The Valkyries: Embrace Norse Mythology’s Divine Warriors of Power

Valkyries are legendary figures in Norse mythology, often depicted as female warriors who serve the god Odin. The name “Valkyrie” is derived from Old Norse words meaning “chooser of the slain.” According to myth, Valkyries ride through battlefields on winged horses, selecting the bravest fallen warriors to be taken to Valhalla, Odin’s hall of the slain, where they will prepare for the final battle at Ragnarök.

Valkyries are portrayed as fierce and beautiful, with supernatural abilities including the power of prophecy, shapeshifting, and the ability to wield powerful weapons. They are also associated with fate and destiny, determining the outcome of battles and guiding the souls of fallen warriors to their afterlife.

Valkyries symbolize both the honor and the inevitability of death in battle, as well as the idea of bravery and heroism in the face of adversity. Their mythological significance has endured through various forms of literature, art, and popular culture.

Origin of Norse Valkyrie

Valkyries in Norse mythology can be traced back to ancient Germanic and Norse beliefs. In Norse mythology, Valkyries are closely associated with the god Odin, the Allfather and chief deity of the Norse pantheon. They are believed to have originated from earlier Germanic traditions of female spirits or goddesses associated with battle and death.

The concept of Valkyries evolved, likely influenced by various cultural beliefs and oral traditions. By the Viking Age, Valkyries became prominent figures in Norse mythology, depicted as powerful and divine female warriors who served Odin by selecting brave warriors from the battlefield and guiding them to Valhalla, the hall of the slain.

Scholars suggest that Valkyries may have been inspired by real-life shieldmaidens or female warriors who fought alongside men in ancient Germanic and Norse societies. Over centuries, these historical figures merged with mythological elements to become the legendary Valkyries of Norse mythology, embodying both the valor of mortal warriors and the supernatural powers of divine beings.

OriginNorse mythology
RoleSelecting brave warriors from battlefields and guiding them to Valhalla, the hall of the slain, to prepare for Ragnarök
AssociationClosely associated with the god Odin
AppearanceOften depicted as fierce and beautiful female warriors, sometimes riding winged horses
AbilitiesPossess supernatural powers including prophecy, shapeshifting, and wielding powerful weapons
SymbolismRepresents honor, bravery, and the inevitability of death in battle; associated with fate, destiny, and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth
Cultural InfluenceEnduring significance in Norse culture and mythology; depicted in various forms of literature, art, and popular culture
Notable ExamplesBrunhild, Göndul, Geirskögul, Hildr, Róta, Skuld, and others

Role of Valkyries

Valkyries play a crucial role as divine figures closely associated with the god Odin. Their primary duty is to select brave warriors who have fallen in battle and guide them to Valhalla, Odin’s majestic hall of the slain. There, these chosen warriors, known as the Einherjar, prepare for the final battle at Ragnarök, the end of the world.

Valkyries are not only warriors but also supernatural beings with powers of prophecy, shapeshifting, and wielding powerful weapons. They are often depicted as fierce and beautiful, embodying both the allure of death in battle and the honor of heroism. Additionally, Valkyries are believed to influence the outcome of battles, serving as agents of fate and destiny.

Their role symbolizes the cycle of life, death, and rebirth, as well as the valor and glory associated with honorable combat in Norse culture. Throughout Norse mythology, Valkyries exemplify the interconnectedness of mortality and the divine, guiding fallen warriors to their rightful place in the afterlife.

Escorting fallen warriors to Valhalla

Escorting fallen warriors to Valhalla is one of the primary duties of Valkyries in Norse mythology. Valhalla, also known as the hall of the slain, is a majestic and grand hall ruled by the god Odin. It serves as the afterlife destination for warriors who died bravely in battle.

When a warrior falls in combat, Valkyries, divine female figures associated with Odin, descend upon the battlefield to select the bravest and most heroic of the fallen. These chosen warriors are then escorted by the Valkyries to Valhalla, where they are welcomed as honored guests.

In Valhalla, the warriors join the Einherjar, an elite group of fallen heroes who spend their days training for the final battle of Ragnarök. This battle marks the end of the world in Norse mythology, where the gods, warriors, and various forces clash in a cataclysmic event.

