“Balders død”, or “Balder’s Death”, by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, 1817. Thor with Mjölnir sits on Odin’s left, the viewer’s right, observing the death of his brother Balder the Beautiful, most beloved of the gods.
Following a series of visions showing Balder in peril, Odin sought guidance from a seeress, who foretold the death of his cherished son.
Seeking to prevent her son’s death, Frigga went to every creature throughout the cosmos and sought their promise that they would not harm him.
But Loki saw an opportunity to wreak havoc, and discovered that Frigga had failed to secure the promise of one being in all the worlds: mistletoe.
The gods discovered that Balder was newly invincible after Frigga secured her promises, and took advantage of the opportunity to make sport of their invulnerable brother. They attempted to wound him in any way they could, with sticks, rocks, and steel: none could wound him.
But Loki knew otherwise and convinced the blind god Höðr to take part in the games. He gave Höðr a shaft of mistletoe and pointed him at Balder, who had no idea of his unique weakness. Höðr’s throw struck down his brother, and Balder’s doom came to pass.
There is much more to this story, and its consequences figure prominently in Ragnarök. Lots more to come.