Odin of the West

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is the interaction of our Gods with the land. Regional cultus is a thing, and the way that a particular Deity manifests Him or Herself in a small village in Norway maybe completely different from how that same Deity manifests in an Appalachian hollow and different again from the open, eerie spaces of the old American West. I never really thought about this with Odin until today when my husband put on the Gambler, by Kenny Rogers (may he rest in peace). I listened to the song and commented that there was something very Odinic about it, which prompted a whole discussion about Odin’s affinity for the old West. I think it’s a unique path of the Old Man, one that is clever, lucky, and brutal.

This of course got us musing on Country and Western and Bluegrass music. The heroes of each, the harmonics, the tonal cadences are completely different. You’d never find a character like the Gambler being lauded in a Bluegrass piece, for instance. That music is connected to land and kin in a way that the Western part of country and Western simply is not. I think the luck working, the wanderlust, and all that the West represented to the people that settled it, many from German and English heritage, with His presence embedded in their songs and folktales, a shadow, a haint, a haunt, a glory, opened the door for this God to come through in an unique way. It’s one with which I’m just starting to connect.

To help, Sannion made me a play list of music and I share that with y’all now. Click here to listen.



(image by W. McMillan)

About ganglerisgrove

Galina Krasskova has been a Heathen priest since 1995. She holds a Masters in Religious Studies (2009), a Masters in Medieval Studies (2019), has done extensive graduate work in Classics including teaching Latin, Roman History, and Greek and Roman Literature for the better part of a decade, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Theology. She is the managing editor of Walking the Worlds journal and has written over thirty books on Heathenry and Polytheism including "A Modern Guide to Heathenry" and "He is Frenzy: Collected Writings about Odin." In addition to her religious work, she is an accomplished artist who has shown all over the world and she currently runs a prayer card project available at wyrdcuriosities.etsy.com.

Posted on April 16, 2020, in Heathenry, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I definitely feel this, especially with the Coen Brothers’ True Grit.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love older country and Western music. There was much more soul and variety to it back then. The new stuff is mostly stereotypical trailer park pop.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. This is the type of music I grew up with. This association with The Gambler never occurred to me, but now that I have read this I can see it too. If an old man I had never seen before gave me some sage advice out of nowhere, I would wonder if I had encountered one of Odin’s many forms. A wandering old gambler is definitely Odinic.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s funny you mention this, because when I was about 3 or 4, I used to act out “The Gambler” with this stuffed frog that I had. I didn’t understand what the lyrics meant in the context of gambling (because I didn’t know what that was!), but I would hold the frog, then fold him in half, then make him walk away slowly, and then make him run away fast, etc.! It’s a very vivid set of memories, actually…

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  5. I lived out on a ranch in a quite remote valley of the Great Basin desert for a couple of years; while I didn’t know Odin much at the time, Loki *definitely* showed up. There’s something about the lonely vastness and desolation of the American desert that seems to show a particularly primal and, to be frank, quite frightening side of Loki; hearing Him in the yammering of the coyotes, the soft howl of the desert wind, seeing Him in the strange play of shadows by moonlight under the stars and Milky Way. Dionysos seemed to have a similar connection with the profound darkness and wildness of the desert night, and the vast wildness away from humanity that surrounded us.

    Frey and Freya seemed to be vivid with our alfalfa farm and the cattle we kept, the birds of prey constantly swooping overhead, the surging life under the brilliant desert sun, the close warmth of a ranch community bound together by common labor and the boarding-house meals. Nerthus, in the desert soil we nourished with water and compost to bring forth green growth from the ancient alluvial sands, and in the wetlands that flourished from underground springs. Hel, in the boneyard where we took dead animals to feed the desert scavengers.

    May They ever be hailed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • ganglerisgrove

      This is beautiful and it highlights how our Gods are living Presences, always with us. (and your description of Loki made me shiver. I encountered Him once, just once in that way when my mom and I were hiking in the desert years and years ago.


  6. You may enjoy this by Norse language teacher Jackson Crawford.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Bluegrass comes to us primarily from areas that were settled by the Scots who left behind the suppression of Scotland after the failed rebellion. Some were exiled there, others left of their own accord to try their luck in a new land. So they brought over their music, which was already a mix of traditions, that were already influenced by Celitc, Roman, Scandinavia, and then mingled with other immigrants and even some of the indigenous tribal cadences. I always felt that the following were very Odinic

    the Hanging Tree (popularized in the Hunger Games)

    Wayfaring Stranger – especially the bluegrass version by Hayde

    Take the Journey – by Molly Tuttle

    Thor Has a Mighty Hammer – Bell, Book & Canto – something about this brings to mind African Slave spirituals in the fields…

    Twilight of the Thunder God (famous from Amon Amarth) has an awesome bluegrass the cover by the group Slaughter of the Bluegrass


    • ganglerisgrove

      yep. I have another Odinic playlist that includes the Hanging Tree and Wayfaring Stranger. This is my favorite version of the latter: https://youtu.be/HY3sj5ICHmo


      • MM, I’m not fond of that version, the vocalist doesn’t have clear annunciation, so you get more a sense of humming.vibration of his words to the music in many places. Though the music playing side is nice. 🙂

        Been All Round This World, there’s a few versions, but one has a verse that goes ” Hang me oh hang me till I’m dead and gone” …

        Not the best version I’ve heard of it, but at least this version has the right lyrics (some versions took the dark parts out, and made it more a love/courting song). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv5aau-rLls


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