Valkyries Of Norse Mythology
Valkyries Ride to Valhalla With a Fallen Warrior
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
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
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
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
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Phyllis Doyle Burns - Lantern Carrier, Spiritual Mentor
© 2011 Phyllis Doyle Burns