Then Balder Was Dead
A stunning new approach to the myths the Vikings loved; enlightening and challenging for the novice and veteran alike.
The Gods and Goddesses of the Nordic Mythos Prose Poems were created following research for Gods Bless Ya!! Rock Opera with Alda and Sigrun Bjork Olafsdottir and a forth-coming book with SigRun Viking Art & Design.
Then Balder Was Dead
Deathly dreams of dying invaded. The perfect bliss of being Balder was disrupted. Family and loved ones doubted, feared. Nothing of such should be possible. Golden-God Balder brought peace and resolution to everything. Now, he was dying. Every night in a dream he went falling. Forever into nothing. Deepest darkness was predicted for him. This constant dream.
Conference at the Well of Urd, and then Mimir conferred. This must be acted upon. Gods don’t dream of dying, especially this one. Sleipnir was mounted, the All-father of all must find out for his fair son. Long was the ride. Round the great tree, down the root stem, across chasms, over bridges, through fire and over iceways. Long was the journey and dark was the guarded place. Deep. Ahead on the very floor was death. Odin sang, ancient runes of calling and binding and talking beyond death. Fearful being she was living, here now she was rotten, all over rotten twice as bad as her Queen here. Hel spawn was an old witch, mother of monsters. Mother of Hel herself here in the Hel realm she was born from. Dead in the place that her daughter was cast out to. Now convinced to rise again temporarily and speak though her voice be croaked; quite broken.
Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #19
Who was this calling her, no she knew, she knew with one look it was the God of all the Gods, the God who had cast her daughter here. He who had created this death world and brought it a Queen. He had disturbed her slumbers. He now demanded of her, much as she willed to resist she could not. His was to command, and hers was to sing. To sing a broken song of foretelling for him. She was glad to, for her answer was wonderfully dark and depressing, nothing could be wished for to be better to say. Odin, it is your son who is dying, there is nothing you can do to sway. Dead he is already, as good as dead now.
What is there that can stop him. Nothing. Begone now. Let me slumber.
Long was the ride of returning. Heavy the heart. Horrible the recounting of it upon return. Frigg would have none of this. This was her son. The most loved of all the Gods. Despair was everywhere and it was now down to her.
Everywhere she rode and she spoke to all manner of things. She spoke to everything. Fire and ice and rock-fall and treacherous footing. She spoke to poisons and diseases and creatures of all kinds. She spoke to everything. Everything. She could think of so many things and each of them she visited.
Nothing would harm him.
Every single element had promised her this. They cannot harm Balder. Everything she spoke to. Balder was safe and the witch’s words of prophesy were dealt with.
The once mischievous one who had turned in the heart to be hurtful had heard of this and he wished to discover. He wished to play with fate. The fate of Balder himself to him was just a game.
What a game it was. If nothing could hurt him then anything could be done to him. Try this. Throw this. Think of things. Let us attack him. Balder himself was the centre of this and he had to admit nothing hurt him. The Gods thought of more things to hurt him with, nothing happened. Oh how they laughed as they attacked. Nothing could hurt him. Day after day they would play.
“No, nothing I can’t feel a thing.”
Presently an old lady wandered in, she didn’t mean to intrude on Frigg but she just happened to notice, just happened to wonder. They were stoning a man and he was just standing there with no apparent care.
No. This Wasn’t a stoning this was a game, because nothing could hurt him, she had asked everything. There was wonder at this and eventually an admission. The humble twisted weak mistletoe hadn’t been asked or even considered, for what harm could that do!
Loki could hardly contain his shape long enough to say thank you and potter out of there, nearly running as he did so, and changing his shape right around the corner from that of the old thing to him, now evil him.
If ever you wonder or sympathise.
Was he misunderstood?
Was he only really playful?
Did he not really realise?
Did others treat him unjustly?
This was the thing.
When he rides into Ragnarok on a ship full of fire giants and the fetid one’s undead remember this factor.
He was the spoiler in this story spoiler.
Loki killed Balder.
