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 Post subject: Valkyries (From the Viking Answer Lady)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 5:52 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:22 pm
Posts: 543
Location: Vinland (Pennsylvania)
Here is a bit about Valkyries from the Viking Answer Lady.

Valkyries, Wish-Maidens, and Swan-Maids

Dear Viking Answer Lady:
I am a high school coach for girls' sports. The school mascot is "the Vikings" and features a grim visaged male warrior. I'd like to have our women's sports teams be called "the Valkyries" but it occurs to me that I should find out more about the Valkyries before I do so. I'd appreciate any information you can give me on the topic.

Also, if you have access to any images of Valkyries, that would be helpful as well in designing team jerseys and logos.
(signed) Coaching Our Warrior Women
Gentle Reader:

The Valkyrie is, in the oldest strata of belief, a corpse goddess, represented by the carrion-eating raven. The name in Old Norse, valkyrja, as well as Old English wælcyrge means literally, "chooser of the slain." The word for valkyrie was used by Anglo-Saxon scholars to gloss the names of the Greco-Roman goddeses of vengeance and retribution, the Furies or Erinyes, as well as for the Roman goddess of war, Bellona.

The Valkyrie is related to the Celtic warrior-goddess, the Morrigan, who likewise may assume the form of the raven. The Irish badb is at one and the same time a seeress foretelling the fate of men upon the battlefield and is also the carrion-crow or raven. (Rooth 228). At times the female seeress was replaced by the work of women's hands in the form of a Raven Banner:

Erat namque eis uexillum miri portenti, quod licet credam posse esse incredibile lectori, tamen, quia uerum est, ueræ inseram lectioni. Enim uero dum esset implicissimo candidissimoque intextum serico, nulliusque figure in eo inserta esset imago, tempore belli semper in eo videbatur coruus ac se intextus, in uictoria suorum quasi hians ore excutiensque alas, instabilisque totoque corpore demissus.

For the Danes had a banner possessed of a wonderful property, which although I believe it will seem incredible to the reader, nevertheless, because it is true, I will insert it for him for the sake of truth. For although it was woven of a very plain bright silk and had no figure embroidered on it yet always in time of war a raven seemed as it were to appear on it, in victory opening its beak and beating its wings, restless in its feet, but very quiet and drooping in its whole body in defeat. (Hrafnhildur Bodvarsdottir, p.111)
Sometimes the blood-covered Valkyrie-prophetesses are seen themselves as weavers, as in the poem Darraðarljóð where the valkyries appear to prophesy the outcome of the next day's battle (describing the fall of Brian Boru to Viking forces at the Battle of Clontarf, 1014):

Blood rains from the cloudy web
On the broad loom of slaughter.
The web of man grey as armor
Is now being woven; the Valkyries
Will cross it with a crimson weft.

The warp is made of human entrails;
Human heads are used as heddle-weights;
The heddle rods are blood-wet spears;
The shafts are iron-bound and arrows are the shuttles.
With swords we will weave this web of battle.

The Valkyries go weaving with drawn swords,
Hild and Hjorthrimul, Sanngrid and Svipul.
Spears will shatter shields will splinter,
Swords will gnaw like wolves through armor.

Let us now wind the web of war
Which the young king once waged.
Let us advance and wade through the ranks,
Where friends of ours are exchanging blows.

Let us now wind the web of war
And then follow the king to battle
Gunn and Gondul can see there
The blood-spattered shields that guarded the king.

Let us now wind the web of war
Where the warrior banners are forging forward
Let his life not be taken;
Only the Valkyries can choose the slain.

Lands will be ruled by new peoples
Who once inhabited outlying headlands.
We pronounce a great king destined to die;
Now an earl is felled by spears.

The men of Ireland will suffer a grief
That will never grow old in the minds of men.
The web is now woven and the battlefield reddened;
The news of disaster will spread through lands.

It is horrible now to look around
As a blood-red cloud darkens the sky.
The heavens are stained with the blood of men,
As the Valyries sing their song.

We sang well victory songs
For the young king; hail to our singing!
Let him who listens to our Valkyrie song
Learn it well and tell it to others.

Let us ride our horses hard on bare backs,
With swords unsheathed away from here!

