J.R.R. Tolkien’s Cult of Gandalf as a Literary Memory, or Reflection, of Ancient Germanic Spiritual Symbolism and the Cult of Odin

A. Asbjørn Jøn


This article explores parallels between the J.R.R. Tolkien’s cult of Gandalf and the historic, Germanic, cult of Odin / Óðinn. The cult of Gandalf is considered as a possible adaptive, and reflective, creative memory of ancient Germanic spiritual and mythic symbolism through an analysis of the followertypes and elementary ideas that feature in Tolkien’s writing.


Tolkien; Gandalf; Odin; Mythology; Archetypes; Jung;

Full Text:



Blaney, Benjamin 1972, The Berserker: His Origin and Development in Old Norse Literature, Doctor of Philosophy Thesis in Old Norse literature, University of Colorado, Colorado.

Bodkin, Maud 1965, Archetypal Patterns in Poetry: Psychological Studies of Imagination, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Bosworth, Joseph 2010, 'Beorn', in The Bosworth-Toller Anglo-Saxon Dictionary: An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary Online.

Burns, Marjorie 2000, 'Gandalf and Odin', Contributions to the study of Science Fiction and Fantasy, vol. 86, pp. 219-232.

Campbell, Joseph & Moyers, Bill 1991, The Power of Myth (Anchor Books, New York).

Casselman, William Gordon 2012, The Russian Bear Growls. Available from:

http://www.billcasselman.com/letters/about_medved_june_2008untitled.htm [15 February, 2016].

Cassirer, Ernst 1957, The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (Yale University Press, New Haven and London).

Cawley, Frank Stanton 1932, Hrafnkels Saga Freysgoða (Harvard University Press).

Cawthorne, N. 2012, A Brief Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien: A Comprehensive Introduction to the Author of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings (Constable & Robinson Ltd, London).

Chadwick, H. Munro 1899, The Cult of Othin; an Essay in the Ancient Religion of the North (C. J. Clay and sons, London).

Colum, Padaric 1920, The Children of Odin (Macmillian, New York).

Day, David 1993, 'Beorn', in Mitchell Beazley (ed.), The Tolkien Companion (Mandarin, London).

Eliade, M. 1988, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (Penguin Arkana, London).

Faulkes, Anthony 1986-1987, Hávamál (Viking Society for Northern Research, London).

Guðni Jónsson (ed) 1964, Grettis Saga Ãsmundarsonar / Bandamanna Saga / Odds Þáttr Ófeigssonar (Hid islenzka fornritafélag, Reykjavík).

Harnesson, Sven 1994, Berserkers: Teutonic Cult of the Shape-Shifter Warriors (Coxland Press, Reading).

Jøn, Allan Asbjørn 1997, An Investigation of the Teutonic God Óðinn; and a Study of His Relationship to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Character, Gandalf, Master of Letters Thesis in Mediaeval Studies, University of New England, Armidale. doi:10.13140/RG.2.1.2003.7203

Jung, C.G. 1962, The Archtypes and the Collective Unconscious (Pantheon Books, New York).

Ryan, J.S. 1966, 'German Mythology Applied—the Extension of the Literary Folk Memory', Folklore, vol. 77, no. 1, pp. 45-59. doi:10.1080/0015587X.1966.9717029

Ryan, J.S. 1969, Tolkien: Cult or Culture? (University of New England Press, Armidale).

Ryan, J.S. 1973, 'Myth Criticism as Discipline', Westerly, vol. 2, pp. 49-58.

Slay, D. (ed) 1960, Hrólfs Saga Kraka (Munksgaard).

St Clair, Gloriana 1992, 'An Overview of the Northern Influences on Tolkien's Works', Proceedings of the JRR Tolkien Centenary Conference, eds. Patricia Reynolds & Glen H. Goodknight (The Tolkien Society and the Mythopoeic Press, Keble College, Oxford), pp. 63-67

Sturluson, Snorri 1982, Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning (Oxford University Press, Oxford).

Sturluson, Snorri 1995, 'Skaldskaparmal', in Edda (J. M. Dent, London), pp. 59-164.

Tolkien, J.R.R. 1937, The Hobbit, George Allen and Unwin, Harper Collins, London.

Tolkien, J.R.R. 1968, The Lord of the Rings, 1 volume edn (George Allen and Unwin, Harper Collins).

Tolkien, J.R.R. 1979, The Silmarillion (Random House LLC).

Tolkien, J.R.R. 1980, Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth (Unwin, London).

Tolkien, J.R.R. 1981, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (Houghton Mifflin, Boston).

Tolkien, J.R.R. 1993, 'The Music of Ainur and the Coming of the Valar', in Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings (Harper Collins, Great Britain), pp. 156-164.

van Zanten, Arwen 2007, 'Going Berserk: In Old Norse, Old Irish and Anglo-Saxon Literature', Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik, vol. 63, no. 1, pp. 43-64.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2016