Despite the fact that many on this board now seem to be taking it as gospel truth, I don't believe for a minute that Shadow is the god Balder.
From what I understand, Neil said that his *name* was Balder. That's fine, and certainly serves to point out parallels that admittedly do exist in the story, but it's not the same thing as saying that Shadow is the Balder of myth.
First, it doesn't fit at all with the mythos established in the novel for Balder to be incarnated in human form. We see no other god that is embodied this way. It makes little sense for Balder to emerge *now,* since there's not exactly scores of people just starting to believe in him again. Besides that, the people that did believe in Balder for the most part believed he was dead, so he's just not going to be up running around in any form.
Second, while Shadow corresponds to Balder in many ways, there are many ways in which he doesn't. Shadow may be attractive, but he's not the Nordic vision of blond beauty that Balder was. Balder's wife died after him, not before. When Balder did die, it did not involve hanging himself in the manner of his father. Shadow's death does not involve the manipulation of a blind of otherwise handicapped brother, which I think is a pretty important part of the Balder myth. Shadow is a fighter, Balder wasn't. I could go on.
Third, Shadow is a great human character, and it cheapens him to be seen as just another face for an eternal god. Gaiman's works tend to be built on normal, non-mystical characters encountering a world of magic. Richard Mayhew, Tristran Thorn, Rose Walker, that kid in Mr. Punch. Sometimes they turn out to have a mystical heritage, like Rose and Tristran, but they still tend to be very human. I see Shadow as very much in this mold, and probably the best of these characters so far. To make him a god strips him of his humanity, which weakens him in my opinion.
I thought that Shadow was the REincarnation of Balder. In that dream he had with the Thunderbirds, he was told all those skulls were his; I interpreted this as meaning he'd been reincarnated many times, which would make sense, as Balder did die.
Thank you, Dustruction. I had recently reread the EDDA as part of a course in Comparative Mythology. We covered Norse mythos (and Balder specificly) with moderate depth and I must agree completely: Shadow is human, and most definitely not Balder. Mythology is a passionate hobby of mine and it is so wonderful to see someone who know what they are talking about! I get so tired of people saying that Bast is a love goddes, the biblical Jesus loves all and other such ill-informed drivel.
However, I am curious about the spelling of your user name: Is there a significance to your spelling?
Always nice to encounter a fellow mythology buff.
As to my username- My real name is Dustin, and Destruction is my favorite of the Endless, so it just made sense to combine them.
When Laura is talking to Mr World/Loki about Shadow, he says,
"When all this is done with, I guess I'll sharpen a stick of mistletoe and go down to the ash tree, and ram it through his eye."
> When Laura is talking to Mr World/Loki
> about Shadow, he says,
> "When all this is done with, I guess I'll > sharpen a stick of mistletoe and go down
> to the ash tree, and ram it through his eye."
As I said in the original post, there are parallels between Shadow and Balder. But I still maintain that doesn't make them the same guy.
On the other hand, if Loki had said, "I'll sharpen a stick of mistletoe and give it to Shadow's blind brother, and trick him into throwing at Shadow while everyone else is already throwing things at him in a big field," well, that would be another matter.
Things change. Gods adapt. Blind brothers are hard to come by.
|The Trendy Nihilist|
I'm sure you're you're right. Let me semi-quote the ending of the book: Shadow was Baldur, but Baldur wasn't Shadow.
Wednesday wasn't the 'original' Odin of myth either - the icelandic guy in the epilogue was the real authentic Odin, or at least a version of Odin that was more primal than Wednesday.
while i'm no expert on norse mythology, i doubt Odin ever had half of his head blasted off by a sniper..
Baldur Moon was a child that Odin had with a human woman. He was not really a god at all. Gaiman has said that this is true. I think that should be good enough, don't you guys?
Quite frankly I don't think that the important part of the death of Balder is the tricking of the blind brother, but the fact that they did not take an oath from the misteltoe. Loke just uses whatever means he can use, and the legend of Balder's death shows that you have to take precations. A
nd Loke was the murderer of Balder even if he did not shoot the arrow! And Balder was, like Shadow, Odin's son. So the entire I'll go there and ram a twig of misteltoe through his eye is probably a reference to how Loke would just enjoy killing another one of Odin's sons...
Wouldn't he still have god-like qualities?
If god are made by man, like Odin - made from the belief in him - if we were to have a child with a human woman, even in Mythology, it would be a god, won't it?
Would that story have come about because it happened or would the son come about because someone made the story?
Which came first - the child of the god or the story of the child?
