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:
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!)
Endnotes and Resources
- 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). ^
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