Idunn: The Goddess of Immortality and Youth

Idunn is the goddess of immortality, rejuvenation and youth. Wife of Bragi, she is the keeper of magical apples that …

Idunn is the goddess of immortality, rejuvenation and youth. Wife of Bragi, she is the keeper of magical apples that grant immortality to those that eat them.

Short Facts

Tribe: Aesir

Goddess of: Fertility, Immortality, Rejuvenation, Spring, Youth,

Wife of: Bragi

Mother of: Asha

Other names: Idun, Iduna, Idunna, Ithun

Idunn responsibilities

Idunn and the Apples of Youth
George Percy Jacomb-Hood, via Wikimedia Commons

Dawn, fountains, gathering her magical apples and tending the sacred apple tree, gives eternal youth, prevents old age, rejuvenates the gods of Asgard, reverses aging, spring

Associated Animals with Idunn

A barred owl, her stag, and a red deer

Idunn weapon/domain of power

Her eski (box made of ash wood), in which she carries her magical rejuvenating apples, and her stag, which follows her around.

Keeping the gods young

Idunn is the Aesir goddess of immortality, rejuvenation and youth. Her name means either ‘the rejuvenating one’ or ‘ever young’ in Old Norse. Idunn is a beautiful goddess with long, golden hair. She is Bragi’s wife and Asha’s mother. Some scholars suggest that Frigga is Idunn’s mother, but that hasn’t been confirmed in any of the old texts.

Idunn is a very important figure in Norse mythology. She tends the sacred apple tree and harvests the magical, golden apples that grow on it. Idunn fills her eski with these fruits and as she roams Asgard she gives them to the other gods. Eating Idunn’s remarkable apples, the Aesir remain young and immortal hence maintaining their prestige over the Nine Realms.

A vital deity, Idunn is revered by the Aesir, who thanks to her remain forever young and powerful. Yet, not all gods praise Idunn. Loki, the god of mischief, is the only one to speak ill of her at a banquet. Idunn, demonstrating the grandeur of her personality, avoids replying to Loki’s insults, and the matter between them ends there. But this is not the last time Loki is going to bother Idunn.

The abduction

One day, the Jotunn Thjazi forced Loki to bring Idunn to a place he knew. The god of mischief succeeded in luring Idunn into a forest, telling her that it contained apples greater than hers. Thjazi then appeared in the form of a great eagle and abducted Idunn, taking her to Jotunheim. With the goddess held captive and her magical apples out of reach, the Aesir began to grow old and weak. It didn’t take them long however to realize the culprit behind this abduction.

Thiassi and Idunna
Harry George Theaker, via Wikimedia Commons

Angered and irritated, the gods of Asgard seized Loki and locked him up. After long interrogations and threats, Loki told them what had happened and agreed to bring Idunn back. Borrowing Freyja’s falcon feathered cloak, the trickster god flew to Jotunheim. He had no trouble reaching Thjazi’s hall. Inside, he found Idunn alone and transformed her into a nut then he took her into his talons and flew away.

But, Thjazi soon learned of this and taking the form of the great eagle rushed behind Loki. A hot pursuit ensued in the skies. The aged Aesir saw their falcon with the nut, and the eagle close behind, and quickly prepared to assist. They built a pyre and lighted it after the falcon-Loki had crossed over it. Thjazi however couldn’t stop in time and fell into the flames. The gods then attacked and killed the Jotunn. Thus it was that Idunn was returned to Asgard and the Aesir was made young and potent again.

In the old texts

In the Poetic Edda, in the poem Lokasenna, Idunn is mentioned as Bragi’s wife. A short dialog begins between Loki and Idunn, in which Loki accuses Idunn of having slept with her brother’s killer.

In the Prose Edda, in the Gylfaginning book, Idunn is the goddess bearing the apples that grant eternal youthfulness.

In the Skaldskaparmal book, the tale of Idunn’s abduction by the Jotunn Thjazi is given in full.


Q. What is Idunn’s real power?

A. Idunn is the goddess who tends the tree that bears the magical apples of youth. The fruits she gathers have the extraordinary ability to keep the Aesir forever young and strong. That is her power, and that is the reason the gods of Asgard love and care for her.

Q. Why does Loki accuse Idunn of having slept with the killer of her brother?’

A. Loki hurls his insults almost at every god gathered in Aegir’s hall. Idunn is no exception. But, the poem Lokasenna doesn’t convey anything else. No one knows who Idunn’s brother was and why Bragi killed him.

Photo of author

Vasilis Megas

Vasilis Megas (a.k.a. Vasil Meg) lives in Athens, Greece. He is a Greek- and Norse Mythology enthusiast. Vasilis has written and published 16 books - mostly fantasy and science fiction - and he is now working as a content writer, journalist, photographer and translator.