Valhalla is the most common name heard when talking about the Norse myths or paganism and ancient Norse/Germanic beliefs, but most people don’t know what Valhalla is exactly. I have heard people saying things like “Midgard is not form me! Valhalla awaits me!” or “When i die i will go to Valhalla, that is the place for me!”, so this post will be just to clear that up, what Valhalla is, behind the myth, its true purpose and meaning.
First lets talk about Valhalla from the myths and stories, because many people don’t know about it and so like that they will never understand what it is and know the truth behind every metaphor.
Valhalla is the great Hall of the Dead, the hall that stands in Gladsheimr in Asgard, home of the Aesir tribe of Gods.When the bravest of the breave fall in battle, they are chosen by Odin, the king of Asgard, the Allfather, and the Valkyrjes come in the form of ravens and pick them up and take them to Valhalla, the Hall where the braves of the warriors will dwell for eternity. In these great halls, warriors will fight each other every day, improving their fighting skills, they will kill one another, get wounded and even die, but at the end of each day they will be resurrected and will feast in the great banquet of the hall and have sex with women in there the entire night. In the next morning the same thing will happen, an endless circle, fighting, dying, resurrection, feasting and have sex for eternity. Figthing every day to be ready for the coming of Ragnarök, the twilight of the gods, the great war between the Aesir and the Vanir tribes agaisnt the chaotic forces, where most gods will die including Odin, but a new dawn will rise for mankind, after everything burns and the sun and the moon are devoured, the world will be a cold place, filled with ice, frost and snow, all life gone, and the great war will torn the world asunder and everything will burst into fire and flame. After the great war is over and the very few survivors are left, the world will regenerate and life will come back, a new world will be made for mankind after the chaotic destruction that ended the lifes of almost every deity and mortals.
Now, i will not be talking about Ragnarök and its meaning, i will leave that for another post, i will just concentrate this post on Valhalla.
We have take into account that the people who believed in such tales were people that lived their lifes in battle, battle agaisnt their neighbours, battle agaisnt other countries, battle agaisnt the weather and the forces of nature in the cold harsh northern countries where winter is a deadly foe, to them life was that, a constant battle and honoring the glorious dead warriors of old, singing their tales and how courageous they had been. Living a life of battle, they would turn more to the warlike gods than to the gods of agriculture or other life affairs. The Aesir gods were such a tribe of gods, warlike. It isn’t as if these people didn’t pray to other gods, in fact all gods were importante, but the Norse and Germanic peoples gave so much impression to the other peoples of Europe, and by the Viking age the pillaging and ravaging throughout many European countries was so great, that many were those that have written about the Vikings and their warlike gods, and warriors were no farmers, or fisherman, or anything else, they were just warriors and they spent too much time at that, and Valhalla became a word very much mentioned in their daily lifes, being the best of the best, the bravest of them all, chosen by Odin himself, such honor, such glory.
The cold North was a difficult place to reach, was more dificult to reach its people without having your head cut off, the knowledge that was left behind for many centuries, was the knowledge earned by those who say closely the horrors of battle, and the invasions of this horde of men that seemed like to come from Hell itself, lets not forget that these were the times where Christianity was spreading throughout Europe and pagan people were seen as the bringers of evil, people who worshiped the devil, so this made them even more horrific creatures. Unfortunately these were the only facts in the History of Europe that marked the Norse/Germanic peoples for too long, but enough to inspire manywriters and musicians, which rapidly in modern times reached the masses through the fastcommunication sistems of the media. Many were and still are, those who want to achieve such glory, to be known as the best, inspired by the Norse tales, and music became the best cultural strand to spread such things and inspire the younglings.
Fortunately our minds evolve, even if nowadays seems to be a very slow process, and Archaeology, Anthropology and History helped a lot in knowing who these people were, their gods, their daily lifes, their beliefs, as a matter of fact, in the late XX century already in the 90’s few things were known about the Norse people and was still believed by many that the Norse afterlife was only Valhalla, a great hall filled with undead warriors. Nowadays we know that that isn’t true, and Valhalla is just a tiny needle among numerous needles in a barn, compared to the complex Nordic mythology and the Nine realms.
What i have just written about is the scientific and historical explanation of this subject, now lets decode the metaphor and see Valhalla in spiritual perspective.
Fighting for eternity and dying, to be resurrected to do it over and over again, would soon became too painful, and lets go into a christian prespective, it would become an Hell rather than a Paradise. People would become dull, sad, ignorant, brutes and stupid, they would only know how to fight and make battle, and if you ever delve into the all Norse subjects, the myths, stories etc. you will see that the mind of the Norse people was actually very concerned with gaining knowledge, being wise, you just have to read The Hávamál if you don’t want to go with all the trouble of Reading every story and myth, and you will see a thousand of good, wise and very intelligent advises to be taken in ones life to achieve a better life, to be humble, brave, intelligent, cunning, watchful, good, courteous, gracious, respectful, hardworking, honorable and so on. This is what Valhalla is, and not just Valhalla, but the other Halls of other deities and all the other places of the Nine realms in which one must go to achieve diferente kinds of knowledge about many subjects.
Valhalla in truth is a place where we and our soul/spiritual form, will continue to evolve, to improve, become better, a place where we can extend our knowledge into different areas and be more attentive, and less selfish, to become wise and have better opinions, to differentiate the good from wrong, putaside the preconceptions and evolve our spirit, our mind, our very essence.
Valhalla isn0t the first place to enter to earn these things, or to improve, the more ignorant one might be, the more wrong that has been done, the less the person is able to go into Valhalla or anyother place similar, the more far away one might get, and will be likely to go into other places, step by step until the person evolves, think of this as your own life, you don’t start by going to college or straight to work, you will start earning knowledge by what your parents and other family members do, you will slowly build your personality, each book you read, each movie, is a step further to be wiser or not, it depends on your actions, your choices, what you do in life will be reflected in what places you will be visiting in the afterlife.
Now seeing Valhalla in a shamanic prespective, which is a subject that has attracted the attention of many and its study has evolved a lot and has helped to better understand the connections we have with each other and with the natural world and the deities, is also a good way to know what Valhalla really is, unfortunatelly those who practice Norse shamanism, Seiðr, or Shamans, rarely have seen how Valhalla really looks like, in Shaman journeys when coming to Asgard and actually reaching Gladsheimr, people only stick with the surroundings of Valhalla, but the few that have really seen it or had a Glimpse of how it looks like, Valhalla is actually a city, one of a kind that you haven’t seen before, beautiful and well arranged, with a great Hall also called Valhalla, you really have the feeling that that is exactly the place to achieve greater knowledge, like an huge library filled with countless food for the brain.
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