Baldur is the Norse god of innocence, beauty and goodness. He is known as “The Shining One.” He is the most handsome god of Asgard and known for his invulnerability. Ironically, he is most known for his death.
His name is spelled in several different ways, including Baldur, Baldr or Balder.
The key physical attribute of Baldur is that he exuded beauty, and was possibly the most beautiful of the Aesir gods. He was said to be so beautiful that light shined from him. This can be found in the ancient Norse manuscript called the Prose Edda, from which a substantial amount of what is known about Norse mythology is derived from. The Prose Edda contains four main sections.
In the second section, called Gylfaginning, it states “Hann er svá fagr álitum ok bjartr svá at lýsir af honum, ok eitt gras er svá hvítt at jafnat er til Baldrs brár”. This passage can be roughly translated to “He is so beautiful in appearance and so bright that he shines, and one grass is so white that it is even to Baldr’s brow.”
He is the son of Odin (father) and Frigg (mother). His siblings include Hod and Hermod, and his half-siblings include Vidar, and Vali.
The greatest ship ever built was the Ringhorn, or Hringhorni, and belonged to Baldur. It a symbol commonly associated with the god.
Upon Baldur’s death, a giant fire was made on the deck of the Ringhorn, and his body was laid on top of it to be cremated.
Powers & Duties
Baldur is the god and champion of goodness, innocence, and forgiveness. His twin brother, Hod, is the god of darkness.
Baldur started to have dreams the night after some sort of grave misfortune happened to him. His mother and the other gods were nervous for Baldur because he was one of the most beloved gods in Asgard. They asked Odin what the dream meant, and Odin embarked on a quest to the underworld. There he met a dead seeress who told Odin that Baldur would soon die. When Odin got back and let everyone know, Frigg was desperate to try and save her son.
Frigg was able to get every living thing to promise not to harm him. Therefore, Baldur became invincible and he was even more beloved by everyone in Asgard. However, Loki was jealous of Baldur and tried to discover any weakness he may have. When he asked Frigg if she made sure that everything promised not to harm Baldur, she said she forgot to ask mistletoe, but that it was too small, weak, and innocent to harm him anyway.
During a party, Baldur told everyone to throw sharp objects at him as entertainment since he couldn’t be harmed. Everyone was having a good time. Loki then gave blind Hod (who was unknowingly Baldur’s twin brother) a dart made of mistletoe and told him to throw it at Baldur. When it struck Baldur, he died.
Frigg then asked everyone to travel to the land of the dead and offer Hel, the death-goddess, a ransom for Baldur’s release. Hermod, a son of Odin agreed. When he finally got to the throne room of Hel, he saw a distraught Baldur sitting next to her in a seat of honor. Hermod tried to convince Hel to let Baldur go, explaining that everyone was mourning his death. She said that she’ll let him go if everyone in the world wept for him. However, an old hag called Thokk refused to weep saying that he never did anything for her. But the hag turned out to be Loki, who was caught and chained up for eternal punishment.
But, Baldur won’t be dead forever. Although his death signaled the beginning of the events that would eventually lead to Ragnarok, his resurrection signaled the end of Ragnarok and the beginning of the new world. Once the cosmos was destroyed and recreated and all the gods had served their purposes and fallen to their prophesied fates, Baldur will return to the land of the living. He will bless the land and its inhabitants and bring with him light, happiness, and hope to fill the new world.
Facts About Baldur
- Skadi had a crush on Baldur and had hoped to choose him based off his shoes, but instead accidentally chose Njord.
- The name Baldur may mean “brave” or “Bold”, but it may also stem from Norse terms for “white” or “shining”.
- Baldur’s wife is called Nanna, and they have a son named Forseti, the God of Justice.
- Baldur’s great hall is called Breidablik.
- After Baldur’s death, his wife, Nanna, was so distraught, that she herself died.
- Odin placed the golden ring, Draupnir, on Baldur when he died, but later sent it back to Helheim.
- Baldur and Hod will rule Asgard together in place of Odin after Ragnarok.
- When Baldur died, he was placed on his ship Hringhorni for a funeral pyre. But, it was too large to launch the ship out to sea. So, the gods asked Hyrrokkin, the strongest giantess, to push it into the sea. She was successful.
- Thor hallowed Baldur’s funeral pyre flames by holding his hammer over them.