Escorting fallen warriors to Valhalla reflects the valor and honor associated with death in battle in Norse culture. It emphasizes the importance of bravery and heroism, as well as the belief in an afterlife where warriors are rewarded for their valor.

Valkyries Appearance and Characteristics

Valkyries are sometimes depicted as riding through the skies on winged horses or accompanied by other winged creatures. These winged maidens add to the mystical and divine aura surrounding Valkyries, emphasizing their supernatural nature and their role as otherworldly beings.

The association with wings symbolizes their ability to traverse between the realms of the living and the dead, as well as their role in guiding fallen warriors to the afterlife. Additionally, the imagery of winged maidens reinforces the idea of Valkyries as powerful and majestic figures, embodying both beauty and strength.

While not all depictions of Valkyries include wings, the concept of winged maidens has become a prominent motif in Norse mythology and popular culture representations of these legendary figures.

Valkyries’ Armor and weapons

Armor and WeaponsDescription
ArmorValkyries are often depicted wearing armor suited for battle, typically consisting of chainmail or plate armor. The armor provides protection while allowing freedom of movement.
HelmetValkyries commonly wear helmets adorned with intricate designs, often featuring wings or horns. The helmet provides head protection in combat and contributes to their fierce appearance.
ShieldValkyries wield shields, which are essential defensive tools in battle. These shields are typically round or oval-shaped and adorned with symbols or motifs representing their divine status.
SpearThe primary weapon of Valkyries is the spear. They are depicted wielding spears with great skill and precision, using them both for thrusting attacks and throwing them at enemies from a distance.
SwordIn addition to spears, Valkyries are sometimes depicted wielding swords as secondary weapons. These swords are often ornate and symbolize their prowess in close combat.
Bow and ArrowsSome depictions show Valkyries using bows and arrows as ranged weapons. They are skilled archers, capable of striking down enemies from a distance with deadly accuracy.

Serving Odin

  1. Selecting Fallen Warriors: Valkyries are tasked with choosing brave and worthy warriors who have fallen in battle. They determine which warriors possess the valor and heroic qualities needed to join Odin in Valhalla, the hall of the slain.
  2. Guiding to Valhalla: Once Valkyries have selected fallen warriors, they escort them to Valhalla. This divine hall serves as a majestic afterlife where the chosen warriors prepare for Ragnarök, the final battle at the end of the world.
  3. Preparing for Ragnarök: In Valhalla, the fallen warriors, known as the Einherjar, train and prepare for Ragnarök alongside Odin. They hone their combat skills in anticipation of the apocalyptic battle, where they will fight alongside the gods against the forces of chaos.
  4. Executing Odin’s Will: As divine beings closely associated with Odin, Valkyries carry out his commands and play a vital role in shaping the destiny of warriors and the outcome of battles. They serve as agents of fate and destiny, ensuring that brave warriors meet their rightful end and are rewarded in the afterlife.

Valkyries serve as Odin’s messengers and warriors, aiding him in gathering a formidable army of fallen heroes for the final battle of Ragnarök while also embodying the ideals of honor, bravery, and destiny revered in Norse mythology.

Valkyries in Norse Mythology

Norse mythology is rich with stories and legends that encompass a wide array of characters, gods, monsters, and heroic deeds.

Creation Myth: The Norse creation myth explains how the world and its inhabitants came into being. It involves the primordial realm of Ginnungagap, the creation of the world from the body of the giant Ymir, and the emergence of the gods Odin, Vili, and Ve.

The Æsir-Vanir War: This conflict between two groups of gods, the Æsir and the Vanir ends with a truce and the exchange of hostages, including the god Freyr and the goddess Freyja.

The Prose Edda and Poetic Edda: These are collections of mythological stories and poems compiled in the 13th century, attributed to the Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturluson and various anonymous poets, respectively. They contain numerous tales of gods, heroes, and legendary events.

The Adventures of Thor: Thor, the god of thunder, embarks on various adventures to battle giants, monsters, and other foes. These stories often involve his iconic weapon, the hammer Mjölnir, and his companion, the trickster god Loki.

The Death of Baldr: Baldr, the beloved god of light and purity, is killed by a mistletoe dart crafted by the trickster Loki. This tragic event leads to significant consequences for the gods and sets the stage for Ragnarök.

