Who are the Einherjar in Norse Mythology?

In Norse mythology, the Einherjar (Old Norse: einherjar, singular: einherji) are a special group of fallen warriors who reside in Valhalla, the great hall of the chief Norse god Odin. The term “Einherjar” can be translated as “those who fight alone” or “chosen warriors” or “single fighters”.

The Einherjar, the elite warriors who reside in Valhalla, are described as being equipped with divine weapons and armor befitting their status as esteemed warriors.

When brave and heroic warriors die in battle, the valkyries, divine female figures, choose them from the battlefield and bring them to Valhalla. There, the Einherjar spend their afterlife feasting and preparing for Ragnarok, the final apocalyptic battle between the gods and the forces of chaos, including the fierce wolf Fenrir.

RELATED: Most Famous Valkyries in Norse Mythology


The Einherjar are considered the best of the best, elite warriors who fought fearlessly and were highly skilled in combat. They are known for their strength, bravery, and unwavering loyalty to their lord and fellow warriors.

What the Einherjar eat and drink in Valhalla

In Valhalla, the Einherjar enjoy an eternal feast, where they dine on the meat of the boar Sæhrímnir and drink mead from the goat Heiðrún. It is said that the Valkyries, “Odin’s maids”, are the ones that serve food and drink in Valhalla. And no matter the number of warriors who arrive, there was always enough meat and drink to feed them all.

Heiðrún – the goat that provides an endless supply of meat and mead to the einherjar

In Norse mythology, Heiðrún is a mythical creature and an important figure associated with the world tree Yggdrasil and the halls of Valhalla. She is depicted as a magical goat that resides in the heavenly realm.

Heiðrún is known as the “Greatest of All Goats” and is said to graze on the leaves of the cosmic tree Yggdrasil. Her unique attribute is that she produces an endless supply of mead, a fermented drink, from her udders. This mead is known as “Heiðrún’s mead” or “Heiðrún’s brew.”

The mead that Heiðrún produces in Valhalla is highly significant because it serves as the primary source of sustenance for the Einherjar, the chosen warriors who reside in Valhalla. These brave and heroic warriors feast on the meat of the magical boar Sæhrímnir and drink the mead provided by Heiðrún, ensuring that they remain strong and ready for the final battle of Ragnarok.

In the Prose Edda, a character High confirms the above, stating the chef of the gods Andhrímnir is the one responsible for cooking Sæhrímnir every day. The meat is cooked in a pot called Eldhrimnir. High also states that the einherjar drinking nothing but mead in Valhalla.

In Valhalla, the Einherjar partake in grand feasts, where they consume the meat of the magical boar Sæhrímnir and drink mead from the goat Heiðrún. The feasting serves as a celebration of their valorous deeds and also fosters camaraderie among the warriors. Image: Heiðrún consumes the leaves of Læraðr atop Valhalla in an illustration from an 18th-century Icelandic manuscript.

Preparation for Ragnarok

The Einherjar engage in rigorous daily training and mock battles within the confines of Valhalla. This practice allows them to continuously hone their combat skills and stay battle-ready for the impending final conflict.

Their wounds from battle heal each night, allowing them to relive the thrill of combat every day.

In one of the myths (from chapter 38 of the Prose Edda poem Gylfaginning), a character called Gangleri asks another character called High how it’s possible for Valhalla to accommodate all the slain warriors since the beginning of the world. High confirms and goes further to state that come ragnarok, those warriors “will seem too few”.

As ruler of Valhalla, Odin, the Allfather, imparts wisdom and counsel to the Einherjar. His presence and guidance serve to prepare them spiritually and mentally for the challenges of Ragnarok.

Significance in the myths

One of the significant purposes of the Einherjar in Norse mythology is to prepare for the great battle of Ragnarok. During this final conflict, the Einherjar will join the gods in battle against the forces of chaos, including the giants and the monstrous creatures of the underworld.


The Einherjar symbolize the ideal of the warrior in Norse culture, where courage, honor, and skill in battle were highly valued traits. They epitomize the notion of dying a glorious death in battle, which was seen as the most honorable way for a warrior to leave the mortal world and gain entrance to Valhalla. The concept of the Einherjar and their role in Valhalla highlights the themes of heroism, destiny, and the cyclical nature of life and death in Norse mythology.

