Folkvangr | Norse Mythology


Folkvangr is a meadow or field ruled by the goddess Freya, where half of those who fall in battle are sent, while the other half are sent to Odin in Valhalla. Folkvangr was mentioned in the Elder Edda and the Younger Edda, which were compiled in the 13th century. According to the Younger Edda, there was the main hall of Freya Sessrumnir.

Folkvangr in Egils saga

In Egill Skallagrímsson's Saga, when Egill refuses to eat, his daughter Þorgerðr says that he will leave without a supply of food and thus starve, thus making him meet the goddess Freya:

Thorgerd replied in a loud voice, "I have not eaten this evening, nor will I until I reach Freya. I know of no better deeds than those of my father. I no longer intend to live after both my father and brother are dead."

Britt-Mari Näsström believes that "Fólkvangr is also open for women who have suffered a noble death." Näsström cites as an example a potential connection of the Egils saga to the Hervör Saga, where the queen became trapped in the dísarsalr (The Hall of Dísir) after discovering that her husband had cheated on her. Britt-Mari points out that "this Dís could be Freya, leader of the female deities, the place of the queen's suicide could therefore be connected to Freya." The queen's suicide could be related to Freya.

Theories about Folkvangr

John Lindow believes that if Fólkvangr is seen as an "army," then it appears as an alternative to Valhalla. Lindow further adds that like Odin, Freyja has a group of warriors ready to fight for her in the eternal Hjaðningavíg.

Rudolf Simek lays out his theory that the name Fólkvangr is certainly not much older than Grímnismál itself. He also adds that the description of Gylfaginning is very close to the description of Grímnismál, however in both descriptions they add that Sessrúmnir is located in the Fólkvangr.

According to Hilda Ellis Davidson, Valhalla is well known as it plays a very important role in both war and death, but the meanings of the other halls in Norse mythology such as Ýdalir, place of residence of the god Ullr or Freya's Fólkvangr have been lost.

Britt-Mari Näsström thinks that Gylfaginning is referred to as "every time he rides into battle he takes half of the fallen" interpreting Fólkvangr as "the Field of Warriors".

Siegfried Andres Dobat comments that "Freyja's mythological role as selector of the souls of the fallen for her kingdom Fólkvangr, emerges as a mythological model of the Valkyrjar and Dísir."

Folkvangr in today's world

At the beginning of the twentieth century Carl Ernst Osthaus developed the "Folkwang-Gedanke" or "Folkwang-Konzept," by which art and life could be harmonized. Under this concept several cultural institutions were founded using the name Folkwang. These institutions include the Folkwang Museum in Essen (opened in 1902) and the Folkwang University of the Arts (still in operation today).