|I've been trying to dive into runes for some time now, I even found a nice stick to carve mine into but have yet to make the leap of crafting them.|
Hold off on that. I know this is going to sound a bit risible given that packs of plastic runes are on sale in every Noo Age bookshop, but I've come to veiw the runes as heavy gear. They are very, very potent. Give it time and make a serious study before you get carving.
I would also say that it's not necessary to go running off to the One-Eyed Bastard to learn about the runes. Other Gods and Goddesses can help you too. Thor was called upon to bless the runes in the old days. Freyja knows them and teaches them. Sigyn and Hela too. Loki knows them and will teach them to some, but He's as dodgy as Odin and you might not like some of His methods. You may well end up with Odin eventually, but there's no need to go looking for trouble.
A quote from the Uppsala site Mordant directed me to:
And at the end of a life of sacrifice he kills those who serve him, often at a young age.
What do you think of this? How much do you see this holding up in those you've seen or maybe even in your own life?
I see this as specifically something faced by the people who dedicate themselves to Him, rather than those who work with Him on a less formal basis. You may face more hazards and difficulties in your life as a result of dealing with Odin but if you're not one of His people I think working with Him is unlikely to prove fatal. It's important to point up that aspect of His character to give people fair warning before they start working with Him, but it's not necessarily a risk that everyone will face.
A lot of you seem to have had undesirable results stemming from your work with Odin, would you, if you could (can you?) break off your ties with Odin? (I use undesirable loosely, I do understand the idea of sacrifice for knowledge.)
Speaking personally, I couldn't really do that if I wanted to. Firstly, I'm a Heathen and that means learning to accept all the Gods, even the ones I find scary and problematic. Secondly, He's my patron's blood-brother and They do rather seem to come as a pair. Thirdly, I've made a fairly deep deal with the Old Man of my own free will, trying to ditch Him would put me in breach of that.
And even if I could, I wouldn't. Yes, a lot of my experiences with Odin have been painful, physically and emotionally, and have left lasting alterations and even damage, but I wouldn't change anything.
What have you gained from working with Odin? Do the ends justify the means so to speak? Is the trouble worth the outcome?
What have I gained... difficult to quantify. Just being in His presence from time to time benefits me in way I cannot easily describe. Having elements of my nature that I'd previously regarded as unacceptable valued and even loved. Guidance and encouragement coming from Him through signs and dreams. Slowly grokking the runes in a way I never could just by reading a few books.
For all His fearful aspects, knowledge of and communion with Odin is a gift in its own right. He's taught me a tremendous amount, often about things I did not expect to learn from Him--healing, for instance. Sacrifice. Trancendance. Being prepared to step outside your garth, to do and experience anything for wisdom and for the good of your tribe.
How important is Odin to you in regards to other gods within and outside the Norse tradition?
Not quite sure what you mean here.
I honour all the Aesir and Vanir, and certain of the Jotnar. Some of them I offer worship to without being especially involved, others I've got a more personal connection with. I guess Odin is the God I'm closest to after my main guy. Because I'm a pretty abnormal Heathen, all witchy-woo-woo and stuff, the Old Man is much more important in my day-to-day life than He would be for the average Joe. Back in the day He would have been loved on a lot less by most people than Thor and Freyr, and most modern Heathens follow the same pattern. That's how it should be, IMO.
I make devotions to Odin weekly; sometimes He figures more strongly than at others. If I want to make offerings to Odin, I either make them at the small permanent harrow in my home, set up a bigger temporary harrow, or I go out to a crossroads.
If you want to make contact, starting outside the home is probably a good idea. A six-way crossroads is appropriate (three roads crossing each other), but a three-way one is better. If you can go out into the woods and find a big oak or ash tree, that is also a good place to honour Odin. Other good spots are war memorials, the sites of old battles, and places where executions were carried out. Take a suitable libation: mead, wine or beer (He takes His mead and wine very dry but has been known to enjoy a little honey in His beer). Dedicate the drink to Odin, take a good swig, then pour the rest out on the ground. Hang around and see what happens.
I gave a rough outline of an altar service over in this post, and I'm still using pretty much the same format although I've Heathenised things a bit more since. It's always been pretty successful. I would favour dry wines or gin over apple schnapps as a libation. Foodwise, remember that in lore Odin does not eat (although presumably He must enjoy the odd apple) so food offerings should be things He can feed to Freki and Geri--meat or fish. If you don't want to offer meat, stick with apples and vegetables symbolising growth and life--onions and leeks. Salt is also good. Your own blood mixed with the libation is a good offering but best avoided until you are ready for a long-term commitment.
Good luck and don't say I didn't warn you.