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Gods with visible and invisible ‘disabilities’

I’m having a great conversation with Edward Butler on twitter (the link to my feed is bottom right in my side bar EDIT: apparently it’s not working so my twitter account is @GalinaKrasskova) on disabled and scarred Gods. I was struck yesterday, after a conversation with an academic colleague who is researching depictions in medieval art of disability and how that is envisioned when it’s something not immediately apparent, like blindness or deafness. It occurred to me that within the Norse pantheon, we have a number of Deities who fit this category: Odin (lost an eye), Heimdall (ear), Tyr (hand), Hodr (blind), and Loki (scars on lips). Edward pointed out that there’s Hephaistos amongst the Greeks (lame), and another commenter noted several examples amongst the Kemetic Deities. It struck me powerfully that there is a Mystery here spiritually, as well as something worth examining and contemplating.

In some cases, as with both Odin and Heimdall, the partial loss of a sense (sight and hearing respectively, though to be fair, there’s only a reference to Heimdall having sacrificed an ear to the Well, not necessarily hearing itself) occurs by choice, in exchange for power. We don’t know, however, how Hodr became blind, or if He was “born” blind, Tyr sacrificed His hand to the binding of Fenrir, and Loki had His lips sewn shut after pissing off some dwarves.

So we’re having a discussion on how, to quote Edward, ‘that embodiment, that presence is sustaining for individuals and communities.’ I’d welcome input here, or on twitter. Thoughts, folks?