Life stories just don’t get much more tragic than Hod’s. Sure, as the son of Odin and Frigg, he’s born a prince of the Asgard. But he’s also born with a serious disability: blindness. That makes it kind of tough to join all the other kids in swordplay, archery, hand-to-hand combat—you know, normal kid stuff. Then, as if that weren’t bad enough, Loki guides Hod’s aim in shooting his brother, Balder, with mistletoe, the one thing that can kill him. Balder dies, and we’re guessing Hod dies a little inside, too. Then he dies for real after Dad and his giantess mistress spawn Hod’s freakishly fast-growing half-brother whose sole purpose in life is to kill him as punishment. This sad end to a sad life is enough to make you break out the Kleenex. Or maybe a pint of double-fudge chunk. Go ahead. We won’t tell.
“The Blind God,” “Thrower of the Mistletoe,” “Baldr’s Slayer” (Skáldskaparmal XIII)
Hel (Sent here by my half-brother Vali)
Being blind makes it hard to do some of the stuff other gods do. But I’m an important companion to Hel.
Asgard School for the Blind
Equal opportunities and rights for those with disabilities.
Odin and Frigg
Balder and Hermod
None—I get sent to Hel before I can reproduce.
Hel is my constant companion.
Loki, Mistletoe, and Vali
None. Accidentally killing Balder the Golden Boy doesn’t exactly make me popular with the ladies (or anyone else, for that matter).
A kind and gentle goddess who’s not scared off by a difficult past and doesn’t mind moving to Hel. Looks aren’t so important to me.
“Don’t make no sense lightin’ candles / There’s too much moonlight in my eyes / I met a blind man / Who taught me how to see . . . yeah / Blind man / Who could change night into day.”
“My Life had stood – A Loaded Gun –” by Emily Dickinson
The Stone Boy (The main character kills his brother by accident, too. It’s heartbreaking.)
Bow Control Laws
You’ll only find Hod in one place: Hel. That’s because Váli killed him as punishment for accidentally killing Balder. Now, Hod’s a constant companion to Hel’s mistress, Hel (confusing, we know). Hel’s a big place, but it should be pretty easy to find Hod. He’s one of only a few gods who lives there. If you see him, be sure to call out his name. Hod’s blind, so he definitely won’t see you waving.
Age: Some say old, some say young
Complexion: Fair, although rumor has it that everybody changes colors when they move to Hel. (True story!)
Hair Color: Fair
Facial Hair: Sometimes bearded
Jewelry and accessories: None
Clothing: Medieval Icelandic
Armor: None. He’s not much of a warrior.
Type of Weapon: Bow’n’mistletoe. But he tries not to use it.
Balder (after he forgives me for killing him)
Lately, just Hel, and in particular Hel’s Hall, Eljudnir (Éljuðnir)
The Thing (a big field where the gods meet to discuss important issues and, on one awful day, shoot at Balder for fun)
Dec 20, 1170
In this account of Danish legendary adventures, Hod is a Saxon king who’s bad news on the battlefield: He kills not only Balder, but also Odin and Thor.
Dec 20, 1099 - Dec 20, 1199
In his history of the Danish and Swedish people, Saxo Grammaticus imagines the Norse gods as real historical figures. He spins the story of Balder’s death into an epic love triangle. Demi-god Balder and Danish prince Hod are both in love with a princess named Nanna. After many years, many battles, and some magical strength-increasing food, Hod kills Balder and gets the girl.
Dec 20, 1199 - Dec 20, 1299
In the Völuspá, Odin chats with a prophetess and learns more than he wants to know. Like the fact that his son, Hod, will kill his other son, Balder. And that a third son, Vali, will refuse to comb his hair or wash his hands until he has killed Hod. Luckily, the prophetess also tells Odin that Vali will act quickly, which is why he’s not known as “the dirty god.”
Dec 20, 1199 - Dec 20, 1299
If you’re scratching your head trying to figure out why Hod would kill his own brother, good ol’ Snorri can help you out. In his Gylfaginning, he explains that everything on earth took an oath not to harm Balder except for mistletoe. Naturally, the gods decided to test out the oath’s effectiveness by shooting stuff at Balder. But Hod was blind, so he didn’t realize that Loki had tipped his arrow with mistletoe. Loki guided Hod’s aim straight for Balder. So you see, Hod didn’t mean to kill Balder. It was an accident. Big oops.
Dec 20, 1978
In his Marvel Comics incarnation, Hod is old, decrepit, and blind. But don’t feel too badly for him: Like the blind prophet Tiresias, he can see the future. He apparently can’t see the whole future, though, because Loki’s still able to trick him into killing Balder.