He fashioned the mistletoe. He twisted and pointed it, with its weaving feathery wings for the flight. This is the poisoned thing. And this was the night.
Hod should not have died for this. We all know he did do. A child was born to rise up in a day and go kill him by nightfall and send him to Hel’s realm. Hod might be blind and Hod may have done the deed but his part wasn’t evil. His was an almost innocent act. He threw the dart.
He may have been fooled by Loki but kill him he did. Look Balder is dead. Dead.
Poison seeped from the weak dart and pulsed through his veins. The only thing not promising was killing him.
And Balder is dead.
Falling and falling and leaving the forever realms to suffer in ever-ness under the foot of her who is half dead. The lady of death Hel herself she has him.
Oh his funeral was beautiful. With everyone there in their splendour. Thirty three maidens keened and tossed scarves high. The beautiful giant Hyrrokin rode in on her wolf clenching at vipers as reins. Mad berserkers came wrestling. Thor raged at the sight of her. In one form or another was Loki sat gloating. Happy to be there. Everyone there. Odin bent whispering. Skadi with Njord. Freyr there with Gerd. Freyja on her chariot. Everyone there. His horse died.
His wonderful Nanna was there. In her grief there. Briefly there. As Hyrrokin prepared to launch and the archers fired flame arrows, so Nanna his beloved stood. By the shore she stood, with everyone behind her unknowing of her thinking, not seeing the knife she had. She stood tall with tears down her soft cheeks staring out into the sea. Then she stabbed herself. “Balder I love you.” Stabbed her broken heart deep. Dying she fell as the arrows fell. Flames rose as she passed away. Dead she was in the pyre of her husband. Balder and Nanna. Balder and Nanna. Burning and falling.
Burning and falling together. Down, down, down to the land of the dead.
All was in gold. Even the mead was gold. The many dead in rows awaited, from the sorrowful new dead long back on rows to the long, long, gone crumbling ones who were barely a resemblance of the cowardly beings they had been. Misshapen lumps of dust looked at him. He and his wife would be like them. For this was the death place of Hel.
“He shall not be dead!” said his mother. She offered all of her love and favour for who would ride for her. Beg. It was all that was left to us. Begging. Begging with the dead. With the queen of the dead. Who will partake of this long ride? Hermod would, her son of so many names and great fame. He would ride. The long ride and he did.
There very faces turned to face him. One by one by long slow dead one the row upon row of the rotten and crumbling slowly turned to him. There at the head was the brother he loved and the wife he was with in love. Suffering, struggling, screaming silently relentlessly. They slow walked towards him, in funerial steps, carrying. Here is the linen for Mother-Goddess Frigg to wear as a remembrance, here is the gold ring of renewal back for Oðin to wear, here is all of the wonders we were gifted on the pyre of our byre. We are here and this is the now and the ever. There is nothing anyone can do for us except recall for us and live by our way.
No, he came not to say goodbye, the long ride, he rode the long ride. To speak to her who was awakening. Hel, Lady Hel herself let Hermod beg of you now. Let him return to us, with his beloved, let them return. For all are broken all of the beings and wonders and living things of all of the nine worlds are broken, heart-broken without him.
“Will they cry so?”
This was undoubtable, well if all of the beings and things, all of the creatures and growing things cry for him so shall they live again, so shall they live.
Oh Sleipnir is strong, for as soon as he returns from the long climb, the long flight that he rides round the worlds awaits him. Frigg rode him and they journeyed. They stopped and they shared the news of the death of the golden one. Oh how things sobbed, the sorrow was tangible, tears flowed like the torrents, worlds filled with crying and sorrow and remorse for the wonder that was Balder. Everything. Everyone one. It was as Hermod said. As Hell decreed. Everyone.
There in a cave was an old hag of a giantess and she laughed. She didn’t care for that Balder. All begone now. She would not cry. All begone now, she wanted them out of there quickly for she could not contain herself longer. Could not maintain the form of deception which forbid her rejoicing. This was Loki. As soon as they were gone he was back in shape and laughing and laughing and laughing.
Balder was dead.