I won / And wisdom too. / I grew and took joy in my growth: / From a word to a word / I was led to a word, / From a deed to another deed." In this way Odin won the runes, and the knowledge that brought into the worlds of gods and men both. In this way he brought galdr into existence. In this way he gained a symbolic understanding of all things. And it may be that he had to die for other reasons as well. After all, what's the use of a living god of the dead?
The second of these myths is his sacrifice at Mimir's well. Mimir was a wise old etin, whose name comes from the same root as minni, memory and the subconscious. Mimir tended a well which would give he who drank from it sight over all the worlds. Odin desired this sight, and so besought a draught from Mimir. This he was granted, for the price of one of his eyes. Odin tore it out, and left it in the well. There is a great rune here, for the seidh-workers and visionaries. To gain sight over all the worlds, all the places he is not present, he has to lose half his sight in the place he is present.
The third of these myths is the loss and rewinning of the mead of inspiration. The mead was brewed out of the blood of Kvasir, a god reknowned for wisdom and formed out of a mixture of the spittle of the Aesir and Vanir both. It was stolen, and ended up in the hands of the giant Suttung, who entrusted it to his daughter Gunnlodh to guard. Odin took the name of Bolverk (Worker of Evil, or Harm) in a ritual fashion, murdering peasants in a field to do so. He wiled his way into the good graces of a brother of Suttung and so got close enough to the mountain-fortess Gunnlodh dwelt in to bore a hole in it with an auger and slip in in the form of a snake. He wooed Gunnlodh, who promised him three sips of the mead if he would dally three nights with her. He then drank all of the mead, in three vast "sips", out of the three cauldrons it was kept in and, closely evading pursuit, made it back to Asgard with it. (Though some of the mead was lost as he fled, and fell to earth. This is where the small amount of inspiration, and the need to write, that bad poets have comes from.)
This shows the following things about Odin: firstly, that his heiti do not simply refer to ritual nicknames, but that he takes on different natures and personalities with them. He is not a god to do things half way. It took the cunning and ruthlessness of a "bale-worker" to win back the stolen mead, and so this is exactly what he became. This shows something important about his manner of problem solving. He takes advantage of his amorphous and changeable nature (Svipal) and becomes whatever is most capable of solving the problem. This myth also shows his commitment to the worlds he has created. With that mead in the hands of the jotuns, the blind forces of inertia and destruction, the worlds could not survive, as the mead is the very substance by which anything new is learned, by which any change occurs. The story shows that Odin's ethics are purely situational; nothing has higher priority than his primary function of preventing Ragnarok, the "Fatal Destiny" that will end everything. This is the same reason underlying his "betrayal"of those devoted to him. This story is also, it might be noted, the source of the form of much of the medieval Grail myths. Compare it to stories of Percival or Childe Roland, or of the Fisher King.
Our faith is not a static thing. As we change as a people, so our mythology must grow and evolve. (Remember, Odin shows us that that which is static is dead.) I wish to present here a candidate for a new myth, for the consideration of all Asatruar who read this. Benjamin Thorpe, the eminent nineteenth century scholar of Anglo-Saxon literature, law, and history, relates it in his collection of folklore from Sweden in his book Northern Mythology. It says that there was a barrow in Kraktorps gard in Smaland, that was said to be Odin's. It was called Hell's Mount after the advent of Christianity. Around 1750 it was opened, and reports and legends surrounding this opening say that a flash of lightning leapt out of it upon opening.
Now the thing is, this was just before the German Romantic literary tradition sprang up (in such forms as the Gothic League, of 1811, formed by Swedish poets) that saw a resurgence of interest in and development of the Germanic mythology. This is where the roots of the revival of Asatru itself come from. Also, while Thor's men are said to have most strongly resisted the tide of Christianity when those conflicts turned violent, (this was often known as the struggle between the Red Thor and the White Christ) Odin's men are, near as I can tell, not known anywhere for this. I say this is consistent with Odin's nature. He is no wastrel, to plant seed in autumn (but it is Thor's nature to always turn aside the wolf from the door). This is part of his nature as Svipal. Odin is like the falling feather; it cannot be harmed because it does not resist overwhelming force. Like the storm winds he flows around obstacles, and so overcomes everything. I say it seems a truth to say Odin, far-seeing as he is, knew how the conflict with the new faith would turn out. He simply "went to sleep", died again as he did when he had to before, and waited until the time was right to be reborn in a new form. This was the flash of lightning from the barrow that was said, by descendants of his own people, to be his. So if this story strikes you as right (and you can confirm my research yourselves), then spread this story around, as our anscestors passed on their lore, and allow it to become myth.
