Idunn, Keeper of the Golden Apples

(Idun, Iduna) FEW tales remain of this engaging Goddess. She is regarded as the Goddess of Spring and is therefore approximate to Persephone. She was wife to the poet-God Bragi, sometimes identified with Odin (Woden) himself. Her most important role however was as Keeper of the Golden Apples. These she carefully protected in a casket which she opened each day allowing each of the Gods to take and eat one. Doing so kept them youthful and beautiful – a result which due to the mixed God-mortal ancestry of many of them, was of paramount importance.

Like Persephone, Idunn was kidnapped by a being desirous of her beauty. Thiassi was a storm giant who so wanted to possess Idunn and her fruit that through trickery he was able to ensnare the master Trickster himself, Loki, into bringing Idunn to Thiassi. Despite her captivity Thiassi was never successful in persuading Idunn to give him a taste of her precious apples.

Deprived of the youth-giving apples, the Gods in Asgard began to fade and age. Suspicion fell on Loki and he was forced to attempt her return. Borrowing Freyja’s falcon suit he flew off to the fastness of the storm giant, and by enchantment turned Idunn into a small nut which he could safely grasp in his strong talons. Loki returned Idunn to Asgard with the enraged Thiassi in the guise of an eagle in fierce pursuit. Thiassi reached Asgard only to be slain by the weakened but indignant Gods, who in remembrance placed his glowing eyes in heaven as stars. Idunn was restored to her natural form, her casket of magical apples intact, and all in Asgard once again could remain youthful and fair.

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