Toward The Baldur Myth: I.The Proto Indo-European Origin Of The Baldur Myth- Part 1

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Toward The Baldur Myth: I.The Proto Indo-European Origin Of The Baldur Myth- Part 1



Viktor Rydberg’s Investigations into Germanic Mythology Volume II Translated by William P. Reaves © 2004


1) A comparative investigation of the Iranian and Vedic documents, of which I will give an account here, leads to the conclusion that the following myth existed in the Indo-Iranian time of unity:

The god Vivasvat (identical to Vâta-Vâyu, the Germanic Odin) had handsome twin sons, who, although different in character, were united in brotherly love for one another and active for the good of the world. One was the guardian of peace and reconciliation. The other was a mighty warrior and sportsman who conquered many world-threatening demons in open battle, but was himself overcome by the demon- world‘s intrigue and magic. He came under the influence of a female demon that enchanted him and who, together with a male ally, arranged that the warrior twin, against his will, killed his peaceful brother. The murdered brother descended to the underworld and became a ruler there in an immortal grove, whose inhabitants shall repopulate the earth when the renewal of the world is completed.

The murderer, who deeply regretted his actions, was himself murdered and also descended to the underworld, where he, deep in sleep, awaits the last battle against the forces of evil. When it is time, he shall wake and hasten to battle the demons.

2) After the Iranian reformation and by the time the Zoroastrian doctrine got written documents, the myth existed in two variants. One of them speaks about the brothers Urvakhshaya and Keresaspa.

Their birth is said to be a blessing and a reward to their father. Urvakhshaya, whose name is an epithet meaning ―the wide ruler,‖ ―the wide defender,‖ becomes a judge, whose decisions are justice‘s own, a spreader of fairness, an example of righteousness and charity. So arose the proverb: ―as charitable and as open as Urvakhshaya!

Keresaspa distinguished himself above all others as a warrior. He was a young, handsome, curly-headed hero, who fought demons dangerous to the world, and by Ranha‘s shores felled many of them with club, spear, or arrow. As a club-wielding warrior, he was celebrated, but even more so as an archer. With arrows, he felled the demonic bird Kamak, who shaded the world with outstretched wings and intercepted the rain. The Brahmanic tradition, which speaks of him as Krisasva, says that he was father to castra devatâ, arrows that possessed life and served their owners as if they were people. Among other monsters he conquered are mentioned the serpent, Sruvara (one furnished with a horn or claw) ―on which the green poison floated thumb deep,‖ and Snavidaka, ―who wanted to make the vault of heaven into his chariot and the earth into its wheel and wanted to attach both the holy and the wicked spirit before the chariot.‖1

The name Keresaspa means ―the one with the fine-limbed horses.‖

The brothers loved one another dearly. The good that Urvakhshaya spread over the earth was defended by Keresaspa, who, although always quick to act, did not seek armed exploits for their own sake, but performed them for the good of the world. Therefore it is said of Keresaspa (Yasht XIII, 136): ―we worship his essence (fravashi), in order that we can ward off violence and attacking enemy armies, in order that we can ward off the evil and destruction that they want to inflict on us.‖2

But Keresaspa, the hero so mighty in open battle, nevertheless was unable to defend himself against the demon-world‘s trickery. The prince of evil in the darkness of the deep created a sorceress, a pairika, Khnathaiti, beautiful in appearance, but the quintessence of everything demonic and hostile to the world. In Vendidad, we learn that she ―attached herself to Keresaspa‖; the Parsi tradition explains the expression as Keresaspa falling in love with her beauty. He came under her influence.

Consequently, the old Indo-Iranian myth spoke of an event in Keresaspa‘s life, when he was no longer the gods‘ warrior and no longer his brother‘s friend, but, through a spell that bound his noble nature, was degraded to a pawn in the service of darkness. During this time, the evil powers prepared his brother Urvakhshaya‘s death, and he was murdered. According to Yasht XV, 28, the author of the murder was a person, most certainly a demon, who was called Hitaspa ―with golden tufts of hair.‖ Urvakhshaya‘s death broke the spell under which Keresaspa was imprisoned and he asked: ―may it be granted me to proceed forth with vengeance for my brother Urvakhshaya; may it be granted me to kill Hitaspa!‖3

