Idun

Idun is the goddess of youth, and life, and spring. Idun, being the goddess of youth, is depicted as being a young, fair lady with blonde hair and blue eyes. She is very, very innocent and kind. So innocent in fact, that she does not even suspect any mischief from Loki. As most of you know, and all of you should know, our pantheon is very different than that of others. One of the biggest differences is that our gods and goddess, or The Holy Powers, are not immortal. So for those who do not know, I am sure you are asking, how do they stay alive and do all of the godly things that they are required to do?

Well, that responsibility, as I am sure you have guessed by now, falls to Idun, the goddess of youth and life. For you see, Idun is the keeper of the golden apples of immortality (or youth). She harvests them, cares for them, and makes sure that they grow properly. In fact, she is the only one who knows how to grow these miraculous apples! This is her job, her function. 

So what do these golden apples do? Well, when the gods are beginning to feel old, and when they feel everything that goes along with becoming old, they go and find Idun, and she gives them an apple. Once ingested this apple restores them to their healthy, youthful selves! Whether this changes their appearance or not, I am not sure. For example almost all of the depictions of Odin are of an old man, so is he young on the inside? Or do we just never get to see him soon after he eats his apples? Either way, we know that the life of the gods, and their youthfulness is sustained by Idun and her golden apples. It would be a terrible tragedy if they were to lose her. 

"Three of the Aesir gods, Odin, Loki, and Hoenir (pronounced “HIGH-neer”), were on a journey that took them through desolate mountains far from Asgard. Food was scarce in this uninviting region, so when the travelers came upon a herd of oxen, they slaughtered one for their dinner. When they put the meat over their fire, however, it didn’t cook, no matter how long they left it there. Perplexed by this, they heard a voice addressing them from above. Looking up, they saw a very large eagle perched on a nearby branch.  

“It is I,” he said, “who, by my magic, prevent your catch from cooking. But if you will give me my fill of the meat, then I shall release the remainder from my spell.” The gods, though irritated, agreed, and the eagle flew down and took for himself the choicest portions of the ox. Loki thought this to be beyond the terms of their bargain, and, in anger, took up a sturdy branch and lunged at the eagle. The eagle snatched the branch in his talons, and, with a bewildered Loki still clinging to the other end, flew up high into the sky. The terrified god begged the eagle to release him, but the eagle – who was none other than Thjazi (pronounced “THYAH-zee”) the giant in disguise – refused to do so until Loki swore an oath to bring him Idun and her fruits. 

  

When the trio made it back to Asgard at the conclusion of their travels, Loki went to Idun and told her that he had found fruits even more marvelous than her own growing in a forest beyond the walls of Asgard, and that she should follow him there and bring her own apples for comparison. Idun followed the trickster, and when she reached the wood she was borne up by Thjazi in his eagle form, and taken away to the giant’s abode.  

 

This place was called Thrymheim (“Thunder-Home”), and was situated in the highest mountain peaks, whose icy towers growled down at the fertile fields below. 

In Idun’s absence, the gods and goddesses felt old age creeping up on them. Their skin became wrinkled, their hair greyed, and their vigor waned. When they assembled together and asked one another about the circumstances under which Idun was last seen, it was reported that the last sighting of her had been with Loki as the two left 

Asgard together. Then they seized Loki and threatened him will all manner of pains if he didn’t tell them what had happened to the fair goddess. Loki spilled his story, and the gods informed him that if he couldn’t rescue Idun from Thjazi, he would be put to death. 

  

Freya lent him her hawk feathers, with which one can shift his or her shape into that of a hawk, and he flew off to Jotunheim, the homeland of the giants, within which Thrymheim was located. When he came to Thrymheim, he found, to his great delight, that Thjazi had gone out to sea to fish, leaving Idun home alone. Without losing a minute, Loki turned the goddess into a nut and sped away with her in his talons. 

  

When Thjazi returned and found his prize missing, he assumed his eagle form and filled the air with the thunderous beats of his wings on his way toward Asgard in pursuit of Loki. By the time the god was in sight of his home, the giant was close behind him and furiously closing the gap. When Loki’s companions caught sight of the chase, they built a pile of kindling around their fortress. Loki, still clutching Idun, made it across the barrier. And then the gods lit the fire, and it exploded so rapidly that Thjazi didn’t have time to turn around before entering the flames. And that was the end of his flight.[2][3] 

 

Thus Idun was saved and by her rescue, so was the life of The Gods of Asgard!

Some more information on Idun: 

 

"Idun (pronounced “EE-done;” from Old Norse Iðunn, “The Rejuvenating One”[1]) is a goddess who belongs to the Aesirtribe of deities. Her role in the pre-Christian mythology and religion of the Norse and other Germanic peoples is unfortunately obscure, but she features prominently in one of the best-known mythological tales, The Kidnapping of Idun. In this tale, which comes to us from the skaldic poem Haustlöng and the Prose Edda, Idun is depicted as the owner and dispenser of a fruit that imparts immortality. In modern books on Norse mythology, these fruits are almost invariably considered to be apples, but this wasn’t necessarily the case in heathen times.  

 

The Old Norse word for “apple,” eplic, was often used to denote any fruit or nut, and “apples” in the modern English sense didn’t arrive in Scandinavia until late in the Middle Ages.[2] Whatever species Idun’s produce belongs to, its ability to sustain the immortality of the gods and goddesses makes Idun an indispensable presence in Asgard. Idun is the wife of Asgard’s court poet and minstrel, Bragi. One Old Norse poem has Loki accuse her of sleeping with her brother’s murderer,[3] but the identities of her brother and his slayer are unknown, and no tale explaining this accusation has survived into the modern era.

References: 

[1] Turville-Petre, E.O.G. 1964. Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia. p. 186. 

[2] Þjóðólfr. Haustlöng. 

[3] Snorri Sturluson. The Prose Edda. Skáldskaparmál 2-3." (1) 

 

Additional Idun information References:

[1] Simek, Rudolf. 1993. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Translated by Angela Hall. p. 171. 

[2] Turville-Petre, E.O.G. 1964. Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia. p. 186. 

[3] The Poetic Edda. Lokasenna, verse 17." (1) 

  

Hail Idun! The great renewer who brings life to the gods! Hail Idun! 

  

Sources: 

1: http://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/the-aesir-gods-and-goddesses/idun/ 

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