In Norse mythology, a valkyrie (from Old Norse valkyrja “chooser of the slain”) is one of a host of female figures who choose those who may die in battle and those who may live. Selecting among half of those who die in battle (the other half go to the goddess Freyja’s afterlife field Fólkvangr), the valkyries bring their chosen to the afterlife hall of the slain, Valhalla, ruled over by the god Odin. There, the deceased warriors become einherjar.
Göndul or Gondul (Old Norse “wand-wielder). She is with Hild and Skögul the foremost among the Valkyries in Norse mythology.
She is associated with fortunes of war and was once worshiped before a single combat or war.
Her tasks were to decide which warriors proved worthy enough to live at Odin’s side in Valhalla.
A valkyrie (valkyrja "chooser of the slain") is a woman who has the power to choose those who may die in battle and those who may live. Valkyries also appear as beautiful lovers of heroes and other mortals, where they are sometimes described as the daughters of royalty. Many valkyrie names emphasize associations with battle and, in many cases, on the spear—a weapon heavily associated with the god Odin. They are originally viewed as “demons of the dead to whom warriors slain on the battlefield belonged”.
So whenever you think of women as fragile, delicate creatures, remember that a valkyrie is a fierce powerful warrior woman who could chose if you live or die in a battle. Don’t mess with her!!!
A valkyrie (pronounced “VAL-ker-ee”; Old Norse valkyrja, plural valkyrjur, “choosers of the fallen”) is a female helping spirit of the god Odin. The modern image of the valkyries as elegant, noble maidens bearing dead heroes to Valhalla is largely accurate for what it is, but a highly selective portrayal that exaggerates their pleasant qualities. To some extent, this tendency toward sanitization is present even in the later Old Norse sources, which focus on their love affairs with human men and their assisting Odin in transporting his favorites among those slain in battle to Valhalla, where they will fight by his side during Ragnarok.
As far as we today can tell, the valkyries have always had such characteristics, but in heathen times they were far more sinister. The meaning of their name, “choosers of the slain,” refers not only to their choosing who gains admittance to Valhalla, but also to their choosing who dies in battle and using malicious magic to ensure that their preferences in this regard are brought to fruition. Examples of valkyries deciding who lives and who dies abound in the Eddas and sagas. The valkyries’ gruesome side is illustrated most vividly in the Darraðarljóð, a poem contained within Njal’s Saga. In a painting, twelve valkyries are seen prior to the Battle of Clontarf, sitting at a loom and weaving the tragic destiny of the warriors (an activity highly reminiscent of the Norns). They use intestines for their thread, severed heads for weights, and swords and arrows for beaters, all the while chanting their intentions with ominous delight. The Saga of the Volsungs compares beholding a valkyrie to “staring into a flame.”
They pick half of the fallen to bring to Valhalla or to ensure their doom, but the other half of the fallen warriors go to the goddess Freya’s afterlife field, Folkvangr. Freya always has the first pick, of the fallen Vikings. Odin allows some of the maidens to take the form of beautiful white swans, but if a Valkyrie is seen by a human without her swanlike disguise, she will become an ordinary mortal and can never again return to Valhalla.
This picture is confirmed when we turn to the lore of other Germanic peoples. Amongst the Anglo-Saxons, for example, the valkyries (Old English wælcyrie, singular wælcyrge) were female spirits of carnage. The Celts, with whom the Norse and other Germanic peoples engaged in fruitful cultural exchanges for numerous centuries, had similar beings of their own, such as the war goddesses Badb and the Morrígan.
Whether in their loving or bloodthirsty modalities, the valkyries are best understood as part of the extensive and dynamic complex of shamanism that permeates pre-Christian Germanic religion. Much like the ravens Hugin and Munin, they’re projections of parts of Odin, semi-distinct beings that are parts of his larger being.