In Old Norse, Hoenir spelled Hœnir and pronounced HIGH-nir, which is one of the more obscure gods belonging to the Aesir gods. And with little known about this god, even the Old Norse literature about Hoenir appears to be quite confusing and largely contradictory.
In one of the old poems in Poetic Edda – the Völuspá, the god Hoenir is depicted to have played a role in the creation of the first of humankind. Then on Ask & Embla, Hoenir appears as part of a triad alongside Odin and another god known as Loðurr. Like Hoenir, very little is known about the god, Loðurr.
However, it is believed that these gods all bestowed a specific kind of quality upon Embla and Ask. It is also believed that Hoenir’s first gift was the Óðr – an Old Norse concept that has no English word equivalent but is pronounced OH-thur (the ‘th’ is hard). But even with very little known about this word and what it really means, it is believed that this concept translates rather loosely to inspired mental activity or what others would call divine inspiration. It is associated with poetry, and the gift was more like the source of all poetic inspiration, perhaps even the kind of intoxication that relates to spiritual ecstasy, intellectual insights, but in other cases, it would be associated with the battlefield frenzy. With any of these definitions in mind, it made sense, and it would be expected that anyone who would be able to dispense the Óðr was actually Odin (which is they there are other Old Norse accounts that relate Óðr with Odin and not Hoenir). Therefore, most people and even the Old Norse people believed that Hoenir was a mere nominal extension of Odin.
Hoenir Mythology and Legends
Hoenir is easily one of the most enigmatic of all the Norse gods, especially with little information about this god, and as mentioned above, not just varying, but very conflicting roles all through the pantheon. Here is what we mean – Hoenir was sometimes known as the Mud king, specifically through the Kennings, or at other times, the Swift god. There is an attestation of the latter in the Prose & Poetic Eddas and also in the Heimskringla by Snorri. Snorri specifically notes that Hoenir, alongside Mimir, Odin’s uncle, had been traded to Vanir in a bid to end the clan conflicts with the tribe of gods called Æsir. The Æsir tribe was descended from Borr, and Buri was Borr’s father. Buri is the gods’ ancestor, and he’d been licked by the Sacred cow (Auðumbla) from ice. Borr then married a Jotunn descendant, Bestla. Notably, Jotunn is said to have descended from Ýmir, the primal frost giant, and the first being. Mythical records that Bestla and Borr would then go on to have three kids, Ve, Vili, and Odin, which is why the Æsir is the tribe that all the gods are said to have spawned from.
Between Hoenir and Mimir, Hoenir was particularly handsome and quite adept at war; but he was not bright at all, a discovery that was only made when Hoenir was made chief. Subsequently, Hoenir would rely on the wise counsel of Mimir, a discovery that was only made after Hoenir has been appointed chief. So, even though Mimir is better known because of his disembodied head and talking, Hoenir wasn’t the popular one – they even sent the best and the brightest to the Æsir – these included Freya, Freyr, and Njörðr.
But then, there is the mythological account of Hoenir in the Völuspá. Here, Hoenir is associated with the origins of humankind, who also plays a dumb, but pretty character. In this account, Hoenir is Odin’s brother, and it’s believed that Hoenir is one of the 3 three brothers that murder Ýmir, creating the world. Hoenir is Vili in Snorri’s rendition of the story, where, together with Ve and Odin, they created the first man/ woman from wood. Here, Hoenir is the one who gives humans/ mankind creative inspiration. Also, in Völuspá, Hoenir is named as one of the few gods that survived Ragnarok.
Hoenir Powers and Abilities
While there are many contradictions around the life of Hoenir, he has been described as a swift god, the mud/ marsh king, and in other cases, he’s been referred to as the long-legged god. Others have also referred to him as the most fearful of all the gods. But some of these could be debatable, given the fact that Hoenir was largely considered pretty but dumb.
He was, however, a great warrior with the ability to give human beings inspiration for creative writing, intellectual insights, as well as an intoxicating level of spiritual ecstasy.
Others believe that Hoenir, along with Odin and Ve, created the first human beings.
Hoenir is one of the less popular gods in the Norse pantheon. This deity had a large physique, was handsome, and carried all that was regarded to be the best from a good ruler. Unfortunately, he was not the wisest deity. There isn’t much about how he was worshipped, the big things he did, etc.
He is first mentioned in a 1986 Dragon publication number 110, under For Better or Norse – page 18, then in For Better or Norse II published in 1986. His story is also mentioned in the 2002 publication of Deities & Demigods.
He is believed to one of the few gods who actually survived Ragnarok, and he is said to have made prophecies and performed religious divinations. He is not mentioned as the six gods that survived Ragnarok by Deities and Demigods (D&D) publications.