Mimir

“Odin with Mimir’s Body” by Georg Pauli (1913)

Mimir (pronounced “MEE-meer;” Old Norse Mímir, “The Rememberer”[1]) is an exceptionally wise being and a counselor of the gods. From the surviving sources for information on Norse mythology, it’s impossible to tell whether he was considered to be an Aesir god or a giant.

Mimir’s home seems to be a well called Mímisbrunnr, which is probably identical to the Well of Urd.[2] Odin famously sacrificed an eye to Mimir in exchange for a drink from Mimir’s well.

Mimir was killed and beheaded by the Vanir during the Aesir-Vanir War. Upon seeing the severed head, Odin embalmed it with special herbs and chanted magical songs over it to preserve it. He consulted the head in times of need, and it continued to dispense incomparable advice.

More than any other being in Norse mythology, Mimir seems to be regarded as the divine animating force behind the wisdom of past tradition and its indispensable value as a guide for present actions.

If you’ve enjoyed this article and want to learn more about Norse mythology, I recommend picking up one of the books listed in this guide: The 10 Best Norse Mythology Books. And if you’re particularly interested in the worldview of the pre-Christian Norse and other Germanic peoples, you might want to take a look at my own book, The Love of Destiny: The Sacred and the Profane in Germanic Polytheism.

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References:

[1] Simek, Rudolf. 1993. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Translated by Angela Hall. p. 216.

[2] Bauschatz, Paul C. 1982. The Well and the Tree: World and Time in Early Germanic Culture.