In the Old Norse poem Havamal, codified in the 13th century, Odin is said to sacrifice himself on a tree and says:
Wounded I hung on a wind-swept gallows
For nine long nights,
Pierced by a spear, pledged to Odhinn,
Offered, myself to myself
The wisest know not from whence spring
The roots of that ancient rood
They gave me no bread,
They gave me no mead,
I looked down;
with a loud cry
I took up runes;
from that tree I fell.
Biblical readers will note the striking similarities between Odin’s hanging on Yggdrasil (a tree in Norse mythology) and the crucifixion of Christ.
For instance, Jesus was:
- Hung on a tree (Acts 5:30).
- Pierced with a sword (John 19:34).
- Given no bread or food, (Matthew 25:42, though admittedly, this aspect does not take place during the crucifixion itself).
- Crucified as a sacrifice to God and as God (Romans 3:25; John 1:1).
It would seem with such similarities that one religion borrowed some elements from the other. Since the earliest reference we have to Odin’s sacrifice comes well after the establishment of Christianity, it would seem we have a case where the pagans borrowed from the Christians. This is noteworthy because it is usually claimed, often inaccurately, that Christianity borrowed heavily from other pagan religions.