Snorri Sturluson presents a vivid account of Jarl Hákon’s Oðinnic sacrifice in his Heimskringla. Hákon, depicted as a devoted and unrelenting pagan, just has been coerced into accepting baptism at the insistence of his Danish overlord, the newly Christianized Harald Bluetooth. Harald’s conversion seems sincere, motivated by witnessing Bishop Poppa’s ordeal of iron.
Hákon has missed this proof, however, and has submitted to baptism under duress. On his way back to Norway he suddenly ejects his cargo of learned priests, sent with him as missionaries, and sails away abruptedly. He soon comes back to land, makes a largely undescribed blót sacrifice to Óðinn and receives confirmation of his god’s approval in the flight of two cawing ravens. Writes Snorri:
“And when came east along the archipelago, he came to land. There he made a blót sacrifice. Then two ravens came flying toward him, screeching loudly. From that the jarl assumed that Óðinn had accepted the offering, and that now he would have success in battle.”
-William P Reaves