Brynhildr The Defiant Valkyrie

According to the Völsunga Sagas of The Valkyries we discover that they must answer to Odin and do his bidding or they will suffer the consequences such as one defiant Valkyrie named Brynhildr or Brünnhilde who bestowed the victory of a battle to Agnarr instead of Odin. Odin punished her for her betrayal towards him by pricking her with the thorn of sleep which induced an everlasting slumber. (Some claim this is the original Sleeping Beauty legend that the children’s story may have evolved from.)

Brynhildr was protected by several shields encircling her with a wall of fire. According to the tale she was eventually awakened by a kiss from Sigurdr or Sigurd whom she had previously shared with him the meaning of the runes.

Photo below:The Ledberg Rune stone designated as Ög 181 under Rundata,located in Östergötland, Sweden. Translation: Bisi placed this stone in memory of Þorgautr … his father and Gunna, both. Thistle mistle casket. (Public Domain)


Sigurdr,  was a mere mortal true in heart and courage crossed through the fire wall to free Brynhildr from her eternal sleep. Once awakened she teaches him some liberal arts and wisdom. Later in his journeys he unknowingly drinks a love potion (created by Gudrún and her brother Gunnar) to supplant his love for Brynhildr to Gudrún, Brynhildr’s rival.
Brynhildr is tricked into wedding Gunnar instead of Sigurdr, she becomes so enraged she has Sigurdr murdered. Suddenly, she comes to her senses she throws herself upon Sigurdr’s corpse on top of his lighted funeral pyre so they can be together throughout eternity.


Sources & References:

  • Featured Illustration: “Brunnhild” (1897) by Gaston Bussière Public Domain
  • Claude Lecouteux Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic Folklore, Mythology and Magic. ISBN 9781620554807 ©2016 Publisher Inner Traditions.

Author: Nifty Buckles

Nifty Buckles folklore writer shares Folklore from around the World

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