Usually depicted as beautiful mail-clad women, the Valkyries were powerful, fierce goddesses of battle and warfare. Originally known as “Choosers of the slain” their role was to lead Odin’s heroes from the earthly plain to Valhalla, Odin’s hall in Asgard. It is here they train for the final battle known as Ragnarok. They have the power to decide who lives and who dies – they can bind a man with fear or free him from concern or worry. Odin may claim the life of a warrior but it is up to the Valkyries to decide how.
As demigoddesses, they are granted immortality as they attend to Odin but if they were to leave, they’d return to their mortal age and eventually die. However, as handmaidens of Odin, they learn much from the god of mystery, magic, poetry and war. They are rewarded with a place in his hall, fine food and drink, immortality and the knowledge of Galdr (the chanting or singing of the runes to perform magic). They fly on magical (some say winged) horses or wolves and their shields and armor flicker in the night sky creating the Aurora Borealis or “Northern Lights”. They are not restricted to their horses, however, and many possessed feather cloaks giving them the ability to shapeshift into birds or beasts. Their bodies and mounts were invisible except to those who were to die in battle – a marked warrior might even dream of a Valkyrie the day before his death or see her on the battlefield, though most men welcomed a Valkryie as she represented an honorable death.
Their power extends far deeper than just mail-coated battle maidens. They possess strong magic and the ability to think for themselves. They can control the weather and outward appearance. They delve into the deep recesses of our souls, seeking out the pain we keep buried. They are not afraid of darkness or death, for they know that death brings release and eventual rebirth.