Baldur: The God Of Light

Short Facts Tribe: Aesir God of: Light, learning, wisdom, courage and nobility Son of: Odin and Frigga Husband of: Nanna …

Short Facts

Tribe: Aesir

God of: Light, learning, wisdom, courage and nobility

Son of: Odin and Frigga

Husband of: Nanna

Father of: Forseti

Brother of: Bragi, Heimdall, Hodr, Thor, Tyr, Vali and Vidarr 

Other names: Baldr, Balder, Phol, Palter

Baldur responsibilities

Love, wisdom, courage, advice, gentleness, beauty, loyalty, tragedy, death, and rebirth

Baldur spirit animal

A golden eagle

Baldur weapon/domain of power

Wisdom, courage, bliss, his hall Breidablik, his ship Hringhorni, his horse Lettfeti

The Shining One

Baldur or Baldr (or Balder in Old High German) is a major Aesir god. His name means hero or prince and he is the god of light, learning, courage, wisdom and nobility.

He is the son of Odin (king of the gods) and Frigga (queen of the gods). He is often called the ‘Shining One’ and is considered to be one of the most important deities in Norse mythology. His wife is Nanna (the goddess of joy and peace) and together they have a son named Forseti (the god of justice).

Baldur is one of the most popular gods in Norse mythology. Based on information taken from Gylfaginning, part of Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, he is so fair of feature and so bright that light shines from him. He is the wisest of the Aesir and the fairest spoken and most gracious.

His hall in Asgard is called Breidablik and according to Gylfaginning, it is the most beautiful and fairer dwelling in all of Asgard, where there is nothing inside that is unclean. Also, Baldur owns Hringhorni, the best ship ever to be built.

Baldur is primarily known for his tragic end. His tale is a sad one as his demise was orchestrated by Loki, the god of mischief, who sought in life only to cause harm and taunt the rest of the gods.

The Death of Baldur

The myth speaks of Baldur foreseeing his own death and becoming worried and unhappy. His mother, Frigga traveled to the Nine Realms to make everything (living or not) vow not to hurt him. Everything swore except for the mistletoe as the goddess deemed it to be too insignificant to even pose a threat.

Loki, however, learned of this and so fashioned a spear out of the mistletoe. The gods entertained themselves by throwing all kinds of weapons at Baldur just to watch them bounce off harmlessly. Loki convinced Hodr, the blind god, to hurl the mistletoe tipped spear at his brother. This he did, but not knowing of Loki’s plot, Hodr accidentally killed Baldur.

A picture showing the death of Baldur.
Photo Credit: Lorenz Frølich, via Wikimedia Commons

The death of the god was heralded as a bad omen, said to be the first event of many that would lead to Ragnarok. Still, the gods tried their best to bring back Baldur to life. For that purpose, Hermod, the messenger of the gods, traveled to Helgard, the realm of the dead, and asked Hel, the goddess of death, to release Baldur. Hel agreed to do what was asked if everything in the world would weep for Baldur.

Hermod then visited the Nine Realms asking from every little and grand thing that he came across to weep for Baldur. His quest however wasn’t successful as Loki, transformed into a female giant, refused to shed even a tear for Baldur thus condemning the god to spend an eternity in the clutches of Hel.

Baldur returns to the living

After his death, Baldur was burnt on his ship, Hringhorni, along with his horse Lettfeti and his wife Nanna, who grieving for her beloved husband threw herself on the funeral pyre.

But, as it had been prophesied, Baldur would return to the world of the living after Ragnarok to lead the surviving gods to the new earth and rule over it forever.

Baldur’s tale, despite its sadness and melancholy, much like the long and harsh winters of the North, shows that in the end, hope in the form of sunrays always comes no matter the dark days that lie ahead.

Mentions

Baldur and his tragedy are mentioned in the Poetic Edda, in Voluspa and in Lokasenna. His death is the subject of the Eddic poem Baldr’s Dreams and his tale is recounted at length in Gylfaginning. The fact of Baldur’s rebirth and return is expressively cited in Voluspa where he and his brother Hodr will come back and their union will be seen as a symbol of the new age of peace.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What was Baldur like?

A. Since Baldur was so beautiful that he gave out the light he is often depicted as a handsome beardless blond man.

Q. What were Baldur’s powers?

A. Baldur was the loveliest god in all of Asgard. His charm and wisdom made him an excellent judge. His powers or more so his role in Asgard was to settle disputes among men and gods, and to reconcile enemies.

Q. Why did Loki kill Baldur?

A. Loki was known to be the thorn in the side of the gods of Asgard. But his involvement in Baldur’s death runs a little deep. Clearly symbolic, Loki is the opposite of Baldur. Loki is evil whereas Baldur is good. 

Everywhere in the world, these two opposite forces are at war, and while Baldur is a peaceful deity, Loki is cunning and ruthless; therefore he is the one who wets his hands with blood. A more simple explanation would be that Loki was so jealous of Baldur being loved by pretty much everyone so he sought to put him out of the way.