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

Valhalla is made of shields, and has spears for its rafters. Seats made of breastplates surround the many feasting tables of the vast hall. Its gates are guarded by wolves, and eagles fly above it.

1the great hall in Norse mythology where heroes slain in battle are received

2a place of honor, glory, or happiness HEAVENan academic’s Valhalla

they fight one another, doing countless valorous deeds along the way. But every evening, all their wounds are healed, and they are restored to full health. Their meat comes from the boar who comes back to life every time he is slaughtered and butchered. For their drink they have mead that comes from the udder of the goat Heidrun. They thereby enjoy an endless supply of their exceptionally fine food and drink

How Did One Gain Entrance to Valhalla?

The only Old Norse source that provides a direct statement about how people gained entrance to Valhalla is the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson, a thirteenth-century Icelandic scholar. Snorri wrote many generations after Norse paganism had given way to Christianity and ceased to be a living tradition, and he often went out of his way to artificially systematize the disparate material in his sources (many of which we, too, possess). According to Snorri, those who die in battle are taken to Valhalla, while those who die of sickness or old age find themselves in Hel, the underworld, after their departure from the land of the living.

Yet Snorri blatantly contradicts this statement in his account of the tale of the death of Baldur, who was killed violently and was nevertheless borne to Hel. No other source makes this distinction – and several offer further examples to the contrary, some of which we’ll explore below. This neat, tidy distinction between Hel and Valhalla is certainly an invention of Snorri’s – a product of his tendency to attempt to systematize Norse paganism, which was never a neat, tidy system while it was still in practice.[7]

Nevertheless, Snorri probably wasn’t entirely off-base. While entrance to Valhalla seems to have ultimately been a matter of who Odin and his Valkyries chose to live there rather than any particular impersonal standard, it seems reasonable to surmise that Odin would select those who would serve him best in his final battle. The ranks of Valhalla would therefore predominantly be filled with elite warriors, especially heroes and rulers. And, indeed, when Old Norse sources mention particular people residing in Valhalla, they almost invariably fit that description – along with elite practitioners of other roles that the hall of a Viking Age chieftain would have contained, such as the poet Bragi.

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Where Was Valhalla Located?

The most famous description , it is located in Asgard, the gods’ celestial fortress.

However, other lines of evidence suggest that it was at least sometimes seen as being located underground, like the more general underworld.

As an important mythic locale, Valhalla belonged to a complex religious, mythological, and cosmological belief system shared by the Scandinavian and Germanic peoples. This mythological tradition developed in the period from the first manifestations of religious

These three realms were supported by an enormous tree (Yggdrasil), with the realm of the gods ensconced among the upper branches, the realm of mortals approximately halfway up the tree (and surrounded by an impassable sea), and the underworld nestled among its roots. Valhalla, the feasting hall of the Aesir and the gathering place of the honored dead, was an important component of this overall cosmological picture.

In Norse mythology, the souls of warriors who died nobly in battle were brought to a magnificent palace, where they spent their days fighting for diversion, immune from lasting injury, and their evenings lustily feasting on freshly killed boar and quaffing the free-flowing mead. In Old Norse, the word for this warrior heaven is Valhǫll (literally, “hall of the slain”); in German, it is Walhalla. English speakers picked up the name as Valhalla in the 18th century. Nowadays, we can use the word figuratively, and induction or admission into a modern-day Valhalla doesn’t require passing from this life. It can be a place of honor (a hall of fame, for example) or a place of bliss (as in “an ice cream lover’s Valhalla”).