Valkyries Les Femmes Guerrières Nordiques

Valkyries: Nordic Women Warriors

In Norse mythology and in the Viking world, Valkyries are those warrior women responsible for leading the deceased warriors to Valhalla . If today these goddesses are imagined could not be more feminine in the collective mind, literary sources tend to highlight a much darker side .

What is a Valkyrie?

What is a Valkyrie?

Valkyries, also known as Walachuria , are female goddesses whose role is to aid Odin . Their name means “who chooses the slaughtered”. Indeed, the mission of these Nordic deities is simple: to lead the Viking warriors who died in battle to Valhalla . In this place, the purest and most deserving fighters become Einherjars , and will fight alongside Odin during Ragnarök .

To properly select these heroes, the Valkyries possess a science called sejdhr . The latter allows them to see the future and the destiny of men . Men with whom, moreover, they cannot have any intimate relationship. If a Valkyrie loses her virginity, then she loses her immortality and, as punishment, is banished from Asgard.

What do the Valkyries look like?

Valkyrie Physics

In the texts, the Valkyries are described as fair-skinned, fair-haired young women . To move, they ride pegasi - winged horses. In some versions, the Valkyries can also travel on the backs of wolves across the battlefields.

All these fighting women wear gold or silver armor and helmets . Not to mention their spear . Thanks to all this, the Valkyries shine brightly when they move. Some even claim that the light produced by their weapons is at the origin of the aurora borealis that can be seen in the northern skies.

The dark side of the Valkyries

Dark side Valkyries

If some texts give an idyllic version of the Valkyries and assure that the latter choose the warriors to take to Valhalla among the fighters already on the ground; other sources advocate a much darker version that they would set their sights on fighters before they fell into their hands.

In a poem from the Njal saga, twelve Valkyries appear before a battle. All are installed near a loom on which they conceive the destiny of the warriors. They are the ones who have the power of life or death over each of the combatants .

The thread the Valkyries use for this is made from intestines. The weights are made from severed heads. And beaters, finally, are nothing but swords and arrows. When they get to work, the Valkyries sing their intentions with a smile.

Who are the Valkyries?

Valkyries list

The number of Valkyries is not really mentioned in the texts. However, the names of some of these female warriors are known, appearing in the Poetic Edda.

Here is the list of Valkyries:

  • hrist,
  • Misty,
  • Skeggjold,
  • Sköguld ,
  • Hildr,
  • Drudr,
  • Hlokk,
  • Herfjötur,
  • Goll,
  • Geirölul,
  • Randgrid,
  • Reginaleif,
  • Gunn,
  • rota,
  • Skuld.

All have a first name emphasizing their link with war , such as "battle", "spear bearer", "war cry",...

Freyja, the very first of the Valkyries

Norse Goddess Freyja

The most important of these is the goddess Freyja . Daughter of Njord and goddess of love, the latter receives half of the warriors who died in battle and could not join Valhalla. These therefore arrive at Sessrumnir, a palace located in the kingdom of Folkvangr , with the aim of protecting the families and clans from which they come.

Like the other Valkyries, Freyja is portrayed as very beautiful, with long blonde hair and blue eyes. Absolutely no one, whether mortal or divine, can resist him.

Brynhild, the most important of the Valkyries

Brynhild Valkyrie

Brynhild —sometimes known as Brunhild or Brünnhilde—is arguably the most famous of the Valkyries alongside Freyja . It appears several times in the Eddic poems, and in particular in the Edda of Snorri.

The texts relate that Brynhild is the daughter of Budli , and that she was brought up by Heimir, her adoptive father, in Hlymdalir. One fine day, a battle breaks out between kings Agnarr and Hj álmgunnarr. The story goes that the god Odin promises victory to the second, but his Valkyrie Brynhild disobeys and takes his life . As punishment, Odin forces her to marry a mortal. She accepts, but assures that she will only marry the bravest of them . For this, Odin encloses her in a wall of flames, where only one man, the one who does not know fear, could come and get her.

And it is the famous hero Sigurd who, after slaying the dragon Fáfnir, breaks through the wall and awakens the sleeping beautiful Valkyrie. They finally leave each other promising marriage .

The rest of the story remains unclear in the texts, which very often tell different versions. One of them relates that Brynhild predicts that her betrothed will break the oath to marry another . Which he does since, after an oblivion filter erases Brynhild from his memory, Sigurd marries Gudrun, daughter of King Gjúki. The hero ends up being killed and, still full of love for him, Brynhild decides to end his life . She then pierces her body with a sword.

Valkyries and Norns: what's the difference?

norns norse mythology

There is indeed a confusion between the Valkyries and the Norns. All are indeed "celestial" women, who have the power to know the destiny of men.

The mission of the Norms is to regulate the destiny of men . They are present in their lives from birth to death and intervene when there is a choice to be made.

The Valkyries, they intervene at the death of men and in the afterlife . After taking the loyal fighters to Valhalla, they serve them food and drink in the grand palace.

Valkyries and Norns are therefore very different . Moreover, when the first take off somewhere, they are led by Skuld, the youngest of the Norns.

Operation Valkyrie: A Plan to Overthrow Hitler

Operation Valkyrie

In contemporary culture, Valkyries are still present and used. They are found in many video games, in comic books from the Marvel universe , in paintings by painters or even in music (like the opera Der Ring des Nibelunge). But that's not all. The Valkyries are also present in History, with a capital H.

Operation Valkyrie was a German military plan to overthrow Hitler . It was launched by the German army in 1943, and ended on July 20, 1944 with an assassination attempt against the head of state. A film of the same name was released in 2008.

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