Ancestral Ambivalence

The All-Father or  Alföðr was not the supreme god in Norse mythology. Odin was the earliest common ancestor that all members of Norse society could trace their lineage back to. The veneration of Odin was most likely practiced because Norse society was comprised of consanguineal corporate groups that had strong family lineages whose continuity, standing, and control of resources extends over generations, and in which there were strong beliefs in an active spirit world.

The Æsir, more generally, were ritually defined ancestors who contributed to the prosperity of their succeeding generations as sources of divine power. The Æsir were perceived as authority figures who were difficult to please. The power of the Æsir was, therefore, ambivalent: that power was as likely to punish as to reward, they offer security and comfort while also contributing to uncertainty in an equivocal cosmos.