Norse mythology had it that Odin had many sons but the most beloved and handsome one must be God Baldur.
God Baldur was the son of Odin and Frigg the Queen of Asgard. Because Frigg was the official wife and also the Queen, people always saw Baldur as the Prince of Asgard. He was tall and handsome. He shone every path he went. And he spread justice to people he met. Never a time in his time did he disappoint anyone.
People loved Baldur. No doubt.
However, as he seemed to have everything in his hand, the Norns didn’t smile on him. Norns were the fate writers in Norse mythology. When Baldur was a boy, he dreamt of his death. Everyone was mourning and he saw himself resting on a boat which was about to be on fire. In his dream, he was killed but the murderer didn’t appear in his dream.
His beautiful mother, Frigg, was a seeress. And Frigg too dreamt the dream of Baldur. Who could bear the grief of losing their own child, especially a great son like Baldur. Every creature in Norse myth was afraid of the death of Baldur as well. Because, in the prophecy, Baldur’s death was the first sign of Ragnarok.
Ragnarok was the final event marking the collapse of Norse Pantheon
Odin waited no time but rode Sleipnir the eight-legged horse to the underworld to consult a seeress. When he reached the place, he found everything was so shining and it was like someone was about to celebrate something. Everything was of splendor. Odin woke the seeress and asked what it was for. The seeress, who didn’t know who the man in front of her was, answered that the feast was for Baldur. She kept showing how happy and eager she was to meet Baldur and only stopped when she realized the man she was talking to was Odin.
Odin went back to Asgard with great sorrow and told Frigg about his meeting in the underworld.
Then Frigg embarked on her journey to travel around Nine Worlds to save her son. But neither Frigg nor Baldur could see what would kill Baldur, she had to ask everyone never to harm her son. In this point, Frigg was confident as everyone in the cosmos loved her son. Nothing could make them say “no” at her request.
Off she went around Nine Worlds. She easily had all requests answered “yes”. But Frigg was so careless that she forgot the small mistletoe. Ironically, Loki learnt of this.
Back to Asgard, everyone was celebrating the successful journey of Frigg. They threw things at Baldur only to see them bounce off. And Baldur was unharmed. Everyone was happy thinking Ragnarok would never come because Baldur was alive.
Loki the Mischievous
The only one that didn’t enjoy the happy moment with everyone was Loki the Mischievous. Nobody knew how Loki learnt of the secret of mistletoe. But he didn’t need people to know how he could do so. All he wanted to do was to play a troll on the God. But this troll went too far.
He made an arrow with the mistletoe and approached the crowd. Loki never wanted to leave the Pantheon or Asgard so he handed the arrow to a blind God. He was Hodr the twin brother of Baldur. But Hodr was not as lucky and beloved as Baldur. He was silent and blind.
Loki the Mischievous
Hodr wanted to join the happy crowd so he took the arrow and tried it. With the guide of Loki, Hodr threw the arrow at Baldur. Baldur died from this single wound caused by the mistletoe arrow. He fell on the spot leaving everyone in a freeze. That day finally came, the first sign of Ragnarok.
The funeral of Baldur then was prepared on a boat with a pyre. It was set to sail and stroke on fire.
Everyone was down when they knew Baldur was no longer with them. The grief that Frigg endured must be the most terrible. But she composed herself because Frig learnt that grieving didn’t help bring her son back. She had to do something as she was the Queen of Asgard and her husband was the chief God. They asked Hermod to travel to the underworld to ask Baldur back. But Hel the Queen of the Dead never listened to anyone, or say, nobody could take Baldur from the hand of Hel.
Hel requested that if the Gods could ask all creatures in the cosmos to mourn, she would release Baldur. This time, Frigg would not be careless as she once was. They asked everyone. However, there was a Giant refusing to mourn for Baldur. Accordingly, Gods failed to bring Baldur back.
Regarding Hodr and Loki, they both got punished. Although Hodr was the son of Odin, he could not escape what he had done, whether deliberately or not. Hodr was slain and he too went to the underworld. Loki was more mischievous when he escaped the Gods. But quickly, Odin spotted where Loki was thanks to Odin’s High Throne from which he could observe the Nine Worlds. This revealed the next chapter in Norse myth would revolve around punishment of Loki.
INTERPRETATION AND PERSONAL THOUGHT
The first thought when I finished this part of Norse mythology was “Well, Loki finally revealed himself”. Loki seems to be the center of attention for every detail in Norse myth. In the past, he caused trouble putting people around him in difficulties and embarrassment. But this time was different. He caused trouble and left the room without taking any responsibility.
In the past, he was motivated to play trick on people because he wanted people to accept that Loki was there. He helped people out of trouble (that he caused to them) to get the feeling of hero. Indeed, he cut the hair of Sif destroying her beauty and making Thor angry. But he came back to Asgard and brought a lot of treasures to compensate for what he had done. He wanted to impress people. The root of all troubles before was Loki’s self –interest and his burning desire to having himself recognized.
But everything changed when Odin had everything while Loki was not completely realized as a God. To Odin, Baldur must be pride. Baldur was not only loved but also a prince of Asgard. People admired him. Even the most beautiful creatures in the cosmos bowed down to Baldur for his beauty. He was the shining God. However, Loki decided to make him no longer shine.
Loki was green with envy. Everything he had was nowhere to be compared with Odin. His children were called monsters: Fenrir the Wolf, Jormungand the Serpent, Hel the Half-Dead Woman, or even Sleipnir the Nine-Legged Horse. All of the envy was released on Baldur causing his death all of a sudden.
Loki indirectly killed Baldur. He killed the embodiment of what was good. He murdered beauty. And he didn’t show any sign that he would help Baldur out or he would solve this trouble. Because, for all the creatures, the death of Baldur was terrible. It was the first sign of Ragnarok. Loki could have influenced his daughter, Hel, to release Baldur from Helheim land of the dead. But he didn’t. And the refusal to mourn for Baldur completely banished the Asgard Prince to Helheim.It is noteworthy that what ultimately caused the Gods to severely punish Loki was not his deceptions or poor character. But his uncharacteristic openness about how he felt about them, and his blatant confession of his role in Baldr’s death were the main reasons. Had he continued his normal pattern of behavior they might not have figured out his betrayal. And what had to come finally came. Ragnarok was looming large on the horizon.