Ragnarök: The final battle of Norse mythology, Ragnarök, involves the ultimate showdown between the gods and their enemies, including giants, monsters, and the forces of chaos. It results in widespread destruction but also paves the way for a new world to emerge from the ashes.

The Nine Worlds: Norse mythology describes a cosmology consisting of nine interconnected worlds, including Asgard (home of the gods), Midgard (the world of humans), and Jötunheimr (the realm of giants), among others. These worlds are linked by the cosmic tree Yggdrasil.

Famous Valkyries

BrynhildrBrynhildr is one of the most famous Valkyries in Norse mythology. She is known for her tragic love story with the hero Sigurd (Siegfried) and her role in various sagas.
GöndulGöndul is a Valkyrie mentioned in Norse literature. She is often associated with the god Odin and is known for her role in selecting warriors for Valhalla.
GeirskögulGeirskögul is another Valkyrie who is mentioned in Old Norse literature. Her name translates to “spear-shaker,” indicating her prowess in battle.
HildrHildr is a Valkyrie whose name means “battle.” She is often depicted as a fierce warrior and is known for her role in guiding fallen heroes to Valhalla.
RótaRóta is a Valkyrie whose name means “the fleet.” She is mentioned in Old Norse poetry and is believed to have been involved in the selection of warriors for Valhalla.
SkuldSkuld is a Valkyrie associated with fate and destiny. Her name means “debt” or “future,” and she is often depicted as one of the Norns, weaving the threads of fate.

Historical Significance of Valkyries

The historical significance of Valkyries lies primarily in their role as mythological figures within Norse culture.

  1. Warrior Culture: Valkyries embody the ideals of bravery, heroism, and honor in battle. In Norse society, where warfare was commonplace, these qualities were highly esteemed. The concept of Valkyries served to inspire warriors to fight valiantly and to face death fearlessly, with the hope of being chosen to join the ranks of the honored dead in Valhalla.
  2. Mythological Narrative: Valkyries are central figures in Norse mythology, featuring prominently in epic sagas, poems, and oral traditions. Their stories and legends provided entertainment, moral lessons, and explanations for natural phenomena. Through tales of Valkyries selecting fallen warriors and preparing for Ragnarök, Norse mythology conveyed cultural values, beliefs about the afterlife, and the cyclical nature of existence.
  3. Symbolism: Valkyries symbolize the interconnectedness of life, death, and destiny in Norse mythology. They represent the notion of fate, as they are believed to influence the outcome of battles and guide the souls of fallen warriors to their afterlife. Additionally, Valkyries embody the duality of femininity and strength, challenging traditional gender roles and expectations.
  4. Cultural Legacy: The enduring popularity of Valkyries in literature, art, and popular culture demonstrates their lasting impact on Western society. From medieval Norse sagas to modern adaptations in film, literature, and music, Valkyries continue to captivate audiences and serve as powerful symbols of courage, resilience, and empowerment.


Valkyries hold a significant place in Norse mythology and culture, embodying ideals of bravery, honor, and destiny. While their historical existence as literal beings is uncertain, their impact is undeniable. Valkyries served as powerful symbols that inspired warriors to face death courageously and shaped the narratives of Norse sagas, poems, and oral traditions.

Through their roles in selecting fallen warriors for Valhalla and preparing for Ragnarök, Valkyries conveyed cultural values, beliefs about fate, and the cyclical nature of life and death. Their symbolism continues to resonate in Western culture, influencing literature, art, and popular media, where they remain enduring symbols of strength, resilience, and empowerment.

Valkyries not only enrich Norse mythology but also leave a lasting legacy that transcends time, captivating imaginations and inspiring generations to come.


What are Valkyries?

To be called a Valkyrie is to be likened to a fierce, divine warrior embodying bravery, honor, and destiny.

Who is the most famous Valkyrie?

One of the most famous Valkyries in Norse mythology is Brynhildr, known for her tragic love story with Sigurd (Siegfried).

Are all Valkyries female?

Yes, in Norse mythology, all Valkyries are depicted as female. They are divine female warriors who serve Odin.

Is Freya a Valkyrie?

No, Freya is not a Valkyrie in Norse mythology. Freya is a distinct goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, and magic.

How is a Valkyrie born?

Valkyries in Norse mythology are divine beings serving Odin. Their origins vary; they may be chosen from noble maidens or heroes’ souls or depicted as eternal supernatural entities.