the dictionary of norse mythology


VALKYRIES Choosers of the Slain Warrior maidens of the god odin. They chose men doomed to die in battle and delivered them to Odin's valhalla Hall of the Slain. There the resurrected heroes enjoyed a life of unending feasting and fighting, preparing for ragnarok, the end of the world.The maidens went down to midgard in full armor, their golden hair flying from underneath their winged helmets. They would hover over the chosen warriors in the thick of battle. When a hero fell dead or mortally wounded, a Valkyrie would sweep him up and carry him on horseback to asgard, where the gods lived.The Valkyries had such names as Shrieker and Screamer, Storm Raiser, Axe Time, Spear Bearer,Shield Bearer, Mist, and others. The number of Valkyries varied between six, nine, and 13 at a time.In some stories freya herself was the goddess-leader of the Valkyries. She was allowed to choose warriors to be entertained in her hall, sessrumnir, in her realm, folkvanger, instead of sending them to Odin's Valhalla.In Valhalla, the Valkyrie maidens would don graceful gowns and serve the einherjar slain heroes with food and drink.Most of the maidens were from Asgard, daughters of the gods and goddesses. Some were Odin's daugh-ters. Odin allowed some of the maidens to take the form of beautiful white swans, but if a Valkyrie was seen by a human without her swanlike disguise, she would become an ordinary mortal and could never again return to Valhalla.The German composer Richard wagner wrote an opera The Valkyries Die Walkiire as part of the The Valkyries, Odin's warrior maidens, carried dead heroes to Valhalla. Anthony Mercatante

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