Saturday, January 6, 2018

Shadows In a Timeless Myth Presents Tales of The Valkyrie

 The Valkryie or Valkyrja of Norse Legend

“The daughter of King Eylimi was Svava; she was a Valkyrja and rode over air and sea; she gave this name to Helgi, and often afterwards sheltered him in battles” (Helga Kvida Hjörvardssonar).

The following among other poetical and figurative names are given to the Valkyrias:—The maidens of victory, the goddesses of the fight, the graspers of spears, the witches of the shield, the maidens of the slain, the exultant ones, the strong one, the entangling one, the silent one, the storm-raisers. They are mentioned as riding through the air, over the sea, and amid the lightning, helmet-clad, with bloody brynjas, and glittering spears; the spear which carried death and victory being the emblem of Odin. When their horses shake their manes, the froth which comes from their bitted mouths drops as dew into the valleys, and hail falls from their nostrils into the woods.

The slain were called Val (chosen), and belonged to Odin. From the word Val are derived the names of Valkyrias, Valfödr (the father of the slain), Valhalla (the hall of the slain), Valól (field of battle, field of the slain), and probably also of those birds of prey which after the battle visited the field of action.

Skuld, the youngest of the three Nornir, who personified the future, followed the Valkyrias, probably in order to witness the decrees of fate given to men at their birth.

“There are others that have to serve in Valhöll, carry drink and take care of the table-dressing and the beer cups. These are called Valkyrias; Odin sends them to every battle; they choose death for men and rule victory. Gunn and Róta and the youngest Norn, Skuld, always ride to choose the slain and rule man-slayings” (Gylfaginning,).

It was believed that during a battle warriors sometimes saw Valkyrias coming to their help: how grand and beautiful must have been the vision created in their mind by their faith in them, as they thought they saw them riding on their fiery steeds, and sweeping over the battle-field, by land or by sea. It is hard to realise a grander picture for a warrior to behold.

Helgi saw:—
Three times nine maidens,
But one rode foremost
A white maiden under helmet;
Their horses trembled,
From their manes fell
Dew into the deep dales,
Hail on the lofty woods;
Thence come good seasons among men,
All that I saw was loathsome to me.
[Helga Kvida Hjörvardssonar.]
Sometimes the Valkyrias came to earth and remained among men.

“Nidud was a king in Sweden. He had two sons and one daughter, whose name was Bödvild. There were three brothers, sons of the Finna-king, one Slagfinn, the other Egil, and the third Völund; they ran on snow-shoes, and hunted wild beasts. They came to the Ulfdal, where there is a lake called Ulfsjár (Wolf’s lake), and there made themselves a house. Early one morning they found at the shore of the lake three women who were spinning flax, near them lay their swan-skins; they were Valkyrias. 

Two of them were daughters of King Hlödver (Louis), Hladgunn Svanhvit (Svan-white), and Hervör Alvitr (All-wise); and the third Ölrún, daughter of Kjar of Valland. The brothers took them to their house. Egil got Ölrún; Slagfinn, Svan-white; and Völund, All-wise. There they dwelt for seven winters; after which the women went to visit battle-fields, and did not return. Then Egil went on snow-shoes to look for Ölrún, and Slagfinn for Svan-white, while Völund remained in Ulfdal. He was the most skilled smith that is spoken of in ancient Sagas. King Nidud had him captured, as is told in the song” (Völundar Kvida).

Helga Kvida gives an account of how Sigrun, a Valkyria, betrothed herself to Helgi, and of how she comes with other Valkyrias to protect him. Their appearance is thus described:—

Then gleams flashed
From Logafjöll,
And from those gleams
Came lightning;
The high ones rode helmet-clad
Down on the Himinvangar;
Their brynjas were
And from their spears
Sprang rays of light.
Early (in the day) asked
From the wolf-lair
The dögling (the king) about this
The southern disir
If they would home
With hilding
That night go;
There had been clang of bowstrings.
But from the horse
The daughter of Högni (Sigrun)
Hushed the clatter of shields;
She said to the king,
I think we have
Other work to do
Than drink beer
With the ring-breaker. (Helgi)
Compiled from sources in the public domain.

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