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Odin ( ; from Old Norse Óðinn) is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Old English "Wōden", the Old Saxon "Wôdan" and the Old High German "Wôtan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz".
"Odin" is generally accepted as the modern English form of the name, although, in some cases, older forms may be used or preferred. His name is related to ōðr, meaning "fury, excitation," besides "mind," or "poetry." His role, like that of many of the Norse gods, is complex. Odin is a principal member of the Æsir (the major group of the Norse pantheon) and is associated with war, battle, victory and death, but also wisdom, Shamanism, magic, poetry, prophecy, and the hunt. Odin has many sons, the most famous of whom is Thor.
As Odin is closely connected with a horse called Sleipnir, a spear called Gungnir, and transformation/shape shifting into animal shapes, an alternative theory of origin contends that Odin, or at least some of his key characteristics, may have arisen just prior to the 6th century as a nightmarish horse god (Echwaz), later signified by the eight-legged Sleipnir. Some support for Odin as a latecomer to the Scandinavian Norse pantheon can be found in the Sagas where, for example, at one time he is thrown out of Asgard by the other gods — a seemingly unlikely tale for a well-established "all father". However, it could also mean Odin represented an older cult of proto-Germanic hunter-gatherers, his association with being a wanderer and having shamanic qualities, and this story might on the contrary mean the Odin-cult was taken over by newer sedentary cults. Scholars who have linked Odin with the "Death God" template include E. A. Ebbinghaus, Jan de Vries and Thor Templin. The later two also link Loki and Odin as being one-and-the-same until the early Norse Period .
Scandinavian Óðinn emerged from Proto-Norse *Wōdin during the Migration period, artwork of this time (on gold bracteate) depicting the earliest scenes that can be aligned with the High Medieval Norse mythological texts. The context of the new elites emerging in this period aligns with Snorri's tale of the indigenous Vanir who were eventually replaced by the Æsir, intruders from the Continent.
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