The Truth Behind Valhalla

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With the approach of Super Bowl LII, Minnesota looks forward to welcoming people from across the country and world to the Bold North.  What if we told you that the Bold North also has its roots in Viking mythology?  Also, inside of U.S. Bank Stadium some of the nicest premium seating areas are called the Valhalla Suites. While only a select few are able to enter these premium areas, the Valhalla of Vikings lore also had restrictions. This week we look at the Truth Behind the Vikings and Valhalla.

Valhalla, the hall of the slain, is the great house in Asgard where the heathen gods live according to myths. Valhalla is the counterpart of Paradise, but Vikings did not get there by being good. Only men killed in battle made it to Valhalla.

Valkyries greet the valiant warriors (called einherjar) who play games, drink beer and eat pork from the boar Sæhrimnir. This pig resurrects each morning to be butchered again. The rest of the time, the einherjar spend in combat. Those killed revive the next day, too.

Valhalla is a huge building. It is golden, and the roof is made of spear shafts. In the walls are set 640 doors, so wide that 960 einherjar may exit each doorway at the same time. They do this when it is time for the final battle against the enemies of the gods.

The deeper meaning of Valhalla is to promote boldness. It is doubtful if pagan Vikings really believed in an afterlife. The safest way of attaining immortality was instead to acquire a worthy reputation. Wealth and family will vanish and everyone will die; only one’s renown is of lasting value. A Viking earned his repute by being brave and bold, and beyond all to make little of hardship. To die defending your chieftain was the highest honor.

Henrik Williams is the renowned authority of Old Norse languages, returning to the American Swedish Institute as an in-demand speaker on topics encompassing the Vikings, runes, Old Swedish and Old Icelandic. Awarded a 2015 Rudbeck medal for groundbreaking research, Williams is a scholar and Professor of Scandinavian Languages at Sweden’s Uppsala University. As a philologist, he studies languages in written historical sources, essentially combining literary criticism, history, and linguistics.  A 40-year Minnesota Vikings football fan since his years as an exchange student, Williams is currently debunking Nordic myths and advising the team on the authenticity and meaning of its symbols.

These programs are made possible through the collaborative efforts of the American Swedish Institute, Uppsala University, American Friends of Uppsala University, Uppsala University Alumni Association – Minnesota Chapter, American Association for Runic Studies and The Minnesota Vikings.  To learn more or reserve a spot please visit the link below. http://www.asimn.org/programs-education/events/henrik-williams-day-runic-scholar

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