Balder/Baldur and Hoder

The goddess Frigg, the wife of the god Odin, was the chief goddess and willingly accepted this role. And as a proud goddess, she did not think it right to serve her husband, and Odin, in turn, considered women capricious and simple-minded. When he cared for Frig with kind caresses, his insincerity was evident.

Frigg was the patroness of women in labor. She helped women in childbirth, taught women in labor to lie on a bed of yellow grass, whose pungent odor drove away fleas. Frigg guided them with her voice when they gave birth, with the soothing exhortations of motherly love. She became a patron and goddess of love. Freya was of romantic passionate love, while Frigg was of devoted motherly caress. She also tenderly loved her sons Hoder and Balder, and raised them in the palace of Fensalir. She adored them. But her sons were odd in their own ways, like day and night.

Hoder was completely blind and very strong. He preferred solitude, listened a lot to others, and was a hard labourer. Because of the darkness before his eyes, he liked the darkness in general – he became the god of darkness and winter. In winter he loved to wander, the season is long and mighty; winter is quiet, patient, and always came – like motherly love.

Balder, on the other hand, was radiant, without a care in the world, and light-headed. Calm, cheerful, perceptive, attentive. Some said he was wise, but he could not compete with his father’s wisdom. Balder sensed the world intuitively, with his senses, embraced it, and understood it. He felt every blade of grass, every stream, every breeze – he felt himself as one with all life.

Balder Dreams and Mistletoe

But the cheerful Balder suffered from nightmares at night. Dreams of ghostly skulls, dark visions, and a premonition of death came over him. He complained to his mother Frigg, and she was not surprised – and she could, like Odin, though not so skillfully, anticipate and see events.

Everyone’s shooting Balder,(1902) Elmer Boyd Smith

Frigg, as the chief goddess in the pantheon of the Aesir and as the wife of Odin, was also entitled to sit on the throne of Hlidskjalf. She sat on the throne and began to look and gaze at the other kingdoms, to search, and finally she found – in Nifelheim there was a prophetess who could unravel dreams.

Odin harnessed the eight-legged Sleipnir and went to Nifelheim to look for the prophetess. The fortune teller told him that Hel’s Underworld was waiting for Balder, it was his destiny, and his cheerful spirit would illuminate the Underworld like a candle illuminates a dark cave. Odin returned to his wife with the bad news.

However, Frigg did not agree with this so called destiny – she would not leave it at that. She took the cloak, with properties like Freya’s, and flew with it around the world. She convinced the fire, the metals, the stones, the trees, the diseases, the beasts, the birds, the poisons and the snakes, not to hurt and harm Balder. So Balder was guaranteed safety – no one and nothing would hurt him.

The gods even had a little celebration game scolding Balder, poking, piercing. Nothing. It was fun for everyone. Even Thor and the mighty Mölnir couldn’t harm the god.

Loki was not amused, on the contrary – he did not like what was happening. He transformed into an old woman and went to the goddess Frigg. With dexterity and cunning, pretending to be a concerned old woman for Balder, he asked why everyone was targeting the deity like that. Frigg explained with a smile that it was just fun, that everything was fine, Balder was unharmed. In turn, the old woman asked if there was anything to harm him, and Frigg, unaware of who was asking the question, answered quite honestly that the mistletoe did not swear – it was too small.

Odin’s last words to Balder, 1908  W. G. Collingwood

That’s what Loki was waiting for – a weakness to find. He searched for the mistletoe bush and made arrows out of it. And here his plan became even more insidious: he persuaded Hoder, his blind brother, to take part in the game of shooting his brother. After a short exhortation, Hoder agreed, and Loki became invisible to the eye. Balder greeted Hoder and even invited him – no harm, these arrows in his hands, nothing will happen, it will be fun. The invisible Loki aimed the hands of the blind Hoder, who stretched the bowstring, released the arrow, and flew straight with the tip of the mistletoe through Balder’s body. The merry god fell dead. Asgard was shocked. Frigg immediately asked if anyone would come down to Hel in the Underworld to find a way to get Balder back. Hermod, another son of Odin, agreed and mounted the eight-legged stallion Sleipnir. He rode nine nights to the kingdom of Hel to release everyone’s favorite, Balder.

Balder and the Underworld

Hel’s condition was if Balder was to be released from the Underworld, the whole world have to weep for him. If everyone in the world, without exception, could shed a few tears for the beautiful Balder, she would let him go. If not, she will hold him until Ragnarok arrives.

The Aesir immediately set out to send messengers all over the world, to the four corners of the kingdom. Everyone joined except the giant Tok. Some would even say that it was Loki himself transformed into the giantess, with his wickedness to sabotage Balder’s release. Only the giant did not cry and so the condition was not executed, and Balder was exiled to Hel.

Goddess Frigg hid behind a veil of tears, and Odin, seeking revenge, took the giant Rindr as his wife. She gave birth to the god Vali, who grew up and matured before the day was over. Vali killed Hoder, and the gods became twelve, and two of them in Hel.

Balder stayed in Hel, Odin loved him, and Frigg loved and mourned Balder, Hoder, and everything that happened. Order was replaced by chaos, and Ragnarok’s dawn was approaching.