The Valkyrie symbol is the symbol of the great female warriors in Norse mythology known as the Valkyries. Due to the role of these great warriors, the symbol is most commonly associated with death and facing one's fate.
What is a Valkyrie?
The Valkyrie is an old Nordic (pagan) symbol made famous in the current times by pop culture. However, the Valkyries were greatly significant during the Viking era. They are warrior women associated with Odin and Valhalla.
The Valkyries ride winged horses and carry a sword. Thus, the symbol has two straight parallel lines with an open wing on the top of each line. The symbol represents death, destiny, and fate. The Valkyries decide which Viking warrior gets to live another day.
What is a Valkyrie’s Job?
The Valkyries select Viking warriors killed in battles. They bring the dead warriors to Valhalla and ready them to fight the Battle of Ragnarok for Odin. The warrior women are strong and beautiful. They wear armor and carry a sword when riding across the sky on a winged horse.
Though the Valkyries are not as popular as Thor or Loki from Norse mythology, they played a crucial role in helping the Norse gods, especially Odin. Apart from choosing the souls of dead warriors, the Valkyries are also the caretakers of the einherjar, the fallen heroes. They are portrayed as friendly spirits who help the einherjar relax at Valhalla as they prepare to train for Ragnarok.
Freya (Freyja) is the most known Valkyrie in Norse mythology. She represents fertility, battle, death, and love. She is the god of war, along with Odin and Tya. Brynhild, the daughter of king Budli, is another Valkyrie. The Marvel series (movies and comics) are based on Brynhild.
Scandinavian mythology also talks about shieldmaidens. In many instances, the Valkyries and shieldmaidens are depicted as the same. They have similar attributes, appearance, and jobs. However, there’s one major distinction. The shieldmaidens come from humans, while the Valkyries have divine powers and belong to the gods.
That said, shield maidens are also female warriors with supernatural powers. Lagartha is a powerful shield maiden and the wife of Ragnar Loðbrók, a well-known Viking warrior.
What does the Valkyrie Symbol Mean?
The Valkyrie symbol denotes destiny, fate, and death. It is associated with how a Viking warrior’s death is connected to his destiny and fate and whether or not he would serve the god Odin after his demise. However, the symbol also means the following:
The Valkyries are powerful female warriors who can kill anyone. They are strong, agile, and have divine abilities to complete their job.
Some Valkyries are called swan maidens as they wear swan feathers. Men who steal their feathers can take the Valkyries as their betrothed. The Valkyries can leave the men if they recover the stolen feathers. This is denoted as a transformation from one form to another.
Courage and Bravery
The Valkyries are the epitome of courage. They are determined and get the job done. The warrior women also symbolize female empowerment as they are role models for the shieldmaidens and other women warriors from the Nordic times.
What is the Rune for the Valkyrie?
Algiz or Elhaz is the Germanic/Slavic rune for Valkyrie. It is a highly powerful rune representing the divinity of the universe. The rune represents three worlds- Vanaheim (gods of the Vanir), Asgard (gods of the Aesir), and Ljusalfheim (The Light Elves). Together, they share their energy and power with the mortal world, Midgard.
The Viking rune looks like a Y with a vertical line through the V. It seems similar to branches on Yggdrasil, the knowledge tree. The Valkyrie rune symbolizes protection, spiritual awareness, divinity, and a higher self.
What are the Symbols of the Valkyries?
The Valkyrie symbol has different forms. One traditional design has a double staff with wings on either side. Some designs depict a single staff below a winged helm. Another version has the Valknut (the Nordic version of the Celtic trinity knot) between the Valkyrie wings. The Valknut is Odin’s knot and is associated with the dead warriors (those killed in a battle).
One of the most common versions of the Valkyrie symbol is the Valkyrie amulet. This symbol is circular, with two intersecting squares. Inside of the squares is a symbol that resembles a swastika. This image symbolizes movement, life, and the sun.
In a different version of the Valkyrie symbol, the Valknut is replaced by the Helm of Awe. This symbol represents bravery, fearlessness, and courage.
What does the Name Valkyrie Mean?
The word Valkyrie is a combination of two Old Norse words, Val and Kyrja (Valkyrja). Val means to choose, and Kyrja means to slaughter. So, Valkyrie denotes those who choose who will be killed. This was the Valkyries’ job as they created an army of dead warriors for Odin.
How many Valkyrie are there?
Their names mention quite a few Norse Valkyries. The well-known Eddas and sagas talk about the following Valkyries:
- Sigrun: Victory rune that gives Helgi the power to speak
- Sigrdrífa: Victory urger
- Eir: Protector of living warriors
- Thurd: Caretaker of einherjar (is considered Thor’s daughter)
- Sváva: Sleep maker
- Gunnr: War
- Þrúðr: Power
- Göndul: Wand-wielder
- Geirskögul: Spear-Skögul
- Skögul: Shaker
- Skeggjöld: Axe-age
- Hildr: Battle
Different sources attribute slightly different roles and interpretations to the Valkyries. Most Valkyries are depicted as beautiful women in royal clothes made of raven or swan feathers. The black raven feathers contrast their snow-white skin, sharp eyes, and arresting features.
The Valkyries are also called swan maidens as they wear swan feathers (depending on the lore). However, they only wear armor and chainmail corsets during the war and are a force to reckon with.
Are Valkyries Good or Evil?
Valkyries are considered good, friendly, and helpful spirits. They may have a grim job of dealing the dead souls and fighting battles. But they are intelligent, caring, and highly astute warriors. They are wise, capable, and efficient.
Yet, the Valkyries also have a wrong side. They are known to take warriors as lovers and protect them against all odds. Similarly, they lash out at warriors they dislike or don’t care about. They are also restless and energetic spirits. The Valkyries are known to start fights just for relief from boredom.
Hence, the Valkyries can be good and evil, depending on their mood and the stories you read about them. Still, most people consider the Valkyries good.
If you found this article on the Valkyrie symbol interesting, learn more about Norse mythology and symbolism by checking out this article on Norse protection symbols.