And then they tore the woven cloth from the loom and ripped it to pieces, each keeping the shred she held in her hands... The women mounted their horses and rode away, six to the south and six to the north. Vítt er orpit fyri valfalli
rifs reiðiský rignir blóði;
nú er fyri geirrum grár upp kominn
vefr verþjóðar er þær vinur fylla
rauðum vepti Randvés bana.

Sjá er orpinn vefr ýta þörmum
ok harðkléaðr höfðum manna
eru dreyrrekin dörr at sköptum
járnvarðr yllir enn örum hrælat
skulum slá sverðum sigrvef þenna.

Gengr hildr vefa ok hjörþrimul
sangríðr svipul sverðum svipul
skapt mun gnesta skjöldr mun bresta
mun hjálmgagarr í hlíf koma.

Vindum vindum vef Darraðar
sá er ungr konungr átti fyrri
fram skulum ganga ok í fólk vaða
þar er vinir várir vápnum skipta.

Vindum vindum vef Darraðar
ok siklingi síðan fylgjum
þar sjá bragnar blóðgar randir
Gunnr ok Göndul þær er grami hlíðu.

Vindum vindum vef Darraðar
þar er vé vaða vígra manna
látum eigi líf hans faraz
eigu valkyrjur vals um kosti.

Þeir munu lýðir löndum ráða
er útskaga áðr um byggðu
kveð ek ríkum gram ráðinn dauða
nú er fyrir oddum jarlmaðr hniginn.

Ok munu Írar angr um bíða
þat er aldri mun ýtum fyrnaz
nú er vefr roðinn munu um lönd fara
læspjöll gota. Nú er ógurligt um at litaz
er deyrug ský dregr með himni
mun lopt litat lýða blóði
er sóknvarðar syngja kunnu.

Vel keðu vér um konung ungan
sigrhljóða fjöld syngjum heilar
enn inn nemi er heyrir á
geirfljóða hljóð ok gumum segi.

Ríðum hestum hart út berum
bregðum sverðum á braut héðan.

The Legend of Volundr from the Franks Casket

Weaving is an integral function of both the valkyrie and the Norn. In Beowulf we read of the wigspeda gewiofu (weavings of victory), creafted by the valkyrie. The valkyrie who can weave victory can also weave defeat, for the valkyrie had the art of the war-fetter, which allowed the valkyrie to bind a warrior with terror, or release a favored warrior from those same bonds. Like the Norns, the valkyries are intimately involved in weaving or spinning the fates of men. In this capacity, the valkyries were worshiped as disir, and offered sacrifices (dísablót) as in Ynglingasaga Chapter 28.

Midway between the third and eleventh centuries, the Valkyries begin assuming a more benign aspect. Small amulets and pictures on memorial stones begin to depict the figure of the beautiful woman welcoming the deceased hero with a horn of mead to the afterlife. By this later time, the Valkyries as demigoddesses of death had their legend conflated with the folklore motif of the swan maiden (young girls who are able to take on the form of a swan, sometimes as the result of a curse). In her role as swan-maiden, the valkyrie can travel rida lopt ok log, "through air and through water." It is known that the swan was popularly associated with the concept of augury. See, for instance, the phrase, es scwant mir, (it swans me, meaning "I have a premonition or a foreboding").

If one could capture and hold a swan maiden, or her feathered cloak (alftarham), one could extract a wish from her. This may be why sometimes valkyries are known as swan maidens or oskmey (wish maidens), or perhaps they take this name from Odinn's appelations, Oski or Wunsc (wish). In his identity as the god cognate to the Roman Mercury, Odinn at times is found to carry a wunsciligerta (OHG, wishing-rod). Grimm makes the connection between the wunsciligerta and the sleep thorn with which Odinn enchants Brynhildr into the magical sleep, and also connects it to the enchanted spindle upon whcih folktale descendents of Brynhildr will prick their fingers and be cast into a hundred-years' slumber. Rocks associated with the valkyries Brynhildr or Kreimhildr are sometimes called spilstein or Chreimhildespil, derived from spille (spindle, fusus), or the stone might be called kunkelstein (distaff-stone).

