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Havamal

Havamal (The Words of the High One), (known also as "The Sayings of Har") is a source document for the study of Norse mythology and is a poem in the Edda with rules for wise living written by Odin. It is both practical and metaphysical in content, and is structurally incongruous, appearing to be comprised of three separate offerings.

The first part of the Havamal gives a number of particularly revealing insights into the Nordic cultural ethos of that time and focuses particularly on the etiquette and behavioural relationships between hosts and guests. The first stanza exemplifies the practical behavioural advice it offers:

When standing at an unfamiliar door,
Take care before entering:
Look this way and that:
Who knows up front what foes may be
Awaiting in the hall?

The second section of Havamal deals with morals, ethics, correct action and codes of conduct. It is directed to the dwarf Loddfaffner, who stands in the place of the reader (or, as was the case at the time, the listener).

The latter section, which is spectacularly metaphysical, exposes the depths of this poem, and these can best be exemplified wherein Odin talks of his self-sacrifice (to himself) in stanza 138:

Wounded, I dangled on a wind-swept gallows
For nine long days and nights,
Impaled upon a spear, sacrificed to Odin,
An offering, self to self
Upon the Tree whose roots ascend to heaven



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