In The Sky: Odin’s Wagon

Awhile ago I came across a webpage that said that the Great Bear (Big Dipper) constellation is also called Odin’s Wagon. Now, I don’t claim to know everything about Odin (matter of fact I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t!), but I had never heard anything about Him having a wagon of any sorts. I’d read about Him hanging on Yggdrasil to gain the Runes, Him riding Sleipnir to Hel and back, and also Him wandering around on foot with Loki and Honir. But I’d never read anything about Him having a wagon. So, I set out to figure out why the heck a constellation would be referred to as Odin’s Wagon.

I have found reference to this constellation bearing the name Hellewagon, and being described as “wagon of the dead”. Given the fact that Helheim is the land of the dead in Norse mythology, it would make sense for a wagon with the name of Hellewagon to be a wagon of the dead. And if the wagon is a wagon of the dead then it makes sense for it to be Odin’s wagon.

Odin has the ability to visit Hel and still return alive (via Sleipnir), and so it makes perfect sense to me that He would be a psychopomp–a ferryman of the dead. What better way to transport the dead than in a wagon?

But when it comes to mythology, I have yet to come across any wagon that Odin owns. However, there is one thing that makes me think there might be one somewhere that I just haven’t heard about yet. When the creators of the Lord of the Rings movies, they based Gandalf in part on Odin. In the beginning of Fellowship of the Ring, Odin arrives in the Shire in a wagon. Now, I know this is just a movie, but this particular image keeps standing out to me. Call it a bit on a hunch that I see this as a clue to keep digging. Which I fully plan to do.

Has anyone heard of Odin having a wagon, or have ideas on where I could look in order to research this further?

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4 Responses to In The Sky: Odin’s Wagon

  1. wodensabbot says:

    I haven’t heard of it either, but it’d be interesting to find out for sure.

  2. H.O. says:

    In Scandinavian tradition it is known as Tor’s wagon, not Odin’s. Karl, or more commonTorakall/Torekall, is one of the regional names for Tor. “Kall” = dialect for “karl” = “man”. The most known name for the Great Bear is Karlsvogna (Norwegian) or Karlavagnen (Swedish).

    H.

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