What kind of name is Hoedkin?
After my post earlier this week “Hoedkin are House Spirits,” I got a few questions on where the name Hoedkin comes from. In truth I stumbled upon the name Hoedkin by accident. As I researched House Spirits I came across all sorts of familiar names: Gnome, Kobold, Brownie, Tomte, etc… Part of the problem with those names is they’ve been co-opted by other popular culture icons. When we think of Gnomes the image of blue and red shirt lawn ornaments comes to mind. Kobolds are dog like monsters from Dungeons and Dragons. None of these things conjured the right image or had the correct feeling.
As I dug deeper I came across Hödekin, a named kobold from German folklore. His name translates as “Little Hat” and he was known for his felt hat pulled down over his eyes and his red beard. You can read more on Wikipedia if you like. My first attempt at painting a House Spirit was doing a modern version of Hödekin.
As I worked on the image I misspelled Hödekin as Hoedkin. All my file names and notes had this alternate spelling. I grew so accustomed to it as I worked on the project, that I didn’t notice I misspelled it until I went to do more research on the Hoedkin, and discovered it was not a word. I eventually discovered my mistake and got back to Hödekin.
Once I realized I wanted to do a series on House Spirits I knew I needed a name to call them. House Spirits seemed a bit to generic. The more traditional House Wight, sounds like House White, and didn’t feel quite right. It also made me think of the White House, which is all wrong! After talking with some illustrator friends they heard me say Hoedkin, and liked it.
Over time Hoedkin just felt more and more like the right name. It was rooted in Germanic folklore, but was also unique to me. It sounds like the right sort of name for little spirits, and it doesn’t conflict with modern cultural notions about kobolds or other House Spirits.
I’ve grown quite fond of the name, and I hope you will too!
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