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Valkyries Of Norse Mythology

Updated on January 15, 2020
Phyllis Doyle profile image

Mythology is a wonderful world that Phyllis can escape to when her mind needs a break from daily life.

Valkyries Ride to Valhalla With a Fallen Warrior

Walkyrien by Emil Doepler, c. 1905
Walkyrien by Emil Doepler, c. 1905 | Source

Immortal Valkyries

Odin, the supreme god of the Vikings, chose the souls of the most beautiful and fiercest women warriors who died in battle to be his immortal Valkyries. These brave warrior women had proven their worth in life. Their courage and excellent fighting skills had not gone unnoticed by the gods.

Once chosen as an immortal Valkyrie of Odin's realm, the women were bestowed with supernatural powers. Before each battle the decision of who shall die was given by Odin to a Valkyrie. That chosen warrior woman would lead the others to battles between kings and their armies. They would then don their armor, mount their battle ready horses, and reached for their spears -- they were then ready to ride over the earth. Now they watch and wait for the battle to end. When the fierce battle cries no longer echo, when the spears and swords no longer clash and ring, when all that is heard is the moaning of the dying, the Valkyries guide their horses through the strewn corpses that lay in the field.

They have come to gather their chosen dead. They can only select from half of the dead. The other half go to Freyja, the Norse goddess of love. Like both Odin and her husband, she is a mighty warrior. Yet her profound beauty shows not the fierce warrior on the fields of battle. The souls she takes go to Folkvangr, her afterlife realm.

To Listen to as you Read - Enjoy

Then light shone from Logafell,

and from that radiance there came bolts of lightning;

wearing helmets at Himingvani [came the valkyries].

Their byrnies were drenched in blood;

and rays shone from their spears.

- from the Poetic Edda

— Helgakvido Hundingsbana I

Ride of the Valkyries

Ride of the Valkyries, c. 1890, by Henry De Groux
Ride of the Valkyries, c. 1890, by Henry De Groux | Source

Freyja in The Prose Edda

The Prose Edda was written by Snorri Sturlson (1179 - 1241), an Icelandic historian and poet. The book is about Norse mythology and is written in poetic language. The Prose Edda was the most trusted source of Norse mythology and is still used today as a trusted authority on the subject. In the book is a poem called Gylfaginning which mentions Freyja, Odin's beautiful concubine whom he loves dearly. Freyja is married to Oor, a warrior who travels often, leaving Freyja to grieve for him.

Freyja is the Norse goddess of love, beauty, sexuality, fertility, war, and death. Although she is Oor's wife, Freyja has her own dwelling halls in Folkvangr, the afterlife. Sessrimnir is her heavenly home, which is great and abundant with beauty - it is there that she receives half of the dead warriors that the Valkyries gather from battlefields In the great hall of Sessrimnir, the fallen warriors become immortal guests at the bountiful tables, eat their daily meals, listen to visiting gods tell of legends and battles, and never want for anything.

Freyja often searches for Oor, for he journeys most of his days. She cries tears of red gold when she misses him greatly, her heart full of sorrow. However, that does not prevent her from riding into battle as the fierce and great woman warrior she is. When Freyja rides out, she sits in a chariot that her cats pull.

Freyja is the daughter of Nmordr, third among the gods of the AEsir, and Skadi, daughter of Thjazi the giant.

Freyja Rules Over Fólkvangr

Freyja in the Woods, by Emil Doepler c. 1882
Freyja in the Woods, by Emil Doepler c. 1882 | Source

Odin in the Prose Edda

Odin is the supreme god in Norse mythology. He is associated with wisdom, war, battle and death. He is also associated with magic, poetry, prophecy, victory, and the hunt. Odin is regarded as a psychopomp, "guide of souls." It is Odin whose responsibility it is to escort newly deceased souls to the afterlife. His role is not to judge the deceased, but simply provide safe passage and a place of comfort in the afterlife.

Odin reigns in Asgard, the principle city and one of the nine worlds of AEsir, the Norse pantheon. The hall where the fallen heroes of battle are brought is called Valhalla. In Valhalla, the souls of the warriors are called einherjar (lone fighters). While in Valhalla they prepare for Ragnarok, which are future events and a great battle which will be the final destiny of the gods. Nightly they eat their fill of Saehrimnir, the resurrecting beast. Each night Saehrimnir is resurrected to be eaten again the next day. The einherjar have all the mead they want to drink, and they are well cared for. The Valkyries, when not on their rides to battlefields, serve the einherjar with all their needs.

Odin wears many disguises as he travels on his journeys. This is his way of finding out about plans of enemies, or hidden treasures. One of his disguises was the Wanderer.

In Fagrskinna, one of the kings' sagas written around 1220 by either an Icelander or a Norwegian, there is a verse spoken by Odin:

"What kind of a dream is it,' said Odinn,

in which just before daybreak,

I thought I cleared Valhall,

for coming of slain men?

I waked the Einherjar,

bade valkyries rise up,

to strew the bench,

and scour the beakers,

wine to carry,

as for a king's coming,

here to me I expect

heroes' coming from the world,

certain great ones,

so glad is my heart"

Odin, Ruler of Valhalla

Odin, the Wanderer by Georg von Rosen, c. 1886
Odin, the Wanderer by Georg von Rosen, c. 1886 | Source

Legend of Helgi and Svafa (Sigrun)

There are many legends of individual Valkyries. One that is a favorite is a story of Svafa and Helgi, from the poem Helgakvioa Hjorvarossonar of the Poetic Edda.

