Who were the Valkyries in Norse mythology?


Norse mythology is well known for its extensive pantheon of deities, giants, and fantastical creatures. The Valkyries are among the numerous interesting characters that appear in this ancient lore. These ferocious and mysterious maidens, frequently shown as aristocratic warriors riding horses, combine grace and fury. We explore the fascinating realm of the Valkyries and their relevance in Norse mythology in this blog post.

Valkyries in Norse mythology

The Valkyries are female warrior goddesses that serve Odin, the main deity of the Norse pantheon, in Norse mythology. The Prose Edda claims that Odin "sends [the Valkyries] to every battle." They rule triumph and distribute death to men. The main duty of the Valkyrie was to choose the bravest warriors who had perished in battle and bring them to Valhalla where they became the immortal einherjar who would fight by Odin's side at the end of the world.

The Valkyries are revered as exalted warrior-maidens, which is an unusual portrayal of women. However, some religious traditions that value powerful female fighters have parallels with their revered military roles; for instance, take a look at the Prophetess Deborah and the Goddess Kali.

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The Valkyries were Norse deities, part of a complex religious, mythological, and cosmological belief system that the Scandinavian and Germanic peoples held in common. This mythological tradition, which is best preserved in the Scandinavian (and particularly Icelandic) sub-groups, developed between the first indications of religion and material culture, which appeared around 1000 B.C.E., and the Christianization of the region, which took place primarily between 900 and 1200 C.E. The stories preserved in this corpus of mythology typically serve as examples of a shared cultural emphasis on strength and military might.

The Aesir, Vanir, and Jotun are three distinct "clans" of gods that are postulated within this framework by Norse cosmology. The difference between Aesir and Vanir is contested because legend has it that the two united to reign after a protracted conflict, made peace, traded captives, and intermarried. The Aesir represent battle and conquest, while the Vanir represent exploration, fertility, and riches. In fact, here is where the two tribes most significantly differ from one another. The Jotun, on the other hand, are viewed as a typically evil (albeit clever) race of giants that served as the Aesir and Vanir's main foes.

The Valkyries' main duty was to carry the "best of the slain" from the battlefield to Valhalla in order to augment the ranks of Odin's deathless army. Skuld, for example, was both a valkyrie and a norn, indicating that there may not have been a defined line between the two.

As far as we can learn, the valkyries have always possessed these traits, albeit they were far more evil in pagan times. The meaning of their name, "choosers of the slain," alludes to their power to choose not only who enters Valhalla, but also who dies in combat, and to use evil magic to make sure that their preferences in this respect are carried out. The Eddas and sagas are rife with instances of valkyries choosing who lives and who dies. The Darraarljó, a poem found in Njal's Saga, best captures the terrible aspect of the valkyries. Prior to the Battle of Clontarf, twelve valkyries are depicted in this scene spinning the terrible fate of the soldiers on a loom. They beat with swords and arrows, use decapitated heads as weights and beaters, and utilize intestines as their thread while chanting menacingly. According to the Saga of the Volsungs, gazing at a valkyrie is like "staring into a flame.

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Although the ultimate origin of the mythical Valkyries is unknown in the manuscripts now in existence, several of the well-known Valkyries are said to have had mortal parents: Some academics now contend that the first Valkyries were elderly priestesses of Odin who presided over sacrifice rituals involving the execution of captives. These priestesses occasionally performed the horrifying sacrifices personally, with a ceremonial spear. These rites had given birth to stories of otherworldly battle-maidens who actively participated in human warfare, selecting who should live and who should die, by the time the Poetic Edda was put together. An alternative reading of this historical timeline is put forth by Henry Bellows in the notes to his translation of the Poetic Edda. He suggests that:

Stories from the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda, both compilations of older Norse tales from the 13th century, as well as Germanic writings, include valkyries. The Poetic Edda is a compilation of poems by many authors, whereas the Prose Edda was produced by Icelandic mythologist Snorri Sturluson (l. 1179–1241) and was based on older writings. Norse mythology was transmitted orally for centuries up until the region was converted to Christianity in the years between 1000 and 1100, which brought about literacy. The authors of every surviving Norse myth are either Christians or people who lived during the Christian era and were at least somewhat inspired by that faith.

The origin of the Valkyrie is uncertain, although it's possible that they were once death demons that fed on the dead on battlefields and carried their souls to an underworld afterlife. The ornate hall of heroes described in the Prose Edda, which may have been inspired by the Christian heaven, is thought to have emerged relatively recently from the concept of Valhalla, which originally simply referred to an afterlife realm, possibly in the mountains or in one's burial mound. The Norse word Vallholl, from which the English word Valhalla is derived, may have originally meant rock rather than hall and so referred to a Rock of the Slain, also known as a mountain or a battlefield covered with large rocks.

