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The Valkyrie

The Valkyrie were warrior maidens, each one known as the "chooser of the slain". They were represented by the Raven, and are related to the Celtic Warrior Goddess the Morrigan who was able to assume the form of the Raven.

The Valkyrie were depicted on small amulets and ancient stones show the figure of a beautiful woman welcoming heroes to Valhalla with a horn full of mead. The Valkyrie are typically thought to be blonde, blue-eyed with fair skin and carry spears and shields.

Valkyrie were also sometimes known as Swan Maidens or Wish Maidens. It was thought that if you could capture a Swan Maiden, or her feathered cloak, you could extract a wish from her. 

Some sources say that Freya oversaw the Valkyrie. Freya is the Goddess of love, fertility and beauty, who is also known as the Goddess of battle and death. 

Odin's will determines the victors in battle, and the Valkyrie choses the bravest of those who have been slain and carries their souls to a Valhalla. Those mortals who are determined to be unworthy of Valhalla are recieved by Hel, Goddess of the Underworld.

The descriptions of Odin's hall describe the Valkyrie as foster-daughters, just as the einherjar (the chosen warriors of Odin) are foster sons. Freya is said to be the first of the Valkyrie, called Valfreyja, "Mistress of the Slain," she pours ale at the feasts of the Aesir while the Valkyrie serve the warriors wearing pure white robes.

Valhalla is the great hall of Odin in Asgard where the slain warriors spend their days fighting and their nights feasting. It contains 540 doors each of which leads to a room which can accommodate 800 warriors. The roof is made of warrior's shields. 

Below are some of the names of the Valkyrie from the Sagas and the Eddas:

  • Brynhild - Brynhildr
  • Geironul - Geirah÷d 
  • Geirskogul
  • Goll
  • Gondul
  • Gunn - Gunnr
  • Guth
  • Herfjotur
  • Hervor [Warder of the Host]
  • Hild [Battle] - Hildr
  • Hlathguth [Necklace-Adorned Warrior-Maiden
  • Hlokk
  • Hrist
  • Kara
  • Mist
  • Olrun [One Knowing Ale Rune]
  • Randgrith
  • Rathgrith - RandgrÝ­r 
  • Reginleif
  • Rota
  • Sigrdrifa
  • Sigrun
  • Skeggjold
  • Skogul
  • Skuld [Necessity]
  • Svava
  • Thruth



The Valkyrie are connected with the legend of the Raven Banner. This banner was woven of the cleanest and whitest silk and no picture of any figure was found upon it except in the case of war, at which time a raven always appeared upon it, as if woven into it.


If the Danes were going to win the upcoming battle, the raven appeared with his beak wide open, flapping its wings and restless on its feet.


If they were going to be defeated, the raven did not stir at all, and its limbs hung motionless.


Sometimes the blood-covered Valkyrie-prophetesses are seen themselves as weavers, to prophesy the outcome of the next day's battle.

 

The Valkyrie are also Odin's messengers and when they ride forth on their errands, their armor causes the strange flickering light that is called the "Aurora Borealis" (Northern Lights).

Depending on who you talk to, the number of Valkyrie varies from three to sixteen.

Any maiden who becomes a valkyrie will remain immortal and invulnerable as long as they obey the gods and remain virginal.

It is often said that if you see a Valkyrie before a battle, you will die in that battle.

The Valkyrie appeared riding in a troop, often of nine war-like women.



 Valdis Isbrandsdottir
   

Main Page | My SCA Membership | Persona | Modern Information | Research | SCA Arts & Sciences | MY A&S Projects  |
Research Pages: History of Norway | Norwegian Culture | Runes | Norse Mythology | The Valkyrie |
Norse & Scandinavian Names
| Historical Sources | Norway & Viking Timeline | Viking History | Arts & Sciences of the Vikings |
Food of the Vikings | Social Structure of the Vikings | Music | Norse Mythology & the Zodiac |