Baldr (also Balder) is one of the major characters in the Norse mythos. A son of Odin (like most of the male Aesir) Baldr was said to be so charismatic and good-natured that he was beloved by all whom he met, and he is associated with light and warmth and the sun.
“The second son of Odin is Baldr, and good things are to be said of him. He is best, and all praise him; he is so fair of feature, and so bright, that light shines from him. A certain herb is so white that it is likened to Baldr’s brow; of all grasses it is whitest, and by it thou mayest judge his fairness, both in hair and in body. He is the wisest of the Æsir, and the fairest-spoken and most gracious; and that quality attends him, that none may gainsay his judgments. He dwells in the place called Breidablik, which is in heaven; in that place may nothing unclean be.”
-“Gylfaginning”, Brodeur’s translation.
Like some other solar deities, including the Christ, Baldr was said to possess the power of prophecy, which manifested at least once in the form of a dream. In the dream Baldr saw his own death and grew depressed and the radiant light by which he had always been characterised grew dim. This troubled the Aesir greatly, and Baldr’s mother undertook a quest to enforce an oath from every being and object in existence that they would never harm Baldr, in futile attempt to avoid the inevitable. However, in her haste, Baldr’s mother neglected to enforce this oath from the mistletoe, which was considered so harmless that it was easily overlooked. So the mother rested contently thinking she had enacted a solemn vow from everything in existence never to harm her son. This vow, coupled with the apples of youth which the kept the Aesir young and powerful, essentially meant that Baldr should have lived forever, or at least for as long as he continued to consume the apples of youth. But in the society of the Aesir, as in all societies, there lived a trickster whose only purpose was to push the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. Loki somehow learned of the mistletoe having been overlooked in the swearing oaths, and he immediately set to work in crafting a weapon from this plant. Some say he made a spearhead, others say he made an arrow tipped with sharpened mistletoe, but whatever he made he placed it in the hands of one who was thought to be harmless in order to work his mischief. Continue reading