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The Norse god, Baldur (BALD-er) was so handsome, gracious, and cheerful that he actually gave off light.  Baldur is the son of Odin and Frigg, therefore he belongs to the newer class of gods known as the Aesir.

Unlike the immortal Greek gods, Norse gods could and did die. The story of Baldur's death is one of the most famous and one of the most complete in Norse mythology. Here is a condensed version:
When Baldur began to have dreams of his death, Frigg went around to every living thing in the world and secured from each of them an oath not to harm her son.
Confident in Baldur’s invincibility, the gods amused themselves by throwing weapons and any random thing they could find at Baldur and watching them bounce off of him, leaving him utterly unscathed.
Loki, who was extremely jealous of Balder because he was the only god more beautiful than himself, sensed an opportunity. He inquired of Frigg whether she had overlooked anything whatsoever in her quest to obtain oaths. She casually answered that she had thought the mistletoe to be too small and harmless a thing to bother asking for such a promise.

Loki straightaway made a spear from the mistletoe and convinced the blind god, Hodur, to throw it at Baldur. The projectile, guided by Loki's aim, pierced the god and he fell down dead.

The anguished Odin sent another one of his sons, Hermod, to the underworld to see if there was any way Baldur could be retrieved from the clutches of the death goddess, Hel.

Hermod implored the dreadful goddess to release Baldur, and after much persuasion, she replied that she would give him up, if and only if everything in the world would weep for Baldur – to prove, in other words, that he was as universally beloved as Hermod claimed.

And the whole world did indeed weep for the generous son of Odin – all, that is, except one creature: a giantess named Þökk (generally assumed to be Loki in disguise), who callously refused to perform the act that would secure Baldur’s return.

And so the bright god lay in the grave until Ragnarok (the end of the world) when he will be returned at last to the land of the living, gladdening the hearts of the creatures who fill the new world.

By the way, the engineering of Baldur's death was the final straw for Loki, but that is a story for another day.

Next Thor's Day: The blind god, Hodur


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