The motif of the swan-maiden appears in the earliest strata in the sagas. In Helreid Brynhildar, a man named Agnar forced Brynhildr and her seven sisters into his service by hiding as they bathed and then stealing their swan-shifts. In Volundarkvida, the saga tells of three Valkyries who put their swan-shifts aside to sit on the shore spinning flax, and who consequently were wooed and won by three brothers -- here the oskmeyjar stay seven years with the brothers, only to fly away at the end of that time, never to return. In Hromundars saga Greipssonar, the valkyrie Kara appears in swan shape flying above a battle, shapechanged by the wearing of a alftarham (swan-shift). However in time, the valkyrie/swan-maiden evolves into a marchen character, Dornroschen, Sleeping Beauty, the wunschelweib.

The descriptions of Odinn's hall describe the Valkries as foster-daughters, just as the einherjar (the chosen warriors of Odinn) are foster sons. See Grimnsimal 36, Gylfaginning 36) Freyja is said to be the first of the Valkyries, called Valfreyja, "Mistress of the Slain," she pours ale at the feasts of the Aesir (Skaldskarpamal 17) Other names for Freyja include:

Mardöll ("Sea-Shining", probably a kenning for amber)
Hörn ("Lady of Flax")
Gefn ("The Giving")
Sýr ("The Sow", "The Protector")
Vanadís ("Goddess of the Vanir")
Þrungva ("She Who Pines for Love Lost")
Skjálf ("Shield", "She Who Protects")
Although the sources are not clear on this, the chief of the Valkyries seems to have been the goddess Freyja. Like Odinn, she received half of those slain in battle, but since ladies go first she was allowed first choice! Freyja possessed a magical cloak of falcon feathers that allowed her to take the shape of a falcon if she wished, making the swan maidens similar to the goddess by having "feather coats" or cloaks that enable their shape-shifting abilities and the power of flight.

The Valkyries appeared riding in a troop, often of nine war-like women:

Þá brá lióma af Logafiöllom
enn af þeim liómom leiptrir qvómo;
hávar und hiálmom á Himinvanga
Brynior vóro þeira blóði stocnar.
Enn af geirom geislar stóðo.
Helgakviða Hundingsbana I

[Then burst forth light at Logafell
and from those lights flashes leaped forth.
[The maidens rode] sublime under helmets on Heaven's Plain;
their byrnies were spattered with blood
and beams stood forth from their spear-points.]

Hlude wæran hy, la, hlude
ða hy ofer þone hlæw ridan,
wæran anmode. ða hy ofer land ridan,
. . . .
þær ða mihtigan wif
hyra mægen beræddon
and hy gellende garas sændan.
For a Sudden Stitch

[Loud were they, lo
when they rode over the barrow.
Bold were they, when they rode over the land.
. . . .
when the mighty women
made ready their strength
and they sent forth the screaming spears.]

Eiris sazun idisi, sazun here duoder
suma hapt heptidun, suma heri lezidun,
suma clubodun umbi cuoniouuidi;
insprinc haptbandun, unuar uigandun.
First Merseberg Charm

[In days gone by, the idisi sat and they sat here and yonder.
Some made firm the fetters, some hindered the host
and some picked apart the chains;
escape from fetters, escape from foes.]

There are several traditional names for Valkyries mentioned in the sagas and the Eddas:

Brynhildr ("Byrnie of Battle" or "Mail-coat of Battle")
Sigrdrifa ("Victory Blizzard")
Sigrún ("Victory Rune")
Hrist ("The Shaker")
Mist ("The Mist" or "The Fog")
Skeggjöld ("Wearing a War Axe")
Skögul ("Battle")
Hildr ("Battle")
Hilda ("Battle")
Hildeberg ("Battle Fortress")
Hildegund ("Battle War")
Þrúðr ("Power")
Hlökk ("Noise", "Din of Battle")
Herfjötur ("War-Fetter")
Göll ("Loud Cry", "Battle Cry")
Geirahöd ("Spear of Battle")
Grimhildr ("Mask or Helm of Battle")
Randgríðr ("Shield of Peace")
Ráðgriðr ("Counsel of Peace" or "Gods' Peace")
Reginleif ("Heritage of the Gods")
Gunnr ("Battle")
Róta ("She Who Causes Turmoil")
Skuld ("She Who Is Becoming")
Göndul ("Magic Wand" or "Enchanted Stave" or perhaps, "She-Were-Wolf")

