All Things Wept

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A Tale of The Norse Gods…and so it came to pass one day that Baldr the Undying was dead. Baldr, son of Frigg, Queen of Asgard, and Odin, King of the gods, the All Father. Baldr was brave and  beloved by all, and most especially by Frigg: as Queen of the gods, she made everything in existence swear never to harm Baldr, except for the mistletoe which she found too young to demand an oath from.  Baldr, who was slain by the hands of blind Höðr, Frigg’s other son. It was not Höðr’s fault. It was a conceit of the gods that felled Baldr, for in sport they were amused that nothing could harm Baldr. That one weakness was used by the treachery of the trickster god, Loki. He was the one who gave the mistletoe to Höðr, in the shape of an arrow, that last morning.

“I really, really don’t like this,” Huginn cawed. He had been to Hel, the goddess of death,  and back,  in a bid for the return to life of one so loved by the woman he accompanied. He was cold and miserable, and did not think there would be the outcome she desired.

I know,” Frigg said, ignoring him as best she could. Both she and Huginn were drenched. Her clothing and hair were sodden and plastered against her, and Huginn’s feathers clotted with the wet. None of this discomforted her as it did Odin’s minion. She was relishing standing in the Rain of Tears for what it would bring; he, not so much.

Frigg called on all things to weep for Baldr, her son. They did, they all did (or so she thought), and the tears washed down upon her.   Hel, goddess of the dead, those unclaimed into Valhalla, were hers to do with as she so wished. Frigg begged for this boon, and Hel had only one condition to be met: all things must weep for Baldr.  Hel had promised the return of her son to the living if that would be accomplished.

One did not break a promise to Frigg, Queen of the Æsir. Especially a promise about someone she loves so completely.  Frigg stood with arms outstretched, chin raised to the heavens above the heaven that she resided in. Waiting. Waiting for Hel to return Baldr to her.

Huginn, the raven of the moment, thought that something was wrong, knew it deep down inside his hollow bones. His beak pecked at the rocks, tasting the tears that fell.

“Frigg, there is something wrong. Not all things weep. There is one who does not.” Frigg looked down upon Huginn, and if he was a creature that knew fear he would have felt it then, and deeply. “A giantess, Thökk, does not weep for Baldr.” She waved him dry, and he flew off to Thökk’s cave.

Seeing through Huginn’s eyes, speaking through his beak, Frigg said to Thökk:

WHY ARE YOU NOT CRYING FOR BALDR? HE WAS MOST TREACHEROUSLY TAKEN FROM HIS LIFE BY LOKI, WHO HAS PAID FOR THIS DEED. HEL ASKS ONLY FOR YOUR TEARS!”

She replied:

“Thökk will weep
waterless tears
For Baldr’s bale-fare;
Living or dead,
I loved not the churl’s son;
Let Hel hold to that she hath!”

Huginn flew off, looking for a place of safety, to watch and have a report for the All-Father, Odin. Frigg appeared, full of fury, and the battle that ensued was fierce.  Thökk was strong even for the race of the giants, but she was no match for the queen. Yes, she used her magics, crafts of stone and wood, flinging them against the Queen. Her spear was fashioned by the dwarfs, magical and powerful, and while it did Frigg some damage and drew ichor, it was not enough. Frigg was finally able to wrestle the spear away and broke it across the giantesses back, felling her. Straddling Thökk, Frigg demanded the weeping needed for Baldr while choking her. Still the giant refused, and in this refusal Frigg lost all restraint. Taking the two halves of the once mighty spear, Frigg tattooed a devastating rain of blows upon her fallen foe.

Beaten and broken, Thökk did weep, and this was enough for the agreement. All things wept for Baldr, wanting or not. Hel released him, and Baldr appeared by his mother’s side. She rushed to him and embraced him, and he returned the gesture and the affection. Kneeling, he thanked Frigg for what she did. She placed her hand on his head, and the Rain of Tears ceased.

“Who is this, mother?” he asked as he rose, firmly planting his feet again among the living.

“This was the one whose tears brought you back to the Æsir. Remember Thökk in this way, Baldr.”

Baldr bowed his head in thanks, and then arm in arm he and Frigg returned to Fensalir, her realm.

One last drop fell from  the eye of Thökk. Huginn noted it, went to drink from this tear, and flew off to report back to Odin. Huginn appreciated the skill and power that was expelled, and thought enough of it to make note for the bards, so that they would craft a piece that would bring all to their feet in the halls of Asgard.
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Magpie Tales provided the photo prompt that heads off this very special episode of Tale Spinning.

Thökk’s answer to Frigg is cited from the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning and is copied as it is translated. The rest of this story is mine.

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26 responses »

  1. Pingback: Sonnet: Don’t Chage Me « Tale Spinning

  2. Well done! The intro was a help, as was the additional explanation of why it was necessary for all things to weep for Baldr. Now the line of events is much clearer, thank you. (I wasn’t suggesting that you change the names, but rather to make it clear who was who.)
    Lucky you, to have such a wise woman as a friend 😉

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    • thanks Li. I can’t (or won’t) change the names as this is a view of a story from Norse Mythology, but I am going to expand this. Some wise woman I know suggested it.

      Huggin and Muninn can be interesting, and have been used well in stories I’ve read. Hope you enjoy the re-write more.

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  3. fascinating…having just watched thor (i know, not the best) made it easy to relate to the characters…some very cool textures to your story…i am glad you explained the ref on the tears there…very cool stuff and thank you…

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    • Thanks Brian: actually, I LIKED Thor. It was not a perfect super hero movie, and had some clunky things, but I did enjoy it. So much more than Green Lantern. ugh on that one.

      I felt I had to cite what I took: not my words, so…

      Glad you liked it. I love mythologies, and I think that shows in a lot of what I write.

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    • Any name here is from Norse Mythology; Huginn is one of Odin’s ravens, Muninn the other; Frigg is his wife, mother of Baldr, who is half brother to THOR (yes, movie of the summer Thor). Odin is sometimes (in Marvel comics, at least) called the All Father. Sorry it confused you, but this was about the mythology as much as the story i wrote.

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    • The credit for the waterless tears goes back to the 13th century: “Thökk’s answer to Frigg is cited from the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning and is copied as it is translated. The rest of this story is mine.” as I wrote above.

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  4. I like your approach very much. The stark spirit of Norse mythology is wonderfully captured in having a tear won through combat, and not freely given, still be counted, and the line “All things wept for Baldr, wanting or not” is ruthlessly elegant. I like the little ways in which Huggins’ distinctiveness is marked — his hollow bones and water-clotted feathers suggesting, without mandating, inner coolness and bloodiness, while his final act of drinking the tear is strong and mysterious.

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