Baldur and Hodur: The Aesir Twins
Despite Odin’s numerous adulteries with many women, there is but one true love for him: his queen, Frigg. Odin and Frigg have a blessed marriage of comfort and compassion. They would be lost without each other. For Odin gives Frigg the fire of passion she needs to get what she wants, and Frigg reminds Odin of his morality and keeps his brash side in check. Bottom line, Odin and his lady wife are birds of a feather, and a couple with endless love to share between them.
Odin strives to make his beloved wife happy. So much so, he constantly showers her with gifts. He traverses Midgard for long periods of time in search for the perfect treasures to give his wife. But no matter what materialistic gifts he can give her, they’ll never compare with the greatest gifts he has given Frigg; their children. With Frigg, Odin has fathered several children. He gave her strong sons and sharp witted and beautiful daughters. Among these children are two differing twins; Baldur, god of light and love, and Hodur, god of darkness and winter.
These two brothers were as opposite as can be. Baldur was beautiful, Hodur was homely. Baldur was smart, Hodur was gullible. Baldur was talented, Hodur couldn’t do squat. Baldur was beloved and cherished, Hodur was largely ignored. The two were as yin and yang as twins could get. Unfortunately, because Baldur was easily more lovable than Hodur, it was Baldur who received more attention and love, mostly from their mother.
The two were born during a harsh winter, during which mortals of Midgard prayed desperately for the gods to help them find food. In the months prior, Odin and Frigg had a terrible tiff that upset much of Asgard. Thor and his brother Tyr tried in vein to keep the peace between them, and eventually, they managed to bring them together in the end. To compensate for their ugly quarrel, Odin and Frigg engaged in a long, blissful night of love making. The next morning, Frigg discovered from a demigod from another land that she was pregnant with twins. The diving couple were overjoyed, and anticipated the arrival of their baby boys.
Then came the rough winter that took many lives in Midgard. The mortals of Scandinavia prayed for the gods to help them. They sacrificed many animals and eventually each other to appease them. Unfortunately for them, there was very little Odin and his kin could do. This winter was far beyond the control of the Aesir. The Jotnar on the other hand, might have easily tamed this winter. Too bad the Jontar are all heartless monsters who take delight in the suffering of others.
Anyway, just when hope seemed lost, Frigg went into labor, and the same demigod who announced her pregnancy helped deliver their sons. Then, when their first son was finally born, something incredible happened.
The dark snow clouds above Midgard began to give way to the rising sun. The frosty winds subsided, and the temperature rose to more tolerable levels. The mortals looked around in delight as they saw the sky so clear and the snow sparkling in the sun’s fresh morning light. They knew the gods finally answered their prayers and saved them from the terrible devastation wrought by a malevolent winter. But it wasn't Odin, Thor, or any of the Aesir who saved them. It was the newborn baby deity whose very birth severed the suffering down below and saved mankind from near eradication at the hands of old man winter.
Upon first sight of their child, Odin and Frigg became overwhelmed with love for him. He was beautiful, healthy, and happy. The baby’s brothers too took in delight to their new sibling. Thor cradled the small babe with the same hands he uses to savagely slaughter the evil giants of Jotunheim. Tyr laid down his weapons for the first time in weeks to bask in the baby’s glory. Bragi was singing a merry tune to celebrate his beloved new brother. Thor’s sons, Magni and Modi, were awestruck by the beauty of their little uncle.
The king and queen of the realms named their little boy, “Baldur”, and from then on, everyone in Asgard and Midgard alike loved him so. Well, almost everyone. Soon after, Frigg felt the other baby on his way. After a few hours, the other baby arrived. But the baby wasn’t nearly as amazing as Baldur was. He was rather plain looking and didn’t smile at all. He cried an obnoxious cry that annoyed everyone. The foreign demigod decided to inspect him, fearing something may be wrong. Frigg became afraid. Odin comforted her as best as he could. Meanwhile in Midgard, the harsh winter clouds began to flood the skies once more, and snow fell on all cities and forests. The temperature decreased again, and the mortals sheltered themselves back in their cabins.
It seems the birth of this child ceased the loving light and peace brought by the first one. The snowfall that came from this child’s birth wasn’t as deadly as the one that came before, but it was unpleasant nonetheless. The demigod physician returned and gave Odin and Frigg tragic news; the baby was born blind. Frigg wept at the horrible discovery and Odin sunk into a sorrowful stupor. But when Frigg looked back at her beautiful baby boy, Baldur, her pity for the child withered away and was replaced by joy.