Arthur Rackham's Depiction of the Valkyrie Brunhild
Terms describing valkyries include:

Valkyrie ("Chooser of the Slain")
Waelcyrie or Waelcyrge (Old English form of the word Valkyrie, also means "Raven")
Walachuriá (Old High German form of the word Valkyrie)
Valakusjó (Gothic form of the word Valkyrie)
Valmeyjar ("Battle Maidens", "Corpse Maidens")
Skjaldmeyjar ("Shield Maidens")
Hjalmmeyjar ("Helm Maidens")
Óskmeyjar ("Wish Maidens")
Svanmeyja ("Swan Maiden")
Hvít ("White")
Hjalmvítr ("Helm-White")
Biört ("Bright")
Sólbiört ("Sun-Bright")
Alvítr ("All-White")
Drósir Suðrænar (southern maids)
Suðræn (southern one)
Dísir Suðrænar (southern dísir or goddesses) (in Völundarkviða and the Helgi lays)

A common misconception about the Valkyries is that they were fighting women. This is not so. No where will one ever find an account of a Valkyrie actually in combat, and only rarely carrying a weapon. In fact, women warriors in the Viking Age are mostly myth, spurred on by folks such as Saxo Grammaticus, who as a Christian priest was aghast at the relative freedom and societal power of real-life Viking women, and so wrote many many stories about women warriors that relied much more on his classical education's references to the Greek Amazon legends than to any Viking practices. Saxo's aim was to present a woman warrior, then to create a virile hero who would defeat her with nothing but his aura of virility and manly good looks. The names of a few of Saxo's valkyrie-like women include:

Hede (Heiðr in Old Norse, "heath", often found as a witch-name and related to "heathen.")
Swanhwid (Svanvít in Old Norse, "Swan-White")
Gunwar (Gunnvör in Old Norse, Gunnora in Old English, "War-Oath")

Brother Hrafnulfr

"May Odin grant you a glorious end, may Freya smile upon you, and may we feast together in Valhalla!"

 Post subject: Re: Valkyries (From the Viking Answer Lady)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 7:49 am 
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Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 1:36 pm
Posts: 370
Location: Manitoba
Does anyone here know if there is anything more about the Valkyrie Sanngriðr? Is she mentioned in any other places besides Darraðarljóð?


 Post subject: Re: Valkyries (From the Viking Answer Lady)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 3:12 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:22 pm
Posts: 543
Location: Vinland (Pennsylvania)

I am not sure of this. I will try to do some digging for you.

Brother Hrafnulfr

"May Odin grant you a glorious end, may Freya smile upon you, and may we feast together in Valhalla!"

 Post subject: Re: Valkyries (From the Viking Answer Lady)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 3:35 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 1:36 pm
Posts: 370
Location: Manitoba
Thank you! :mrgreen:


 Post subject: Re: Valkyries (From the Viking Answer Lady)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 6:02 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:22 pm
Posts: 543
Location: Vinland (Pennsylvania)
HAil Sister Zephyr!

I have not found anything else of a mention for you, but will add the following post in addition to others of the thread, and because it mentions the Valkyire name you are looking for:

List of valkyrie names in Norse mythology

"Walkyrien" (1905) by Emil DoeplerIn Norse mythology, a valkyrie is one of a host of female figures who choose which warriors will win or die in battle. The valkyries bring their chosen who have died bravely in battle to the afterlife hall of the slain, Valhalla, ruled over by the god Odin, where the deceased warriors become einherjar. There, when the einherjar are not preparing for the events of Ragnarök, the valkyries bear them mead. Valkyries also appear as lovers of heroes and other mortals, where they are sometimes described as the daughters of royalty, sometimes accompanied by ravens, and sometimes connected to swans.

