Hodr: The God of Darkness And Winter

Short Facts Tribe: Aesir God of: Darkness, shadows, struggle, war and winter Son of: Odin and Frigga Brother of: Baldur, …

Short Facts

Tribe: Aesir

God of: Darkness, shadows, struggle, war and winter

Son of: Odin and Frigga

Brother of: Baldur, Bragi, Heimdall, Thor, Tyr, Vali and Vidarr 

Other names: Hod, Hoder, Hodur, Hothr and Hotherus

Hodr responsibilities

Coming of winter, cold, darkness, eclipses, obstacles, shadows, sightlessness, battle-hardened warriors, and winter solstice

Hodr spirit animal

A hoary bat

Hodr weapon/domain of power

Ice, biting and chilling winds, powers of winter, an unnamed dark sword, the mistletoe spear handed to him by the trickster Loki

Slayer of Baldur

Hodr is the blind son of Odin and Frigga. He is associated with darkness and winter. Hodr seems to be the exact opposite force of his brother Baldur, the god of light. His name means warrior or strong in war in Old Norse. Hodr is a very strong and skilled warrior, second to none in battle.

Although he’s one of the twelve leading Norse gods, the rest of the Aesir don’t hold him in high esteem. That is because Hodr was the one who killed the beloved Baldur. For that, the blind god bears the rather disgraceful names of ‘Baldur’s Slayer’ and ‘Mistletoe Thrower’.

After everything (except for the mistletoe) in the world swore not to harm Baldur, a feast was held in Asgard. A contest soon began when everyone threw weapons at Baldur, only to watch them bounce off his body harmlessly. Loki, however, sly as a snake, had fashioned a spear out of the mistletoe and decided to make a joke. He tricked Hodr into participating in the throwing game. But, the blind god didn’t know what he was doing. Fooled by Loki, Hodr hurled the mistletoe spear at his brother, Baldur, and accidentally killed him.

Death and Rebirth

After Baldur’s death, the Aesir fell into despair. Not only the brightest among them was dead, but the coming of Ragnarok seemed now inevitable. Hodr was devastated and asked for forgiveness, even though it was clear that it wasn’t his fault. He atoned for his crime, but the Norse custom of blood for blood was still upheld. Vali, the newborn son of Odin, killed Hodr and avenged Baldur’s death.

In Helheim, Hodr is forgiven for his misdeed. He remains by Baldur’s side and soon becomes his closest companion. It is said that after Ragnarok, Baldur and Hodr shall return and rule the new earth together.

In the old texts

In the Prose Edda, in the Gylfaginning book, Hodr is brought up as a blind and powerful god. He is shunned however by the rest of the Aesir because of his direct involvement in Baldur’s death. Here it is described in full the tragic tale of Baldur, and his return with Hodr after Ragnarok.

Hodr killing Balder with his spear.
Photo Credit: huginnymuninnpodcast

In the Skaldskaparmal book, various appellations of Hodr are mentioned.

In the Poetic Edda, Hodr is cited several times concerning Baldur’s death.

Hodr is also mentioned in Eddic and skaldic poems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why Hodr is so different from Baldur?

A. Baldur is the god of light while Hodr is the god of darkness. It seems reasonable enough to view these two deities as the opposing forces of nature; light and dark. And, in a sense, it does sound natural that Hodr is the one to kill Baldur. Dark consumes Light. But, in the end, the balance matters no more, and the two apparently opposing powers are united. Hence, all conflicts end, and peace finally reigns in the world. Between the lines, Baldur’s death is a great story with traces of hope at the end.

Q. Why does Loki trick Hodr into killing Baldur?

A. It’s like asking why the sun rises and sets. Loki is the god of mischief. He takes pleasure in wreaking havoc and laughs at the pain of others. Loki despises Baldur so much, that he doesn’t miss the opportunity to put him out of the picture. Yet, he pays for it in the end when the Aesir imprisons him up under a mountain.

Q. Was Hodr married?

A. According to the old texts, Hodr never had childer, nor was he married. However, there is a tale that mentions Hodr and Nanna being a couple, but they are both mortals. It cannot be taken into consideration as far as the Norse mythos is concerned.