A key element in the Norse sagas is when Odin sacrifices his eye for a drink from the well of knowledge and gains foresight in to all that is to come. From that moment onward his life becomes a quest to stop or delay the prophecy. Another recurring theme is that Odin’s actions often set up the very circumstances that bring the prophecies events into being. This is truly a tragic tail, but is it also a cautionary one?
Odin sacrifices his eye. Is this symbolic of his ability to see the other path? Take the case of Lady Hel, for example. He cast her into Niflheim where she became his foe. Had he not had foreknowledge of a possible future would he instead have been the loving uncle that could have turned her nature and created an ally? Hel was destined to rule Niflheim, but was she destined to be antagonistic to the Aesir? If Odin had stepped up and told the other gods to stop teasing her because of a birth defect, would her nature have been different?
The pattern repeats with Fenrir. They bound Fenrir to guard Asgard, but the truth is any dog can be made mean, and most dogs can be raised gentle. I’m sure it is the same with wolves. If Odin had arraigned play dates with Geri and Freki for Fenrir would he have had a noble ally as opposed to an enemy when the final day came?
The one instance where Odin did take one of Loki’s children under his wing was Sleipnir who proved a most loyal stead.
There are other instances. The question becomes, did Odin in sacrificing his eye close the avenues that would have lead to a different future? Did his quest for foreknowledge blind him to the best course in the present?
I’ve seen it as a professional psychic where I predicted an injury for a semi-pro athlete. I warned him, even told him it would be in his lower body and that he needed to do extra work to strengthen the area. I told him flat that predictions were probabilities and that an act of will could alter them. Later that year I received a phone call telling me his leg was messed up during a practice. Complete face palm on my part because the point to the warning was to prevent the injury.
Are Odin’s actions and their consequences a warning not to let prophecy close your vision of the present? Not to let fear of tomorrow cause one to act in a less than noble way today? Having read the Runes for decades I can tell you it is all too easy to let them dictate your actions. In desperation we seek answers, but does striving for the future we have glimpsed through a foggy and indistinct haze close us to other opportunities?
In the stories is Odin a wise fool so focused on the broken bridge over the river he fails to see the stepping stones at the bridge’s base? (This is said with respect to the all father but the point must be considered.)
In any case, this is a thought that has come to me; take from it what you will. Also, please note the number of question marks above. I make no statement of truth simply a thought to be considered, do with it what you will.