Wyrd Designs: Just Because You’re Asatru, Doesn’t Mean You’re Going to Valhalla

One of the commonly misperpetuated beliefs of the Asatru afterlife is that the end goal is for us all to go to Valhalla. For these individuals that put such importance on the warrior aspects of our religion they overlook a couple of things. Foremost is that Freyja had first choice of the battle-slain, so if you qualified you may end up going to her hall, and NOT Valhalla. Secondly, while warrior aspects and cultuses were present in antiquity, ultimately the ancient cultures were agriculturally derived. As such, life and the afterlife was more than about war, instead it was representative of the entire culture and worldview.

Unfortunately, much of the information on the afterlife was lost during the time of Christian conversion. However a few select references within our tradition remain about a number of Halls and Gods that play host to the dead.

  • Hel – is both the name of the Goddess of the underworld who plays host to some of the dead, and is also the termreferring to the realm of the dead. Etymologically it’s believed this roots to simply the word for grave, as the place where the dead reside. It has no connotations of good or evil in and of itself. However within Hel there are 2 special subsections for where those who committed evil in life (oathbreakers, murders, etc.) were known to go:
  • 1.      Nifolhel – where those who have committed evil go

    2.      Nastrond/possibly also Wyrmsele (in OE)- where the most evil are sent

  • Battle-slain – if not evil go to Odin’s Valhalla or Freyja’s Sessrumnir.
  • We know that Vingolf played host to the dead. But it’s unclear from the lore if this is another one of Odin’s Halls where those who are not battle-slain may go,  or it may also refer to a hall hosted by the Goddesses instead.
  • Those who die at sea go to the Goddess Ran.
  • The Goddess Gefjon is said to play host to dead maidens.
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  • Sorn Skald

    Don’t forget the possibilities of some kind of reincarnation (as in the Helgi poems and some of the stories of Olaf Tryggvason) or living on in the burial mound in some fashion (also as in the Helgi poems, some of the thattr, and frequent interpretations of burial goods).