Valhalla

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Valhalla

Nationality/Culture

Norse

Pronunciation

val-HAL-uh

Alternate Names

None

Appears In

The Eddas

Myth Overview

In Norse mythology , Valhalla was the great hall of Odin (pronounced OH-din), the chief of the gods. It was located in Asgard (pronounced AHS-gahrd), the home of the gods of war and the sky. According to legend, the heroic warriors slain in battle gathered in Valhalla. There they enjoyed a glorious afterlife and awaited Ragnarok (pronounced RAHG-nuh-rok), a time of great destruction when they would join the gods to wage a final batde against the forces of evil. Valhalla had more than 640 doors, each wide enough to allow hundreds of warriors to leave at the first sign of threat. Filled with shields and armor, the enormous hall was also the haunt of wolves, ravens, a boar that could be eaten and brought back to life, and a goat that provided an unlimited supply of an alcoholic drink called mead.

The Valkyries (pronounced val-KEER-eez), the battle maidens of Odin, selected the warriors worthy enough to live in Valhalla. These warriors entered the palace when they died, and their wounds were healed miraculously. They spent their days feasting and improving their battle skills in preparation for Ragnarok. Those warriors who were killed during practice each day were brought back to life and healed each evening.

Valhalla in Context

The people of the Norse culture valued bravery in warfare as one of their most important cultural traits. This is reflected in the different versions of the underworld that the Norse believed in. Valhalla was the most heavenly, with constant feasting and merriment; it was reserved for those who died bravely in battle in foreign lands, fighting for the advancement of the Norse culture. Those who died fighting to preserve their own lands were next, taken in by the goddess Freyja (pronounced FRAY-uh).

Those who died in other ways were considered to be without glory, and went to the relatively dismal underworld watched over by Hel .

Key Themes and Symbols

For the Norse people, Valhalla represented the rewards of bravery. Valhalla also represented the ideal life to a Norseman: all the food, drink, and song one could ever hope for, with beautiful maidens as servants and plenty of opportunities to engage in battle. Valhalla also stood as a symbol of preparedness, since it served as a temporary home for soldiers who would ultimately be called upon to fight at Ragnarok, and was designed to allow them to be ready to fight at a moment's notice.

Valhalla in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

Valhalla is the most well-known realm of the dead in Norse mythology, probably because it is also the most heavenly. The grand-scale descriptions of the hall found in the Eddas—the most significant literary source of Norse myths—are not often depicted by artists, perhaps because the immense dimensions would be difficult to capture. The name Valhalla has been used as the title of a long-running Danish comic series begun in 1978; the comic is an adaptation of many of the stories found in the Eddas, and is scheduled to conclude with the events leading to Ragnarok. DC Comics has also borrowed the name for its Valhalla Cemetery, a fictional resting place for superheroes who have died while performing their duties—much like the Norse warriors in the Valhalla of myth.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

In Norse mythology, dying bravely in battle was the only way to gain entrance to Valhalla. In the history of religion, there are many examples of religious groups who believe that a special paradise is reserved in the afterlife for martyrs, or those who die for their beliefs. Using your library, the Internet, or other available resources, research the idea of martyrdom in one of the major world religions. Are there important differences between the Norse cultural ideal and religious beliefs about martyrdom? If so, what are they?

SEE ALSO Heroes; Norse Mythology; Odin; Ragnarok; Valkyries

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Valhalla

In Norse* mythology, Valhallawhich means hall of the deadwas the great hall of the god Odin*. It was located in Asgard, the home of the gods of war and the sky. According to legend, the heroic warriors slain in battle gathered in Valhalla. There they enjoyed a glorious afterlife and awaited Ragnarok, a time of great destruction when they would join the gods to wage a final battle against the forces of evil. Valhalla had more than 640 doors, each wide enough to allow hundreds of warriors to leave at the first sign of threat. Filled with shields and armor, the enormous hall was also the haunt of wolves, ravens, a boar that could be eaten and brought back to life, and a goat that provided an unlimited supply of an alcoholic drink called mead.

The Valkyries, the battle maidens of Odin, selected the warriors worthy enough to live in Valhalla. When these warriors died, they entered the palace and their wounds were healed miraculously. They spent their days feasting and improving their battle skills in preparation for Ragnarok. Those warriors who were killed during practice each day were brought back to life and healed each evening.

See also Heroes; Norse Mythology; Odin; Ragnarok; Valkyries.

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Valhalla In Norse mythology, the Hall of the Slain, where chosen warriors enjoyed feasts with the god Odin. It is depicted as a glittering palace, with golden walls and a ceiling of burnished shields.

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Valhalla or Walhalla (both: vălhäl´ə, –hăl´ə), in Norse mythology, Odin's hall for slain heroes. This martial paradise was one of the most beautiful halls of Asgard. The dead warriors, brought to Valhalla by the Valkyries, fought during the day and feasted at night.

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Valhalla in Scandinavian mythology, a palace in which heroes killed in battle were believed to feast with Odin for eternity. The name is from modern Latin, and comes from Old Norse Valhǫll, from valr ‘the slain’ + hǫll ‘hall’.

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Val·hal·la / valˈhalə; välˈhälə/ Scandinavian Mythol. a hall in which heroes killed in battle were believed to feast with Odin for eternity.