Concerning the details of the killing of Urvakhshaya, the Parsi documents observe a silence that is probably intentional. Keresaspa, even today, under the name Gustasp, is still one of Iran‘s celebrated national heroes. Already in the Zoroastrian religion‘s oldest writings, he is transformed from a god to an Iranian national hero, whose story‘s obscure phase is indicated, but not more closely described. Bundehesh says that he sinned without stating how, and that for his transgression he should be subjected to death. According to later tradition, he died of a spear-wound inflicted by a Turk, Nijas (necessity, need).4

Watched over by a thousand fravashi, Keresaspa sleeps the sleep of death until the last battle between good and evil is to be fought. Then he is to be awakened by a threefold call of appeal, rush to the battle, seek the demon Azhi Dahaka there, and fell him.5

The second variant of the same myth is the legend about Yima and his brother Tahmurath (Takhma urupa). Yima is the same character as Urvakhshaya; Tahmurath is Keresaspa. The basic features of their history are also the same, and a comparison of the Vedic and the Iranian sources completely confirms the identity of Yima (Yama) and Urvakhshaya, even with respect to their original genealogical position in the world of the gods. Of importance for the establishment of the character of the ancient Indo-Iranian myth concerning the details of the death of Urvakhshaya is that Yima, according to Yasht XIX, was killed by his brother6 and that, according to tradition, the demon Azhi Dahaka caused his death. Azhi Dahaka is the same mythic figure as Hitaspa. The demon is the actual killer; his tool is the victim‘s ―blinded‖ brother, whose desire to get revenge on Hitaspa, his enticer, is finally fulfilled when Keresaspa becomes Azhi Dahaka‘s bane in the Iranian battle of Ragnarök.

3) When benevolent gods necessary for the world‘s order are removed from their activity in the upper world to the underworld through death, the myth must provide them with substitutes. Thus, in the Germanic mythology, the loss of Baldur, who is removed to the underworld, is compensated by his son Forseti, who is like him in character, and in place of the warring Hödur appears the warring Vali. In the Indo-Iranian mythology, the brothers Yima-Urvakhshaya and Tahmurath-Keresaspa are replaced by the two handsome twin-gods who are called the Asvins. The Asvins‘ qualities as replacements for the older pair of brothers are obvious, although previously not noted, and explain many previously unexplained circumstances in the myth concerning them.

According to Rigveda X, 17, Yama (Yima) and his brother are sons of Vivasvatthe god of the bright atmosphere, the same as Thrita and Vâta-Vâya) and Tvashtar‘s daughter Saranyû.7 That this marriage originates from the Indo-Iranian time is confirmed in that Yima is also the son of Vivasvat (Vivaghat) in the Persian documents. But according to the same place in the Rigveda (X, 17, 1), Saranyû afterward also bears twins, the Asvins, to Vivasvat once she chooses to withdraw herself from Vivasvat‘s embrace, presumably mourning the fate of their older sons and attempts to conceal herself from him. The qualities and the functions that Yama and his brother possess from birth while they still live in the upper world are consequently transferred with their birthright to the Asvins. Likewise, the name Yama (twin) becomes Yamâ in plural form, and is an epithet for them (Rigveda III, 39, 3).8

The distinct characters of the older brothers are also inherited by their successors. Rigveda I, 181, 4 speaks of a difference in character between the otherwise inseparable Asvin youths. There, one of them is characterized as ―the auspicious‖ son of heaven, like Yima.9 (According to the tradition, happiness and prosperity are spread over the whole earth through Yima‘s fortune-bringing activity.) In their capacity as the envoys of the older brothers who have departed to the underworld, the Asvins, who perform their duties in the upper world, are called Nâsatyas in many places in Rigveda (I, 20, 3; I, 173, 4; IV, 1, etc.), a designation that otherwise belongs to Yama‘s underworld envoys, his two hounds (who are also twins) and which is actually only suitable to them, because it seems to mean: ―the scenting,‖ ―those with nostrils.‖10

As envoys of Yama, who was transported to the underworld and rules there, a prayer is directed to the Asvins in Rigv. X, 40, 11 for a blessed dwelling-place after death. In Rigv. I, 116, 2, a battle that the Asvins fought is called ―Yama‘s contest,‖ without doubt because they fight on Yama‘s behalf.11 The word Asvins means ―those with horses‖; Yama is the one who sent horses to the gods and mankind (Rigv. I, 163, 2).12

These circumstances ought to be sufficient to support what I have pointed out, that the Asvins succeed their older brother Yama and his brother in their functions in the upper world, and that in the Asvins‘ functions we consequently find the character of the activity that formerly belonged to the older brothers, before the demon world succeeded in enticing one and causing both of their deaths.

