The concept of the Valkyrie in Norse mythology evolved over time. At first they were creepy spirits of death that hovered carrion-like over the battlefields. At this point, they were associated with ravens. Eventually, they becametall, beautiful, blond maidens and were linked to the swan.
Here are some vital details about the Valkyries lore:
1. Nobody really knows how many of these maidens existed. Most scholars suppose that there were between three and sixteen, but as many as 39 have been identified by name in various sources.
2. Even though in later myths Valkyries carry weapons and wear some sort of armor, the early legends tell us that they were unarmed and dressed only in feathers.
3. Valkyries rode in small units of no more than nine individuals. More than one band would scour the battlefields.
4. A doomed warrior would often see a Valkyrie before going into battle.
5. The Northern Lights are the result of light reflecting in the Valkyries’ armor.
6. Obedience to the will of the gods and virginity were required for a Valkyrie to maintain her immortality.
7. They could, and often did, fall in love with mortals. Most of the time, however, these unions were unhappy ones.
Duties of the Valkyries
Asides from deciding the outcome of battles, the Valkyries took half the chosen dead warrior to Valhalla; the enormous assembly hall presided by the great god Odin. There the Valkyries served mead and entertained the chosen ones, known as Einherjar, until the coming of Ragnarök, the Norse Armageddon.
The other half of the dead in battle were taken to Fólkvangr, a field presided by the goddess Freyja, who, being a lady, had first choice of the slain warriors. Freyja was the goddess of love, beauty, fertility, witchcraft, gold, war, and death. She might have being the leader of the Valkyries.
It also appears that they were shield maidens – attendants – of Odin.
Some of the best known of these maidens are:
1. Brynhildr or Brünnhilde: Her name means Bright Battle. She is probably the best known of the Valkyries for she is the heroine of four operas by German composer Richard Wagner. Brynhildr disobeys Odin by selecting a different warrior to win a battle and sets off a series of tragic events that en in her death and the demise of her lover, Siegfried or Siguor Sigmundson too.
2. Sigrún: She falls for the mortal Helgi Hungdingsbanewho is eventually killed in battle. Sigrún, which signifies “Victory Rune”, dies early of sorrow, just to be reborn as Kára, another Valkyrie.
3. Reginleif: This “Daughter of the Gods” was one of the favorite mead servers of the Einherjar.
4. Hildr: In Old Norse, Hildr means “Battle.” She could resurrect those slain in the battle field.
5. Eir: With a name that signifies “Mercy” of “Help,” this Valkyrie is associated with healing and medical skills.