One of my goals in writing for the blog has been to feature the decorative details of the Adams Building, including the figures that grace the bronze doors. I thought it was time revisit this topic, so this post is dedicated to Odin, the image that stands beside Quetzalcoatl.
Odin, sometimes written as Wodan, Woden, or Wotan, is a principle god of Norse mythology. He was a god of war and protector of heroes. Warriors who died in battle were escorted by Valkyries to join him in Valhalla – Hall of the Slain. He had an eight legged horse by the name of Sleipnir who had runes inscribed on his teeth, and two ravens, Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory/mind), who gathered information for him from around the world (Midgard). That made me wonder- why was he chosen to be depicted on the brass doors and join others like Sequoyah, who were associated with writing?
The answer is because Odin is seen as the creator of the runic alphabet and god of poets. This alphabet supposedly was given to him hanging from Yggdrasil – the World Tree – and the runes were reputed to have magical powers that when put together correctly could enact power spells. Think letters put together to form words, then sentences, paragraphs, and books.
There was, however, an interesting angle that occurred to me when I was reading about Odin that makes me feel a bit of kinship toward him. Odin was the god of war and was concerned with battles and all things military. He would have needed intelligence from all over the world, so he sent his ravens Huginn and Munnin to gather it. They functioned like librarians!
Now I really understand why Odin was chosen.