I would here like to make an argument for something almost heretically new. I say this because I wish to make it clear that what I am about to say is not to be taken in any way as being an old way of looking at Odinic practice. This is due entirely to my own insights and interpretaions. Though I might say, and I will quote from Nine Worlds of Seid-Magic to do so: "Everything that I do, think, say, perceive, or whatever is passed through that belief system. And because it is filtered through that system, everything I practice is authentic." It seems to me that payment of one's debts is an important concept of honor and rightness both to our paleopagan ancestors. It also seems to me that it is Odin's nature to make use of everything, hardships and oppositions included. It could be said that Odin teaches that "everything furthers". Everything is a tool for betterment. The nature that anything or anyone has is determined by its entire environment. For this reason we owe as much of who we are to our enemies, as well as to strangers, as we of course do to our friends and families. We would not be who we are without the hardships we have suffered, the enemies we have fought, the imperceptably small but numerous influences of strangers. If we take any pleasure at all in our lives, I say that we then owe all of these a debt. And where does this debt end? There is no ending to it, for everything that is, affects all of us. This is then an argument for the Odinist to develop a compassion for ALL things, in payment of that debt. This is of benefit for the Odinist to do for several reasons. One is that it is simply a matter of good orlog to do so. It is a great truth both mystical and simply scientific that we reap what we sow. Plant an acorn and you get an oak in return, not a pine. Treat all with compassion and receive back more immediate good than bad. This is a source of strength, and so something the serious Odinist should not overlook, this Odinic compassion, and I think it is appropriate to Odinic (as opposed to Odhinnic or Wodenic nature), as Svipal shows. And of course, in a very practical sense, that which you respect you are less likely to underestimate. And to feel anything at all for all things is to have a connection with them, an awareness of them, on some level or other. And here again is knowledge and power.
It is not an easy thing to serve Odin. His is the path of most resistance. Hardships that most people would sensibly avoid are embraced, for purposes of growth. He is a wanderer, never content in one place long, and his chosen often must live in the same manner, will-they or won't-they. He is grim, and silent, and capricious. He hands out rewards and victories as a matter of policy, rather than dessert. And at the end of a life of sacrifice he kills those who serve him, often at a young age. For this reason it is often said of him that he is a traitor, but this is not so. His devotees know why this is so (for he needs certain people when they are at certain points in their lives, to help in the struggle at Ragnarok), and so go into his service with open eyes, striking a bargain for his service with life as the payment. This is why the symbol of Odin is the Valknut, the "Knot of the Slain", which his devotees wear. In this sense human sacrifice is still the correct offering to Odin; one offers up one's own life. This is why it is extremely dangerous for non-initiates to approach Odin too closely. This can be seen in the story of the woman who called upon Odin's aid in brewing the household's mead. He promised his aid, asking that which lay between her girdle and herself. She didn't know why he would want her dress, but she agreed. It turned out she didn't know she was pregnant, and Odin had been referring to her unborn son. But the deal was already struck. (An Odinist would have known to ask for more specific terms.) To call upon Odin is to call upon that which is holy. Holy simply means whole, and Odin is this. He is the Alfadhir. He is darkness and light both. To call upon him is to call upon unbalance, madness, and destruction as it is to call upon inspiration, power, and creation. He is storm, which has winds that destroy and rains that nourish.
There are many ways that pagans or heathens worship: some pay worship mostly to their ancestors, others give heed more to the natural powers and the landwights (the sun, the moon, alfs, local river and mountain gods, etc.), some honor all the gods equally, giving sacrifice to each as appropriate. And some devote themselves to primarily worshipping a single god, a patron. (There is some debate in the modern Asatru community about whether or not the concept of having a patron is a paleopagan one - and therefore a fit model for us moderns. I believe it is; just read Egil's Saga, or the Vinland Sagas.)
Dedication to a particular god has its own hardships and its own rewards (doesn't everything?). When you have a particular god as a patron you have to work a little (or a lot) harder. After all, if you want to attract the deity's attention, receive whatever it is that draws you to that deity then you have to be a little bit special. You have to distinguish yourself in some way to merit receiving what you want. If you want something of worth from this god (be it love, power, knowledge, experience, or just a nod in your direction) then you must give something of worth. A gift demands a gift, thus says the Havamal. The way we humans give to the gods is through sacrifice, so a patron must always come first in the toasting, first in the offering. Your patron must be first in your heart and in your head. His or her work in this world should be done by you. Thor's men should protect others, Freya's write poetry of love and lust to inflame the passions of love everywhere. Loki's men should make sure no one ever gets too complacent or impressed with themselves, or goes too long without laughing.
