The death of Balder is another important part of the Old Norse cosmogenesis that explains the origins of the Mysteries of Initiation and why the Golden Age came to an end and why we are barred from our divine heritage – but also explaining how we can retrieve it. In Part One, I am presenting the Edda poem called the Vegtamskvida, “The Song of Way-Wont”. “Way-Wont” (The One Who Knows the Way to Hel) is the name Odin uses to disguise his real identity as he approaches Hel in order to understand why Balder, his son, is having bad omen dreams. The long dead Völva (witch), whose grave is situated to the East (to the Sunrise) of the Hel-gates, is wakened by spell-songs of death-choice (“Válgaldr”) and reveals that Hel is brewing the precious mead for Balder and is decorating the High Hall of Death for Balder – that is, she is expecting the god to enter her realms in the Underworld. Odin asks who is to kill Balder, and the Völva reveals that the killer is Strife the Blind (“Hödr Blindi”), one of Balder´s brothers. Odin asks who is to avenge Balder by throwing Strife the Blind on the pyre, and the Völva tells him that the avenger will be “The Choice” (Váli), another yet unborn son of Odin, born of “She who Rejects” (Hrind/Hrinda) in Western Halls. The West is the land of humanity. The story continues in Part Two: Balder`s Funeral and Hermod`s Ride to Hel, where I have added an additional myth in the description relating to “She Who Rejects” and the birth of Choice who avenges Balder.
Eventually, Odin asks about some mysterious “maidens” who “weep and sob”. This is when the Völva (the wise woman of the Underworld) reveals that she is not the Völva at all, but Loki, the “mother of three trolls” (Loki himself, who is intersexed, or Loki`s lover Angrboda (She Who Bids Rage) gave birth to the three trolls of Greed, Fear and Limitation (Fenrir, Hel, Midgardsormr), and he can not answer the question about the “maidens”, who represent the fate goddesses of the worthy souls.
While Odin undertakes his shamanistic journey, Snorri relates how Loki, blinded by jealousy, changes into a woman in order to visit Frigg in Fensalir (The Liquid Halls) in order to trick the Goddess into telling him how Balder may be killed. The Goddess tells him how, and Loki makes an arrow out of the Mistletoe and steers the arms of Strife the Blind (Hödr Blindi), a metaphor for mindless rage steered by jealousy, into shooting Balder. In another poem, Lokasenna, Loki mocks Frigg by telling how he tricked her into revealing how her own son could be killed, and is told that he is a fool to think that he has tricked her, since Frigg “knows all fate, even if she speaks naught”.
In Part Two of the Death of Balder I relate Snorri`s tale of Balder`s funeral and the subsequent story of Hermodr, the first Hero, who travels to Hel in order to ask the Goddess to release Balder from the Underworld. This shamanistic journey is the beginning of the path of initiation.
THE MYTH OF “SHE WHO REJECTS”: The Danish chronicler Saxo Grammaticus tells a story about how Odin tried to woo Hrinda, who “rejects” him because he is too old. Even when he offers her all the gold of Àsgard does she reject him, saying that she has enough gold in her father`s halls. Then Odin resorts to witchcraft, making Hrinda go crazy. He changes into an old witch-woman and comes in this disguise to Hrinda`s people and claims that he can heal her. He has the people bind the crazy Hrinda to the bed because he has to give her a very bitter medicine. Then, having made all the people go outside, he rapes her. What happened is a metaphor (Old Norse myths should always be read as metaphors, something which is both obvious on its own and also explained by Snorri) explaining how Hrinda, as a representative of humankind, rejects the Spirit and thus looses her freedom and her mind. It is also a metaphor for the fate of women when they reject the Spirit. In the Poetic Edda (the Gròagaldr), Hrinda is said to have lived for a while with Ràn, the Goddess of Death, where she received nine spell-songs. After that she gave birth to Choice, who “avenges” Balder, that is, he restores Balder and all he represents by throwing “Strife the blind” (Ignorant Struggle) to the pyre. But Saxo also tells us that Odin was punished by the other gods with excile after having commited the crime of rape, thus leaving Frigg (The History) alone without the Spirit. While he is away, she (according to Snorri) marries his brothers Will and Awe (Vili and Vè) instead – another metaphor for how History is lost to Spirit and living in the clutches of lower vibrations. However, Odin will return and reclaim his wife when Balder had been restored.
I do not tell the tale of Odin`s rape and excile in this movie, but go on to retell Snorri`s version of the myth, in which Loki (“The Fiery One”), a metaphor for the human passion, is seized by jealousy and manipulates Strife the Blind into killing Balder. I have not added this myth in the movie but am retelling the Snorri story of Balder`s funeral and the first shamanistic journey to Hel undertaken by a human in order to restore Balder (what he represents) to the world.
There are three meanings to the name Odin. The name is derived from the word Òdr, meaning Spirit/Inspiration, Poetry and Frenzy/Rage/Ecstacy. The suffix -hinn (Òdr-hinn) simply means “the”. So Odin is “THE Spirit, THE Poetry and THE Frenzy.
His wife, Frigg, is an aspect of the Goddess as a complementary function to Odin`s three meanings. Frigg means Love or Beloved, corresponding to Spirit. She has two other names that are used throughout the poetry to describe her, Saga, the History, corresponding with the Poetry, and Hlìn, Mild/Calm, corresponding with Frenzy/Rage. Their child Balder is the metaphor for their divine union.
BALDER=Bold, Fearless, Courageus, Brave. WIDE VISION=Breidablik, Balder`s metaphorical “abode” (state of mind). His fearlessness makes him able to see wider than most. NANNA NEPRSDOTTIR= His wife. The name Nanna may very well be related to the old Sumerian Goddess Inanna, who is known to have grieved for her lover and followed him into the Underworld. Her last name means Daughter of the Ring and as we will see, the Ring is an important symbol of the original divine union and completeness, wholeness it creates. MISTY HEL=NìflHel, also known as Niflheim, MISTY WORLD, the realm of Death, the Underworld. HIGH HALL OF HEL= Hàva Halli Helju. SPELL-SONGS OF DEATH-CHOICE=Vàlgaldr. Vàl means both choice and death, referring to the chosen dead, chosen by Freya or the Valkyrias. WAY-WONT=Vegtamr, DEATH-WONT=Valtamr. LIQUID HALLS=Fensalir, Frigg`s abode. Fen=moist, wet, liquid, bog. The Goddess received sacrifice in bogs.
RING-HORN=Hringhorni, Balder`s ship, on which his funeral pyre takes place. The ship is so heavy that only a giantess can move it: FIRE-SCORCHED=Hyrokkin, a giantess. The name probably refers to the burning of the witch Gullveig(Freya), see my movie BURNING THE WITCH! etc. THANKS=Tökkr, the hag that refused to weep for Balder, Loki in disguise again. HERMODR=Courage of an Army (it takes courage to go into Hel while still alive). COURAGEOUS BATTLE=Modgunnr, the Maiden who guards the Resounding Bridge. RESOUNDING BRIDGE=Gjallarbru. It resounds when someone passes it. The bridge marks the border river (a resounding river) to Misty Hel, the realm of the dead.RESOUNDING RIVER=Gjöll