The Story of Balder Part II
The Story of Balder Part II
From Viking Mythology
Earlier, Odin, like Frigga, worried about Balder’s future. He had travelled to Hel to consult a prophetess. The prophetess had been interred in the grim otherland for many long years and was unwilling to stir herself. However Odin disguised himself as a mortal named Vegtam and used runes and magick spells to force her to answer his questions. He peered through the steam of Hel at the denizens of that gloomy place who were preparing a feast, and asked who the feast was in honour of; the prophetess said it was being readied to welcome Balder, who would soon be slain by his brother Hoder. Odin was grief stricken and out of his desperation he asked the woman who would avenge his death? She told him that this would be the work of Vali, a god who would be born to Odin and the earth-goddess Rind. He asked her one last question which was: would anyone refuse to weep at Balder’s death?
The prophetess did not answer this question as she immediately knew that the person in front of her had some knowledge of the future and must therefore be Odin, so she descended once more into her grave without another word.
So with great sadness Odin returned to Asgard, where he was reassured to find that Frigga had made everything in the whole world promise they would not harm Balder.
When the dart of mistletoe killed Balder the other gods were horrified. They could see all too well who had been guilty of the crime, Loki, but this did not matter because their cruel code dictated that it was Hoder who killed him and therefore must die to avenge his brother’s death. Nevertheless it was taboo to shed blood in Gladsheim, so there was nothing they could immediately do.
Frigga however, so distraught with this terrible news of her son’s demise, was less concerned with vengeance than considering the possibility of restoring him. She asked the assembled company if there were anyone there who might risk great peril and travel to Hel to ask the goddess of death if there was any way that she might be bribed into releasing Balder back to the land of the living. There was an embarrassingly long silence at this, because the journey to Hel was indeed perilous and thwart with terrors. But eventually when Frigga bribed them with honour to the brave individual who would accept this task as being considered by herself and Odin to be the dearest of all the Aesir.
Hermod stepped forward to say that he would perform the task. Soon he was on his way and Odin had lent him his eight footed horse Sleipnir for the journey. Once Hermod departed it was the duty of the gods to create Balder’s funeral pyre, for which they used his ship Ringhorn, and vast quantities of wood cut from a nearby forest. The gods each added to the pyre their most treasured possessions. In Odin’s case this was his ring called Draupnir. As he placed it on the body of his deceased son, he leaned down and whispered something in the dead Balder’s ear that no one else could hear.
The preparations for Balder’s pyre were too much for his wife Nanna to bear; she collapsed and died of a broken heart so they put her on Ringhorn next to her husband to share his fiery fate.
This is the end of part II, go to part III for more of the story of Balder.
Brad and Saskia