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A sacred place can be interpreted as many things that can and cannot be seen or visited. The majority of all mythologies have some sort of sacred place that is associated with it. A sacred place doesn’t have to be a heaven or hell. It can be an altar, ruin, place of sacrifice, ritual spot, burial site, cultural migration lines, pictographs, and any other place that could be essential to a culture. (Leonard & McClure, 2004, “Gulliford’s Nine Categories of Sacred Places”). One of the more famous sacred places in Norse mythology is Valhalla, because of its reputation. Valhalla
There are many sacred places associated with Norse mythology that have been viewed by the Scandinavian people over thousands of years. The one place that I find the most interesting is Valhalla, “hall of the fallen”. Valhalla is used to house fallen warriors that were selected by Valkyrie’s on the battle field. It was believed by Norse warriors that if they die in battle and they were worthy enough that Valkyries would pick them up and take them to Valhalla to fest in Odin’s hall. Odin collected the greatest and most loyal warriors in his hall for Ragnarok. Those who are not worthy enough to enter into Valhalla are sent to Hell’s kingdom in Niflheim. Origins and History
In Norse mythology Odin created the world, Midgard, by killing his father and using his body to create it, and to create Asgard; home of the gods. Odin is king of all the Aesier, which are gods. The enemies of the Aesier are the giants from Jotunheim, a world made of mountains of ice. Odin created humans from two tree trunks he found while walking one day. Odin was known as the father of all gods, because he created them. Other traditional gods were Loki, Freyja, Freya, Baldr, and Thor (Rosenburg, 2011, p. 458). Ragnarok is described as the last great battle of the gods. Humans are to serve the same fate of defeat as the gods do to the giants. When the battle occurs those human warriors that were famous enough in battle to gain access to Valhalla, will fight alongside the gods. (Rosenburg, 2011, p. 458).
During Ragnarok many of the gods will be defeated by evil elements, and it was said in prophecy that certain events would happen that would be the beginning to the end. The event is set off when Loki kills his brother Baldr, and is then cast into the underworld. Thor will see death from the great sea serpent, Jormungand, who was so big that its entire body stretched around the world and it swallowed its own tail. Loki and Heimdall, the gate keeper, died from battling each other to the end. Even Odin finds death by Fenrir, a great wolf. Although the worlds of Midgard and Asgard were both destroyed by Ragnarok, it was reborn again through another creation (McCoy (2012-2014)). “Baldur returned from the underworld, and the gladdened land became more lush and fruitful than it had been since it was created the previous time.” Sacred Objects
The most interesting park about Norse mythology and Ragnarok is that Odin has already foreseen it to the end. Odin traded one of his eyes to drink the water of Yggdrasil, the tree of life. His eye that he sacrificed is a sacred item to Norse mythology. Odin’s sacrificing his eye for knowledge is viewed as love for his Aesier. Odin made that sacrifice so he could best prepare his fellow gods for Ragnarok. Thor’s hammer, Mjollnir, is a very important and famous sacred object. Thor is the god of thunder and the protector of the worlds. He uses his great hammer to fight off the giants.
In many mythologies and cultural believing, once you have died it is inevitable that you will go to some sort of heaven or hell. In Norse mythology, people will either go to the underworld or they will have the chance to go to Valhalla. In Greek mythology everyone is sent to the underworld to the Kingdom of Hades. According to Stookey (2004), Warriors who show great heroism are given existence in different domains. Those who are allowed passage to different domains in both mythologies are not subject to judgment or punishments. In the Greek Underworld, the dead are required to cross a river by riding as a passenger boat.
The boat is steered by Charon, who is the Underworlds ferryman. Typically a dead person is given a coin to pay to Charon, and that coin is used to secure safe passage past the three headed-hound of Hades. When the dead are traveling to Hel’s kingdom in Norse mythology, they are given a sturdy pair of shoes. It is required for the dead to cross the river Gjall, and the bridge is guarded by a guard who must be paid in blood. Of course those who fought gallantly on the battle field, and were worthy enough were taken to Odin’s hall of Valhalla. Cultural Relevance
The myth of Valhalla was relevant to the Norwegian, Icelandic, and Germanic people because it gave them purpose and motivation to defeat their enemies. Those warriors won their battles because they had such high violent tempo in battle. If a warrior was to die in battle, but not in a glorious way then it brought shame to his family.
As we know sacred places can either be somewhere that can and cannot be physically seen. The Norse myth of Valhalla is very unique because the admittance requirement gave warriors a purpose to fight their hardest in battle. It also gave them no fear of death in battle. They knew that if they fought hard enough, and died in an honorable way they would be carried to Valhalla.
Rosenburg, D. (2011). World Mythology: An Anthology of the Great Myths and Epics. Retrieved
from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.
McCoy, D. (2012-2014). Norse Mythology. Retrieved from http://norse-
Stookey, L. L. (2004). Thematic Guide to World Mythology. Retrieved from
Leonard, S., & McClure, M. (2004). Myth and Knowing. An Introduction to World Mythology.
Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.