In Norse lore, Óðinn has two brothers: Vili and Vé.1Lokasenna 26 2Sonatorrek 23 3Gylfaginning 6 4Ynglinga saga 3 These names alliterated in earlier stages of the language5Rudolf Simek, Dictionary of Northern Mythology (2007) pg. 362, as well as further back into Proto-Germanic as *Wōdanaz (or *Wōdinaz, dialectally varying), *Wiljô, and *Wīhą.

I personally find the alliteration interesting and useful. In West Saxon Old English, the alliteration is continued as Wōden, Willa, and Wēoh, although the last two are not attested as deities. The closest that we get to seeing the three names together is in Maxims I as Wōden worhte wēos, commonly translated as “Wōden made idols”. 6Maxims I, line 132 The whole section, however, is less supportive of heathen activities:7Translation by Michael Drout, 2007

Woden worhte weos,         wuldor alwalda,
rume roderas;         þæt is rice god,
sylf soðcyning,         sawla nergend,
se us eal forgeaf         þæt we on lifgaþ,
ond eft æt þam ende         eallum wealdeð
monna cynne.         þæt is meotud sylfa.

Woden made idols, the Almighty made heaven, the roomy skies, that is the god of the lands, the true king himself, the savior of souls, who gave us all that we live on, and again at the end will rule all, the kin of men. That is the ruler himself.

Nonetheless, Germanic poetry is very conservative. Components are often reused. It’s entirely possible that Wōden worhte wēos was a fairly common phrase and indicative of native beliefs, but only speculation may be done.

It is with this in mind that I’ve started considering worshipping Willa and Wēoh. Even with Norse sources, there isn’t much lore to go by in such things, but everything starts somewhere. Besides, it provides a possibility of using more of the story about man’s origins in our comparative mythology. More gods, more fun, I suppose.


1 Lokasenna 26
2 Sonatorrek 23
3 Gylfaginning 6
4 Ynglinga saga 3
5 Rudolf Simek, Dictionary of Northern Mythology (2007) pg. 362
6 Maxims I, line 132
7 Translation by Michael Drout, 2007

Leave a Reply