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Mimir's Well


'Odin in his guise as a wanderer' by Georg von Rosen


As Odin drew nearer to the well, the mist cleared. Mimir sat on the ground, gazing up at the stars above. He had grown so thin that he was nothing more than a skeleton. There were scars on his face and bruises on his body. At his feet was a tattered blanket. ‘It has been a long time, old friend,’ Odin said.


Mimir did not react to Odin’s voice. For a moment, Odin thought Mimir had gone hard of hearing. But finally, he responded. ‘That it has been.’


‘Why did you not return to Asgard after the Vanir released you?’ Odin asked.


‘That is no longer my fate.’


‘So, your fate is to live as a beggar: to sleep in the dirt and to starve yourself for days on end. Surely you miss the warm halls of Asgard, the sweet taste of mead on your lips.’


‘It is true. I do long for that life. But that is no longer my life. I have seen my fate. It is not my will to run from it but to endure it the best I can.’


‘But you are a god. You decide your own fate. You don’t need to live this life if you do not want to.’


‘Nobody can escape their fate. You, too, will come to see this one day. Perhaps, that day will come sooner than you think. Now tell me, what is the real reason you came here? It certainly was not to see an old friend. I know you, Odin, you care little for anything other than yourself.’


The corner of Odin’s mouth twitched. ‘I have come to drink from the well.’


‘So, you seek the gifts it grants?’


‘I do. I have heard many rumours of this well. Some say it gives strength, but others say it gives good fortune. I wanted to come and see for myself.’


‘All of the rumours you have heard are true. You see, the gift granted by the well depends on what you are willing to sacrifice.’


Odin contemplated this. ‘I think I understand.’ He stepped up to the well and thought about what his offering could be.


He took a dagger out of his pocket. The blade glimmered. There were onyx stones set into the handle. This would make a fine offering, but Odin was uncertain. Perhaps he needed something more. Mimir said his offering needed to be a sacrifice. Would this dagger be enough?


At last, he decided what to do. With a quivering hand, he used the dagger to carve out his own eye.


When it was done, he dropped his eyeball into the well. It sank to the bottom, staining the water red.


Blood ran down Odin’s face. He wiped it away and knelt down. Cupping his hands together, he drank from the well. As the water trickled down his throat, he saw more than he had ever seen before. He saw hoards of treasure and hearty feasts. He saw the bonds of brotherhood and glorious battles. He saw the many marvels of nature. But he also saw betrayal. He also saw death. He saw an endless winter with skies of raging flame. He saw the sun being swallowed by a great wolf. One by one, he watched the gods fall.


He got back to his feet and ran to his horse.


‘Are you leaving?’ Mimir asked.


‘I have much to prepare,’ Odin said.

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