The Mythology of the Valkyries

The Mythology of the Valkyries

Some of the most famous female warriors in mythology are the Valkyries. These mythical warrior women were depicted in both the Prose and Poetic Eddas. In this article, we look at the depictions of these figures, the myths they appear in, and some outfit inspiration for dressing as one.

Mythological Depictions

There are a few different ways that the Valkyries are depicted in Norse mythology. In the best-known depictions, they are a group of maidens who serve Odin. Odin sends them to the battlefield to choose from the slain those who are worthy of Valhalla, one of the afterlife destinations in Norse mythology. They would serve mead to the members of Valhalla, called the einherjar. The Valkyries often share a similar depiction to Freyja, who was the goddess of battle and also picked soldiers for her hall in Folkvangar.

In the popular, often more recent depictions, they wear helmets and shields. They have associations with fairness, brightness, gold, and bloodshed. The myths either describe them as purely supernatural or humans with supernatural powers. They either rode horses to the battlefields or flew. As a result, Valkyries are often depicted with some form of wings, either on their helmets or as winged beings. Legends claim that they either cause death to those unfavored or guarded the lives of the ones that they did favor.

The Mythology of the Valkyries
Walkyrien by Emil Doepler, 1905

This popular and common depiction of Valkyries coincides with a change in the depiction, or description, of Valhalla. Valhalla was originally called Vallholl. The word holl meant rock and Valhalla roughly translated to Rock of the Slain. Valhalla could have referred to a battlefield or the burial mound of the dead. In addition, the Valkyries may originally have been thought of as death demons who feasted on the slain and then transferred the souls to the afterlife. This concept existed prior to the Norse conversion to Christianity. Around 1000-1100, the idea of Valhalla changed as Christianity and literacy entered the area. With the change of Valhalla to a Hall of Heroes, the image of the Valkyries also changed towards figures of feminine beauty, strength, and martial skill in the myths. This concept of beautiful warrior women solidified by the 18th and 19th centuries

The Mythology of the Valkyries
Valkyrien by Peter Nicolai Arbo, 1869

Appearances in the Myths

The Valkyries appear in various places in the Eddas. For example, some Valkyries attend the funeral of the god Baldr after his death by mistletoe. There were multiple named Valkyries. A few examples include Hildr whose name means battle, Eir or mercy, Thrud or strength, and Sigrun or victory. One of the Norns, the Norse goddesses of fate, named Skuld appears as a Valkyrie in a couple of poems, including Voluspa. However, one of the most famous Valkyries in Norse mythology was Brynhildr. She gets renamed in Wagner’s Ring Cycle opera. In the opera, she was called Brunhild. Towards the beginning of the story, the main character Sigfried revives her from sleep in a circle of flame. This is just one myth that features the famous warrioresses.

The Mythology of the Valkyries
Amalia Materina, the first Brunhilde of the Ring Cycle, August 1873

Outfit Inspiration

If you are looking to become one of the famous Valkyries from Norse mythology, then are some great options for you to choose from. We have a few full armour sets such as the Epic Shieldmaiden Full Armor Set that would provide all of the armour at once. If you were wanting some steel in the armour, then you could pair the Butted Chainmail Hauberk with the Winged Fantasy Viking Helmet. Wearing some arming wear underneath the chainmail would be advisable as well. These armour pieces would work well for a more fantasy Valkyrie style. If you were wanting to learn more about historical Viking armour, then we have a great article on the topic.

Of course, for a Valkyrie, you will need some kind of weapon fitting for a fierce warrior maiden from Norse mythology. You could create your own mighty spear with one of the Viking spearheads we have. There are also LARP spears to check out if you are cosplaying or attending a LARP battle. LARP swords would work equally as well. The Carved Hilt Viking Long LARP Sword is one such example as it features a very Viking look to its hilt.

As mentioned earlier, a popular depiction of Valkyries involves them carrying shields. You may want to have a shiny shield or a more historical one such as the Round Wooden Viking Shield. It features a design that would look right at home on the arm of any Viking warrior. Meanwhile, the Iarla LARP Shield with the Huginn & Muninn design would easily add some color to any Valkyrie look.

Clothing

Finally, a Valkyrie needs to wear something underneath her impressive looking armour ensemble. You could pair the Womens Viking Tunic or the Tronde Wool Tunic with the Ragnar Viking Pants. Together, they would create a basic look that would match any armour that you choose. You would want to add some historical looking shoes to finish off the look. Either tall or short boots and shoes would work, depending on the armour you chose. You would want to go with shorter boots if you were wearing greaves, but you could go with longer boots for other outfits as well. In addition to shoes, you could wear some accessories like belts. Along with the belt, a frog or two to hang your weapon or even a drinking horn would be a great idea.

Besides the gods themselves, the Valkyries are the most recognizable figures in Norse mythology. These warrior maidens come up time and time again in pop culture from Wagner to Marvel films such as in Thor: Ragnarok. In this article, we looked at how they were depicted in Norse mythology as well as some outfit inspiration if you wish to dress up as one.

Sources:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Valkyrie-Norse-mythology

https://www.worldhistory.org/Valkyrie/

https://mythus.fandom.com/wiki/Valkyrie

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