Omens of War (Odin’s Advice)
I have finished rereading the Poetic Edda and found some interesting advice in the Reginsmal poem. In this story King Sigurth asks Battle-Stirrer (a.k.a. Odin in disguise) if there are any positive omens to look for preceding battle. The version of the Poetic Edda I will be referencing is a newer translation done by Dr. Jackson Crawford.
You would think that any advice about war coming from the all-father must be excellent; maybe not. Odin has a history of interfering with various battles in order to collect the best warriors for Valhalla. In the case of the Reginsmal, Sigurth was very successful. So I would take Battle-Stirrer’s words with good intentions. The stanzas start at 18-22 and end at 23-26.
Good Omens For Victory In Battle
- A man with a faithful following of black-winged ravens will fight a winning battle.
- If you are outside, out on the road, and you see two men standing in the yard, ready to make battle.
- If you hear a wolf howl under the limbs of an ash, you and not your enemy will have good luck, if you see him first.
- No one should leave for battle facing the setting sun. Bold men have victories if they can see, or line up in formation.
- You are in grave danger if you stumble on your way to battle. It means that evil spirits stand on either side of you, and want to see you get hurt.
- Every man should keep himself well-kempt and clean, and eat up in the morning You never know where you’ll be in the evening, so its’s bad to leave home hungry.
Since most of the Old Norse stories have been lost in time only Odin knows what is missing. These six things will have to suffice. Now on to living things…
Crawford, J. (2015). The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes. Indianapolis/Cambridge, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.