Each deity has their own tasks. Likewise each god and goddess has certain standards of behavior that he or she most approves of. Thus it behooves those who look to them to adopt these behaviors to a greater or lesser degree. But this is not easy. Inaction is always easier than action, and doing your god's work requires vigilance, industry, self-honesty, and a bunch of other words that represent things that are Not Fun. And then there's no guarantee that the god will ever give you what you want or, indeed, even notice you. This is where faith comes in and faith, too, is hard. (Or possibly even worse, the god might suddenly pay a lot of attention to you.)
The rewards of working with one god as your special favorite can more than make up for all the hardships. Many are moved to a particular god out of love and respect, and the mere presence of that god is an experience of unutterable beauty. A desired afterlife, too, is a reason for such service (hey, Valhalla - The Party At The End Of Time - I'm there). And even if the god interacts little with you mere acts of dedication themselves are keys to knowledge and power, for everything presents an opportunity to learn. And then there's the always the possibility the god will give you what you seek....
Odin is lord of death, and battle, and the galdric arts. Of poetry, and inspiration, and of finding things out. Of madness, and pain, and music. He is the god of transformation, of transcendance. His way is the way of growth through death and rebirth. He has, perhaps, one gift to give and that is the gift of hardship, of challenge. Perform, he says, or die.
In three ways did he gain his knowledge and power. He hung himself on a tree (The Tree), injured and alone, till the experience pushed him over the brink of death. But he found the runes instead, and a way back besides. He gave an eye, half his sight in return for sight over all the worlds. Through cleverness and deceit he infiltrated a mountain-fortress of his enemies and won the raw stuff of inspiration itself back from the forces that would destroy the worlds of men and gods alike..
It is clear in the old sources that Odin teaches as he learns. Through trial he built Hrolf Kraki up, even going so far as to help his enemies. His gift to Sigmund brought out the best in him before it killed him. A horse he gave to Sigurd, and a sword, and these things led him through battle, and fire, and venom. In the Havamal Odin teaches to always keep our eyes and ears open. To judge things for ourselves. To know, and to act from that knowledge.
How do I relate to Odin? I am a berserk, so I relate to him as Wod; the Furious, the Possessed. Under this name I relate to him as an artist and a student of science, for it also means inspiration. I am a minor sort of seidh-man, and so to me Odin is Hangatyr, the Hanged God, who died on Yggdrasil to descend into Hel in pursuit of revelation. He is thus also Vegtam, who journeyed by road to Hel to summon the dead volva. To me he is Svafnir, the bringer of dreams. He is Oski, the granter of wishes, especially to those who struggle with him, as do the farmers in the cycle of folklore concerning the Wild Hunt and the tug-of-war. He has granted many of my wishes. He is the leader of the Wild Hunt, and as such he is called both Wod and Hattr. (And the comparison this brings to the Mad Hatter is not inappropriate.) And also, for reasons that are too complicated to explain simply, I relate to him as Odhr. Lastly I would say that he is Gangleri to me, the Wanderer, and he is High, Just-as-High, and Third.
My god is a solitary god, a wanderer. He sets up his own trials, he seeks out challenges. He takes advantage of all the road before him offers. I seek what Odin seeks; knowledge and the power that knowledge brings. I believe that Odin is the best example of how to attain what I seek and so I try to walk the path that he has walked. He is not my friend, for he is too remote and terrible for friendship. (Though he does love - why else is his every action bent towards preservation of the world and uplifting those within it?) He is not my confidant, though I go to him with problems when I need help. I have learned to see Odin everywhere. He is the hidden teacher, the High, Just As High, and Third of Gylfi. He is the man with the knife slipping up behind me. He is the slowpoke driving the station wagon ahead of me when I needed to be across town an hour ago. He is the cruel cop, the obstinate beaurocrat. He is the black ice that I didn't see, and the falling rocks, and I believe I heard his echoes when someone I loved walked away. He is in every hardship that pushes me, hurts me, makes me become something More than what I am now. He is grim, and silent, and unyielding. And for all of this I have learned to love, respect, and even like him. So I try to learn, setting up my own roadblocks, rushing to meet problems I might otherwise have avoided. I will not do what Odin asks of me without question, for Odin himself teaches sure knowledge, and judgment (besides which I think he wants heroes, not lackeys). And like him my strength lies within myself. I need no outside reasons to act, or refrain from acting.
And for these reasons if he cared not for me I would turn away from him, look elsewhere for what I seek. It's what he would do.