The Asvins are the sons of the bright atmosphere, Vâta-Vivasvan. Scarcely has the rosy dawn lit up the edge of heaven before they fare up into space in their wonderful wagon-ship built by the Ribhus, the primeval geniuses, and pulled by gold-winged horses. Yet without it, they fare faster than the speed of thought through all space, in all weather conditions, in the ether‘s waves and on the sea, wherever there is help to give to the pious and just. From the wagon‘s spokes, fertility falls onto the fields. This wagon has three wheels and three seats: one for each of the brothers and one for the light-dis and daughter of the sun, Sûryâ, who herself chose the young heroes‘ beauty for her own, and chose them both as husbands with all the gods‘ consent. Many myths tell of their goodness and how they come to rescue the distressed on land and at sea, in the throng of battle or in the misery of disease.

They are remarkable healers, helping the blind to see, the lame to walk, and have medicine against everything harmful, and rejuvenating means against old age. They promote the formation of bonds of marriage. They bring the earth fertility and bees honey. The Asvins cause wells to swell and springs to rise up under the hooves of their horses. They drive away hate and disfavor. They grant prosperity and wealth. They bless homes with children and help women in labor. They are singers and they rip asunder the web of anxiety. In relationship to each other, they are inseparable. They are always invoked together and, although of different characters, they are so united in the Vedic hymns‘ imagination that it never occurs to them to name each one by his own name.From the above, one finds that the Asvin myth, as it has come down to us, contains a predominately moral stamp and presents the two youths so personally that any meaning they originally may have had as natural phenomena is nearly obliterated. Also, every nature-mythologist has his own theory in this regard, and, on this subject, one can never be said to succeed with certainty, if one sticks to the myth of the Asvins alone and does not consider them in connection with the myth of the Asvins‘ brothers and predecessors, Yama and his brother.The myth of Vivasvat‘s sons has descended as a legacy among the Greeks in their stories about the Dioscouri13 and among the Germans in theirs about Baldur and Hödur. Even the Celts worshipped a twin pair of gods in which classical antiquity believed they recognized the Discouri (Diodorus Siculus. Book 4, 56).

The name Discouri means ―Zeus‘ sons,‖ ―Heaven‘s sons‖ and has its counterpart in the epithet divo napâtâ , ―Heaven‘s sons,‖ which is connected with the Asvins in the Rigveda. Among the Greeks, their maternal grandfather is called Thestios, in the Rigveda, Tvashtar, which ought to be the same name. Their mother in the Greek and in the Vedic stories wants to withdraw from their father‘s embrace and thus clothes herself in animal- guise. Their epithet Tyndaridai refers to them by one of the many epithets with which their father Vivasvat-Vâta is designated, and that is perhaps found again in one of the epithets of the Norse Odin.In a curious manner, the story inherited by the Greeks has combined certain essential features of the Indo-European myth about the two twin brothers, Vivasvat‘s sons. The devotion and complete unity that distinguishes the younger pair of brothers, the Asvins, is found again in the faithful love that unites Castor and Polydeukes, but at the same time, the tradition is preserved among the Greeks that one of Vivasvat‘s sons is killed by a kinsman‘s hand. The information that unites these traditions has been lost, so that two pairs of Discouri, the Tyndarids and the Apharids, become engaged in a war against each other, and Castor falls in the battle and descends to the underworld.

In connection with this, the light-dis Sûryâ, who is the Asvins‘ joint wife, is also doubled into two light-dises, Helaira ―the soft glistening‖ and Phoebe ―the clear,‖ over whose possession the pair of Discouri fight. Both of these names particularly designate the moon, which is of interest, because in the Germanic Discouri myth, as I have demonstrated (Investigations into Germanic Mythology, Volume 1, no. 92), Baldur‘s wife Nanna, with whom Hödur falls in love under the influence of sorcery, is also a moon-goddess.

