Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Balder was considered the god of light, joy, spring, and peace. He was a very popular and well-liked god and warrior. He was extremely strong and gentle-hearted, but was sometimes considered a bit slow in the head. He was actually killed by his own blind brother when Loki tricked Hodur into throwing a dart of mistletoe at him. Mistletoe was the only thing of nature that was not asked by Frigga to not harm her son.
Ragnorak: Balder must remain in Hel until it is over and the Earth is reborn.
Depicted: Balder is usually represented as a very handsome god of fair hair and face.
Father: Odin
Mother: Frigga
Wife: Nanna
Siblings: Hodur, Hermond, Bragi, Tyr
Children: Forseti
Other Names: Baldur, Baldr
Myths: The Death of Balder, Voluska

From: here
The god of light, joy, purity, beauty, innocence, and reconciliation. Son of Odin and Frigg, he was loved by both gods and men and was considered to be the best of the gods. He had a good character, was friendly, wise and eloquent, although he had little power. His wife was Nanna daughter of Nep, and their son was Forseti, the god of justice. Balder's hall was Breidablik ("broad splendor").

Most of the stories about Balder concern his death. He had been dreaming about his death, so Frigg extracted an oath from every creature, object and force in nature (snakes, metals, diseases, poisons, fire, etc.) that they would never harm Balder. All agreed that none of their kind would ever hurt or assist in hurting Balder. Thinking him invincible, the gods enjoyed themselves thereafter by using Balder as a target for knife-throwing and archery.

The malicious trickster, Loki, was jealous of Balder. He changed his appearance and asked Frigg if there was absolutely nothing that could harm the god of light. Frigg, suspecting nothing, answered that there was just one thing: a small tree in the west that was called mistletoe. She had thought it was too small to ask for an oath. Loki immediately left for the west and returned with the mistletoe. He tricked Balder's blind twin brother Hod into throwing a mistletoe fig (dart) at Balder. Not knowing what he did, Hod threw the fig, guided by Loki's aim. Pierced through the heart, Balder fell dead.

While the gods were lamenting Balder's death, Odin sent his other son Hermod to Hel, the goddess of death, to plead for Balder's return. Hel agreed to send Balder back to the land of the living on one condition: everything in the world, dead or alive, must weep for him. And everything wept, except for Loki, who had disguised himself as the witch Thokk. And so Balder had to remain in the underworld.

The others took the dead god, dressed him in crimson cloth, and placed him on a funeral pyre aboard his ship Ringhorn, which passed for the largest in the world. Beside him they lay the body of his wife Nanna, who had died of a broken heart. Balder's horse and his treasures were also placed on the ship. The pyre was set on fire and the ship was sent to sea by the giantess Hyrrokin.

Loki did not escape punishment for his crime and Hod was put to death by Vali, son of Odin and Rind. Vali had been born for just that purpose. After the final conflict (Ragnarok), when a new world arises from its ashes, both Balder and Hod will be reborn.

From: here
Dying god. Balder (Baldr or Balðr) was the son of Odin and Frigg. He was brother of Höd (Hod). Balder married Nanna, the daughter of Nep. They had a son, named Forseti. Balder dwelled in a palace called Breidablik with his wife, in Asgard.

Balder was the god of beauty. He was the most beloved of all the the gods. However, through the prophecy and Balder's dreams, the gods found that he would die. His mother, Frigg, set about asking and extracting an oath on all creature, plant and all inanimate materials in the world, to not harm her son. Frigg did not think of a mistletoe could harm her son, so she did not get an oath from the harmless plant. Loki managed to get the information from Frigg.

In Asgard, the gods normally played game which they thought was quite amusing. They would throw rock, spear, sword or whatever object at Balder. None of these object would harm the young god. Only Hod did not play, because he was blind. Loki came to the blind god, and asked him to play with his brother. Loki gave the mistletoe to Hod. Loki directed Hod throw. Hod threw the mistletoe at Balder with all his strength. The onlookers watched in horror when Balder, pierced by the plant, was killed instantly.

Hel, goddess of the dead, agreed to released Balder, allowing the young god to live, if every creatures would mourned, and shed tears for Balder. All the creatures in the world wept for Balder, except the giantess named Thokk or Thanks, refused to even shed a single tear for the god. Hel refused to released Balder. Loki was punished for his involvement with Balder's death. (See Death of Balder for the full story.)
Nanna was totally devastated and grief stricken. She wasted away and died.

