Odin & Valkyries

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Odin & Valkyries

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Odin & Valkyries Video

It is only in their songs of death that these myths are poetic and beautiful. Much of this probably comes from the cold and barren land itself, which spawned such tales of grief.

Most of the Scandinavian myths, that are known, derive from two collections: The Poetic Edda , which was written some time in AD, and the Prose Edda , which was written by Snorri Sturluson sometime in the 13 th century.

While Odin is the supreme god of war and father to the slain, he was just as hungry for knowledge. In his legends, he also attained the title of being the god of wisdom and poetry after he hung for nine days, pierced by his own spear over the world tree to memorize 18 runes of sorcery and nine songs of power.

He was so obsessed with the knowledge that he traded one of his eyes for a cup of water from the blessed well of wisdom. Odin, the supreme god of war, gave up one of his eyes for knowledge.

Of all the gods, Odin was the master of all. However, unlike other gods, his lovers were secretive and numerous. He had very few wives and hardly any daughters of mention.

It was only after his title as the Allfather that everyone; gods, giants , and mortals were called his children. However, with the limited information that is presented, can a lineage be traced to the true daughters of Odin?

Or was the Viking culture so male-dominated, that even the women deities were second place to the male gods? From the sources that exist, pieces from various Scandinavian folklore s can be tied together to create a coherent lineage.

Though most of his offspring were men, there was some mention of goddesses that were both his daughter and his wife at the same time. In other accounts, his daughters appeared as the Valkyries themselves even though most accounts called them his servants.

Could it be, that because he was titled the Allfather, all accounts are true? As mentioned before, Odin was titled the Allfather, to which all children serve him.

And by his side sat his wife Frigga, who apparently knew the fates of men. In the translations of all the myths, it appeared that Odin might have had several wives who lived with him at different times or all together at the same time.

After all, Odin was also the god of all creation and time. Odin was married to Frigga the goddess of the sky, fertility, motherhood, love, and the arts; Freyja the goddess of Venir was famous for lust, music, spring, and flowers; Jord the earth goddess who happened to be his daughter and his wife; Gulveig, the sorceress who had a love for gold and was thrown into a fire for her desires only to be reborn three times.

Though it has been argued that Frigga, Freyja, and Gulveig may have been the same woman with different names, each deity revealed a slightly different variation that made them stand apart.

Even then, their tales were muted by the masculine gods. Inevitably, Hodr is killed by Vali, the illegitimate son of Odin who was conceived by the rape of his mother Rindr.

With his other wives, he produced daughters of note. With his concubine Freyja, the goddess of Venir, they begat Hnoss and Gersemi.

Both women are usually found together for both are desired by all. These two deities became the goddesses of desire and riches. Odin was rarely around to love her.

She forever cried tears of amber and gold and may have filled her emotional emptiness with the desire for jewelry and gold. She also was known to attempt seduction of dwarfs and night elves to get what she wanted.

In the Edda , she also traveled to distant lands, hoping to find Odin again but was never able to find him.

Freyja seeking her husband, Odin. With his wife Jord, he begat Thor and the giantess Grid who became the mother of Vidar.

She aids Thor by finding him a girdle of might, a magical wand, and magical iron grieves. However, nothing more appears to be mentioned about Grid.

Though in some cases, Valkyries have appeared either as the daughters of royalty and even the daughters of Odin, they are, in fact, better known as his servants.

The Valkyries were virgin warrior women who acted as the immortal messengers of Odin. Mounted on horseback, wearing helmets of gold, and carrying long spears, they were tasked with collecting the fallen from the battlefield to escort their souls to the halls of Valhalla.

The Valkyries were responsible for choosing who died and who lived. In earlier Germanic pagan accounts, the Valkyries may have been far more terrifying.

They may have been the symbols of the ugliness of war as opposed to the glory of it. This is possibly due to a cultural shift towards favoring a warrior culture.

Daughters of Odin, the Valkyries, shown as warriors. According to Austrian Germanist Rudolf Simek, The Valkyries were demon devourers of the dead and thrived on blood and carnage.

These demons would not only eat the bodies but lay claim to the souls of the fallen. However, Simek believes the shift occurred from demon to servants of Odin when Valhalla was reimagined.

No longer was Valhalla seen as an endless battlefield, but as a paradise for the strongest of warriors. The demons were then replaced by the shield maidens of Irish lore and became known as they are represented today.