“Adopted sons of Odin”

In chapter 20 of the Prose Edda poem Gylfaginning, the character Third explains to Gangleri (who is actually King Gylfi in disguise) the reason why Odin, the chief god in Norse mythology, is known as Valföðr, which translates to “father of the slain.”

According to Third’s explanation, all warriors who fall in battle are considered to be Odin’s adopted sons. In Norse belief, dying a heroic death in battle was regarded as one of the noblest ways for a warrior to leave the mortal world. Such fallen warriors were highly esteemed and were believed to be chosen by Odin to become part of his retinue.

In the Poetic Edda poem Vafþrúðnismál, the wise jötunn Vafþrúðnir interacts with Odin (who is disguised as Gagnráðr). Vafþrúðnir tells Gagnráðr that the einherjar (also called einheriar) fight in the courts of Valhalla every day.

Questions & Answers

Much of what we know about the einherjar primarily comes from the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda. Both sources were compiled in the 13th century, with the latter compiled by the Icelandic poet and politician Snorri Sturluson.

Here’s what you need to know:

How do the Einherjar end up in Valhalla?

Valkyries are depicted as beautiful and fierce warrior women who fly above battlefields and decide the fate of warriors. In Valhalla, they serve as cupbearers and attend to the needs of the Einherjar, the chosen fallen warriors. In the Prose Edda, the figure High tells Gangleri (King Gylfi in disguise) that: “there are still others whose duty it is to serve in Valhalla. They bring drink and see to the table and the ale cups.” Image: The Ride of the Valkyrs (1909) by John Charles Dollman.

In Norse mythology, the Einherjar end up in Valhalla through the intervention of the valkyries. When brave and heroic warriors die in battle, the valkyries, who are divine female figures associated with Odin, the chief god, fly down to the battlefield to choose the fallen warriors.

Once chosen by the valkyries, the souls of these fallen warriors are taken to Valhalla, the great hall of the slain located in Asgard, the realm of the gods. Valhalla is ruled by Odin, and it serves as a place of honor and reward for these elite warriors.

What do the Einherjar do in Valhalla?

In Valhalla, the Einherjar enjoy an eternal and glorious existence. Each day, they engage in mock battles and combat training, honing their skills and reliving the thrill of battle. During the nights, they feast on the meat of the magical boar Sæhrímnir and drink mead from the goat Heiðrún, which constantly replenishes itself.

The Einherjar enjoy the benefit of immortality within Valhalla. Although they experience mock deaths during their daily battles, their wounds heal, and they are restored to full health each night, ready to face the next day’s training.

What weapons and armor do the Einherjar possess in Valhalla?

The Einherjar, the elite warriors who reside in Valhalla, are described as being equipped with impressive weapons and armor befitting their status as divine warriors.

The weapons and armor of they use include: spears, swords, shields, helmets, and chainmail.

According to the myths, the weapons wielded by these divine warriors are often believed to be divine or magical in nature. These weapons possess extraordinary qualities, making the warriors formidable opponents.

Do the Einherjar retain any memories or knowledge from their previous lives?

In Norse mythology, there is no explicit mention of the Einherjar retaining memories or knowledge from their previous lives once they are in Valhalla. Instead, the focus is on their preparation for Ragnarok and their eternal existence in the great hall of the slain.

Do the Einherjar have any interactions with the gods in Valhalla?

Yes. Living in Valhalla, the Einherjar have a close relationship with the gods, particularly Odin. This bond strengthens their resolve and connection to the divine powers, reinforcing their role as divine warriors in the forthcoming apocalypse.

The concept of the Einherjar is closely tied to the idea of being chosen warriors, selected by the valkyries and brought to Valhalla to serve Odin in the final battle. The emphasis is on their warrior status, their bravery, and their skills in combat, rather than their individual histories or personal memories. An illustration of valkyries encountering the god Heimdallr as they carry a dead man to Valhalla (1906) by Lorenz Frølich

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *