V is for Valkyrja, which is a word taken from the Old Norse for “chooser of the slain.” And then commonly rendered as Valkyrie, referring to the female spirits who are sent to select the bravest men from among those fallen in battle so they can then go to Valhalla and join Odin’s einherjar. They usually forget to mention that the goddess Freyja gets half of the chosen (and first pick, at that). Too busy with all that nonsense about the brass brassieres, I suppose.
Here’s one view of Valhalla, focused on the feasting rather than the constant daily battle practice, in which all of them will die again and again and again, only to be revived at dinner time. Some paradise, eh? Getting ready for Ragnarok is your only goal, and all the other options are worse. Much worse.
The Viking view is all wrong, of course. Honestly, these are supposed to be shield maidens of one sort or another, and yet they are only portrayed in one of two ways, with and without the brass brassiere.
Here’s one with the brass bazoukas, and with wings as well…and are those moose antlers?
Now, tell me, does either of these outfits make ANY sense, in this world or the afterlife, when BOTH feature all that snow and ice? Why would any woman ever put up with frostbitten nips?
I know. I know. My own attire is skimpy indeed in some respects, but that’s only in Faerie, where the weather is perfect. All day. Every day. Nor am I prone to sunburn. Or even mosquito bites.
So… let us dispense with this fantasy.
The Valkyrja, first and foremost, are dead women.
That means any man lusting after them, even if it’s only in his own imagination, is indulging in necrophilia. Should he succeed in his quest, the resulting encounter will not be… fantastic.
If any man succeeds in the usual way, this is how it goes… the Valkyries will haul whatever may be left of him to the Bifrost Bridge, where they ask for a hall pass from Heimdall, and then they’ll deliver him to Valhalla. En route, you may note his complete lack of interest in them, and his inability to participate in any part of the process.
It doesn’t get any better than that. He may be served endless horns of mead and ale, and he may feast to his heart’s content, but the legend says nothing about any other form of close encounter. He’s dead. She’s dead too. It would be gross.
And if our hero should be so unlucky as to encounter any of the valkyrja before he dies in battle, well, his prospects are going to get worse. He is likely to meet up with what is known as a scag– or skass-valkyrja. This is a Valkyrie who has not passed into the afterlife, and who is close kin to the Norns.
If you’re not familiar with the Norns, they are something like the women known to the ancient Greeks as the Fates. And as they spin out the woolen fibers that measure your life, they determine both its length and its course.
So, too, with the skass-valkyrja. But rather than wait until you die in battle to decide what your destiny will be, the skass-valkyrja will make the decision beforehand. And may well enforce the decision, then and there.
She may cast a screaming spear at you, and while the spear is small in size, its effect is lethal. It will strike you in the ribs and feel more like the sting of a bee or a stitch in your side than an actual wound, but you cannot escape its effects. All your organs will fail, one by one, in a cascade of agony that may closely resemble an acute case of pancreatitis.
There will not be a visible injury, and as pancreatitis is commonly caused by excessive intake of alcohol, no one will even know that you’ve been assaulted. No investigation will uncover what has really happened to you.
Therefore, be warned. If you wish to meet a Valkyrie, join the Marines and do it in the old-fashioned way, via the cult of Odin. Otherwise, settle for a Budweiser. Find yourself a living woman, if one will have you, and if not, then settle on something less dangerous. Invest, perhaps, in a personal appliance.