Wōden was the sovereign god of the Germanic peoples, forms of his name being found throughout the Germanic world. The form Wōden is that found in Old English. He was identified with the Roman god Mercury apparently in part, to judge from what is said of his Old Norse version Óðinn, because he was connected with writing, was connected with the dead, and because he conquered giants more by trickery than by brute force. The proto-Germanic form of his name is reconstructed as *Wōđanaz. His wife, in Old English, was Frīg.
Worship of WōdenEdit
Wōden, is best known from surviving tales of his Old Norse variant Óðinn. Óðinn was a god connected to the aristocracy and kings are usually descended from Wōden/Óðinn. He was also a god of poetry and inspiration, supposedly subsisting on mead alone while giving the meat of his banquet to the two wolves who followed him. There is an occasional hint of conflict between Óðinn and his son Thórr (Thunder) though they are generally at peace with one another.
Óðinn once sacrificed himself to himself on the world tree for nine days and thereby gained knowledge of the runic alphabet. (In fact the runic alphabet is derived from a North Italian alphabet related to the Latin alphabet.) In another tale Óðinn traded his eye for wisdom and from that time forward was one-eyed. Óðinn is often pictured as wandering the world with a slouch-hat over his head to hide his missing eye.
Except for the story in which Óðinn and his two brothers slew the giant Ymir and created the Earth from his body, Óðinn’s successful conquests are all from trickery and deceit.
In Norse tradition those warriors who die in battle go to Óðinn’s hall to live there to the end of the world when they will battle invading giants and monsters. Óðinn himself will die then, devoured by a gigantic wolf, but Óðinn’s son Víðarr will avenge his father by slaying the wolf and will be one the gods who survives the battle and who will rule over a new heaven and earth.
It is not known how much Old English tradition agreed with Old Norse tradition in all these matters.
Royal Descendants of WōdenEdit
An Historicized Version of Wōden and His Three SonsEdit
According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, Wōden is the ancestor of several royal lines including a large number of English royal lines within Britain.
Snorri Sturluson presents an historicized version of Óðinn who, urged on by prophecy, set out from Turkland towards the north of the world and settled in Saxony. There Óðinn had three sons whom he set over the land: Vegdeg, Beldeg, and Sigi.
Kent and DeiraEdit
Vegdeg ruled in East Saxony and was father to Vitgils, father to Vitta, father to Heingist (Hengist). A brother of Vitta was Sigarr father of Svebdeg whom Snorri declares was known as Svipdagr in Norse tradition. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has a variant version which agrees with Bede in which Wōden is father to Vecta, father to Vitta, father to Victgils, father to Hengist, indicating that Snorri’s version has wrongly swapped Vitta and Vitgils. As to Sigarr and Svebdeg, the A version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle under the year 560 makes Wōden to be ancestor of the royal line of Bernicia through his son Wægdæg, his son Sigegar, his son Swæfdæg, his one Sigegeat, and so on. Presuming that Wōden’s sons Vecta is identical to Wægdæg, the same whom Snorri calls Vegdeg, the genealogy can be reconstructed as:
♂Wōden/Óðinn │ ♂Vecta/Wægdæg/Vegdeg ┌────────────────┴──────────────┐ ♂Vitta ♂Sigegar/Sigar │ │ ♂Victgils/Vitrgils ♂Svebdæg/Svebdag ┌───────┴───────┐ │ ♂Hengist/Heingist ♂Horsa ♂Sigegeat | │ ♂Octa ♂Sæbald | │ ♂Oisc ♂Sæfugl | | ♂Eormenric ♂Westerfalca | | ♂Æthelberht = ♀Bertha ♂Wilgisl ┌─────┴─────┐ | ♀Ymme = ♂Eadbald ♀Æthelburh = ♂Edwin ♂Uxfrea ├──────────┬──────────┐ | ♀Seaxburh = ♂Eorcenberht ♀Eanswith ♂Eormenræd = ♀Oslafa ♂Yffe | ♂Ælle
See Grimm, Jacob (1888, p. 1730). Octa and Oisc are sometimes reversed.
Bernicia and WessexEdit
Beldeg is said to have rule in Westphalia and Snorri identifies him with the Norse god Baldr, which is not accepted by many modern commentators. To Beldeg both Snorri and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle identically trace the royal lines of Bernicia and Wessex:
Wōden/Óðinn │ Bældæg/Beldeg (Baldr) │ Brand ┌───────┴───────┐ Benoc Frithugar │ │ Aloc Freawine │ │ Angenwit Wig │ │ Ingui Gewis │ │ Esa Esla │ │ Eoppa Elesa │ │ Ida Cerdic │ Cynric
The Volsungen LineageEdit
The third son Sigi is made by Snorri to rule in Frankland and to be ancestor of the Volsung lineage and so not connected with English royal genealogies. Óðinn is then stated to set out again on his travels and become ancestor of Scandinavian royal lineages.
Other Wōdenic English Royal Lineages in Mercia, East Anglia, and LindesfarneEdit
Two other royal lineages among the English in Britain are found in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle among Wōden’s descendants and in ‘The Anglian Collection’. The lineage of the Kings of Linesfarne is only found in ‘The Anglian Collection’. The version chosen here is Tiberius B v. According to the Historia Brittonum the ancestor of the Mecian line, Weothogeot is father to Weaga who was father of Whitlæg. But the versions in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle leave out both Weothegeot and Weaga and make Wihtlæg a son of Wōden. In all versions Whitlæg is father of Wermund father of Offa. According to the Old English poem Widsith and other sources Offa ruled over the continental Angels. Saxo, though not mentioning Whitlæg’s parentage, introduces Whitlæg as a Danish king named Wiglek who was the slayer of Amleth (Hamlet), and seemingly places him in the territory of the continental Angels.
Mercia East Anglia Lindesfarne Wōden ┌───────────┼──────────┐ Weothogeot Caser Winta │ │ │ Wihtlæg Tytman Cretta │ │ │ Wærmund Trygil Cwædgils │ │ │ Offa Hrothmund Cædbæd │ │ │ Angelgeot Hryp Bubba │ │ │ Eomer Wilhelm Beda │ │ │ Icel Wehh Bisceop │ │ │ Cnebba Wuffa Eanferth │ │ │ Cynewald Tytla Eata │ │ │ Creoda Eni Aldfrith │ │ Pybba Æthelric | │ Penda Ældwulf | │ Æthelred Alfwald
Some Name VariationsEdit
LATIN: Woden; FRENCH: Woden; ENGLISH: Wōden, Woden; OLD NORSE: Óðinn; WELSH: Woden.