When people think of Odin, two things generally come to mind. Runes, and Knowledge. At least, when I first heard of Him, that’s what always hit my mind. I knew that Odin was Keeper of the Runes and also that He loved knowledge and wisdom. Tales of the lengths He’s gone to acquire knowledge are abundant.
Of course there’s the most famous tale of Him hanging on Yggdrasil, Himself a sacrifice to Himself–as a way to gain knowledge. That’s when He discovered and snatched up the Runes. Some say He died on the nineth night and then somehow came back to life. I subscribe to this theory. It would explain the knowledge He has of death and the Otherworld.
And who can forget the way He lost His eye to begin with? He sacrificed it to Wise Mimir (whose name means “The Rememberer” or “The Wise One”) for a drink from His Well of Knowledge.
There is another story of Odin gaining knowledge from Wise Mimir.
At one time, there was a war between the Aesir and the Vanir–the two “classes” of Gods. During peace talks it was decided that the Vanir would send Njord and Hoenir–who the Vanir thought would make a good cheiftain–to live with the Aesir, and the Aesir would send Kvasir–wisest of the Vanir–and Mimir. Upon arrival, Hoenir was immediately made Cheiftain and Mimir gave Him great counsel.
But anytime Hoenir was at a meeting without Mimir, He gave the same answer “let the others decide.” Feeling cheated, the Vanir seized Mimir and beheaded Him. Not too long after this, Odin stumbled upon Mimir’s body and His head. He gathered up His friend’s head, preserved it with herbs and sung charms over it so that Mimir’s head was still able to talk and recite secrets to the Wanderer.
In this way, Mimir gave Odin knowledge on more than one occasion.