After Ragnarok, Balder was reborn, heralding the beginning of a new age.

Balder was also worshipped by the Germans. Balder was one of the seven gods, listed in the Second Merseburg Charm, a German manuscript from c. AD 900. Balder's horse sprained its foot, and the passage was supposedly a way to cure sprain, by listing the gods' names. Other gods listed in the Charm were – Wodan (Odin), Frija (Frigg), Volla (Fulla), Phol, Sinthgunt and Sunna. The identities of the last three names are unknown, but there some speculation that Phol was another name for Balder.

From: here
Odin, the king of the Norse gods, often sat upon Hildskialf, the throne of the Aesir gods, with his companions, the two ravens, Hugin (thought) and Munin (Memory), whispering in his ears. From this position he could look out on all of the nine worlds. Sometimes his wife Frigg would sit there, too, but she was the only other god who was so privileged. Frigg was the second and favorite wife of Odin, whose daughter she may also have been. She was the only Aesir as clever and knowledgeable about the future as Odin, although her foreknowledge did not depress her as it did her husband.

Frigg had her own palace, which was known as Fensalir, where she sat spinning clouds to float above Midgard. Fensalir also served as the afterlife home for married couples who wished to be together. It was a counterpart to the famous home of valiant warriors, Valhalla, where Odin spent much of his time -- drinking (he is said to have stopped eating when he heard about the inevitable doom of Ragnarok) with his feasting and fighting companions and the Valkyries.

The most handsome of the gods was born to Frigg and Odin. He was named Balder (also known as Baldur). He was a god of truth and light. Balder was also knowledgeable in healing herbs and runes, which made him a favorite among the people of Midgard. Balder lived in a palace named Breidablik with his wife Nanna (n.b. there is also a Mesopotamian goddess of this name), a vegetation goddess. It was believed that no lie could pass through the walls of Breidablik, home of the god of truth, so when Balder started having frightening nightmares about his own demise, the other Aesir gods took them seriously. Unlike gods in other pantheons, the Norse gods were not immortal. They catalogued everything that might possibly cause Balder harm, from weapons to diseases to creatures. With the list in hand, Balder's mother, Frigg, set out to exact assurances from everything in the nine worlds not to harm Balder. This wasn't hard because he was so universally loved.

When she had completed her mission, Frigg returned to Gladsheim, the gods' meeting hall, for a celebration. After a few rounds of drinks and toasts, the gods decided to test Balder's invulnerability. A pebble thrown at Balder bounced off without hurting Balder, in honor of its oath. Larger weapons were used, including Thor's axes and all refused to hurt the god.

Loki is known as a trickster god. Sometimes he was mischievous, but he hadn't really been malicious. The giants were evil, but Loki, who was the son of a giant, hadn't been known as such. It seems his self-appointed job was to stir things up when things were going well. It's a Loki-type action that one wishes to avert when telling an actor to break a leg before a performance.

Loki was disturbed by all the gaiety and decided to do something about it, so in disguise as a disgusting old hag, he went to Frigg while she was at Fensalir taking a break from the festivities. What was going on at Gladsheim, he asked her. She said it was a celebration for the god Balder. Loki-in-disguise asked why, then, were people throwing weapons at him? Frigg explained about the promises she'd exacted. Loki kept at her asking questions until she finally revealed that there was one thing she hadn't asked because she thought it too small and inconsequential. That one thing was mistletoe.

With all the information he needed, Loki set off to the forest to get himself a branch of mistletoe. He then returned to the festivities at Gladsheim and sought out Balder's blind brother, Hod, god of darkness, who was in a corner because he couldn't aim and therefore couldn't participate in the test of Balder's invulnerability. Loki told Hod he would help him take aim and handed Hod a piece of apparently innocuous mistletoe to throw.

Hodur was grateful and accepted the offer, so Loki steered Hod's arm. Hod launched the branch, which caught Balder in the chest. Balder died instantly. The gods looked towards Hod and saw Loki beside him. Before they could do anything, Loki fled away.

