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Which eye did Odin lose?

Odin for long has been depicted with words or pictures as an old man in a dark cloak, especially without an eye. But why? And “which eye did Odin lose”? This article will help you to figure it out. 

which eye did Odin lose

One-eyed Odin

We all know that Odin is one-eyed. But anyone has ever wondered that “which eye did Odin lose?” and “how did he lose it?” Was he born without it? Did he lose it in a bet? Or did he lost it in battle? That seems like the most likely explanation, doesn’t it? After all, he is the All-Father of a warrior people. 

Which eye did Odin lose?

Actually, there are no definitive answers to the question “which eye did Odin lose?” because ain’t no mythology which can confirm you and the depictions will be varied by the artist. The only thing can be sure is Odin has lost one eye and there’s a story behind it 

The Odin’s depictions

Scroll down below, there are a number of Odin’s pictures, and some of them depict Odin missing left eye, others show that his right eye is covered by an eye-patch and even a few of them just show the different colors between two eyes. However, the majority of depictions indicate that he lost his right eye.

Odin missing an eye

Odin missing his left eye
Which eye did Odin lose
Odin missing his right eye

How did Odin lose his eye? 

I’ve found some interesting pictures which depicted perfectly the story behind the question “Which eye did Odin lose?”.

Odin sacrificed an eye
Odin asked for a drink of the mystical Well of Urd

How did Odin lose an eye?

Odin sacrificed one eye for a drink 


It is believed that Odin is will to pay any price for the acquisition of wisdom and that strongly connected to the reason why he left his eye. And the story begins…

In Norse mythology, Odin was not an omniscient God. In fact, he was well-known for his thirst for knowledge and his nonstop pursuit of wisdom. Odin traveled the Nine Worlds seeking for knowledge. One day, he knew that the water in the Well of Urd at the base of the World - Tree contained the wisdom he was desired. Therefore, he visited the well and asked Mimir for drinking the magical water. Mimir was the guardian of the well. He knew exactly the precious value of the water in the well and because of that, he couldn’t make it easy but required Odin to sacrifice one of his two eyes. Because of his thirst for knowledge, Odin did not hesitate but gouged out his own eye, dropped it into the well. Odin sacrificed an eye but gained a more sacred, divine level of wisdom in return. 

This is one version of the story:

 Mimir heard Odin's approach, 'Who approaches my abode!'

    'It is I, Odin, chief of the Gods! I have come partake of your well of wisdom and knowledge', Odin said, suddenly revealing himself and calling out in a booming voice.

    Mimir stood there by the well, an ancient being with flowing white hair. "Odin, whose gallows are Yggdrasil, you must know that there is a deep price to be asked for a draught from my well."

   Odin approached the edge of the well and stared into its dark, rippling water. 'Name your price and I will pay it', he said somberly. 

   'The price is one of your eyes Allfather. You must pluck out and drop it into the well so that all that stare into its waters will see the sacrifice of Odin', Mimir replied. 

   Odin took a deep breath and reached to his face, and with a grunt plucked out his right eye. In great pain, he dropped his eye into the well of Mimir. There was then a shift in the breeze that seemed it to speak Odin's name and Yggdrasil's leaves rustled way up high. 

   Mimir took his horn Gjallarhorn and dipped it deep into the magical well and handed it to Odin, the now 'one-eyed' god, and Odin drank deeply finishing it all in one draught. 

The valuable lesson

Although the sacrifice was the common thing in Viking mythology, the story of one-eyed Odin does teach us a valuable lesson

If you desire something, you need to sacrifice for it.

One figurative interpretation of this Odin eye story can be that Odin exchanged part of his external vision for his internal wisdom. To be specific, following Mimir’s requirement of devoting his eye, Odin did not give up his external vision entirely. The accepted explanation is that Odin knew exactly the balance of both external vision and internal wisdom. While the external vision could help him to observe things surrounding thoroughly, the internal wisdom analyzed and answered any questions and mysteries. That is to say, the importance of external vision and internal wisdom is undeniable.

Another way to interpret Odin's eye story is gaining wisdom forever comes along with the sacrifice. Nowadays, many people seem to believe that if something is hard then it is not worth trying. However, Odin and people with Norse's heart believe the opposite. If something is well worth, sacrifice is always required. Whenever it comes to knowledge, we all should be willing to exchange our time, energy, attention, or even money for gaining it.

What will you trade for wisdom?

The thing of sacrificing a physical body to gain a cosmic understanding of reality happens multiple times in Norse mythology.

Odin traveled the Nine Worlds seeking knowledge and has three main sources, his knowledge of the Mystic Runes, wisdom he gained from his personal sacrifice at the World Tree Yggdrasil and the ultimate sacrifice of his eye at Mímir's Well near Jötunheim. How about you? Are you willing to sacrifice an eye for knowledge? 

To be honest to say, we - people do not sacrifice part of our body but we do sacrifice our time, energy, and money to get knowledge. 

I hope this article helps you figure out your question “Which eye did Odin lose?”. If you are a Viking person, follow us at https://haquil.com/blogs/viking and check out other interesting Viking stuff!

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