V is for Valhöll

Valhalla (pronounced “val-HALL-uh”; Old Norse Valhöll, “the hall of the fallen”[1]) is the hall where the god Odin houses the dead whom he deems worthy of dwelling with him.

–from Norse Mythology for Smart People by Daniel McCoy

Norse mythology includes several places where the dead go. Odin’s hall, Valhalla (Hall of the Fallen), and Hel’s underground domain, Hel (the Hidden), are the most well known, but perhaps that is more due to the influence of Christianity which introduced heaven and hell as the reward and punishment meted out according to how humans lived during their lifetimes.

There are also Freya’s hall, Folkvang (Field of the People), and the underwater abode of the giantess, Ran, where those who drowned were sometimes gathered.

More is known about Valhalla than the other places. Valhalla is where Odin chooses the best of the fallen warriors, brought to him by the valkyries, to live with him until Ragnarok. Once there, they become einherjar, those who fight alone. While there, the einherjar do what warriors do best–they fight. Each evening their wounds and injuries are healed, and they feast and drink. And so life-after-death goes on.

Until Ragnarok.

For more about Valhalla, see Poetic Edda, stanza 33, Voluspo, The Wise Woman’s Prophecy; stanza 41, Vafthruthnismol, The Ballad of Vafthruthnir; stanzas 6, 8, 18, 21-23, 25, Grimnismol, The Ballad of Grimnir; stanzas 1, 8, Hyndluljoth, The Poem of Hyndla; prose after stanza 37, Helgakvitha Hundingsbana II, The Second Lay of Helgi Hundingsbane; stanza 2, Atlakvitha En Grönlenzka, The Greenland Lay of Atli;

[1] Simek, Rudolf. 1993. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Translated by Angela Hall. p. 346.

Image credit: By Max Brückner (1836-1919) – [1], Public Domain, Link

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