Baldr or Baldur is the Norse god of beauty, naivety and light. He is one of the few gods who as descended into the realm of Hel and do not yet arise from it. His story is a difficult one to understand, very tragic for the Aesir tribe of gods, a story of mischief and sorrow.
In the Norse mythology, Baldr is the youngest son of Odin and Frigga, the most beautiful of thesky gods, the Aesir. His mere presence brought light and merriment to all the gods in Asgard, and from him, a very bright light came to everywhere he went.
Baldr married the Aesir goddess Nana who took care of the orchards of Asgard. They lived in the hall called Breidablik and in its surroundings nothing that was impure could ever live in such place, everything was naturally beautiful. They had a son called Forseti who would be later be known as the god of justice.
The saga of Baldr, Baldurs Draumar (Baldur’s Dream), tells us of the time when Baldr began to have strange dreams about his oncoming doom, death was approaching to cover in darkness the world of Aesir, light itself would be swallowed by it. Baldr told his parents about the dreams and his mother, Frigga, in a hurry, travelled throughout the nine realms asking every living thing not to harm her beloved son. Every living thing made this oath and when Frigga passed by the mistletoe, she thought that it was too young to make such an oath and she thought it to be harmless. Then she returned to Asgard and told to Baldr what she had done and that he was safe, nothing could harm him. Baldr made a game out of this, every god would throw weapons against him and every single object would bounce off.
Every great tragic story has vengeance in it, and this one isn’t different. The god Loki was angry with the Aesir because they had murdered his wife Angrboda and imprisoned one of his sons, Fenrir, so Loki discovered the secret of Baldr’s imunity to all things except the mistletoe, so he made a dart out of it and waited until the games of throwing weapons to Baldr began. Loki offered himself to help Hoder, the Blind brother of Baldr, so he could also participate in the games. Hoder agreed, and threw the mistletoe dart to Baldr, killing his own brother.
Meanwhile Loki fled and there was great mourning in Asgard. Many gods offered themselves to avenge Baldr’s death, but Odin had other things in mind and none from his family was fit to do the task. So Odin raped the giant goddess Rind and she gave him a son called Váli, the god of vengeance. Váli didn’t knew about the true story, all he knew is that his half brother Baldr had been killed by Hoder, and so he murdered the blind god.
Baldr was placed on his ship called Hringhorni and the funeral fire was started. Many were those who came to Baldr’s funeral. Thor lost his self control because of the death of his younger brother, and in that rage he kicked a visiting dwarf right into the fire thus killing him. Baldr’s wife, Nana, threw herself into the funeral pyre, thus commiting suicide to be with her beloved. Baldr’s horse was also burnt along with everything that belonged to the god of light. When the time came to push the ship into the waters, it prove to be too heavy. All of a sudden a female giant called Hyrrokin, ridding a great wolf, came and gave the ship such a shove, that the earth itself trembled. It is said that this mysterious Hyrrokin was none other than Angrboda, Loki’s wife, coming to witness her vengeance for the murder attempt on her, and for the kidnapping and later binding of her son Fenrir, and also her child Jormundgand, the great sea serpent.
In the meantime Odin and Frigga gave another task to one of Baldur’s brothers, Hermod. He was to ride into Helheim and beg Hela to release Baldr. Hermod rode fro nine days till he finaly reached the Gates of Helheim and entered. He begged to Hela for his brother’s life and she told him that she would only release him if every living thing in the nine worlds would weep for him. The Aesir went in all directions asking everyone they met to shed a tear for Baldr. All did so, except for an old female giant called Thokk and thus Baldr was lost forever. It is said that this Thokk figure was no other than Loki himself in disguise, making sure that Baldr stood with her daughter Hela.
There is much speculation in why such an event happened, why did Odin let all of this happen. In a foretelling, Odin knew that Baldr would be slain when Ragnarök started if Baldr was alive by then, on the other hand, being slain, Baldr would come to life after Ragnarök and rule in Asgard. It is said that Baldr’s death was arranged by Odin and Loki to protect Baldr and send him to the safest place in the nine realms, the realm of the dead, so he might arise when the time comes and rule in Asgard.
The Saxons had another version of this story, in which Baldr and Hoder were two princes and both wanted the mortal princess Nana. Both fought and Hoder killed Baldr with a sword named Mistletoe and thus he married Nana.
It is clear that behind this story we can see that the only thing that can prevail over the light, is darkness, the opposite. Hoder the blind god is darkness and he took the life of his brother, Baldr, the god of light. When darkness covers the land, death and sorrow comes to mortal men and it is in darkness that Ragnarök starts, when all light fades away. But after te darkness a new light comes forth and life sprouts once more. Baldr revives and will rule in the realm of the Sky Gods.
One thing is also certain, to Baldr was given another task and he became a different god with a new sacred task, he is now the god who gives light in dark places, this also means giving light to those who live a life in darkness, while their mind is, metaphorically speaking, in darkness. Sorrow, sadness, depression, living in hard times, Baldr gives light and a new awakening.
Note: The artwork to illustrate this post is a painting of Baldr made by me. If you have any questions for me or if you want to see my artistic works, check out my Facebook page and make a Like if you can by following this link –> http://www.facebook.com/ArithHarger