Idun – the owner and dispenser of a fruit that imparts immortality

Idun – the owner and dispenser of a fruit that imparts  immortality

Idun Also Idunor, Idunna, Iduna.


Idun (pronounced “EE-done;” from Old Norse Iðunn, “The Rejuvenating One”[1]) is a goddess who belongs to the Aesir http://norse- tribe of deities.

Her role in the pre-Christian mythology and religion of the Norse and other Germanic peoples is unfortunately obscure, but she features prominently in one of the best-known mythological tales, The Kidnapping of Idun. http://norse- In this tale, which comes to us from the skaldic Haustlöng and the Prose Edda, Idun is depicted as the owner and dispenser of a fruit that imparts immortality.


Ydun (1858) by H. W. Bissen photograph taken on an angle

In modern books on Norse mythology, these fruits are almost invariably considered to be
apples, but this wasn’t necessarily the case in heathen times. The Old Norse word for “apple,” epli, was often used to denote any fruit or nut, and “apples” in the modern English sense didn’t arrive in Scandinavia until late in the Middle Ages.[2] Whatever species Idun’s produce belongs to, its ability to sustain the immortality of the gods and goddesses makes Idun an indispensable presence in Asgard.


[1] Simek, Rudolf. 1993. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Translated by Angela Hall. p. 171.

[2] Turville-Petre, E.O.G. 1964. Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient
Scandinavia. p. 186.



Idunn with her husband Bragi, god of poetry
According to some mythologists, Idun, was the fair goddess of immortal youth, love, fertility and the personification of spring.

She had no birth and was never to taste death, therefore, she was particularly warmly
welcomed by the gods when she made her appearance in Asgard (home of the gods). [Note 1]

In Norse mythology, the gods and goddesses represented a mixed race and were not immortal.


They had to regularly eat marvelous golden apples from Idun’s garden to ward off disabilities and old age and diseases, in order to remain beautiful, young through countless ages and vigorous.

Idun, the immortal one, was the keeper of wonderful golden apples of youth, which she
maintained in her magic casket [or basket]. [Note 2]

No matter how many she drew out from the casket, the same number always remained in the casket.
The Norns kept watch over the golden apples which hung on the branches of the tree of life, experience, and knowledge. They allowed none but Idun to pick the fruits, but she always had to be very cautious when she shared the apples with the gods, because dwarfs and giants were eager to obtain possession of the powerful fruit.

Note 1 There has of late been some discussion over Idunna’s parentage.

Note 2

“Hrafnagaldr Odins’ also charges Idunna with nourishing the World Tree, Yggdrasil, through Ragnarok, indicating at one point, that She conceals Herself within it’s trunk. Scholar Rudolf Simek notes that if Idunna were honored in Pagan times, it would have been as a Goddess of fertility, because of the apples.(6) I would extend that and see Her instead, and partially by extension, as a Goddess of health and transformative power. It’s clear from the tale of Her kidnapping that Her power over these things was coveted by the Jotnar, who live in a dangerous, hostile world. Amongst the Ice etins that world is also often bleak and barren.

As I noted in my book “Exploring the Northern Tradition,” it is interesting to note that Thiazi coveted not the apples, but Idunna Herself. Ostensibly the apples were useless unless given directly from Her hands, which would imply that their regenerating power lay within this Goddess Herself. (7)

In my personal devotions I’ve always sensed a deep connection between Idunna
and Hela: one plants the seed and sees it to fruition, the other harvests it when the time is
right. There is a strong connection to natural cycles there.

S. McGrath in her book “Asyniur” comments that Idunna carries Her precious apples in a casket made of ash wood.(8) Ash is so often associated by Odin and by extension the valkyries that to my mind at least, this speaks to some mystery learned from Her mother. Ash is a warrior’s tree associated with breaking inertia and moving through obstacles. Of course it’s worth noting that tree lore was very important to the neighboring Celts too, who associated apple with journeying to the other-worlds and ash to the working of fate. My mom used to honor Idunna in part as a Goddess of gardening (she was an avid and skilled organic gardener). Last year Ironwood Kindred raised a God-pole in honor of Idunna, placing it in an apple orchard.


Idun would get the magical apples from a tree in Mother Holle’s garden
Idunna, fruitful Goddess of the harvest
Be Thou hailed.
Goddess of the apples of youthfulness,
Be Thou honored.
Idunna, Goddess of transformations, journeys and coming home,
Be Thou praised.
For Your blessings
For Your mercy,
For Your firm counsel
And gentle, healing touch,
And always for Yourself alone,
Be Thou adored.
Hail, Idunna.


5. “Hrafnagaldr Odins: Odin’s Ravens’ Song”. Trans. Benjamin Thorpe.
6. Simek, Rudolf. “Dictionary of Northern Mythology.” 172.
7. Krasskova, Galina. “Exploring the Northern Tradition.” 57.
8. McGrath, Sheena. “Asyniur.” 59.

With thanks to ArchMatrona Georgia’s discovery of internet photos