The "Choosers of the Slain"
from Norse Mythology
|As depicted by the incomparable Boris Vallejo
-- click the picture to hear Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" --
|Click the Sword to return to the Index|
THE ORIGINAL VALKYRIES
VALKYRIES & OTHER MYTHOLOGY
SUSAN's VALKYRIES PAGE
|These immortal maidens (no-one is exactly sure how many there are, but not more than 15 or 16 are ever mentioned) ride into battle with Odin (usually in groups of 9) where they decide which warrior will die. Upon his death, they'd carry him off to Valhalla where he will henceforth dwell with the Gods. Only the bravest warrior can hope to be chosen to this fate.
This belief made it very important for the Norseman not to "die in bed" as this meant his spirit would dwell in the shadowy realm of Hel. Only death in battle could gain him entry into Valhalla.
The Valkyries also act as messengers for Odin, their symbol is the raven.
Alas, once back in Valhalla, the proud Valkyries seem to be reduced to serving wench. They retain their immortality only as long as they remain virgins. However, the original meaning of the word "virgin" was an unmarried woman, on her own, not dependent upon any man for her support; the current meaning of "virgo intacta" was not attached to this word until much later. So it might not have been as cheerless as all that. Freya, the Goddess of (sexual) love, beauty and wealth, might herself be a Valkyrie. She receives half of all slain heros, the other half goes to Odin.
One more thing ... while we tend to think of Valkyries as "Warrior Maidens" and Brunhilde, the Valkyrie in "The Song of the Nibelungen" does swing a mean sword, the Valkyries of the Eddas never actually use (or even carry) weapons.
|Please let me know you were here|