Idunn is a goddess of rejuvenation, who passed out fruit to the gods to help them remain youthful. Although not much is mentioned of her, she had an important role to play. The fruit she carried was not necessarily apples, but whatever it was, it gave those that ate it youth, beauty, and vitality.
There is one popular myth that remains about her, The Kidnapping of Idunn.
As it goes, Odin, Loki, and Hoenir were traveling and got hungry. They saw a herd of oxen and slaughtered one for dinner.
The ox would not cook no matter how long they held it over the open flame. An eagle seated on a branch in the tree overlooking them, and said, “Well if you will let me eat until I am full, I will let your food cook.” You see, he was using magic to make it that the ox wouldn’t cook.
The gods, hungry, were like, okay, cool. We’re hungry after all.
Well, the eagle flew down and grabbed the best piece.
Loki wasn’t having it. The eagle said he wanted to eat, not necessarily the best piece, so Loki takes up a branch and swings it at him.
The eagle grabbed the branch, and with Loki still hanging on, he flew up high into the sky.
Loki was now terrified and begged the eagle to let him down.
Well, the eagle wasn’t going to miss out on a chance to get something or rather someone that he wanted.
At first, Loki refused the eagle’s request, but the eagle would not bring him down until Loki conceded, which he did.
The eagle wasn’t normal, but Thjazi, a jotun, in disguise.
The oath he procured from Loki was for Loki to bring him Idunn and her fruits.
Loki oathbound headed back to Asgard with Odin and Hoenir. He lies telling her that he found some fruit even more marvelous than what she’s growing just outside of the walls, and tells her to bring her fruit for comparison. Idunn follows Loki out, with her basket.
When Idunn enters the woods, she is then snatched up by Thjazi, in eagle form, and taken away to his home in the mountains.
Well, Idunn must be gone for a bit of time as the gods start to age—they can feel age creeping upon them. Their skin wrinkles, their hair turns gray.
Finally, assembling, the gods ask about Idunn and her absence. It comes out that she was last seen with Loki.
They track down Loki, seize him, and threaten him if he doesn’t tell them what happened to Idunn.
Loki finally tells them that Thjazi took Idunn.
His honesty was met with a threat of its own, though: if he didn’t bring back Idunn he would be put to death.
To assist him in getting Idunn back, he borrowed Freyja’s hawk feather cape, which allowed him to change into a hawk, and flew off to Thjazi’s home. When he arrived, he found that Thjazi was away fishing.
Loki then turned Idunn into a nut and sped away with her, carrying her in his hawk talons.
When Thjazi returned, he found Idunn missing, and changed back into his eagle form. He took to the air in the direction of Asgard and saw Loki. Now he was in hot pursuit.
Then gods, also keeping an eye out for Loki, saw Thjazi flying behind him. They set to build a fire. Loki made it across, and then the gods set the kindling alight creating an explosive fire.
It happened so fast, and Thjazi was so hot on Loki’s tail that he didn’t have time to slow down, and instead entered the flames.
That was the end of Thjazi, and Idunn was once again home to make the gods young again.
So, what is this moral of this story? Don’t take time to rejuvenate for granted, maybe? Maybe it is about the power of the oath and what it meant back then to give your word? Just maybe, it is that when we harm, we should also do all that we can to make it right?
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