The Old Norse poems Völuspá, Grímnismál, Darraðarljóð, and the Nafnaþulur section of the Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál provide lists of valkyrie names. Other valkyrie names appear solely outside these lists, such as Sigrún (who is attested in the poems Helgakviða Hundingsbana I and Helgakviða Hundingsbana II). Valkyrie names commonly emphasize associations with battle and, in many cases, on the spear—a weapon heavily associated with the god Odin. Scholars such as Hilda Ellis Davidson and Rudolf Simek propose that the names of the valkyries themselves contain no individuality, but are rather descriptive of the traits and nature of war-goddesses, and are possibly the descriptive creations of skalds, a type of traditional Scandinavian poet.

Some valkyrie names may be descriptive of the roles and abilities of the valkyries. The valkyrie name Herja may point to an etymological connection to Hariasa, a Germanic goddess attested on a stone from 187 CE. The name Herfjötur has been theorized as pointing to the ability of the valkyries to place fetters. The name Svipul may be descriptive of the influence the valkyries have over wyrd or ørlog—a Germanic concept of fate.

Valkyrie names (Note the Name, meaning and where it is found in the lore are listed)

Brynhildr "Bright battle" Skáldskaparmál

Eir "Peace, clemency" or "help, mercy" Nafnaþulur

Geirahöð Connected to the Old Norse words geirr ("spear") and höð ("battle"). Grímnismál Appears in some manuscripts of Grímnismál in place of the valkyrie name Geirölul

Geiravör "Spear-vör" Nafnaþulur

Geirdriful "Spear-flinger" Nafnaþulur

Geirönul, Geirrönul, Geirömul, Geirölul (various spellings) Uncertain; possibly connected to the Odinic name Geirölnir and the dwarven name Ölnir. Possibly meaning "the one charging forth with the spear". The form Geirölul may be connected to the runic charm word alu. Grímnismál, Nafnaþulur

Geirskögul "Spear-skögul" (see Skögul entry below) Hákonarmál, Völuspá, Nafnaþulur

Göll "Tumult" or "noise, battle" Grímnismál, Nafnaþulur

Göndul "Wand-wielder" Völuspá, Nafnaþulur

Guðr or Gunnr "War" or "battle" Völuspá, Darraðarljóð, Gylfaginning, Nafnaþulur

Herfjötur "Host-fetter" or "fetter of the army" Grímnismál, Nafnaþulur

Herja Related to the Old Norse herja and Old High German herjón (meaning "devastate") Nafnaþulur

Hlaðguðr svanhvít "Hlaðguðr swan-white" Völundarkviða

Hildr "Battle" Völuspá, Grímnismál, Darraðarljóð, Nafnaþulur

Hjalmþrimul Possibly "Helmet clatterer" or "female warrior" Nafnaþulur

Hervör alvitr Alvitr possibly means "all-wise" or "strange creature" Völundarkviða

Hjörþrimul "The sword warrioress," derived from Old Norse hjörr ("sword") and þrima ("battle, noise") Darraðarljóð, Nafnaþulur

Hlökk "Noise, battle" Grímnismál, Nafnaþulur

Hrist Related to Old Norse hrista (meaning "shake, quake") and therefore meaning "the quaking one" Grímnismál, Nafnaþulur

Hrund "Pricker" Nafnaþulur

Kára Either "the wild, stormy one" (based on Old Norse afkárr, meaning "wild") or "curl" or "the curly one" Helgakviða Hundingsbana II

Mist "Cloud" or "Mist" Grímnismál, Nafnaþulur

Ölrún Possibly "ale-rune" Völundarkviða

Randgríðr, Randgrid "Shield-truce" or possibly "shield-destroyer" Grímnismál, Nafnaþulur

Ráðgríðr "Council-truce" or possibly "the bossy" Grímnismál, Nafnaþulur

Reginleif "Power-trace" or "daughter of the gods" Grímnismál, Nafnaþulur

Róta Possibly connected to the Old Norse noun róta (meaning "sleet and storm") Gylfaginning

Sanngriðr "Very violent, very cruel" Darraðarljóð

Sigrdrífa "Victory-urger" or "inciter to victory" Sigrdrífumál

Sigrún "Victory rune" Helgakviða Hundingsbana I, Helgakviða Hundingsbana II

Skalmöld "Sword-time" Nafnaþulur

Skeggöld or Skeggjöld "Axe-age" Grímnismál, Nafnaþulur

Skögul "Shaker" or possibly "high-towering" Hákonarmál, Völuspá, Grímnismál, Nafnaþulur

