Hermod the Brave in Norse Mythology 2017-02-02T15:38:24+00:00

Hermod: The Brave

Hermod (Old Norse Hermóðr) his name means eaither war-split, warrior or fury of war. Hermod is the son of the all-father Odin and the Goddess Frigg. When Baldr was killed he was the only one brave enough to ride to Hel and try and bring Baldr back from the death.

The death of Baldr

Baldr the good and the most beloved God in Norse mythology had nightmares were he dreamt that he was going to die, and Baldr felt that his life was so threatened that he had to tell the the Aesir about it. After the Gods and Goddesses in Asgard had heard about Baldr’s nightmares, Frigg went out to get the oath from all living and dead things not to harm her son Baldr.

Frigg took the oath from both fire and water, stones, earth, trees, plants, animals, birds diseases, poisons, not to harm Baldr in any way. After all the oaths had been taken, the Gods wanted to test if he really could not be harmed so the Gods in Asgard had fun throwing stones and shooting arrows at Baldr, and no matter what the Gods would shoot at him, he could simply not get hurt.

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“Hermóðr rides to Hel on Sleipnir, where meets Hel and Baldr” from the Icelandic manuscript NKS (1867)

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“Höðr & Loki” by Carl Emil Doepler (1905)

When Loki the trickster God saw this, he got so angry that he came up with a plan to hurt Baldr. Loki shapeshifted himself into a woman, and went over to the Goddess Frigg at her home Fensalir. When Frigg spotted this woman, she asked her what was going on, she could hear loud laughter and singing from the assembly. The woman then told Frigg that everyone was throwing rocks and shooting arrows at Baldr.

Frigg started to laugh and told the woman that all things, have sworn an oath not to harm Baldr, neither rocks nor stones will harm Baldr. The woman asked Frigg, is that really true, have all things really made an oath not to harm Baldr? Well, said Frigg, there was one plant that was to young to swear an oath and that is the mistletoe, Frigg looked up at the woman, but she was already gone.

Loki rushed out of Asgard to find this mistletoe, and when Loki finally found a mistletoe he broke it off and went back to Asgard. When Loki arrived at the assembly again were the Gods still was having a good time throwing stuff at Baldr, he saw the God Hod was standing a few feet away from the other Gods.

Loki asked Hod why he was not shooting at Baldr like the other Gods, and Hod reminded him that he was blind and would not be able to hit him anyway. Hod you should be having just as much fun as the other Gods, and honor Baldr with his immortally. You know what Hod, I will help you and direct you to where you have to shoot.

Here Hod I have this mistletoe you can use as an arrow, Hod then took the mistletoe from Loki and while following the directions Loki whispered into his ear he shoot the mistletoe at Baldr. The arrow was so fast that it went right through Baldr, and he fell dead to the ground.

The Aesir was speechless and devastated at the death of Baldr, they just stood there unable to gather their thoughts. Some of the Gods tried to speak, but all that could be heard was weeping and mumbling sounds. Odin was not just struck by grief at the loss of his son Baldr, but also very worried because Odin knew that the death of Baldr, would mean the ruin of the Aesir, and this could lead to Ragnarök the end of the world, which would be the doom of the Gods.

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“The death of Baldr” by Carl Emil Doepler (1905)

The Aesir then took Baldr’s body and placed it on Hringhorn, the greatest ship of them all, so they could use it for his funeral pyre. But when the Gods tried to drag the ship into the sea, it would simply not budge.. Not even the God Thor was able to drag the ship into the sea. The Gods was so desperate that they send word all the way to Jotunheim, the land of the giants. The next day a hideous giantess called Hyrrokkin came riding into Asgard on a wolf, she was using poisonous snakes for reins. Hyrrokkin then rode up to the ship, that was still sitting on the beach.

Hyrrokkin jumped off her mount and Odin told four of the berserkers to watch her wolf. But the berserkers was not strong enough to hold onto the wolf so they had to knock it out. Hyrrokkin walked up to the prow of the ship Hringhorn. On her first try, she pushed the ship so hard that the log rollers underneath the ship caught on fire, and the earth started to shake.

