Study Guide

Hod (Höðr) - Differently-Abled

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Maybe because it often imitates life, mythology is full of characters with disabilities. These characters are just as busy and important as all the others. Even though he’s lost the use of one limb, for example, Hephaestus continues to work as a blacksmith. Other disabled gods, like Tiresias the blind prophet, have another sense to make up for the one they’ve lost. The members of this clique remind us that just like in real life, being differently-abled doesn’t prevent you from rising to the top.

Hephaestus (Vulcan)

Being a blacksmith is a physical job—think hammering and smelting. So it’s pretty amazing that even though he’s lost the use of one leg, Hephaestus still goes to his forge every day. Maybe Hephaestus buries himself in his work to avoid thinking about his mess of a personal life. This poor guy’s own mother, Hera, found Hephaestus so ugly that she threw him out of Olympus shortly after he was born, crippling him permanently. And now, rumor has it that his wife, Aphrodite, is cheating on him with Ares.


Tiresias was always gifted with the second sight, which might be why the gods decided to blind him: they weren’t too happy with Tiresias for telling all their secrets. But blindness didn’t stop Tiresias from prophesying. He was talented in augury, or predicting the future based on birdsong and flight. Sometimes, though, he just received (inner) visions. Or he could tell which way the wind was blowing by interpreting the pictures (described to him by others) that smoke made. Who says you need eyes to see?

Li Tie-guai

Taoist immortal Li Tie-guai was sitting on top of the world. He’d just mastered the principles of Taoism and obtained immortality. To celebrate, he left his body in the care of a disciple while his spirit went on a round-the-world trip. Big mistake. The disciple burned Li Tie-guai’s body before he could get back, leaving him bodiless. The only unoccupied one he could find belonged to a crippled beggar. When life gives you lemons…

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