She took the baby back from Thor and cradled him ever so lovingly. Frigg spent the rest of that day delivering strong affection to her beloved little boy. She was so consumed with the baby’s natural charm, she barely paid his blind twin any attention. Odin alone cared for the blind one and he solely gave him a name. He bestowed upon the boy a strong name that means, “warrior” or “slayer”; “Hodur”. As the babies grew, they were treated differently. Baldur was loved and praised by all who worshipped the Aesir, but Hodur was largely ignored, as they all favored his brother and his power of light and joy. Odin took pity on his son, and taught him to fight to make up for his mother’s neglect. Despite being blind, he turned out to be an excellent archer and tracker.
Hodur managed to taste some measure of love and delight when Odin took him under his wing. But it wasn’t enough to mend the loneliness he felt when his mother and the mortals of Midgard favored his more alluring brother. Odin was repulsed by Frigg’s ill treatment of their blind son, and scolded her for it every chance he got. But Frigg would always argue, stating that Baldur needed her more and other vacuous attempts at justifying her ignorance of poor Hodur. The blind god felt strong envy of his beautiful brother, which only grew stronger as the years went by.
As teenagers, Baldur and Hodur shared a companion. A beautiful young maiden named Nanna, who was the daughter the jotun Nepr and an unknown woman. Nanna was charming, funny, smart, brave, and pretty beyond compare. Baldur valued her as a friend and nothing more, but Hodur was madly in love with her. When the two shared company, Nanna would always give Hodur the love and attention Frigg failed to give him. One day, Nanna confessed a stunning truth to Hodur, telling him that she had feelings for a son of Odin.
Hodur’s heart lit up. He indulged in the idea that it could be him. So he spent countless nights training in the art of wooing the ladies with his father and brothers. Then, one warm spring night, the Aesir attended a party hosted by Aegir and Ran at a secluded Danish beach. Hodur promised himself that he would get a dance with Nanna, and readied himself with a bouquet of lilac flowers, which are Nanna’s favorite. Then, the music began to play, and Aegir invited all present at the festivities to dance with their partners.
Hodur prepared himself. With his bouquet in hand, he walked clumsily over to the spot where the ladies and gentlemen danced together. Then, he passed by his mother, who wept with tears of joy. Hodur asked what she was marveling at, and Frigg told him that she was witnessing Baldur dance with Nanna lovingly to the music. Then, she cried more, as she told her blind son that they were now kissing. Hodur stammered, telling Frigg that she told him of her feelings for a son of Odin, to which Frigg replied that she knew weeks prior that she was in love with Baldur, and not Hodur.
Heartbroken, Hodur walked away from the dance grounds and told his father of his misfortunate clarification. Odin tried to console his son, but Hodur just threw the bouquet on the ground and walked off the beach with his head hanging. Baldur and Nanna’s love blossomed greatly, and eventually the two were wed, and soon after, had a son that they named, “Forseti”. All the while, Hodur’s jealousy of his perfect brother was fueled, and slowly grew to resentment.
Many years later, details of the feared prophecy of Ragnarök revealed themselves, and among them was the omen of a needless death. The runes foretold that after numerous nightmares of their demise, a god would be blessed with invulnerability, only to have the spell broken with an enchanted weapon. After which, they will die and be trapped in Helheim, realm of the dead.
Odin studied this part of the prophecy further, and was shocked to learn the identity of the god who would die; Baldur. Asgard was in an uproar of fear, not willing to see Baldur perish an unneeded death. As Odin dug deeper, he saw that Baldur’s invulnerability would be given to him by his mother, Frigg, and broken by a mistletoe spear given to Hodur by the god Loki. Odin and Frigg both took measures to prevent this from happening. Odin had an affair with a giantess named Rindr to father a strong son to keep Hodur at bay, who is destined to kill him after Baldur’s death.
Frigg went off to Midgard to gather oaths from all things, living or nonliving, to never harm her son, so that the enchantment can be given to him. But before she obtained the first oath, a volva warned Frigg that she mustn’t act on her role in Ragnarok yet. She must wait until her son has nightmares of his death. She warned Frigg that if she acts too soon, consequences will be dire. Taking this warning by heart, Frigg promised not to meddle just yet, and retired back to Asgard.