Thor became furious and gripped his hammer, and Thor was just about to crush her head like an egg, but the other Gods and Goddesses asked Thor to keep calm. After Hyrrokkin had pushed the ship out onto the sea, Baldr’s body was carried out on to the ship. Baldr’s wife Nanna saw her beloved husband laying on the deck of the ship, and her heart bursted from sorrow and she died.

Baldr’s wife Nanna was carried out to the ship and placed next to Baldr on his funeral pyre. The funeral pyre was now set on fire, and Thor stood up and blessed the pyre with his hammer Mjöllnir. Suddenly a dwarf named Lit ran in front of Thor, so Thor kicked the dwarf with his foot so that he landed in the fire and burned to death. Odin placed his ring Draupnir on the pyre, along with all of Baldr’s items. Many came to Baldr’s funeral, he was so loved, that all the Gods and Goddesses from Asgard came to send Baldr into the afterlife, but the giants, valkyries and other beings also came to show their last respect.

Frigg the Queen of Asgard in Norse mythology, asked who among the Gods of who wished “to gain all of her love and favor” by riding the road to Hel. Frigg said she was willing to pay or give anything in the return of their beloved God Baldr. He should would ride to Hel, and offer the Queen of the underworld a ransom to let Baldr return to be among the living again. Hermod was the only God brave enough to volunteer to bring back Baldr from the dead. Hermod borrowed the horse Sleipnir from his father Odin, and set out on his journey to Hel.

Hermod rode for nine days and nights through very dark and deep valleys until he came to the bridge Gjöll, the bridge was covered with shining gold. The bridge was guarded by the maiden Modgud(Móðguðr), this huge female giant, was the guardian of the bridge. She would only allow the newly dead to cross the bridge, and only if the soul would tell her why.

When Modgud saw Hermod she asked him who he was and why he was on his way to Hel, you don’t even have the pale color of the dead she added. Hermod replied that he was searching for the God Baldr, have you seen him pass the bridge? I’ve seen him she replied to Hermod, he crossed many days ago, if you wish to find him, you should continue ridding north and there you will find the road to Hel, which will lead you to him.

After ridding for many hours Hermod finally arrived at the gates of Hel, it’s a terrible and grim place, but the gates was closed so he jumped down from Sleipnir and made sure the saddle was tightened, and mounted the horse again. Hermod then made Sleipnir jump over the gate into Hel. When Hermod at last arrived to the great hall of Hel, Hermod saw to his surprise that Baldr was sitting in the most honorable seat.

Hermod dismounted from Sleipnir and went over to his brother Baldr, and waited all night for Hel to return. When Hel the next morning came into the hall and sat down on her throne, Hermod got down on his knees to beg Hel the Queen of the underworld to let Baldr return with him back to the living. When Hel saw that Hermod was sitting on his knees in front of her, and sobbing and begging, to let baldr return with him.

She said if you want to get Baldr back to the land of the living all things must weep for him like you do. If anyone refuses to cry or speak good about Baldr, he will remain in Hel with me. Before Hermod went back to Asgard Baldr gave Hermod the ring Draupnir which had been burned with him on his pyre, so Odin could get it back.

Hermod also got the rest of the items that had been placed at Baldr’s funeral. Hermod then mounted Sleipnir and returned with the message from the Queen of Hel, to the rest of the Gods in Asgard. When Hermod arrived at Asgard, he told the Gods the demands of Hel, and they wasted no time in sending messengers out through all the nine worlds, to ask all things to weep for Baldr.

Everyone wept when hearing that the God Baldr was dead, people, animals, flowers, trees and even the stones. When nearly all things had wept for Baldr the messengers came across a cave, where they found a giantess. She said her name was Thook, and the messengers asked her to weep for Baldr, so he could be returned from the Hel. But Thook refused to weep for the God Baldr, I will only weep dry tears for Baldr she said, Hel can keep him in the land of the dead.