Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Balder


Balder

Appeal: Joy, Light, Guidance Counseling, Love, Happiness


Balder (also Baldr, Baldur) is a God of light and purity in Norse mythology, and a son of the God Odin and the Goddess Frigg.  He has numerous brothers, such as Thor and Vali.  Balder's wife is Nanna and their son is Forseti.  He is so fair of feature, and so bright, that light shines from him.  He had a good character, was friendly, wise and eloquent.

Compiled in Iceland in the 13th century, but based on much older Old Norse poetry, the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda contain numerous references to the death of Balder as both a great tragedy to the Aesir and a harbinger of Ragnarok.  In Gylfaginning, Snorri relates that Balder had the greatest ship ever built, named Hringhorni, and that there is no place more beautiful than his hall, Breidablik.

He had a dream of his own death and his mother had the same dreams.  Since dreams were usually prophetic, this depressed him, so his mother Frigg made every object in every realm vow never to hurt Balder.  All objects made this vow except mistletoe.  Frigg had thought it too unimportant and nonthreatening to bother asking it to make the vow.

When Loki, the mischief-maker, heard of this, he made a magical spear from this plant (or arrow).  He hurried to the place where the Gods were indulging in their new pastime of hurling objects at Balder, which would bounce off without harming him.  Loki gave the spear to Balder's brother, the blind God Hodr, who then inadvertently killed his brother with it.

Loki did not escape punishment for his crime and Hodr was put to death by Vali, son of Odin.  Vali had been born for just that purpose.  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.

Balder was ceremonially burnt upon his ship, Hringhorni, the largest of all ships.  Nanna, Balder's wife, died of grief and was burned with him.  Balder's horse, with all its trappings, was also burned on the pyre.
Upon Frigg's pleas, delivered through the messenger Hermod, Goddess Hela promised to release Balder from the underworld if all objects alive and dead would weep for him.  All did, except a giantess, often presumed to be the God Loki in disguise, who refused to mourn the slain God.  Thus Balder had to remain in the underworld, not to emerge until after Ragnarok, when he and his brother Hodr would be reconciled and rule the new Earth together.

 

Baldr appears in the Supernatural episode "Hammer of the Gods" played by Adam Croasdell.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Tegner's Drapa" dealt with Baldr's death.  In the Japanese anime, Kamigami No Asobi, Baldr in one of the main characters.  And in Copenhagen, there is also a Baldersgade, or "Balder's Street."

 
 

Blameless Balder, shining God,
let your goodness and your reconciliation smooth my path on Earth.
When my days here are over, light up death's darkness with the promise of rebirth.
Help me to avoid evil and seek the good.
Inspired by you, I will keep my reputation spotless,
that my life will be proclaimed a victory of the spirit,
and my leaving it, a tragedy.

 


 


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