Advice from Odin, I: Drinking

This advice is always good to follow, but I tend to share it the most around New Year’s (for fairly obvious reasons). That said, whether it is that time of year or not, allow me to share some of Odin‘s warnings and advice about drinking. After all, we should all drink responsibly. Besides, I don’t tolerate poor behavior in this Hall—we should all listen to Odin’s wisdom and be above the common rabble. And so, guests of this Hall should drink with moderation, and folk ought to remain friendly. But if you won’t heed my warnings about drinking, perhaps you will at least abide by the All-father’s wisdom. Here are a few stanzas about drinking from the Hávamál, or the Sayings of the High One:[1]

Keep your wits.

11. No better burden a man bears on the road

than a store of common sense;

no worse journey-provision could he carry over the plain

than over-much drinking of ale.

Too much mead affects the mind…

12. It isn’t as good as it’s said to be,

ale, for the sons of men;

for the more a man drinks, the less he knows

about his own mind.

13. The forgetfulness-heron it’s called

who hovers over ale-drinking;

he steals a man’s mind;

with the bird’s feathers I was fettered

in the court of Gunnlod.

…but only temporarily, fortunately.

14. Drunk was I, I was more than drunk

at wise Fiarlar’s;

that’s the best about ale-drinking that afterwards

every man gets his mind back again.

Foolish folk are more foolish when drunk.

17. The fool stares when he comes on a visit,

he mutters to himself and hovers about;

but it’s all up with him if he gets a swig of drink;

the man’s mind is exposed.

Drink in moderation (regardless of the party).

19. Let no man hold onto the cup, but drink

mead in moderation,

let him say what’s necessary or be silent;

no man will scold you

because you go off early to bed.

So, do as Odin says, my friends—don’t drink too heavily, whether it is a time of festivity or not, because the All-Father frowns upon the man who fails to drink with moderation. Keep your wits, and do not let any drink steal your mind. Despite popular notions, the wise folk among the Norse didn’t smile upon the man who drank more than he should—such behavior was considered unwise. So while folk today often associate the ‘Vikings’ with excessive drinking, such behavior would not have been acceptable—at least for those familiar with Odin’s wisdom.

ᚦᚬᚴ:ᚠᛁᚱᛁᚱ:ᛚᛁᛋᛏᚱ! Þǫkk fyrir lestr! (Thanks for reading!)

ᚠᛁᚬᚱᚾ


Endnotes and Resources

  1. All of the poetry contained in this post has been quoted from Carolyne Larrington trans., Sayings of the High One, in The Poetic Edda, 13-35 (repr., 1996; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). ^

Books

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Minor Disclaimer: Most of the book links provided in this Hall are affiliated with Book Depository, which always offers free shipping (regardless of where in Midgard you dwell). Better yet, every purchase made using those links will help the Hall grow and prosper at no additional cost to you. ᚦᚬᚴ:ᚠᛁᚱᛁᚱ! Þǫkk fyrir!


Online

A free, online version of the Poetic Edda can be found here, thanks to the Viking Society for Northern Research‘s publication page.


Acknowledgements

Patreon LogoAs always, I extend my most sincere thanks to my dear Fellowship of esteemed patrons over on Patreon. Without their support, this Hall would not be as lively and warm as it is today. Here are the names of those who supported me during the writing of this post (taken from Patreon): Anastasia Haysler, Froggy, Jonas Lau Markussen, Kathleen Phillips, Kevin McAllister, Patch, and Sarah Dunn.ᚦᛅᚴᛅ:ᛁᚴᚱ:ᚴᛅᚱᛚᛁᚴᛅ:ᚠᛁᚱᛁᚱ. Þakka ykkr kærliga fyrir.


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