However, though the Valkyries changed in their image, and though Valhalla became a place of worship as opposed to a grim and endless battlefield, did this afterlife only encompass men?

What becomes clear with most of the Icelandic sagas is that women played minor roles. Even in their forms of goddesses and giantesses, though they may have been the instigators to start the journey, or the evil sorceress to cast the spells, their beauty, sexual allure, and wisdom was still downplayed in comparison to the men.

Even in the myths, slain men were the only ones allowed in the hall of Valhalla. The Valkyries themselves were messengers who could only fetch slain men.

Most of the famous offspring of Odin were his sons and not his few daughters. Of all the women that were praised, only Freyja and Frigga were mentioned as women of note.

Still, in contemporary Sweden, many words and traditions give praise to her. The reason for this might be an obvious one: most of the Icelandic sagas were written, translated, and rewritten by men.

Women were not allowed to partake in raiding parties nor were they allowed to be merchants. Women were legally owned by either their father or husband.

Women were not allowed to participate in political activities nor could they be in any position of power relating to government administration or chieftain.

Women were, however, allowed to manage finances, run farms, and become landowners. Women had equal rights in divorce and were utterly allowed to leave if they felt they were being abused or mistreated.

And they were allowed to take their belongings. Viking women had set roles in society. When it came to travel, women could accompany their husbands in time of colonization, and in some rare cases, to help with trade.

Though most other accounts would state that women were not allowed to travel with merchants, in one account by an Arab traveler named Ibn Fadlin, who in the year witnessed a Russian Viking burial ceremony he called the RUS burial , he noticed that many women ranging from wives, servants, and slaves appeared alongside the presence of their men.

In one of his most famous accounts, he described when a prominent king died; the slave girls were asked who wished to die with him.

When a girl volunteered, she was honored, pampered, and given many drinks to prepare for the ceremony.

With her, two daughters helped prepare the slave girl for death. She is in charge of sewing and arranging all these things, and it is she who kills the slave girls.

I saw that she was a witch, thick-bodied and sinister…meanwhile, the slave girl who wanted to be killed came and went, entering, in turn, each of the pavilions that had been built, and the master of each pavilion had intercourse with her saying: 'tell your master that I only did this for your love of him.

If it is true that it is the landscape that makes the culture, then there is no doubt to why the myths and the lifestyle are written in a way of tragic beauty residing among stories and sagas of pain, conflict, and hardship.

It is apparent that the Norse myths focus on the family of Odin and his epic battles against the gods of before and of the coming of the end of Ragnarök, very little is mentioned about his daughters.

Perhaps that is intentional, given the male-dominated culture, or maybe it is because scholars haven't found the right stories accounting a differing perspective about the Viking gods.

Women looking up to Odin and Frigga with their long hair tied as beards to impersonate men.

In Norse mythology,y as in Norse society, women were not recognized in the same light as men. Top image: Representation of the goddesses that were the wives and daughters of Odin.

Barber, E. Women's Work. The First 20, years. Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times. Norton and Company.

Costa, L. The saga relates that king Haakon I of Norway died in battle, and although he is Christian, he requests that since he has died "among heathens, then give me such burial place as seems most fitting to you".

Haakon was buried there in a large burial mound in full armour and his finest clothing, yet with no other valuables. Further, "words were spoken over his grave according to the custom of heathen men, and they put him on the way to Valhalla".

A battle rages with great slaughter, and part of the description employs the kenning "Skögul's-stormblast" for "battle".

Haakon and his men die in battle, and they see the valkyrie Göndul leaning on a spear shaft. Haakon hears "what the valkyries said", and the valkyries are described as sitting "high-hearted on horseback", wearing helmets, carrying shields and that the horses wisely bore them.

Skögul says that they shall now ride forth to the "green homes of the godheads" to tell Odin the king will come to Valhalla.

The poem continues, and Haakon becomes a part of the einherjar in Valhalla, awaiting to do battle with the monstrous wolf Fenrir. In chapter 8 of Fagrskinna , a prose narrative states that, after the death of her husband Eric Bloodaxe , Gunnhild Mother of Kings had a poem composed about him.

It describes Eric Bloodaxe and five other kings arriving in Valhalla after their death. I waked the Einherjar, bade valkyries rise up, to strew the bench, and scour the beakers, wine to carry, as for a king's coming, here to me I expect heroes' coming from the world, certain great ones, so glad is my heart.

The god Bragi asks where a thundering sound is coming from, and says that the benches of Valhalla are creaking—as if the god Baldr had returned to Valhalla—and that it sounds like the movement of a thousand.