Soon after, the trickster god Loki was made aware that he was the one prophesied to bring forth Baldur’s demise. This excited Loki, as he abhorred the boy from the moment he laid eyes on him. But just like Frigg, he was unable to fulfill his role before the required signal. So in the meantime, he used Hodur’s jealousy of his brother to his advantage. He talked with Hodur daily, saying he empathized with the blind hunter. He explained how he was always jealous of his own brothers, as they both were more powerful and aggressive than he. Hodur was delighted with Loki lending an ear to him, believing he found someone who understands him. But Hodur was oblivious to the fact that Loki was only using him to ensure he help him take down Baldur.
Loki encouraged Hodur to stop letting Baldur eclipse him and to take charge of his own destiny. And that’s what he did. Over the years, Hodur acted increasingly coldly to Baldur, becoming more rude and aggressive. Eventually, Hodur’s newfound nasty attitude toward Baldur became too much for his mother to stomach, and she scolded her son for his bullying. But Hodur at this point was hardly willing to listen to his mother’s opinions. Upset, Frigg talked it out with Odin and he told her that because of her ill treatment of her son, he was now becoming a jerk and taking his aggression out on his brother. It was then that Frigg finally saw the light, and became fixated on making amends with Hodur.
Then, the war broke out. The barbarous war that united most of the beings in the 9 realms. Many of the gods participated in this war, including Baldur and Hodur. Every god and goddess had gained a sad story to tell from this war, and the two of them were no exception. Baldur strategized many plans to fight off Asgard’s foes, but Hodur was mutinous and refused to help out his brother. He tried to tolerate Hodur’s pride at first, but his patience grew ever so thin, and Baldur demanded for Hodur to just leave him and let him fight their enemies himself. Hodur compiled without hesitation and walked away. That night, Baldur had a terrifying dream of himself lying on the ground bleeding to death with a spear in his chest.
He saw his whole family in his blurry vision gathering around him. And within the crowd, he saw Hodur smiling maliciously with Loki behind him, laughing while grasping Hodur’s shoulder. Baldur woke up in a cold sweat. Thinking the nightmare was only a symptom of stress, he thought nothing of it and prepared himself for another day of combat. But as the days of the war went by, Baldur had more and more scary dreams of himself suffering a painful death, with each being more vivid than the last.
Baldur finally broke the silence to his mother Frigg, and told her of his nightmares. Frigg knew that these nightmares were the omen of his death the prophecy warned Asgard about. So she prepared for a journey to obtain the oaths needed to protect her son. Unbeknownst to them, Loki was eavesdropping from the hallway. Smiling, Loki prepared to draw up plans to make sure his scheme goes smoothly. Then, just as Frigg was about to leave to obtain oaths from all of creation, Odin stormed into the palace and yelled at Loki for a painful amount of time, then banished him from Asgard with an archaic spell.
After Loki was banished, Frigg attempted to leave another time, but Hodur confronted her and unleashed a rant of pure hatred and rage unto her. He angrily told Frigg how much he hated her for ignoring him for so many years, and treated Baldur so much better than him. Frigg tried to apologize to her son, but he would not listen. Odin intervened and attempted to calm the boy. Then, after a minute of angry yelling, Hodur pushed Frigg to the ground and took out an arrow from his quiver. He put the end of the arrow on his bow string and pulled it back, aiming the arrowhead at Frigg.
Frigg begged for mercy, but Hodur was too angered to care for her cries of desperation. He swore he would kill her right then and there, and Baldur too. Frigg cried for her son not to kill her and accept her apology, but the blind god refused to let his resentment go, and prepared to let loose his arrow. But Odin took him by the shoulders and pulled him away from Frigg, attempting to calm him. This made Hodur angrier, and he pushed his father away and attempted to run back to Frigg. But Odin held him back, and Hodur struggled, until the overworked and stressed Allfather lost all patience yet again, and smack! He struck his son, sending him flying across the room. Hodur stood up, crying, and yelled at his parents that he hated them and would leave Asgard.
Odin and Frigg tried to solace him, but Hodur ran right out the door, swearing this would be the last time either of them, and all else in Asgard, would ever see him. Hodur ran off deep into the woods, and reaching the Bifrost bridge, he ran all the way to Midgard, where he disappeared into the night. Like Loki, Hodur was never seen again after that terrible night. His current whereabouts are unknown. When Loki heard that Hodur was lost and alone somewhere in Midgard, he set out to find him in the hopes that he can help him out in his time of need, so that the trickster can use him as his pawn yet again.