The Magical Meaning of Woden in Nordic Lore

Posted on Feb 22, 2012 in divination, history, parallels

It is not uncommon for letters, pictographs and symbols to have deep hidden meanings—even magical power, for cultures around the world have rich histories and stories connected to symbols, letters and written words. Other countries and cultures too have symbols and writing systems that were multi-dimensional, that is, their writing systems in application could not only be read as words and every day messages or chronicles, but also could convey that meanings that were profound, sacred or even used as divination. 
Lane Wilcken, studied and researched Symbolic Interactionism, and is the author of Filipino Tattoos: Ancient to Modern. In 2009, when discussing doubt cast on interpreting symbols that spell out BAHALA/BATHALA, he emailed Ann Ubaldo, baybayin jewelry artist, about the magical, spiritual power of the runes that spell the name of the nordic god Odin or Woden.
“…just because the Western world no longer understands the “magical” quality of its own letters does not mean that it does not have magical properties. 

I recently have spent some time studying my Scandinavian roots on my Father’s side. Their ancient writing was called RUNES. Each rune or letter is a pictograph and has a literal and spiritual meaning as well as a sound associated with it.


For example there is a symbol called “sowelo” and looks like a backwards “z” or an angular “s.” This is were our modern “S” evolved from [Western alphabet]. It represents the sun wheel or sun snake. (see how the words snake and sun have “s” in it?) It represented the sun in its active life-giving force. It is connected to the lightning bolt which was thought to be another aspect of the sun’s energy to symbolize the “flash” of inspiration. It’s warmth transformed ice to water and so it was the rune of transformation, achievement, growth, change and knowledge. Having this rune on you was thought to increase psychic powers or spiritual might.
Just because the western world only uses one single aspect of their writing and ignores the other aspects doesn’t negate the other meanings. When words are view in full context of the natures of these scripts, so much MORE is conveyed. 
For example in runic writing the name ODIN, the chief god in Scandinavia who is also known as WODEN, his name in runes breaks down to:
Wunjo (joy, happiness, prosperity, peacefulness)
Othala (ancestral homeland, from a long bloodline and inheritance)
Dagaz (the twilight of the new day, the slumber before awakening)
Eiwaz (the world tree Yggdrasil or tree of life or source of all life)
Nauthiz (the need fire, the necessity of transformation, the spark that begins flame, the sex act)

So in effect Woden’s name tells us a powerful story:
Joy and peace was in the ancestral homeland at the beginning of a new day at the tree of life; there was the need of transformation.”

I created this chart based on additional research on rune meanings and on Wilcken’s interpretation of the rune symbols of Woden:


Rune meanings of Woden, by Lane Wilcken -

More examples of writing symbols with deeper meanings:

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