Baldur

Baldur Norse GodOther Names

Balder, Baldr

Associations

Element: Air
Herb: Mistletoe

Family & Other Connections

Son to Odin and Frigg, brother to Hod, Baldur is married to Nanna and has a son named Forseti.

Information & Stories

Baldur is described in the Prose Edda;

The second son of Odin is Baldur, and good things are to be said of him. He is best, and all praise him; he is so fair of feature, and so bright, that light shines from him. A certain herb is so white that it is likened to Baldr’s brow; of all grasses it is whitest, and by it thou mayest judge his fairness, both in hair and in body. He is the wisest of the Æsir, and the fairest-spoken and most gracious; and that quality attends him, that none may gainsay his judgments. He dwells in the place called Breidablik, which is in heaven; in that place may nothing unclean be.

Baldur’s hall in Asgard, Breidablik, is the most beautiful place that can be found and no lie can pass through its walls. His ship, Hringhorni, is the greatest one ever built.

The most commonly known story featuring Baldur is that of his death. Both Baldur and his mother Frigg had dreams of his death, and as their dreams were often prophetic they took action to ensure they could not come true. Frigg made every object and force on earth vow to never harm Baldur, but she overlooked mistletoe, thinking it too unimportant and too young to ask.

The gods had made a game of testing Baldur’s invincibility; throwing weapons at him and seeing them bounce harmlessly off. Loki, jealous of Baldur, disguised himself as an old woman and questioned Frigg about all the things that had sworn not to harm her son. Upon learning that mistletoe had made no such vow, Loki found the plant and fashioned a spear or arrow from its branch. He then returned to Valhalla and approached the blind god Hod who had not been able to participate in testing Baldur’s powers. When Hod explained to Loki that he couldn’t take part because he couldn’t see to aim, Loki gave him the mistletoe weapon and guided his hand; Hod threw and it struck Baldur’s chest, killing him. His death, and with it the loss of truth and light, is seen as the first in a chain of events which will ultimately lead to the destruction of the gods at Ragnarok.

In revenge for Baldur’s death Odin and the giantess Rindr gave birth to Váli, who grew to adulthood in the space of a single day and killed Hod. Baldur was ceremonially burned on his ship Hringhorni with a huge funeral pyre, surrounded by rich tapestries, foods and jewels. Baldur’s wide Nanna was so distraught that she died from grief, and was placed on the pyre beside Baldur. In the Poetic Edda both brothers are said to come back and rule a new world with Thor’s sons.

Frigg was so upset by Baldur’s death that she sent Hermod to plead with Hel to release Baldur from the underworld. Hel agreed she would do so provided that all things living and dead would weep for him. Everything loved Baldur and agreed to shed tears for him, apart from the giantess Thökk, and so Baldur could not be released. The gods discovered that Thökk was actually Loki in disguise, and to punish him they hunted him down and bound him to three rocks, then tied a serpent directly above him so that its venom would drip down into Loki’s face. His wife Sigyn would hold a bowl above him to catch the venom, but when she turned away to empty the bowl, the venom would touch him and he would writhe in pain, thus causing earthquakes.

Magic

Baldur was a god of truth and light, and was also knowledgable in healing herbs and runes.

Pictures

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