Practices of Seiðr were done by both sexes, although it was more of a female activity to do magic. Witches would be labeled as vǫlur, seiðkonur and vísendakona. They knew the rites and ways of shape-shifting, illusion, ecstasy, divination and everything in between. Freya (she rules over the field of love, sex, pleasure, war and witchcraft) taught Odin and other gods the magic. Giants were also known for their wisdom and magical knowledge. From old sagas we get to know that Skrymir, a very cunning giant knew how do deal with the arts of magic, especially with illusion.
Being a male witch (seiðmaðr) was regarded as a taboo, and sometimes men were persecuted because of that. It was unmanly and shameful. Even though the old Nordic culture and religious structure were equal in many aspects, strong gender roles were often obvious.
Odin was deeply interested in hidden arts and him practising any sort of witchcraft was not always approved either . A term “Nīþ” was used to describe his sorcery related actions. This word meant “the loss of honour”. Anyhow, we can assume that many men (as well as some gods) went against the flow and the social rules and did their thing. It was hard for Odin to refuse any ecstatic practice, even if it meant that he would get bad reputation.
Odin (Old Norse Óðinn) as a name is made of the word “óðr”, meaning “ecstasy, fury, inspiration,” and the suffix -inn, the masculine definite article, and when they are combined this way the word can be translated as “the master of” or “a perfect example of.” Furthermore, the mixture of these two words leads to translating “Odin” as “The Master of Ecstasy.” The eleventh-century historian Adam of Bremen goes in a similar fashion when he translates “Odin” as “The Furious.”
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