Similar to this, it is believed that the Valkyries were once more terrifying beings that brought the souls of warriors and non-warriors alike to a general afterlife where they continued to eat and drink as they did in life. It is said that when Valhalla evolved into a Hall of Heroes, the Valkyries also changed from being gloomy death demons to shining representations of both feminine beauty and male power and martial prowess.

It has also been proposed that the shieldmaiden, a woman who took up arms and battled alongside men, had an impact on how the Valkyries were perceived throughout the Viking Age (c. 790–c. 1100). While the identification of the bones as those of a warrior lady has been disputed, it has been reported that the burial of one such woman was found in 2017 close to the Swedish town of Birka.

Although historians continue to disagree on the matter, there is no denying that these ladies appeared in myth and folklore. The goddess Freyja, the shieldmaiden Lagertha, the protagonist Hervor, and the mighty Valkyrie Brynhild who contested Odin's will are some of the most well-known characters from Norse mythology. Celtic heroes like The Morrigan, Queen Maeve, or Celtic women who clothed and battled like men may have also provided inspiration for the Valkyrie image. Given the existing trade ties between the Celts and the Scandinavians, this is a real possibility, as is the unmistakable implication that Norse women during the Viking Age may also have been fighters.

Freyja's Role as a Valkyrie

Although the Valkyries are among the most important female characters in Norse mythology, they are not deities. And it seems likely that the goddess Freyja is their commander, or can even be counted, at times, as holding the job of Valkyrie.

Freyja, who plays the role of Gondul in this tale, deftly performs the role of a Valkyrie by inciting men to engage in combat and therefore producing the dead warriors that the Valkyries will afterwards present to Odin for Odin's army in Valhalla. Odin himself claims that Freyja "chooses half the dead who fall in battle," which is another indication that she may be the leader of the Valkyries.

A more practical interpretation is that Freyja is merely the chief or most potent chooser among the Valkyries. This one isolated comment has led some modern readers to believe that Freyja maintains her own distinct afterlife for deceased warriors. After all, the name Valkyrie means "chooser of the slain in battle." However, the most important thing to note is that even a human male might be depicted having a love relationship with the goddess Freyja. And that she now resembles the Valkyries much more as a result.

The human heroes of the Norse poetry and sagas frequently fall in love with the lesser Valkyries, who are also human.
There aren't many active female supernatural characters in Norse tales, save from Freyja and the Valkyries and a few of the hostile anti-goddesses that heroes run against in their quests.

Who is the most powerful Valkyrie?

It is probable that the goddess Freyja serves as their leader or perhaps occasionally doubles as a Valkyrie. Simply said, she is the Valkyrie who makes the most important or powerful decisions. After all, the name Valkyrie means "chooser of the slain in battle."

Who is the Queen of the Valkyries?

One of the nine Valkyries who Odin is afflicted with madness is Sigrun. She was able to hold out longer than her sisters thanks to the enormous amount of strength she had, but she ultimately gave up as well. Despite this, Kratos and Atreus manage to release her after a protracted and challenging struggle in which they faced and ultimately vanquished her corporeal form. Her spirit departed and finally joined her sisters, blessing them with her everlasting thanks.

In God of War: Ragnarök, Sigrn makes a comeback as a Shield Maiden after regaining a pure physical form as a result of Freya's Vanir sorcery. She actively takes part in Ragnarök's ultimate attack on Asgard alongside her released sisters, recognising Kratos as her General and Freya as the Valkyrie Queen out of gratitude for having been set free from Odin's spell. Kratos and his soldiers probably secured their victory against the Asgardians thanks to her strong battle abilities.

The head of the nine Valkyries that you can battle as an optional boss in God of War is the Valkyrie Queen Sigrun. At the Council of Valkyries at the Shores of Nine, the Valkyrie Queen Sigrun can be called upon, but only after all other Valkyries have been vanquished.


The mythological Norse maidens known as Valkyries have a special position in the pantheon of legends from long ago. These ferocious soldiers, charged with picking out fallen heroes and leading them to Valhalla, are the epitome of strength and beauty. Their portrayal in myths and sagas has made a lasting impression on our cultural environment, inspiring numerous works of art and retaining its allure for viewers even today. The Valkyries continue to stand as proof of the ongoing influence of classical mythology and the enduring allure of legendary ladies.

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