The Death of Baldr: A Theory

I’ve recently come across a few webpages that have mentioned a different tale of Baldr’s death. The one I’m personally most familiar with is the one where Loki is once again painted as a villain and sends a mistletoe tipped dart directly at His nephew, thus ending Baldr’s life.

But these posts have given me things to ponder. In the Christian religion, God sacrificed His only son, Jesus, for us humans. I am not saying that Christianity stole mythos from other lands, but, what if that story was around since before the time of Christ? What if that is actually the story of Odin and Baldr?

Both Beth and Loki’s Bruid present the case for Baldr’s death being a sacrifice of the sacred Kingship in His father’s stead. I can very much get behind this take on it. Loki, to me, is not a villain. Nor is he just a trickster, though that is definitely a side of Him that shouldn’t be forgotten about. But let’s not forget that Baldr is His nephew. Loki may be many things, but it’s hard for me to believe He would maliciously murder His own nephew. Especially when that nephew is Odin’s son. Loki and Odin are pretty good friends (aside from the fact that They are blood brothers).

Heather (Loki’s Bruid) gave me a different way to think about Baldr

Baldr

Baldr

when she presented her story of His death and the events surrounding it. I had never considered before that perhaps Baldr willingly made the sacrifice, or that the entire thing was set up by Loki and Odin as a way to make the sacrifice without sacrificing Odin Himself. But this rings true to me. This version–the one in which Baldr is a sacrifice and not just murdered in a joke–is the one that makes the most sense to me, and matches up in my mind with the personalities of the Gods.

I’m a writer, and I view everything through a writer’s filter. Loki does many things, and pits God against God a few times, but it always felt a little out of character for Loki to be a murderer. But if you put that “murder” in the context of Loki doing a deed that needed to be done, and it rings far more true to me.

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6 Responses to The Death of Baldr: A Theory

  1. Tinnuwen says:

    Funny, in the course I’m taking with the pagan group (wrote about it on LJ now and then) we just had something about exactly this story and I was wondering about the why… myths and legends and all that, all the stories usually have a reason as to why things happen. Why someone makes a sacrifice. It seemed so out of character to me that Loki would kill Baldr or have him killed *just because*… so what’s the reason? Why?
    And to be honest it also seemed out of character to me that the mistletoe was forgotten or not cared about and thus actually could kill Baldr. Why that?
    Not that I’ve come to any conclusions… :p

    • Raven says:

      I know what you mean. Loki may be a trickster and have His own agenda, but there is usually a reason why He’s doing something. That He would murder someone–His own nephew at that–*just because* seems very out of character to me.

      The mistletoe wasn’t forgotten about. If I remember correctly (and admittedly it’s been a bit since I’ve read this particular myth), then Frigg went to every creature and asked it not to harm Baldr. Mistletoe was the thing that didn’t agree to. Or something like that. I really need to reread this story. I’m actually reading a book of Norse myths right now, so I’m sure I’ll get to it sooner rather than later đŸ˜›

      • Naomi Clark says:

        Mistletoe did refuse, and Frigg decided it didn’t matter as it was so small and inconsequential to harm anyone anyway.

        The version of the myth I know best (and the one I most agree with) takes into account the fact that the Norse gods were not actually immortals and all knew they had their allotted times and ways to die. Odin and Frigg both had knowledge of the future and the approach of Ragnarok was well-known by the Aesir and the Vanir, and many myths touch upon actions the gods took that would impact their battle at Ragnarok (ie, Frey giving up his sword to claim his bride, Gerd, which left him with only a branch to fight with at Ragnarok). Baldr’s death was part of a preordained series of events, that he himself foresaw in dreams, and my reading was always that it would happen somehow, with or without Loki’s interference. His death was actually one of the signs of Ragnarok’s approach, and after Ragnarok, Baldr came back from Hel to take the place of the fallen old gods in the new world.

        So I suppose there are parallels with Christian myth. It’s interesting that if you read the myths of the Norse heroes after Ragnarok, there is a gradual introduction of Christian figures and stories of men following the old paths and slowly being displaced by Christianity in the wake of the loss of the Aesir and Vanir.

      • Tinnuwen says:

        ah ok, I’d read that Frigg either forgot to ask the mistletoe or that she thought it a too insignificant plant. which striked me as a bit odd, too, but that’s all I found when I read that up on several sites and places.

  2. lil-witchy-ways says:

    Reblogged this on lilwitchyways.

  3. Beth says:

    The traditional telling of the myth (via Snorri) is that Frigga did not ask the mistletoe, figuring that it was too small and unimportant to do any damage. Which is a rather careless omission that She then compounded by admitting this to a random giantess who turned out to be Loki in disguise.

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