Skuld Possibly "debt" or "future" Völuspá, Gylfaginning, Nafnaþulur

Sveið Unclear; possibly "vibration" or "noise" Nafnaþulur

Svipul "Changeable" Darraðarljóð, Nafnaþulur

Þögn "Silence" Nafnaþulur

Þrima "Fight" Nafnaþulur

Þrúðr "Strength" or "power" Grímnismál, Nafnaþulur

Form the above, it appears as if Sanngriðr "Very violent, very cruel" is only found in the Darraðarljóð. It may well be just another name of another Valkyrie. OR just one of many who has found our way into the lore and was immortalized in it.

Also Here:

Darraðarljóð is a skaldic poem in Old Norse found in chapter 157 of Njáls saga. The song consists of 11 stanzas, and within it twelve valkyries weave and choose who is to be slain at the Battle of Clontarf (fought outside Dublin in 1014 CE). Of the twelve valkyries weaving, six of their names are given: Hildr, Hjörþrimul, Sanngriðr, Svipul, Guðr, and Göndul. Stanza 9 of the song reads:

Now awful it is to be without,
as blood-red rack races overhead;
is the welkin gory with warriors' blood
as we valkyries war-songs chanted.
At the end of the poem, the valkyries sing "start we swiftly with steeds unsaddled—hence to battle with brandished swords!" The poem may have influenced the concept of the Three Witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Again. Maybe the name: Sanngriðr, is juat but one of many names she may have.

As to Valkyrie names, For my money the Valkyrie: Svipul meaning "Changeable" found in the Darraðarljóð, Nafnaþulur Seems alot like my wife. ;-) I'm Just saying though.... ;-) Sometimes she also seems like: Ráðgríðr "Council-truce" or possibly "the bossy" as found in the Grímnismál, Nafnaþulur. But afterwrds I think she cahnges into: Þögn "Silence" as in the Nafnaþulur

She would tell you I am as moody as Odin and tempermental as Thor. In fact, A number of the Name sof Odin she would say fit me. Especially the Grim One. ;-) No disrespect to the beloved Valkyries or my beloved wife... but I couldn't resist a little ribbing. I also can take it as well... ;-)

Brother Hrafnulfr

"May Odin grant you a glorious end, may Freya smile upon you, and may we feast together in Valhalla!"

 Post subject: Re: Valkyries (From the Viking Answer Lady)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 1:48 am 
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Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 1:36 pm
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Location: Manitoba
Yup, those are the exact sources I used :D Thanks for helping. I don't know why, but after reading the name I've had a particular interest in that Valkyrie for some reason, I think I might be using that as my viking name :lol:


 Post subject: Re: Valkyries (From the Viking Answer Lady)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:56 am 
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Hail Sister Zephyr!

Indeed, it is a good name! I think I shall call my wife: Svipul meaning "Changeable." It fits. ;-)

Brother Hrafnulfr

"May Odin grant you a glorious end, may Freya smile upon you, and may we feast together in Valhalla!"

 Post subject: Re: Valkyries (From the Viking Answer Lady)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 5:24 pm 
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Zephyr the violent one; it fits :)

He worships Odin, not some woodworker nailed to a cross.
- Outlander (2008)

Saorsa gu Brath
(Freedom Forever)

Si vis pacem para bellum.
(If you want peace, prepare for war)

 Post subject: Re: Valkyries (From the Viking Answer Lady)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:56 pm 
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Yes... Indeed it does :mrgreen:

One last question, on the actual pronunciation... XD I just want to know if I'm pronouncing it right.


 Post subject: Re: Valkyries (From the Viking Answer Lady)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:39 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:22 pm
Posts: 543
Location: Vinland (Pennsylvania)
Perhaps another here could answer it better.


I am not sure of the one letter... Anyone else on this?

Brother Hrafnulfr

"May Odin grant you a glorious end, may Freya smile upon you, and may we feast together in Valhalla!"

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