In Greek as well as in Germanic myth, it is the love of a woman that consequently causes one of Heaven‘s sons to die and take up residence in the kingdom of death. It lies close at hand then to mention that a similar reason drove Keresaspa, under the influence of witchcraft, to kill his brother Yima-Urvakhshaya. At any rate, it is remarkable and lends support to the theory that the younger pair of twins, the Asvins, also love one and the same light-dis Sûryâ. That they both peacefully possess her as their wife and that the gods, as Rigveda assures, give this two-man marriage their solemn blessing, is best to interpret as a guarantee that the myth institutes to prevent the unfortunate fate that afflicted the elder brothers, who both loved the same woman but wanted to possess her each for himself, from also befalling the younger pair.As is well known, one of the Greek Discouri is named Castor. According to the rules, this name can hark back to the Sanskrit word catru, hunter, inciter, attacker. With catru is also connected the proto-Germanic Hadu –war, the Norse Haðr, Höðr –warrior.

The Germanic Discouri-name Hödur could thus be the same name as the Greek Castor.Under these circumstances, it is extremely tempting to see in the Germanic Baldur-name Fol, Falr, a cognate of the name which the Romans called the second Discouri: Pol-lux, Pol-luces and (when used as an interjection) Pol, where the initial Greco-Roman p, according to the rules, corresponds to the Germanic f. Pollux has nothing to do with the Greek name of the same Discouri Polydeukes, if πσλν- arose through an analogizing distortion. Pol in Pollux, Polluces, like the Baldur-name Fol, Falr, can refer to the root pal with the meaning ―to take care of,‖ ―to defend.‖ Under this condition, what Pollux should mean is ―care-illuminator,‖ ―defense-illuminator,‖ a designation that becomes understandable when one is reminded that the Italian sailors saw St. Elmo‘s fire flickering on the mast ropes as proof of the Discouri‘s protecting presence.14 But all the same, I dare not include this in my argument with certainty. Pol- in Pollux, as in polliceor, pollingo, polluo, might have arisen through assimilation out of a pot-πστί.Having said this, it ought to be appropriate to give an overview of the features of affinity between the Asiatic Indo-European Discouri myth and the Germanic one regarding Baldur and Hödur:

a) The Indo-Iranian pair of brothers are sons of Vivasvat, the god of heaven, the ruler of the atmosphere, the same as Vâta-Vâyu. Vivasvat‘s and Vâta‘s identity is clear not only from their position in the natural world, which ties in well with both names, but also from many specific details, among which may be cited: Vivasvat is the husband of Tvashtar‘s daughter according to Rigv. VIII 26, 21, 22.15 The Asvins have their home with Vivasvat, Rigv. I, 46, 1316; the Asvins live in the same house as Vâya, Rigv. VIII, 9, 12.17 One and the same ruler of the atmosphere is designated with these epithets, one referring to the clear heaven and the other to the wind.Baldur and Hödur are sons of the god of heaven and the atmosphere, Odin, who is also identical with Vâta in name.

b) In both the Indo-Iranian and the Germanic myth-cycles, the pair of brothers are characterized in entirely similar ways, and the differences in character between the brothers of each pair is also the same. Yima-Urvakhshaya is a prince of peace and a judge, who spreads a just empire over the world. Likewise, Baldur is a prince of peace and a judge. He is, says Gylfaginning, the wisest, the most eloquent, the gentlest. He carries the surname: the good. His judgments are unbiased. His son Forseti, who ―reconciles all matters,‖ in this regard, is a replica of him.Keresaspa and Hödur likewise resemble one another. Foremost, both are hunters, warriors, and sportsmen. Keresaspa is renowned as an archer; so too Hödur. With the bow, he goes to battle Egil (see Investigations into Germanic Mythology, Volume 1, no. 112) and upon Hödur‘s bowstring Loki lays the arrow that pierces Baldur. Keresaspa conquers one of the demon-world‘s great serpent-giants; of Hödur, as I shall demonstrate below, a similar feat is told. Like Keresaspa‘s, Hödur‘s hunts were struggles against demons in animal-guise. Besides the bow, the club is Keresaspa‘s weapon of choice. In Greek mythology, one of the Discouri is a boxer. Fists bound by leather straps weighted with lead replace the club. According to Saxo, Hödur is a boxer.