Odin responds that Bragi knows well that the sounds are for Eric Bloodaxe, who will soon arrive in Valhalla. Odin tells the heroes Sigmund and Sinfjötli to rise to greet Eric and invite him into the hall, if it is indeed he.

The charm contains a mention of the valkyrie Göndul being "sent out":. I send out from me the spirits of the valkyrie Gondul.

May the first bite you in the back. May the second bite you in the breast. May the third turn hate and envy upon you.

In the manuscript Cotton Cleopatra A. Scholarly theories debate whether these attestations point to an indigenous belief among the Anglo-Saxons shared with the Norse, or if they were a result of later Norse influence see section below.

Viking Age stylized silver amulets depicting women wearing long gowns, their hair pulled back and knotted into a ponytail, sometimes bearing drinking horns , have been discovered throughout Scandinavia.

The Tjängvide image stone from the Baltic island of Gotland , Sweden features a rider on an eight-legged horse, which may be Odin's eight-legged horse Sleipnir , being greeted by a female, which may be a valkyrie at Valhalla.

The figurine portrays a woman with long hair knotted into a ponytail who is wearing a long dress which is sleeveless and vest like at the top.

Over the top of her dress she is wearing an embroidered apron. Her clothing keeps the woman's arms unobstructed so she can fight with the sword and shield she is holding.

Commenting on the figure, archaeologist Mogens Bo Henriksen said that "there can hardly be any doubt that the figure depicts one of Odin's valkyries as we know them from the sagas as well as from Swedish picture stones from the time around AD".

A silver figure of a woman holding a drinking horn found in Birka , Björkö , Uppland , Sweden. Both silver, a female figure touches her hair while facing forward left and a figure with a 'winged' spear clamped under her leg and sword in her hand sits atop a horse, facing another female figure who is carrying a shield right.

A female figure bears a horn to a rider on an eight-legged horse on the Tjängvide image stone in Sweden.

A female figure bearing a horn on runestone U That we tell the twelfth, where the horse of the Valkyrie [literally "the horse of Gunnr "] sees food on the battlefield, where twenty kings are lying.

Among the Bryggen inscriptions found in Bergen , Norway , is the "valkyrie stick" from the late 14th century. The stick features a runic inscription intended as a charm.

The inscription says that "I cut cure-runes", and also "help-runes", once against elves , twice against trolls , thrice against thurs and then a mention of a valkyrie occurs:.

Against the harmful skag -valkyrie, so that she never shall, though she never would — evil woman! This is followed by "I send you, I look at you, wolfish perversion, and unbearable desire, may distress descend on you and jöluns wrath.

Never shall you sit, never shall you sleep Many valkyrie names emphasize associations with battle and, in many cases, on the spear—a weapon heavily associated with the god Odin.

Some valkyrie names may be descriptive of the roles and abilities of the valkyries. The valkyrie name Herja has been theorised as pointing to a connection to the name of the goddess Hariasa , who is attested from a stone from CE.

They were loud, yes, loud, when they rode over the burial mound; they were fierce when they rode across the land.

Shield yourself now, you can survive this strife. Out, little spear, if there is one here within. Theories have been proposed that these figures are connected to valkyries.

Settle down, victory-women, never be wild and fly to the woods. Be as mindful of my welfare, as is each man of eating and of home.

The term "victory women" has been theorised as pointing to an association with valkyries. This theory is not universally accepted, and the reference has also been theorised as a simple metaphor for the "victorious sword" the stinging of the bees.

The incantation reads:. Once the Idisi sat, sat here and there, some bound fetters, some hampered the army, some untied fetters: Escape from the fetters, flee from the enemies.

The Idisi mentioned in the incantation are generally considered to be valkyries. Rudolf Simek says that "these Idisi are obviously a kind of valkyrie, as these also have the power to hamper enemies in Norse mythology" and points to a connection with the valkyrie name Herfjötur Old Norse "army-fetter".

In addition, the place name Idisiaviso meaning "plain of the Idisi" where forces commanded by Arminius fought those commanded by Germanicus at the Battle of the Weser River in 16 AD.

Simek points to a connection between the name Idisiaviso , the role of the Idisi in one of the two Merseburg Incantations and valkyries.

Jacob Grimm states that, though the norns and valkyries are similar in nature, there is a fundamental difference between the two.

The norns have to pronounce the fatum [fate], they sit on their chairs, or they roam through the country among mortals, fastening their threads.

