In Norse mythology, a Valkyrie is a female figure who chooses who lives and dies in battle. The name from the old Norse valkyria, and it means the “chooser of the slain.” A Valkyrie chooses half of those from the battlefield, while the other half will go to the goddess Freya. The chosen ones will go to the afterlife in the hall of Valhalla, where the god Odin resides.
There, all of the deceased warriors will become einherjar, meaning “former fighters”. When they are not preparing for Ragnarok, the warriors sit around and drink mead with the Valkyries. In some legends, the Valkyries are also the lovers of heroes and other war heroes, They can also be daughters of royalty, sometimes connected to horses, swans and even ravens.
The Old English term wælcyrge appears in old manuscripts. Scholars have tried to determine whether the term appears by way of Norse influence or it’s a reflection of a tradition among Anglo-Saxon pagans.
What is the Role of a Valkyrie?
Valkyries, Norns and Disir are all supernatural figures that can influence fate. There are numerous silver amulets that depict women in long gowns, with their hair pulled back, sometimes holding drinking horns. These figures represent Valkyries and sometimes Disir. According to historians, people placed them on graves, because they thought they offered protective powers.
There is also an image from the island of Gotland, showing a rider on an eight legged horse, and a female that greets him. Three amateur archaeologists discovered a small figure from 800 AD in Denmark. The figure portrays a woman with long hair, carrying a sword and shield. Experts say that there is no doubt the figure represents a Valkyrie.
There have been countless poems and heroic hymns dedicated to these figures, in an attempt to bring luck and protection as well as to honor them. Even now, these intriguing figures are the source of inspiration for many stories, video games, music and various works of art. The beautiful and powerful Valkyries continue to amaze and to inspire.