c) A change occurs in Keresaspa‘s life. He succumbs to the demon-world‘s cunning onslaught, is seduced by a sorceress, and ceases to be the gods‘ warrior. Of Hödur, Saxo says that a sorceress, whom he met in the woods, provoked him to fight against Baldur. In narratives from Christian times, which gathered their material from the myth about Hödur, he appears under the name Hedin. Thus in the song about Helgi Hjörvardsson, Hedin meets a sorceress during a hunt in the woods who inspires the evil thought in him to rob his older brother of his wife. Compare the story about Hedin in Sörla Þáttr.18d) Yima-Urvakhshaya is killed by his brother. The actual author of the murder however is not his brother, but the demon Hitaspa. Baldur is killed by his brother Hödur. The actual murderer however is not Hödur, but Loki.

e) Keresaspa himself is killed by a ―Turk.‖ Hödur is killed by Vali.

f) Keresaspa shall sleep the sleep of death until Ragnarök, when he shall take part in a battle that annihilates evil and makes the renewal of the world possible. Hödur shall return in Ragnarök with Baldur in order to live in the renewed blessed world with him.

g) Yima-Urvakhshaya owns a restricted place in the underworld, inside of which are preserved for thousands of years beings who, after the conflagration of the world, shall repopulate the earth. Baldur lives in the underworld together with the children that await the renewal of the world in Mimir‘s grove and who shall be the progenitors of a blessed race of men after the conflagration of the world

.h) The Asvins are ―Horse-guiders.‖ Their Greek counterparts the Discouri are as well. Of Yama, Rigveda‟s Yima-Urvakhshaya, it is specifically stated that he sent the horse to the gods and mankind. In the Germanic mythology, Baldur is the one among the gods most often mentioned in connection with the horse. After his death, Frey foremost becomes ―the boldest rider‖ among the Aesir.19 Baldur is spoken of as a rider in Lokasenna, Gylfaginning, the Danish folk-histories, in the Merseburg Charm, and the German medieval poetic compositions. His horse is burned with him. Vigg-Baldr, horse- Baldur, is an expression that occurs in the Norse poetry.20

i) A well springs up under the hooves of the Asvins‘ horses (Rigv. I, 116, 7; I, 117, 6),21 so too under Baldur‘s horse according to a Danish popular tradition. The Asvins are the protectors of springs. According to Saxo, Baldur digs wells for his thirsty warriors. A ―Baldur‘s brunn (spring)‖ exists in the district of Roeskilde; German tradition speaks of a Pholesbrunn (Phulsborn) in Thüringen and a Falsbrunn in Franconian Steigerwald.22

k) The Asvins have a wonderful wagon-ship and come to the rescue of the shipwrecked. The Greek Discouri are invoked by sailors in need. Baldur owned a ship, Hringhorn, which might have played a prominent role in the myth, since it is spoken of at his funeral procession and is utilized for his pyre. In the poem about Helgi Hjörvardsson derived from the Baldur myth (see further), this replica of Baldur owns a splendid ship, which is described as well equipped against the attack of the powers of witchcraft (verse 13).

l) The Asvins are singers (Rigv. VIII 9, 16, 17). Saxo says of Hödur that he was a remarkably dexterous string-player and also understood how to play other musical instruments, so that with his music he was able to arouse joy, sorrow, pity and hate. A particular form of verse in the North was called Haðarlag. In Geoffrey of Monmouth‘s Historia regnum Brittanniæ, where Baldur appears under the name Baldulf, and Hödur appears under the name Cador, Baldur is spoken of as a harp-player. Medieval Astrology has inherited the concept from antiquity that Castor and Pollux, the pair of twins who appear in the Zodiac, are string-players and that the best artists are born under the sign of the twins.23 One can thereby draw the conclusion that the Greek Discouri, like the Norse, also inherited musical skill as a legacy from their Proto-Indo-European forerunners.

m) The Asvins are extremely beautiful youths. So too Castor and Polydeukes. In Norse mythology, Baldur‘s beauty is praised before that of all others. According to Saxo, the hero Hedin, a replica of Hödur, was spared by an enemy for the sake of his youth and beauty.

n) The Asvins are healers. They make the blind see and cure the crippled and lame. A hint survives which seems to refer to the existence of an ancient myth in which Baldur too was an aid to the blind and lame. When the skald Gisli Sursson dreams that his fylgja reveals herself to him and stresses a humanitarian message, she does so in a paraphrase with reference to Baldur‘s relationship to the blind, lame, and handless:

Baugskyndir, hjalp blindum, 
Baldr, hygg at því, skjaldar,
illt kveða háð ok höltum, handlausum tý, granda.24

[―Help the blind and handless,
ring-giver, shield of Baldur(warrior)
Beware, evil resides in scorn
shown to the lame and the needy.‖] 25

o) The Asvins help women in labor. So too does Baldur, as shall be demonstrated below.

p) The Asvins are mediators of marriage. Of Hödur, Saxo says that he successfully won a wife for Helgo, Halogaland‘s king: the Finnish princess Thora, whose hand he had previously requested in vain through a proxy. That Hödur succeeded is more remarkable, because Helgo had such a severe defect of the mouth that he spoke shyly not only to strangers, but also to those around him.

q) The Asvins love one and the same woman, a light dis. The dises over which the Greek pair of Discouri fight bear the names of moon-goddesses, Phoebe and Helaira, and are daughters of Leukippos, whose name means ―the one with white horses.‖ Nanna, for whose sake Hödur becomes hostile toward Baldur, is a moon-goddess, identical to Sinhtgunt ―the battle maid, who travels night after night,‖ according to Bugge‘s shrewd interpretation of this name.

r) Astrology in its classical form gave the Discouri a place on the vault of heaven and made them representatives of the mild spring and warm summer. They are depicted as naked youths with their arms slung around one another, looking in different directions.26 The Roman astrologer Manilius (Astronomica. II, 163 f., 182 ff.) based this on ancient tradition so that one directs his gaze towards the vanishing spring, while the other one looks to meet the ―thirsting‖ summer, and they are naked in order that ―both feel the heat,

One from the aging spring and the other from the approaching summer.‖ 27

That the Asvins also have significance in regard to the seasons is already clear in that the geniuses of the seasons, the Ribhus, manufacture their car from whose spokes fertility falls upon the earth. And that these seasons were spring and summer is confirmed by what is related about Yima-Urvakhshaya and Keresaspa. Yima receives the assignment from Ormuzd ―to make the world fruitful.‖ Ormuzd gives a golden plow and a golden shepherd‘s staff to him. Copious life spreads over the earth during Yima‘s reign, when he ―traveled up toward the light of midday to the sun‘s path.‖ Of him, it says further: ―Yima is like the sun among mortals. Through his power, he ordained that men and cattle did not die (as long as he governed), that the water and trees did not dry up, and that man ate a food that did not diminish. During his reign no cold or heat prevailed, no old age or death, no jealousy produced by the demons‖ (Yasna 9, 5; Yasht XV, 15).It is clear from this account that in the annual cycle Yima-Urvakhshaya represents the season that spreads vegetation and the abundance of life over the earth and, that in the epic mythology, he represents the golden age of humanity, which, with his death, comes to an end in a storm-age when the powers of evil and destruction are in the process of destroying creation.His brother Keresaspa rules beside him; but his activity, which amounts to a constant battle against the demons, particularly suggests a time when the existence of the golden age is threatened, when the powers of storm, cold, and darkness have already begun their assault, which Keresaspa beats back until he himself succumbs to the demon- world‘s sorcery and destructive arts and becomes his brother‘s killer, not without guilt, but nevertheless against his will. He himself finally falls by another‘s weapon. A Persian tradition relates that it was in Keresaspa‘s time that mankind first traveled over the sea that divided their primeval home from other parts of the earth—an echo of the myth about the migration from the Proto-Indo-European homeland caused by the fimbul- winter.

The Germanic mythology has also spoken of a peaceful- and golden age, when Jötunheim‘s powers were still quiet; nothing interrupted the regular workings of the world‘s institutions, and the world-mill turned beneath songs that brought blessings. It was the time when the nature smiths provided the gods everything that they needed and desired in the way of golden world-benefiting treasures— var þeim vettergis vant ór gulli.28

