I have found myself working a bit with Hermod lately.  I think  Hermodr is more complex than just a messenger.  Looking at what we have from the Prose Edda (Yes, it is cribbed from Wikipedia).
Hermóðr appears distinctly in section 49 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning. There, it is described that the gods were speechless and devastated at the death of Baldr, unable to react due to their grief. After the gods gathered their wits from the immense shock and grief of Baldr’s death, Frigg asked the Æsir who amongst them wished “to gain all of her love and favor”[2] by riding the road to Hel. Whoever agreed was to offer Hel a ransom in exchange for Baldr’s return to Asgard. Hermóðr agrees to this and set off with Sleipnir to Hel.

Hermóðr rode Odin’s horse Sleipnir for nine nights through deep and dark valleys to the Gjöll bridge covered with shining gold, the bridge being guarded by the maiden Móðguðr ‘Battle-frenzy’ or ‘Battle-tired’. Móðguðr told Hermóðr that Baldr had already crossed the bridge and that Hermóðr should ride downwards and northwards.   Upon coming to Hel’s gate, Hermóðr dismounted, tightened Sleipnir’s girth, mounted again, and spurred Sleipnir so that Sleipnir leapt entirely over the gate. So at last Hermóðr came to Hel’s hall and saw Baldr seated in the most honorable seat. Hermóðr begged Hel to release Baldr, citing the great weeping for Baldr among the Æsir. Thereupon Hel announced that Baldr would only be released if all things, dead and alive, wept for him.

Baldr gave Hermóðr the ring Draupnir which had been burned with him on his pyre, to take back to Odin. Nanna gave a linen robe for Frigg along with other gifts and a finger-ring for Fulla. Thereupon Hermóðr returned with his message.

So, yes it is legitimate to say that Hermod is a messenger BUT this is the only case we have that shows Hermod doing this unlike Hermes in comparable Greek myth.  In addition:
1) Hermod is allowed and ABLE to ride Sleipnir.  This is not a small thing.
2) Hermod is really more than a messenger, he is sent to negotiate and act as a form of ambassador.
3) Arguably, Hermod shows that his talent is something akin to “Travel to Forbidden Places”
4) Hermod takes on a unique and difficult mission that no one else wants.  In the end, he succeeds in achieving that mission but the larger operation fails due to no failure on his part.  There is a certain Norse fatalism to this that appeals to me.
Hermod is the one called to negotiate difficult things and travel to difficult places and that is resonating more strongly than it used to.  It is a warrior ethic of a different kind.

 That does not mean he is the only Norse deity I honor, blot or pray too, just the most recent one.

On a frivolous note, I have found AC/DC’s Highway to Hell to resonate for Hermod.  You may wish to drop some lyrics.


Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Hermod – Part 2 « facingthefireswithin - December 20, 2012
  2. Hermod – Part 3 « facingthefireswithin - February 12, 2013
  3. HERMOD PART 4 | facingthefireswithin - November 25, 2013

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