For today’s post, I have decided to take a look at the connection between the Irish War Goddess the Morrighan and Norse Valkyries. The Morrighan is a Goddess of war, death, rebirth, prophecy, and even a Faery Queen. Valkyries were handmaidens of Odin, and responsible for helping collect the souls of warriors who were being taken to Odin’s hall, Valhalla!
It may seem like the Morrighan and Valkyries are rather disparate topics to be comparing, but both the Irish Goddess and Norse Demi-Goddesses were associated with war and death. In particular, there is the connection of warriors who die in battle. The Morrighan chose who would win during battles, and who would die in battle. Similarly, Valkyries would collect the souls of the brave warriors who died in battle, and deserved to go to Valhalla. Here I must also mention that Norse Love and War Goddess Freya had her own hall, and she even got the first choice of the dead warriors! This is also where the connection between Freya and the Valkyries comes in. By extension, we can say that this could link up the Morrighan and Freya!
The Morrighan is also the leader of the banshees and is often said to be a banshee herself. This furthers her death connection, and I personally see banshees and Valkyries as linked. Banshees are Irish faery women who wail at the coming death of a member of a family, and this is often seen as an omen of death in battle since in ancient Ireland hearing the banshee’s scream before a battle foretold you would not make it out. In a similar vein, is the Washer at the Ford, who is seen washing out bloody armor before a battle. If a warrior saw his armor being washed by this faery woman, he knew he would not make it out of the battle alive. Therefore, we can see the Morrighan and her banshees and washers as omens foretelling death in battle, and Valkyries as the ones who ferry the souls of these dead soldiers to the afterlife! At the end of the day, both the Morrighan and Valkyries are said to determine the fate of warriors in battles, linking both to prophecy and fate.
While they come from different traditions, and different pantheons, it is not a far stretch to see them as linked. Norse tradition traveled all across several lands, due to the travel of Vikings. Similarly, Celtic lore was found across many Celtic countries. This makes for an obvious blending of certain beliefs between Norse and Celtic mythologies! I hope that you have enjoyed this short post about the connection between the Morrighan and Valkyries. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is a Valkyrie. I found the image on https://www.lifeinnorway.net/valkyries/.
- Bulfinch’s Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch
- The Morrigan: Celtic Goddess of Magick and Might by Courtney Weber
- Fire Jewel: A Devotional for Freyja compiled by Gefion Vanirdottir