Nowhere is it said that they ride. The valkyrs ride to war, decide the issues of fighting, and conduct the fallen to heaven; their riding is like that of heroes and gods".

Various theories have been proposed about the origins and development of the valkyries from Germanic paganism to later Norse mythology.

Rudolf Simek suggests valkyries were probably originally viewed as "demons of the dead to whom warriors slain on the battlefield belonged", and that a shift in interpretation of the valkyries may have occurred "when the concept of Valhalla changed from a battlefield to a warrior's paradise".

Simek says that this original concept was "superseded by the shield girls —Irish female warriors who lived on like the einherjar in Valhall.

Simek states that due to the shift of concept, the valkyries became popular figures in heroic poetry , and during this transition were stripped of their "demonic characteristics and became more human, and therefore become capable of falling in love with mortals [ MacLeod and Mees theorise that "the role of the corpse-choosing valkyries became increasingly confused in later Norse mythology with that of the Norns , the supernatural females responsible for determining human destiny [ Hilda Ellis Davidson says that, regarding valkyries, "evidently an elaborate literary picture has been built up by generations of poets and storytellers, in which several conceptions can be discerned.

We recognise something akin to Norns, spirits who decide destinies of men; to the seeresses , who could protect men in battle with their spells; to the powerful female guardian spirits attached to certain families, bringing luck to youth under their protection; even to certain women who armed themselves and fought like men, for whom there is some historical evidence from the regions round the Black Sea ".

She adds that there may also be a memory in this of a "priestess of the god of war, women who officiated at the sacrificial rites when captives were put to death after battle.

Davidson places emphasis on the fact that valkyrie literally means "chooser of the slain". She compares Wulfstan's mention of a "chooser of the slain" in his Sermo Lupi ad Anglos sermon, which appears among "a blacklist of sinners, witches and evildoers", to "all the other classes whom he [Wulfstan] mentions", and concludes as those "are human ones, it seems unlikely that he has introduced mythological figures as well.

Davidson says that "it would hardly be surprising if strange legends grew up about such women, who must have been kept apart from their kind due to their gruesome duties.

Since it was often decided by lot which prisoners should be killed, the idea that the god "chose" his victims, through the instrument of the priestesses, must have been a familiar one, apart from the obvious assumption that some were chosen to fall in war.

Näsström notes that, just like Odin, Freyja receives slain heroes who have died on the battlefield, and that her house is Sessrumnir which she translates as "filled with many seats" , a dwelling that Näsström posits likely fills the same function as Valhalla.

Näsström comments that "still, we must ask why there are two heroic paradises in the Old Norse view of afterlife.

These examples indicate that Freyja was a war-goddess, and she even appears as a valkyrie, literally 'the one who chooses the slain'.

Valkyries have been the subjects of various poems, works of art and musical works. In poetry, valkyries appear in " Die Walküren " by H.

Heine appearing in Romanzero , , " Die Walküren " by H. Linge, and " Sköldmon " appearing in Gömda Land , Works of art depicting valkyries include Die Walküren sketch, by J.

Sandberg, Reitende Walküre fresco , previously located in Munich palace but now destroyed, —66 by M. Welti, Walkürenritt woodcut , by T.

Pixis, Walkürenritt by A. Becker reproduced in with the same title by A. Heyde , Die Walkyren charcoal , and Walkyren wählen und wecken die gefallenen Helden Einherier , um sie vom Schlachtfield nach Walhall zu geleiten painting, and Walkyrenschlacht oil painting, by K.

Ehrenberg, Walkürenritt oil painting, , and etching, by A. Welti, Walküre statue by H. Günther, Walkürenritt oil painting by H.

Hendrich, Walkürenritt painting by F. Leeke, Einherier painting, from around , by K. Dielitz, The Ride of the Valkyries painting, from around by J.

Kolb, and Valkyrier drawing, by E. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Figures in Norse mythology. For other uses, see Valkyrie disambiguation.

Main article: List of valkyrie names. Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. Valkyrie name etymologies from Orchard — For Hariasa, Simek Nordic Academic Press.

The Prose Edda. Penguin Classics. Manchester University Press. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. Penguin Books.

Oxford University Press. Brill Publishers. New York University Press. Volume I. London: George Bell and Sons.

Hall, Alaric Elves in Anglo-Saxon England. Boydell Press. Online: [1] Hollander, Lee Milton Forgotten Books. Heimskringla: History of the Kings of Norway.

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