Celebration turned to lamentation since the most beloved of the gods had died. Odin alone was aware of how disastrous this event really was for them all, for he knew that with the loss of light and truth, the end of the world, Ragnarok, was due soon.

A funeral pyre was made that was so enormous the gods had to ask the help of the giants. They then placed their most valuable worldly possessions as gifts upon the pyre. Odin placed his golden armband Draupnir. Balder's wife fell down dead of grief at the pyre, so her body was placed beside her husband's.
[The most beautiful and beloved of the gods, Balder, son of Odin, had been slain by his blind brother wielding a misletoe shaft aimed by Loki. Balder's wife had joined him on the funeral pyre. After their funeral, they were in the world called Niflheim.]
An attempt was made to resurrect Balder, but due to more of Loki's mischief, it failed.

The goddess of death, Hel, promised that Balder could return to earth if every living creature shed tears of grief for Balder. It looked as though it would work, for everyone loved Balder, but Loki arranged for a single exception. Loki disguised himself as the giantess Thok. As Thok, Loki was too indifferent to cry. And so, Balder could not return to the land of the living. Balder and his wife remained in Niflheim.

Another son of Odin, Vali, revenged the death of Balder, but not by getting back at Loki. Instead, Vali slew his brother, the blind god Hod. Loki, who had fled the initial scene of Balder's death in Gladhseim, and then re-appeared in disguise as the giantess Thok, tried to get to safety by turning into a salmon. The salmon-Loki hid in a waterfall. But the Aesir, who knew where he was, tried to catch him in a net. Loki was too clever for that and jumped right over the net. Thor, however, was fast enough to catch the leaping fish in his bare hands. Then Loki was bound in a cave with venom dripping onto his body, which caused him to writhe in pain -- until the world's end in Ragnarok.

From: Baldr's Death
Balder was known as the 'Shinning God' or the 'Bleeding God' and was the fairest of all the gods in the Germanic pantheon. He was tragically killed by the trickery of Loki.

Balder (Baldur/Baldr) was the son of Odin and Frigg, and was looked upon with favour by all the other gods because of his gentle goodwill and fair nature. As a young man he had nightmares, which gave suggestion that he was to die at an early age. Odin travelled to the land of the dead on his eight-legged horse Sleipnir, to converse with a seeress on the nature of Balder's dreams and other omens. She told him that the blind god Hodr was fated to kill Balder with a wooden branch.

On hearing this news Frigg, his mother and the queen of the gods, set up a plan to ensure that this could not happen. She travelled through all the nine worlds and extracted an oath from all things that they would not do harm to her son.

This momentous task completed, the other gods tested Balder's new found invulnerability by throwing branches and stones at him, these swerved to avoid hitting him. Jealous as ever of the love the other gods held for Balder, Loki disguised himself as a woman and approached Frigg in her hall. He conversed with her, and found that she had not bothered to extract an oath form the mistletoe plant, as she thought it too small to be of consequence.

Hearing this Loki quickly cut himself a branch of the plant, and sharpened it to a spear, he then returned to the gods and found them still throwing objects at Balder. He tricked Hodr into joining in, and gave him the mistletoe branch to throw. This passed straight through the fair god and he was killed outright.

The gods, in grief and shock at what had happened sent Hermod the swift, Balder's brother, to bargain with Hel, the queen of the underworld in the hope of restoring Balder to life. She agreed that she would release Balder only if everything in the nine worlds wept openly for him. And so it was that soon all things, trees, stones and the animals were weeping in grief. However the frost giant Thokk refused to shed a tear, and said that Hel should hold what she has. Too late the gods found out the Thokk was really Loki in disguise.

The myth of Balder has many similarities with those of divine kings, and there was a general belief that he would rise again and rule with his wife Nonna over a land of plenty. The legend of the sleeping king is found in many other mythologies, and it seems deeply rooted in early beliefs. It is possible that early Nordic converts to Christianity saw the similarities between Jesus and Balder.

The festival of the Midsummer Solstice was sacred to Balder, as was the colour white, in some stories sacred wells appeared from the hoof prints of his horse.

From: here

Other sites:
Balder - Death of Balder from Bulfinch
Some info
The myth of Balder - Mistletoes
Baldr info and myths
Death of Balder

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