Children of Odin: A Book of Northern Myths - Padraic Colum

[Illustration] from Children of Odin by Padraic Colum

Odin Tells to Vidar, His Silent Son, the Secret of His Doings

It was not only to Giants and Men that Odin showed himself in the days when he went through Jötunheim and Midgard as Vegtam the Wanderer. He met and he spoke with the Gods also, with one who lived far away from Asgard and with others who came to Midgard and to Jötunheim.

The one who lived far away from Asgard was Vidar, Odin's silent son. Far within a wilderness, with branches and tall grass growing around him, Vidar sat. And near by him a horse grazed with a saddle upon it, a horse that was ever ready for he speedy journey.

And Odin, now Vegtam the Wanderer, came into that silent place and spoke to Vidar, the Silent God.

"O Vidar," he said, "strangest of all my sons; God who will live when all of us have passed away; God who will bring the memory of the Dwellers of Asgard into a world that will no not their power; O Vidar, well do I know why there grazes near by thee the horse ever ready for the speedy journey: it is that thou mayst spring upon it and ride unchecked, a son speeding to avenge his father.

"To you only, O Vidar the Silent One, will I speak of the secrets of my doings. Who but you can know why I, Odin, Eldest of the Gods, hung on the tree Ygdrassil nine days and nine nights, mine own spear transfixing me? I hung upon that windy tree that I might learn the wisdom that would give me power in the nine worlds. On the ninth night the Runes of Wisdom appeared before mine eyes, and slipping down from the tree I took them to myself.

"And I shall tell why my ravens fly to thee, carrying in their beaks scraps of leather. It is that thou mayst put thy foot on the lower jaw of a mighty wolf and rend him. All the shoemakers of the earth throw on the ground scraps of the leather that they use so that though mayst be able to make the sandal for thy wolf-rending foot.

"And I have counseled the dwellers on earth to cut off the fingernails and the toenails of their dead, lest from those fingernails and toenails the Giants make for themselves the ship Naglfar in which they will sail from the North on the day of Ragnarök, the Twilight of the Gods.

"More, Vidar, I will tell to thee. I, living amongst men, have wed the daughter of a hero. My son shall live as a mortal amongst mortals. Sigi his name shall be. From him shall spring heroes who will Valhalla, my own hall in Asgard, with heroes against the day of our strife with the Giants and with Surtur of the Flaming Sword."

For long Odin stayed in that silent place communing with his silent son, with Vidar, who with his brother would live beyond the lives of the Dwellers of Asgard and who would bring into another day and another world the memory of the Æsir and the Vanir. For long Odin spoke with him, and then he went across the wilderness where the grass and the bushes grew and where that horse grazed in readiness for the sudden journey. He went toward the seashore where the Æsir and the Vanir were now gathered for the feast that old Ægir, the Giant King of the Sea, had offered them.