In Lindby in Sweden a famous statue of Odin was found, a photo (that I took from Arild Hauge) shows it. As you can see the statue misses an arm. Replicas usually look like the one you can see on the right. I have this particular one myself, it is from Sacred Source. Both his hands in his sides, did you ever wonder why? We often take things for granted too easily, also the (neo)pagans among us. Personally I can’t imagine that the image just happens to be as it is and there are some things that may confirm this idea. Let me take you on a short journey through Gemanic symbolism.
The Germanic year was divided in two parts: summer and winter. Symbolically this can be given very well as a split circle, the circle is the year and it is split into two halves. A circle split in four can refer to the four seasons. It may be very well possible that this is the reasons that wheels and stars play an important part in Germanic symbolism. But the wheel is not the subject here, I was talking about the year. There were various ways of symbolically showing the year, a few examples for you on the right.
Poor quality, I know, but it is just to give you an idea. These symbols are taken from rune calendars and rock-carvings from Sweden to Italy. The third row are forms of the “gear” rune, which very names means “year”. The idea is clear, a symbol with two halfs for each half of the year.
This old symbolism lives on in several ways, rooftops for example (see my Maihaugen museum photo (Lillehammer, Norway), below). If you look well, similar rooftops can be found in a lot of places, my “Old symbolism in a modern city” article (“division of the year”) has two photos of a simpler form in Eindhoven. Such rooftops can become more complex, just think about the famous Frisian “uleborden” (below middle). The symbolism of the “uleborden” is more complex and not within the scope of this article, but a version that you can see more often is point above the rooftop with bows where here are swans.
Little year men
I am not talking about rooftops either. These rooftops have a symbolism but they are kept very abstract, like the symbols that I showed before. In the way I have given some of these symbols representing a year, I can also give man-like figures that are said to have the same symbolism. Something like a sun (head) on the top (solstice) and a year below. That, with the famous “year god of Bremen”, is it strange that I am reminded of my little statue of Odin?
Odin is often referred to as the “allfather”, so the complete year is not a very strange thing to attribute to him. Maybe the symbolism of the two arms goes deeper than this, but I am just giving some thoughs here. Think about things, combine, look further, study. Everything is connected and symbolism is an extremely interesting subject. The things that I touched upon here are written about by several writers, some you may know from my earlier mentioned article “Old symbolism in a modern city”. Just a few titles that I have read more or less recently, all in Dutch or German though and not always easy to get either, but here have at least have a starter.
Levend Verleden F.E. Farwerck (1938)
Noord-Europese Mysteriën en hun sporen tot heden F.E. Farwerck (1978)
Allmuter H. Wirth
Die Symbolhistorische methode H. Wirth
Tussen Hamer en Staf K. Logghe (1992)