The Norse god Hoenir is very confused from what I can tell, but my question is about his mention in the book The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun by J.R.R. Tolkien. In I.1, he writes

at [Odin's] right Hoenir
roamed beside him.

This is fairly consistent with what I've read about him as a companion of Odin. However, when Christopher Tolkien compiled the book, he also included some of his father's notes, one of which says

At Odin's right hand there walks another figure, a nameless shadow [...] while ever at the right hand walks the shadow that is neither Odin nor Loki but in some aspect Fate, the real story that must be blended of both.

The rest of the writing clearly equates this trio with the trio mentioned in I.1 - Loki is at the left of Odin, and Hoenir/shadow are at the right, and all three are wandering. Odin is also mentioned in both as the leader of the three.

Christopher Tolkien, in some notes, says

In my father's somewhat mysterious interpretation [...] he calls the companion of Odin who walks on his right hand 'a nameless shadow', but this must surely be Hoenir, or at least derived from him [...] to my understanding, [...] there is nothing that casts light on the 'nameless shadow' that walks beside Odin.

Is there anything that explains this mysterious connection made between Hoenir and a 'nameless shadow'/'Fate'?

1 Answer 1


Not really.

First, we should really note that "fate" is very strongly associated with female, collective deities in Norse mythology: the Norns, the Valkyries and the Dísir all are connected with fate somehow.

On the other hand, we don't really know much of what kind of god Hoenir was. He does appear as a companion of Odin when the first humans where created, he was with Odin and Loki on the journeys that are backstories to the legend of Sigurd, and of Hrungnir's kidnapping of Idunn. He was also one of the gods the Aesir sent as hostage to the Vanir at the end of their war, and was said to have been seen as a great chieftain, except that he relied entirely on the advice of Mimir.

However, there is also a passage in Völupsa which might connect Hoenir with a new fate. Verse 61 (or 63, it seems to vary between translation) takes place after Ragnarök, when a new world has arisen, and starts with two lines which seem very difficult to translate:

Þá kná Hænir
hlautvið kjósa

Some translations I've seen:

Then can Hoenir
choose his lot

Then Hönir wins | the prophetic wand

Gro Steinsland instead suggests that he plants a new world tree. Anyway, it seems more connected with prophesy than actually embodying fate.

So Hoenir is really a very shadowy god, but there is really nothing that explicitly connect him with fate.


I've checked Gro Steinsland Fornnordisk religion. I've also checked Lars Lönnroth's translation of the Poetic edda, and some translations in English: 1, 2, 3

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.