Basic Guide to Idunn Youth Keeper in Norse Myth

Idunn is among the most obscure figures in Norse mythology. But everyone who reads the story about Idunn must find her story interesting. This blog post is to give the clearest and most basic guide to Idunn the Youth Keeper in Norse mythology.

Background

The Norse gods always appeared to be beautiful and handsome in their appearance. The key to their beauty lay in the fruit of youth of Idun Norse goddess. Idun was the guardian of the youth fruit which granted the Norse gods the immortality and beauty.

Idun meant “She Who Renews”. In many depictions, Idun appears with the basket full of apples in her hands. However, it remains a mystery as we don’t exactly know what fruit Idun carried. The apples were the creation of the artists.

Though she held in her hand the timeless beauty of gods, Idun was a supportive character in Norse mythology.

Basic Guide to Idun goddess of youth
Basic Guide to Idunn goddess of youth

Idun got married to Bragi God of Music and Entertainment. Bragi often played the music in the Hall of Valhalla to entertain the warriors of Odin. Norse mythology is different from other tales. Because it is not the beautiful elves playing the harps. Rather, it was a bearded man who entertained the warriors on behalf of his father – Odin.

The Kidnap

Though Idun was a supportive character, her absence in Asgard once brought trouble to the Norse Pantheon.

Loki who vowed to get Thjazi the frost giant Idun set out to play trick on this innocent goddess. The trickster told her that he had seen the same youth fruits in Midgard and asked whether Idun wanted to see them or not. The innocent Idun without a hesitation agreed to follow Loki. But Loki didn’t bring Idun to Midgard to see the fruit. Rather, Thymheim (land of thunder) was the destination and this land belonged to Thjazi.

Realizing the absence of Idun, gods set out to find her. They quickly knew that the last time someone saw Idun was when she was with Loki. No wonder, they accused Loki of playing tricks on the goddess and demanded him to bring her back or else gods would put an end to his life.

Loki dared not to disobey. He borrowed the falcon of Freya and flew to Thrymheim where he found Idun was alone in the castle and Thjazi was not home.

When Loki was bringing Idun back to Asgard, Thjazi quickly followed to take back Idun. But the moment Loki entered the gate of Asgard, gods set the wall surrounding on fire. Thjazi flew into the flames and got burnt to ashes.

‘Idun and the Apples’, 1890. Idun is the keeper of apples that give the gods eternal youth. Illustration from “Teutonic Myths and Legends” by Donald A Mackenzie, 1890.

Idun came back to Asgard safe and sound. Gods no longer suffered from old age. Because Idun started to grant the youth fruits to everyone.

The death of Thjazi resulted in the daughter of Thjazi seeking revenge on gods. This incident led to the unexpected marriage between the daughter and Njord god of seafaring.

Honor and Titles

  • Goddess of Youth
  • Youth Keeper

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