It was before the three dangerous thurs-maidens, that is to say the thrice reborn Gullveig-Heid-Aurboda, came out of Jötunheim and interfered in world affairs. Thereafter misfortune after misfortune befell the gods and their world. Freyja, the goddess of vegetation, was delivered to the giant world. The goddess of rejuvenation was as well. The fimbul-winter approached and there was nothing that could stop its outbreak once Balder was killed by his brother Hödur‘s arrow through the ruse of the demon Loki. The Teutons had to leave their primeval home in search of new dwelling places.In regard to the epic, Baldur‘s and Yima-Urvakhshaya‘s deaths occupy exactly the same position. The mythic epic describes one world-year whose seasons follow one another like that of the common year. After the summer of the Golden Age has passed, comes the time when evil and good battle one another, a time resembling stormy autumn.This lasts until a fimbul-winter comes and annihilates the ethically defiled race of man. The sun goes out during the battle between good and evil and the world goes up in flames. This prepares the way for a new world-Spring, eternally green and of unstained bliss, a new and permanent Golden Age in which Urvakhshaya and Keresaspa, Baldur and Hödur, shall rule anew.

By the Baldur myth and the Baldur name Fol (Phol), one can explain Pful-tag (Pful-day), which is reported in the Rhine-district and occurs on May 2nd. Fol also seems to have had a Phol-mânôt (Phol-month), which ends on the autumn equinox (Grimm: Deutsche Mythology).29 Thus Phol‘s day begins the season that corresponds to Baldur‘s power; his month concludes it.

