How the bloodthirsty Valkyries of Norse mythology became a pop culture phenomenon | Stylist

We know them for their strength, their skill, and their unparalleled beauty, but how do modern representations of Valkyries match up to the original myths? Christobel Hastings charts the transformation of the most fascinating and misunderstood figures from the ancient world 

In Njal’s Saga, a thirteenth-century Icelandic family saga, there is a story of ancient feuds, prophetic dreams, and bloody acts of revenge. This is a tale where human passions have a high cost; but in one passage in the Darraðarljóð, a skaldic poem in Old Norse, the saga moves beyond the blood and gore of the mortal realm. 

The song tells how on the morning of the Battle of Clontarf, a Caithness man named Dörruðr observes twelve creatures riding at full speed towards a bower. Curious about their mission, he follows them and watches through a crack in a window, where inside, the mysterious beings, six of whom are named as Hildr, Hjörþrimul, Sanngriðr, Svipul, Guðr, and Göndul, are exulting in the prospect of slaughter. 

However, the true horror comes not from their malicious scheming, but the object of their work: a grisly loom, made from men’s entrails and weighted with severed heads. “See! Warp is stretched, For warriors’ fall, Lo! Weft in loom, ‘Tis wet with blood,” they sing triumphantly as they weave the soon-to-be tragic fates of warriors. 

The creatures are no bloodthirsty heathens, but female spirits of the great god Odin. They are, of course, the Valkyries.

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