Study Guide

Hod (Höðr)

  • Profile

    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.

    Basic Information

    Name

    Hod (Höðr)

    Nickname

    “The Blind God,” “Thrower of the Mistletoe,” “Baldr’s Slayer” (Skáldskaparmal XIII)
    Hod the Phone
    Ho-d No He Didn’t!

    Sex

    Male

    Current city

    Hel (Sent here by my half-brother Vali)

    Work & Education

    Occupation

    Being blind makes it hard to do some of the stuff other gods do. But I’m an important companion to Hel.

    Education

    Asgard School for the Blind

    Beliefs

    Political views

    Equal opportunities and rights for those with disabilities.

    Family & Friends (& Enemies)

    Parents

    Odin and Frigg

    Siblings

    Balder and Hermod
    Half-brothers Thor, Vidar, and Vali

    Children

    None—I get sent to Hel before I can reproduce.

    Friends

    Hel is my constant companion.

    Enemies

    Loki, Mistletoe, and Vali

    Relationships

    Relationship status

    None. Accidentally killing Balder the Golden Boy doesn’t exactly make me popular with the ladies (or anyone else, for that matter).

    Interested in

    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.

    Favorites

    TV Shows

    Supernatural (Ah, brotherhood: It is all it’s cracked up to be. Even when you accidentally hurt one another, or are living in a swamp.)
    Swamp Brothers 

    Quotations

    “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.”
    – Aerosmith

    “Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.”
    – Helen Keller

    “They also serve who only stand and wait.”
    – John Milton, “When I Consider How My Light is Spent (On His Blindness)”

    “An eye for an eye only leads to more blindness.”
    – Margaret Atwood

    “To be, or not to be, that is the question: / Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer / The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune, / Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles.”
    – William Shakespeare, Hamlet 3.1.55-58

    Books

    “My Life had stood – A Loaded Gun –” by Emily Dickinson 
    “When I Consider How My Light is Spent (On His Blindness)” by John Milton 
    “The Garden of Forking Paths” by Jorge Luis Borges 
    The Odyssey by Homer 
    The Knight’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer 
    Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe 
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë 
    Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner 
    King Lear by William Shakespeare 
    Planet of the Blind by Steven Kuusisto 

    Music

    Ray Charles 
    Stevie Wonder 
    Andrea Bocelli 
    Wonder by Natalie Merchant 
    One by Metallica (This song perfectly captures how I felt when I discovered I had killed my own brother.)
    Spider Web by Joan Osborne (Ray Charles is so famous this artist wrote a song about him.)
    The Consequence of Fratricide by Today I Caught the Plague (Killing your brother is never pretty.)
    Cain Said to Abel by Bloc Party 

    Movies

    The Stone Boy (The main character kills his brother by accident, too. It’s heartbreaking.)
    A River Runs Through It (A story of two brothers. Proving that it’s not always a cake walk, but the bonds of true brotherhood run deep. Same deal with my next pick.)
    Legends of the Fall 
    At First Sight 
    If You Could See What I Hear (I love movies where the differently-abled prove themselves to be just as able—and often, more interesting—than regularly-abled people!)
    The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat 
    Rain Man 
    A Beautiful Mind 
    Crossroads 

    Activities & Interests

    Likes

    Bow Control Laws
    Eternal Brotherhood
    Life after Death
    Hel (the person)
    Guide Dogs for the Blind
    Herbicide
    DISlikes Mistletoe

    Interests

    Archery
    Opthalmology
    Disability Studies
    Weed Control

    Groups

    Asgard Gods
    Sons of Odin
    Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI) 
    World Blind Union 

    • Spotter's Guide

      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.

      Sex: Male
      Age: Some say old, some say young
      Build: Unremarkable
      Complexion: Fair, although rumor has it that everybody changes colors when they move to Hel. (True story!)
      Hair Color: Fair
      Facial Hair: Sometimes bearded
      Scars/marks/tattoos: Blindness
      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.

      Typical Companions

      Hel
      Balder (after he forgives me for killing him)

      Known Hangouts

      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)

    • Sightings

      Dec 20, 1170

      Chronicon lethrense

      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

      Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus

      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

      Poetic Edda

      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

      Prose Edda, by Snorri Sturluson

      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

      Thor

      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.