– Viktor Rydberg’s Investigations into Germanic Mythology Vol. II

– Translated by William P. Reaves © 2004


  • 1 Khorda Avesta, 19. Zamyad Yasht VII.
  • 2 Avesta: Khorda Avesta, 13. Frawardin Yasht.
  • 3 Avesta: Khorda Avesta, 15. Ram Yasht.
  • 4 Bundehesh (also spelled Bundahis) 30.
  • 5 Dadestan-i Denig Chapter 17, 6.
  • 6 This is not stated directly. Zamyad Yasht (19), VIII, 46 says: “The Evil Spirit flung a dart, and so did Akem-Mano, and Aeshma of the wounding spear and Azhi Dahaka and Spityura, he who sawed Yima in twain.” (Darmesteter tr.). In a footnote to this verse in Zend-Avesta, Part II, Darmesteter writes: “Spityura was a brother of Yima’s (Bund. XXXI, 3: “Spitur was he who, with Dahak, cut up Yim” ibid. 5, tr. West). Nothing more is known of him, though he appears to have played a great part in the original Yima legend, and to have stood to his brother in the same relationship as Barmayun and Katayun to Feridun, or Shagad to Rustam, …” etc. Chapter 31 of the West translation of Bundehesh in part reads: “2. Tahmurasp was son of Vivangha, son of Yanghad, son of Hooshang. 3. Yim [Jamshed], Tahmurasp, Spitur, and Narsih, whom they also call ‘the Rashnu of Chino,’ were all brothers. 4. From Yim [Jamshed] and Yimak, who was his sister, was born a pair, man and woman, and they became husband and wife together; Mirak the Aspiyan and Ziyanak Zardahim were their names and the lineage went on. 5. Spitur was he who, with Dahak [Zohak], cut up Yim [Jamshed].
  • 7Rigveda X, 17, 1 (Ralph Griffith translation): 1. ―Tvastar prepares the bridal of his Daughter: all the world hears the tidings and assembles. But Yama’s Mother, Spouse of great Vivasvan, vanished as she was carried to her dwelling.‖ 2 ―From mortal men they hid the Immortal Lady, made one like her and gave her to Vivasvan. Saranyu brought to him the Asvin brothers, and then deserted both twinned pairs of children.
  • 8 Rigveda III, 39, 3: ―The Mother of the Twins hath borne Twin Children: my tongue’s tip raised itself and rested silent. Killing the darkness at the light’s foundation, the Couple newly born attains their beauty.
  • 9 Rigveda I, 181, 4: ―Here sprung to life, they both have sung together, with bodies free from stain, with signs that mark them; One of you Prince of Sacrifice, the Victor, the other counts as Heaven’s auspicious offspring.
  • 10 The term ―those with nostrils,‖ ―the breathing‖ may simply distinguish them from their deceased counterparts. However, twin hounds are also well-known in Germanic tradition (cp. Odin‘s hounds, Geri and Freki; Geri and Gifrof Fjölsvinnsmál 14; and the wolves that pursue the sun and moon, Sköll and Hati.)
  • 11 Rigv. I, 116, 2: ―Borne on by rapid steeds of mighty pinion, or proudly trusting in the Gods’ incitements. That stallion ass of yours won, O Nasatyas, that thousand in the race, in Yama’s contest.
  • 12 Rigveda I, 163, 1: ―What time, first springing into life, thou neighedst, proceeding from the sea or upper waters, Limbs of the deer hadst thou, and eagle pinions. O Steed, thy birth is nigh and must be lauded.‖ 2. ―This Steed which Yama gave hath Trita harnessed, and him, the first of all, hath Indra mounted.
  • 13 [Rydberg‘s footnote] ―Die Acvins oder arischen Diskuren‖ (1876) by Leronymos Myriantheus (1838- 1898). Compare Kaegi: ―Der Rigveda‖ p. 182.14 The Discouri were believed to come to the aid of mariners in distress, and they were associated with the phenomenon known as ― St. Elmo‘s fire,‖ the electric charge sometimes seen playing around the masts of ships during a storm. If only one flame was seen, the Romans called it Helen and said that the worst of the storm was yet to come. They called two or more flames Castor and Pollux, and said their presence meant that the end of the storm was near.
  • 15 Rigveda VIII, 21: ―Wonderful Vayu, Lord of Right, thou who art Tvastar’s son-in-law, Thy saving succour we elect.‖; 22: ―To Tvastar’s son-in-law we pray for wealth whereof he hath control.
  • 16 Rigveda. I, 46, 13: ―Ye dwellers with Vivasvan come, auspicious, as to Manu erst; come to the Soma and our praise.
  • 17 Rigveda VIII, 9, 12: ―Whether with Indra ye be faring, Asvins, or resting in one dwelling-place with Vayu, In concord with the Rbhus or Adityas, or standing still in Visnu’s striding-places.
  • 18 In Sörla Þáttr (The Saga of Hedin and Högni), the warrior Hedin is enchanted by a sorceress named Göndul whom he meets in the wood. She gives him a strong drink and urges him to steal his beloved foster- brother Högni‘s daughter and kill Högni‘s wife. Under the sorceress‘ influence, he does as directed. Once the spell is broken, he realizes what he has done and flees. When Högni finally catches up to him, they are doomed by Odin to fight to the death, and rise to fight again, until a Christian warrior slays them both.
  • 19 Lokasenna 37; Baldur‘s death is mentioned in verse 28.
  • 20 Plácítúsdrápa 30. Plácítúsdrápa is a 59 stanza Christian poem found in AM 673b 4to, dating from about 1200 AD, which tells the story of St. Eustace, a Roman warrior named Placidus before his conversion by a stag bearing a crucifix.
  • 21 Rigveda I, 116, 7: ―Ye poured forth from the hoof of your strong charger a hundred jars of wine as from a strainer‖; I, 117, 6: ―When from the hoof of your strong horse ye showered a hundred jars of honey for the people.
  • 22 See Jakob Grimm‘s Deutsche Mythologi, Chapter 11, Palter (Baldur)
  • 23 Manilius, Astronomica, translated by G. P. Goold, Loeb Classical Library, 1977: Book 4, 525 ff: ―When Ocean displays and conceals equal portions of the Twins (Gemini), it will bestow zeal for study and direct men to learned arts. It creates no gloomy disposition, but hearts imbued with a pleasant charm and furnishes blessings of voice and tuneful lyre combining with wit, a dowry of melody.
  • 24 Gísla Saga Súrssonar, chap 22, verse 18. The accompanying prose reads: ―Then my good dream-woman came in and said that this signified how many years I had left to live, and she advised me to stop following the old faith for the rest of my life, and to refrain from studying any charms or ancient lore. And she told me to be kind to the deaf and the lame and the poor and the helpless, and that is where my dream ended.‖ (Translated by Martin S. Regal, The Complete Sagas of the Icelanders, Volume II.)
  • 25 Translation by Martin S. Regal, The Complete Sagas of the Icelanders, Volume II.
  • 26 Manilius, Astronomica, translated by G. P. Goold, Loeb Classical Library, 1977. 163ff: ―Look among the constellations for the two Fishes (Pisces) and the Twins (Gemini) of like number with limbs unclad. The arms of the twins are forever in mutual embrace.‖ 265ff: ―Summer comes with the Twins (Gemini).
  • 27 Manilius, Astronomica 182 ff.28 ―For them there was no want of gold,‖ Völuspá 8.

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