Baldur (Balder, Baldr, Balldr) (lord) In Norse mythology, god of light, the sun, who always spoke the truth; son of Odin and Frigga; husband of Nanna; father of Forseti. Baldur’s myth, told in the Prose Edda, is one of the most complete in Norse mythology. Baldur was tormented by terrible dreams, indicating that he was to die. He told the gods of his evil dreams, and they resolved to “conjure all things to avert from him the threatened danger.” Frigga exacted an oath from fire, water, iron, metals, stones, earths, diseases, beasts, birds, poisons, and creeping things so that none of them would harm Baldur. When this was done the gods passed their time hurling darts, swords, and battle-axes at Baldur, knowing he could not be harmed. When the evil god Loki saw that Baldur remained unhurt, he transformed himself into a woman and went to Frigga’s home, Fensalir. Loki, in disguise, asked Frigga why the gods were throwing stones at Baldur. She replied that he could not come to any harm. “Neither metal nor wood can hurt Baldur,” she said, “for I have exacted an oath from all of them.” “What!” exclaimed Loki. “Have all things sworn to spare Baldur?” “All things,” replied Frigga, “except one little shrub that grows on the eastern side of Valhalla. It is called mistletoe, and I thought it too young and feeble to ask an oath from it.” As soon as Loki heard this he went away. Resuming his natural shape, he cut off a twig of mistletoe and went to the assembly hall of the gods. Hodur, the blind god, was asked by Loki why he was not throwing anything at Baldur. “Because I’m blind,” Hodur said, “and can’t see where Baldur is standing. Also, I haven’t anything to throw at him.” “Come then,” said Loki, “do as the rest of the gods. Show honor to Baldur and throw this twig at him. I’ll direct your arm toward the right place.” Hodur took the mistletoe and under Loki’s guidance hurled it at Baldur, who was pierced through and fell dead to the ground. The gods were stunned and began to lament. Frigga then said she would give all of her love to anyone
who would ride to Hel to find Baldur and offer Hela, goddess of death, a ransom for the god’s return to Asgard. Hermod volunteered. He arrived in Hel and found Baldur occupying the most distinguished seat in the hall of the dead. He then asked Hela to let Baldur ride home with him, saying that the whole world was lamenting the god’s death. “If all things in the world both living and lifeless weep for him, then I will let him return,” she said, “but if any one thing speak against him or refuse to weep, he shall be kept in Hel.” The gods then sent messengers throughout the world asking everything to weep for Baldur. All things complied. As the messengers were returning, believing their mission a success, they found an old hag named Thaukt sitting in a cavern. They asked her to weep for Baldur so the god could return. She refused. The Prose Edda ends the account with “It was strongly suspected that this hag was no other than Loki himself who never ceased to work evil among the gods.” Baldur’s myth was the inspiration for Matthew Arnold’s long narrative poem Balder Dead.
Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante
Also known as:
Baldr; Baldur; Lord Balder
Balder, Odin and Frigg’s son, is the fairest of all Aesir spirits, merciful, kind, and wise. Lord of joy, light, purity, friendship, reconciliation, and innocence, he is beloved by all. Well, almost all.
Balder had ominous dreams, which the Aesir recognized as portents of doom. His mother, determined to save him, traveled around the world extracting oaths from everything on Earth, making them promise never to harm Balder. She extracted vows from all living creatures and everything formed of metal, stone, and wood. The sole exception was mistletoe, which she considered too insignificant to pose a threat.
Frigg returned to Asgard, reassured of Balder’s safety. The other Aesir amused themselves by throwing things at Balder (darts, hard objects), knowing that he could not be harmed. Observing these antics, a strange woman, maybe Loki in disguise, maybe his twin Angerboda, asked Frigg to explain. The woman asked whether everyone had sworn the oath. Frigg, still underestimating mistletoe, revealed the exception.
Later Loki handed a bit of mistletoe to Hoder, Balder’s blind brother, and, guiding his hand, persuaded him to throw it. The mistletoe pierced Balder’s heart, killing him instantly.
Balder plays a prominent role in the Xbox 360 action role-playing game “Too Human.”
He’s not called “Balder the Beautiful” for nothing. He is radiant.
Son: Forseti, spirit of justice and peace
The yellow-gold spectrum, shining white
Sacred plants: Various plants are popularly called Balder’s Eyebrows, including valerian (Valeriana officinalis) and Mayweed (Matricaria perforata and M. maritima).
Realm: Balder’s hall is called Breidablik (“Broad Splendor”).
Aesir; Angerboda; Frigg; Hel; Loki; Odin
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.
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