Mimir (memory) In Norse mythology, a giant noted for his wisdom; uncle of Odin. Mimir was at one time the keeper of a magic caldron, Odhrerir, or a magic well at the roots of the world tree, Yggdrasill. Mimir drank from the caldron or well and knew all things—past, present, and future. He once allowed Odin to drink, but the god had to give one of his eyes as the price. Thus, Odin is often portrayed as one-eyed, the socket being covered by his broad-brimmed hat or a lock of hair. In other accounts Odin, after having tasted the well,
672 Mikula Selyaninovich
never smiled again. Mimir lived among the gods even though he was of the giants’ race. He was sent as a hostage to the Vanir, another group of gods, who beheaded him. Odin got back Mimir’s head, breathed life into it, and consulted it on very important matters. The myth is told in the Prose Edda.
Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante
Mimir is a lord of wisdom. He is the keeper of a well at the base of Ygdrassil, the World Tree. He stands halfway immersed within the well. (Alternatively his severed head guards the well.) The well is a source and repository of hidden wisdom. Drinking from it bestows the gift of prophecy. Odin wanted the wisdom and gifts that the well bestowed, but unable to steal it from Mimir, he struck a deal: Odin sacrificed one eye to drink from the well.
Mimir may or may not be Odin’s uncle, brother of his mother, Bestla. He is an Aesir spirit, sent as a hostage to the Vanir to ensure peace between the two pantheons. The Vanir sent Freyr, Freya, and Njord, three of their most significant spirits, to the Aesir. Angered because they felt that the Aesir had not sent equally powerful hostages, they beheaded Mimir and sent his head to Odin. Odin used herbs to preserve Mimir’s head and prevent it from decaying, and then chanted spells over the head to magically activate it. Odin consults with Mimir’s head before the final apocalyptic battle of Ragnarok.
There are different reports as to what’s exactly in the Well of Mimir: water or mead? After Odin hung for nine days on the World Tree, Mimir revived him with a drink of mead. Mimir drinks mead every morning.
Mimir himself is a font of wisdom. He is accessed via dreams, visualizations, and shamanic journeys.
Mimir is a speaking oracular head.
Aesir; Angerboda; Bran; Freya; Freyr; Maeve; Njord; Odin; Vanir
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.
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