Odin’s Christmas Miracle Writing Contest: Win $50 to Amazon!
This contest is closed. Thanks to everyone who entered! See the winning entry by Nebula Star here: Odin and Loki Save Christmas.
Santa . . . is that you???
(Image property of New Line Cinema)
For this month’s contest, I decided to do something a little different. I know—it’s breaking the flow of the archetype contests, but it’s still in the genre of mythology, and once I got the idea I just couldn’t stop thinking of how fun it would be!
Our modern figure of Santa Claus is derived from several ancient historical and mythological sources. Perhaps the biggest one is Odin, of the Norse pantheon. Here’s Norse-Mythology.org on Odin:
“He’s the chief of the Aesir tribe of deities, yet he often ventures far from their kingdom, Asgard, on long, solitary wanderings throughout the cosmos on purely self-interested quests. He’s a relentless seeker after and giver of wisdom, but he has little regard for communal values such as justice, fairness, or respect for law and convention. He’s the divine patron of rulers, and also of outcasts. He’s a war-god, but also a poetry-god, and he has prominent transgender qualities that would bring unspeakable shame to any traditional Norse/Germanic warrior. He’s worshiped by those in search of prestige, honor, and nobility, yet he’s often cursed for being a fickle trickster.”
A lot of our Christmas traditions also derive from Norse myth and Viking culture.
Santa has eight tiny reindeer. Rudolph was added later. (How cute!)
Odin has an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir. (How . . . unsettling.)
Santa rides across the sky in his sleigh on Christmas Eve. (So magical!)
Odin rides across the sky on his eight-legged horse on the dark winter nights, on his Wild Hunt. The Wild Hunt takes place from October 31 to April 30, and on those nights, the spirits of the dead can pass through the doorways between worlds and walk the earth. The biggest night of the Wild Hunt is the Winter Solstice. You’d better hope you’re not out at night in winter, or you might see the Wild Hunt, and that’s an omen of death. (So . . . Ghost Riders in the Sky.)
Our myth says that Santa puts gifts in children’s stockings.
Norse myth says that Viking kids would leave their boots out, full of straw or carrots or something to feed Sleipnir. In thanks, Odin would leave them presents in their boots. (This myth itself might actually be a myth. We’re not sure that this tradition predates the stories of St. Nick leaving gifts in stockings. But such is the nature of myth. We tell myths about the myths.)
Other elements of modern Christmas tradition that could tie back to Norse myth are the Yule log, the Christmas tree, mistletoe, and Santa’s elves.
That’s the basic story of how Odin the All-Father fathered Santa.
We’re totally awash in Christmas miracle stories in the holiday season. The Hallmark Channel airs Christmas miracle love stories, every sitcom and prime time drama has a Christmas episode where some kind of holiday magic opens a humbug character’s heart, even the evening news airs more inspiring stories.
So what would happen if Odin was our Santa Claus figure?
What would our Christmas miracle stories look like if our Santa figure was the Norse god of “storm and frenzy, the unleasher of passions and the lust of battle; moreover he is a superlative magician and artist in illusion who is versed in all secrets of an occult nature.” (—CG Jung)
I can’t help but think the kinds of miracles this guy would dole out would be a little different.
So the contest is to write your own Odin’s Christmas Miracle story.
Maybe his miracle is one of victory against Santa Claus in a fierce battle, with Sleipnir’s eight legs maiming Rudolph beyond recognition. Maybe his miracle is giving a child his very first battle axe and teaching him to lead his entire school against a few bullies, who are then enslaved . . . only it turns out that Odin incited the bullies to be bullies in the first place. Maybe his Christmas miracle is about using the occult to subvert justice in the name of personal power, or offering bloody sacrifices instead of gifts.
I just don’t know.
Keep your story to 5,000 words or less. I’ll accept entries through midnight of December 20.
Deadline: December 20 (I know it’s 10 days before the end of the month, but this means the winner will still have time to use their gift card on Amazon in time to order something by Christmas.)
Entry fee: FREE!
Prize: $50 Amazon gift card
I’ll judge entries based on:
— Word count. Please stick to 5,000 words or less. It can be much less, if you want. (I only have so much time to read entries, and it would be a shame to toss yours out because it’s too long!)
— Writing prowess. Odin was the god of poetry. You don’t have to be a bard, but just give it your best shot. An understanding of how to structure a story, how to use dialogue, and all that jazz will work in your favor. (Spelling, grammar, and typos count.)
— An understanding of Odin as a mythological figure. If you make Odin a wise, kind, gentle, grandfatherly figure who pats underdogs on the shoulders and gives them trophies for effort, you don’t get the myth. (There are a few tips on the myth below, to give you some inspiration.)
Send your entry to my email: HelloL@Mythraeum.com. Please paste your entry in the body of your email, since I won’t open attachments. The subject line should be “Odin’s Christmas Miracle Contest.” Please write your entry in English. You can email me any questions at the same address. I’ll have a winner by December 21.
Here are a few details about the myth that you can incorporate into your story and play with. (Not that you have to, but you never know what’s going to inspire you.) In different versions of the myth, you’ll find the following elements . . .
— Santa has elves who live at the North Pole. In Norse myth, the elves live in Alfheim and they were the inspiration for the elves in J.R.R. Tolkien’s work.
— If Odin has a clear archetype, I haven’t been able to put my finger on it yet. CJ Jung worked hard to understand Odin as an archetype. After WWII, he wrote several essays about Wotan (another name for Odin), which are kind of weird. Jung tries to associate the frenzy of war that took over many of the German people to an unconscious archetypal pattern inherent in the German psyche—that of the battle-lusty berserker Odin. It’s an interesting read . . .
— “Wednesday” is named after Odin/Wotan. (Just say it: Wotans-day)
— We often think of Odin as more a god of battle than of death, but the Romans associated him with Mercury—probably because Odin and Mercury were both good at transporting souls to and from the land of the dead. Because the Romans associated Odin with Mercury rather than Ares, the god of war, some scholars think that Odin’s role in Norse society was more about death than war itself. (It would be a kind of mystical, poetic, bloody death. So battles and sacrifices would be right up his alley.) Other associations with Mercury are Odin’s unpredictable trickster aspects, and the way he likes to cross gender lines and do feminine things sometimes.
— Odin was always wandering around and disguising himself. You never knew if that hitch hiker you passed, or that annoying guy at the bar, were actually Odin.
— J.R.R. Tolkien based Gandalf the Grey off of Odin, who was a formidable shaman and seer. (One of the main forms of shamanism he was known for was seidr, which was traditionally practiced by women.)
— Odin sacrificed one of his eyes for wisdom.
— Odin hung upside down on the World Tree, Yggdrasil, and was given knowledge of the runes, which he then shared with people.
Your Odin doesn’t have to be a god, and your Santa (if he’s in your story) doesn’t have to be an elf. Be creative! You can set your story in modern times, or in ancient Viking times. What if the story happened in the future? In outer space on a star ship? Turn it into a Western or a steampunk, or do the Jane Austen regency version. What if Santa runs a business, and Odin sweeps in with his Asgardian family to take it over? What if Odin is a world dictator?
Have fun arche-typers, and good luck!
PS: Another archetypal writing contest is already in the works for January. That one will be about Persephone. Subscribe to Mythraeum to be updated!
© Leslie Hedrick 2015. The content of this article, except for quoted or linked source materials, is protected by copyright. Please contact me to request usage.SUBSCRIBE