>If god are made by man, like Odin - made from the belief in him -
> if we were to have a child with a human woman, even in Mythology,
> it would be a god, won't it?
Nah. With a few exceptions, sons of Gods by human women grow up to be heroes. Greeks like Herakles and Perseus provide the best examples.
Shadow is very much a hero in the mythological sense, the way I see it. And it's true that these heroes do tend to have godlike qualities.
I have to say, Dustruction, that none of your arguments sways me from believing that Shadow is Baldur. I have many reasons for this:
1) Your arguments on how Shadow's life don't fit with Baldur's don't sway at all, since he's not living the life he lived during norse times, he's living his new life. A life he's lived over and over, sometimes not even as a human.
2) Gods and Legends fit in many ways to the same categories. Even if Baldur wasn't a god, per se, he was still a demigod and a legend. He still received many of the benefits and powers of godhood without all of them (which is why he couldn't be backstage for long, but could still go backstage at all)
3) Baldur came around due to Odin, not due to collective consciousness. Whether it was conscious choice on Odin's part or just that he was fortunate enough at the time I dunno (and I'll research it more thoroughly on my next reading).
4) Tristran Thorn was a demi-elf, not a non-mystical character. He has a lot in common with Baldur/Shadow in that sense. Rose Walker was Desire's granddaughter, so the same deal. It's vitally important that he be very human and to have to live with the human condition, but also to have a god-heritage.
5) He obviously goes back farther than just being Shadow, since all the skulls in the pile belong to him. Why the first skull shouldn't have been the original Baldur or something before I don't know.
6) Neil Gaiman doesn't really go about telling us how gods are reborn, except in the case of Odin in the one instance at the end. If it fits with the original mythology at all (i.e. some would spring from dust, but, say, Hercules would probably always be born of a woman that Zeus slept with), then that's probably how the god would be reborn.
Shadow is Baldur, as well as Thor, as well as Christ, as well as Hercules, as well as etc.. Son gods all of them, and Shadow is the new American son god, an archetypal synthesis of them all (meaning they're alive in his consciousness although he's not exactly a "reincarnation" per se). Like Daniel was Dream at the end of Sandman, but he wasn't Morpheus. Venus and Aphrodite are the same, but different. I doubt Gaiman would make anything so cut and dry as Shadow equals Baldur, etc.
Well Shadow could very well have been called Baldur by Wensday just out of fondness. When Loki refered to sticking some mistletoe in his eye I think he was being sarcastic and using a steryotype of himself. Also Baldur was only due to reincarnate after the end of the world which didn't really happen in this books. Also although people live different lives when reincarnated they tend to have similer personalities. I've looked but shadow and baldur are not very similier.
I just thought Shadow's name was Baldur Moon, because it had a nice symmetry to it. I always understood that Baldur was a god of light and sun. Moon is the Opposite of sun. Which would make Shadow's name mean, in abstract, Sun Moon. Which would also explain why he recieves the gold coin from Mad Sweeney and the Silver coin from the Eastern European woman with the complex name.
CrazyScene, that makes alot of sense.
The way I see it, is that if Wednesday was known as the All-Father, then wouldn't his son be the All-Son? Sure it sounds a bit twisted, but just think about how many of the gods took such a fondness of Shadow. I like to think that even his name (Shadow) solves all the mysteries. Forever in someone elses shadow, never really doing what HE wants to do. That's how he seems to be.
About Odin in Iceland, I think the only reason why the Odin Shadow saw in Iceland seemed so primitive was because he was closer to home or his point of beginning. In America, Wednesday was an Americanized Odin, and in Iceland, Wednesday/Odin has changed little from the way he was before. So it may not be that there is more than one Odin, each with different powers, but rather that different rules apply to him in different lands. In America, he's limited, where as in Iceland, he isn't so limited as before.
i just finished reading monarch of the glen in the legends 2 anthology, where it clearly states that on shadows birth certificate his name is Balder Moon (notice the spelling). the answers right there i don't really see the point in some of you guys trying to second guess Neil. he straight up gave you the answer. Shadow in an incarnation/re-incarnation of Baldur.
[This message was edited by kejoxen on March 15, 2004 at 11:28 PM.]
Sweet, let the old conversation begin anew!
I agree that Shadow is an incarnation of Baldur. As someone posted a few years ago, he is the "American" version of Baldur. There are going to be differences, same as Wedneday/Odin.
Another good point to keep in mind is that in mythology there are several versions of every story. As they get passed down through the years, there are details that change.
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