The Norwegian king Hjorvaror and Sigrlinn of Svafaland had a son who was a silent man and to whom no name could be given. When this silent man had grown up, he was one day sitting on a burial mound and he saw nine Valkyries riding over him. One of them was Svafa, which means "the most beautiful one".

The silent man is struck by her beauty. Svava stopped to speak with him. Knowing he has no name and is silent, Svava gives him the name of Helgi (the holy one). She then asks if he wanted a gift with his newly-given name. Helgi wanted nothing if he could not have Svava herself. He speaks, calling her "bright face lady", and asks what gift he shall receive with his new name.

Svava informs Helgi of a great sword engraved with snakes and magic runes. It was among a hoard of other swords in Sigarsholm and informs Helgi of the location, describing his sword in great detail. Helgi claims the sword and becomes a great warrior. Svava followed him to all his battles and kept him from all harm.

Having become great in battle, Helgi goes to Svava's father, King Eylimi and asks the king for his daughter's hand. King Eylimi consented and so Helgi and Svava are married. When Helgi left for battle after the wedding, Svava remained with her father. This was the first she had not accompanied Helgi in battle.

Alfr, the son of King Hroomar who was killed in battle against Helgi, wanted to avenge his father. He challenged Helgi to a holmgang (duel) and mortally wounded Helgi. A curse from a troll woman that Helgi's brother Heoinn had received fell on Helgi. As Helgi lay dying he sent a companion to King Eylimi to send Svava so that they could meet before he died.

Before he died, Helgi asked Svava to marry his brother Heoinn. Helgi agrees and Heroinn asked Svava to kiss him because she would not see him again before Helgi had been avenged. Both Helgi and Svava would be reborn as Helgi Hundingsbane and Sigrun.

And so their adventures and love continue.

Helgi and Sigrun

"Helgi und Sigrun" (1901) by Johannes Gehrts.
"Helgi und Sigrun" (1901) by Johannes Gehrts. | Source

Note From Author

Thank you for reading my article. Your opinions are important to me and let me know your interests. This helps me to offer more of your favorite subjects to read about. Your time and interest are very much appreciated. I hope to hear from you in the comments section below.

Blessings and may you always walk in peace and harmony, softly upon Mother Earth.

Phyllis Doyle Burns - Lantern Carrier, Spiritual Mentor

© 2011 Phyllis Doyle Burns


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    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      8 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Richard. Thanks for reading and commenting. The Valkeries were descended from a god - they had amazing abilities and their horses could fly to Valhalla.

    • profile image

      Richard Borgersen 

      8 months ago

      I have read that the Valkery were the daughters of Odin. Brunhilda and her eight sisters sprung fully formed from his head. After a battle they would descend and select the bravest warriors ,who died with a sword in his hand, to take back to Valhalla. I cannot imagine a young maiden who can left a 200lb warrior and place him over her saddle for the ride to Valhalla. She must not be a mere slip of a girl.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      5 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Dolores. Thank you, I will put the video up top - good idea. I am glad you enjoyed the hub and appreciate your kind praise. Thanks again.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      5 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I enjoyed reading this beautifully written hub about the Valkyries. So much I did not know! And the pictures are so beautiful. You should put the video of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries at the top so we can listen to it while reading!

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      5 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Such a nice message to read. Thank you, Frank. I am working on a brand new one for me - one I have put off for a long time and am now very involved in it. I think you will like it. Do you know about Yggdrasil?

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      5 years ago from Shelton

      I am really enjoying your Greek myth hubs they are amazing my friend :) dont know how I missed this one

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      6 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      This hub has been edited and corrected to reflect the role of Freyja as the wife of Oor.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      6 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      I have unpublished this hub till I can edit and correct some errors in regarding the confusion between Freyja and Frigg. These two goddesses have often been erroneously placed in wrong roles by scholars over the centuries. I will republish the hub when my corrections have been made.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      6 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Greetings, Jorg, and welcome. I like to hear from people about my articles, even if it is involving a discrepancy. I took some time to reply to you and I apologize for that. I wanted to study the "Sorla tåttr", which I had not heard of before. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I appreciate it. The "Sorla tåttr" does in fact say the same as the earlier Prose Edda, by Snorri Sturlson around 1200. Frigg was the wife of Odin. Freya was the daughter of Njördr, who took to wife Skadi, daughter of Thjazi the giant. Snorri wrote of the goddesses the Ásynjur "Freyja is most gently born (together with Frigg): she is wedded to the man named Ódr.

      So, I see I must do some editing to my article. I wrote this article several years ago and held on to it. When I published it on HubPages, I did not at the time go back and study the original texts of the early scholars of Norse Mythology. Thanks again for bringing this to my attention.

    • profile image

      Jorg Aune 

      6 years ago

      You mention in your article that Freya is the wife of Odin. This is completely wrong and not in accordance with the sources of Norse Mythology. Freya is mentioned as the mistress of Odin in "Sorla tåttr", but the wife of Odin is Frigg.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      6 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Thank you, Jodah. I am really glad you like the article. I love Norse mythology. Odin and the Valkyries have always fascinated me. Thanks again -- I really appreciate your visit and comment.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      6 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Love this hub Phyllis, Not the least because I have Danish ancestry, so I find Norse traditions and folklore very interesting. I look forward to reading your other hubs. Voted up.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      7 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Revised hub, 08/12/2013

    • Phyllis Doyle profile imageAUTHOR

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      9 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi A.A. and thanks for stopping by. I love reading and writing about mythology and the valkyries have always fascinated me. I am glad you enjoyed it.

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 

      9 years ago from Texas

      I absolutely enjoyed this! I never knew the backgrounds of these warrior maidens. Completely fascinating.


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