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I have read numerous times that some Norse warriors, upon death, would go in Fólkvangr, while some others would go to Valhalla. How was it decided which warrior would go to which place? Why did the need to have many "paradises" (whatever you many call it) exist?

Citing Wikipedia:

In Norse mythology, Fólkvangr (Old Norse "field of the host" or "people-field" or "army-field") is a meadow or field ruled over by the goddess Freyja where half of those that die in combat go upon death, while the other half go to the god Odin in Valhalla.

9

The poetic Eddas say that Freya chose half of the dead in battle and the other half went to Odin in Valhalla, the Valkyries take the slain only after Freya chooses her half. Odin gave this right to Freya as a sign of friendliness for the Vanir, to end the war between them and the aesir and get their friendship. Freya went on to live with the Aesir in Asgard with her brother Freyr, Fólkvangr is in Asgard rather than Vanaheim, Freya's home world.

"Eventually the two tribes of divinities became weary of fighting and decided to call a truce. As was customary among the ancient Norse and other Germanic peoples, the two sides agreed to pay tribute to each other by sending hostages to live among the other tribe. Freya, Freyr, and Njord of the Vanir went to the Aesir, and Hoenir (pronounced roughly “HIGH-neer”) and Mimir went to the Vanir." http://norse-mythology.org/tales/the-aesir-vanir-war/

The 14 stance of the Grímnismál poem of the poetic Edda says:

  1. Folkvang is the ninth, there Freyja directs the sittings in the hall. She half the fallen chooses each day, but Odin th’ other half.

"1866 Benjamin Thorpe in Edda Sæmundar Hinns Frôða “The Lay of Grimnir”" http://www.germanicmythology.com/PoeticEdda/GRM14.html

So according to the historical resources it's Freya who chooses, and Odin gets the other half of the warriors slain in battle.

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The Norse mythological texts record three primary places where the dead were perceived to go: Helheim (Old Norse Helheimr, “the home of the goddess Hel“), Valhalla (Old Norse Valhöll, “the hall of the fallen”), and Folkvang (Old Norse Fólkvangr, “the field of the people” or “the field of warriors”).

But they're indistinguishable and don't have any major differences between them.

Valhalla is presided over by Odin, and to gain entrance to it, one must be chosen by him and his valkyries, the “choosers of the fallen.”

Similarily, entrance to Folkvang is dependent upon being selected by Freya.

Valhalla is often depicted as a realm where distinguished warriors engage in a continuous battle, and just such a place is described, in important early sources, as being located beneath the ground – and, intriguingly, without the name “Valhalla” or a cognate anywhere in the account.

source: Ellis, Hilda Roderick. 1968. The Road to Hel: A Study of the Conception of the Dead in Old Norse Literature. p. 85-86.


  1. Folkvang is the ninth, and there Freyia arranges
    the choice of seats in the hall;
    half the slain she chooses every day,
    and half Odin owns.

source: 1996 Carolyne Larrington in The Poetic Edda “Grimnir’s Sayings”

The only difference that is pointed out, is in the way that the dead are chosen to stay. Odin chooses for Valhalla, while Freya chooses for Folkvang.

Coming to the second part of the question:

And why did the need to have many "paradises" (whatever you many call it) exist?

Hel is a place where all humans have to go after their death:

“For there is a time
when every man
shall journey hence to Hel."
Fáfnismál 10

So before the dead finally reach Hel, Odin and Freyja select the ones who are worthy of living in Valhalla and Folkvang.

Therefore,

  • Valhalla receives distinguished warriors.
  • Folkvangr receives the rest of the warriors.
  • Hel receives the rest of the dead.

source: Norse-Mythology.org

  • 4
    I have some doubts about whether Odin actually had any say in who entered Valhalla: Does Odin choose who enters Valhalla?. – yannis Jun 16 '15 at 10:57
  • Obviously this wouldn't be how the Norse explained it but this sounds to me like it could be a compromise resulting from the "war of the functions" discussed by Mallory and others - the suggestion that the Aesir-Vanir distinction (and war) reflects a historical fusion of two ancestral pantheistic religions. In this case, a compromise between two different existing (Vanir and Aesir) explanations of what happens after death. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – arboviral Apr 20 '16 at 11:53
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Leaving aside speculation about relative status, start with the fact that there's a lot we don't know about Norse mythology, and there's no central canon that makes everything match up. So, the correct answer would be that we seem to be dealing with attempts to harmonize a number of beliefs about what happens in the afterlife.
Also, there is really no reason why everyone should have the same fate. Even Christianity has a number of options, although only one paradise.
If I was going to speculate on why Odin and Freyja share fallen warriors between them, I would go back to the Aesir - Vanir war, and suggest that since it ended in a draw, one deity from each side gets half the dead. But that's just a suggestion.

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The Halls of Vallhalla and Folkvangr are not halls of the dead eternal. They are merely training grounds and housing of those deemed worthy by the Vanir and Aesir to defend them at Ragnarok. Where Odin is destined to be swallowed whole by the wolf Fenris. The gods need an army and these places serve merely as a housing of that army.

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Valhalla: home of the heros who did not yield, the valiant dead, Eitenjar the first into the fight when ragnarok begins. Folkvangr is where the other "half" goes. This might just be a way of saying there are two types of people in battle. Odin claims the ones who simply love battle for the sake of battle. Where Freyja takes the ones who are done fighting. This is shown in the fact that Freyja and those who go to Folkvangr do not participate in ragnarok but instead go to Alfheim.

  • I agree with Matthew Menoche. As a practice of Asatru, I have read alot into Norse mythology. Freyja gets first pick over Odin. So not all the best warriors even go to Valhalla. It was part of the deal struck with the Vanir to end the feud between the deities. – Michael Wood Jan 2 '18 at 10:59
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I am a member of a practicing and well-established Coven. Though we are eclectic and welcome many paths, our head crone follows the Asatru (Nordic Heathenism) path and has studied it for many years. There's a subtle distinction I'd like to make that my coven was discussing not too long ago, which is that there's nothing suggesting that Valhöll gets the elite soldiers. If anything, it is the other way around.

Those who were not slain in battle went to Hel to rest- that much is true. Those that died in battle continued on to Valhöll or Fólkvangr- that much is also true. However, the soldiers were split evenly. This is the accepted belief. Also, Freya was given first pick of the dead for Fólkvangr, leaving Odin whomever she did not want for Valhöll.

We're a far-stretch from the original worshipers and they left us only so much evidence of their faith, so it's hard to tell what Freya's criteria may be (a heart of valor vs many men slain in combat for example), but I hope that this helps answer the question.

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The two are pretty much the same. However leaders of the warriors would go to Valhalla while the regular soldiers/vikings would go to Fólkvangr.

Fólkvangr means field of the host. Host refers to a large sum of people.

Valhalla mean "Hall of the slain". Usually only someone of importance would be slain, a regular man would be killed.

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    However leaders of the warriors would go to Valhalla while the regular soldiers/vikings would go to Fólkvangr. Any souce to back this up? – nikaltipar May 4 '15 at 10:57
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    @naltipar It's all based on translation. No source needed. – Young Guilo May 4 '15 at 12:02
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    @YoungGuilo really? If you translated this (which I doubt), could you explain how you arrived at the meaning of those two words? If you are reading a translation, could you cite that translation? Answers without sources are useful to no one, because if I want to learn more about this topic, I have no where to go. – user62 May 9 '15 at 13:48

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