Monday, July 28, 2014

Valkyries


Valkyries

Appeal:  Courage, War, Protection, Combat, Death

 

valkyrie_by_averyannarose-d3bo4js.jpgThe Valkyrie is, in the oldest strata of belief, a corpse Goddess, represented by the carrion-eating raven.  Warrior-Goddesses who ride winged horses and are known as the 'Choosers of the Slain,' as they fly over battlefields where they pick the best fallen warriors.  They carry enchanted spears with flaming points for weapons and their horses' manes are said to drop dew or hail.  Goddess Freya is said to be the first of the Valkyries (Valfreyja or 'Mistress of the Slain') she pours ale at the feasts of the Aesir.  The most well known was Brunnhilde, who allied herself with the Norse hero Sigurd and taught him runic magick.  All Valkries are led by Freya and are attendants to Odin.

Their main purposes is to visit battlefields and chose the most heroic of those who have died in battle (called Einherjar) and carry them off to the halls Valhalla and Folkvang.  If you are deemed by the Valkyries as un-worthy of the hall of Valhalla or Folkvang you would be received after death by the Goddess Hela in a cheerless underground world.  This sorting was necessary because God Odin needed warriors to fight by his side at the preordained battle at the end of the world, Ragnarok.  When the Einherjar are not preparing for the events of Ragnarok, the Valkyries bear them mead.

And for the one question - 'What about angels in Viking lands?  According to Viking mythology, the souls of slain warriors are carried up to Valhalla (Heaven) by beautiful beings known as Valkyries.  It kind of sounds like the angels mentioned in the Bible?  So, are Valkyries the Viking version of angels?'

Well, yes and no.  The idea of Valkyries predates the idea of angels, so angels might actually be versions of Valkyries.  But despite the similarities, there are some differences.  The angels of Christianity were derived from God and created from his light.  The Valkyries were actually Goddesses.  The Valkyries were picked among the Asynjer, the female Aesir, by Odin.  The descriptions of Odin's hall describe the Valkries as foster daughters, just as the einherjar (the chosen warriors of Odin) are foster sons. 

They served as purveyors of wisdom, protection, and at death to help the fallen hero make the difficult journey.  The Valkyries are often associated with the Norns and this may be due to their role at death.  In myth, they have been seen as both very fierce ugly hags relishing in bloodshed and as beautiful young women living to serve the hero to which they are assigned.  Both aspects are most likely true.  The former view seems to go back to an earlier time when they were seen, like their God, as beings of rage and wind, the fury of battle.  However, this does not stop them from taking on other aspects of Odin which are much gentler.

valkyrie_fot.jpgThe Valkyries also acted as Odin's messengers.  They appeared as lovers of heroes and other mortals, where they are sometimes described as the daughters of royalty, sometimes accompanied by ravens, and sometimes connected to swans or horses.  Their armor, which shone while doing his bidding, were once thought to have caused Aurora Borealis.  It is often said that if you see a Valkyrie before a battle, you will die in that battle.

 

Archaeological excavations throughout Scandinavia have uncovered amulets theorized as depicting Valkyries.  In modern culture, Valkyries have been the subject of works of art, musical works, video games and poetry.  Richard Wagner adapted one of the Valkyrie myths, dealing with the Valkyrie Brunhilde and her love for the warrior Siegfried, into his opera: Die Walkure.  In 2013, NASA named its humanoid robot Valkyrie.

 

 

The battle was long and the sun was like fire,
The heat drove us down like a funeral pyre.
Though many I'd slain, now my bloodlust did tire.
Struck down by the heat of the day,

For a Valkyrie found me in battle that day.

 



 

800px-ValkyrieOnHorse.jpg

 

 

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