The Breadcrumbs widget will appear here on the published site.
Who were the Valkyries?
By Brianna Duff
The Valkyries (from the Old Norse valkyrja, “chooser of the slain”) were a host of demigoddesses in Norse mythology who served the god Odin. Odin, the war god and protector of heroes, sent his so-called dark angels onto the battlefields to choose which of the slain were worthy of a place in Valhalla, the hall of slain warriors that was an equivalent to heaven. The Valkyrie had the power to save warriors they favored, often times appearing as lovers to their heroes, as well as to cause death to those they did not.
Their appearance is contested, despite the various art and poetry they appear in, particularly the Poetic Edda, a book of poems from the 13th century. Some say they were beautiful and fierce Amazon women who rode into the battle on horses, wearing helmets and shields and usually descending from royalty. Others say the Valkyrie could fly, either as dark and edgy ravens or as ethereal swan maidens. The legend surrounding these bird-like figures blends with that of other folklore to suggest that if you could catch and hold a Valkyrie or her feather cloak, you would win a wish from her. The chief of the Valkyries had a cloak of falcon feathers that let her take the shape of the falcon, which is perhaps where this legend originated.
These dark creatures who chose the worthy from the slain and brought them to their god also served these men in the grand halls of Valhalla. They represent fairness and brightness of their heroes in tandem with the bloodshed of those men left behind.