Why Do Soldiers Say “Until Valhalla” To Each Other? Get the Facts


Of all the people and societies that have come and gone throughout history, few have left as lasting of an impression as the Vikings. Even now, centuries after the Viking Age came to an end, their fierce warrior ways are frequently depicted through various forms of media. Not surprisingly, the Vikings have also achieved a significant following within the ranks of military forces around the world.

The words “until Valhalla” hold special meaning among soldiers. The Vikings believed that should they fall in battle, Valhalla awaited them beyond death. “Until Valhalla” conveys the simple yet powerful message that there is no greater distinction in life than to die with valor and honor.

The Vikings fought without fear of death because they believed that to die in battle would earn them a distinction beyond measure: a place in Valhalla to serve on Odin’s mighty army. In this same spirit, modern soldiers head into conflicts with the reassurance that should they fall, a greater destiny awaits them on the other side. Why do soldiers say “until Valhalla” to each other? Read on to learn its meaning.

Til Valhalla
What did “until Valhalla” mean to the Vikings? See below

What is the meaning of “until Valhalla” in the military?

The phrase “until Valhalla” is an abbreviated version of a popular motto among members of the military, “until we meet again in Valhalla” (it is also commonly shortened to “til Valhalla”). [1]

It pays homage to the Viking warrior spirit and the majestic assembly hall in the Norse afterlife where fallen heroes would reside should they be selected by Odin and his Valkyries. 

To join the ranks of Odin’s einherjar (the military force amassed for the sole purpose of fighting at Ragnarok, the apocalyptic final battle in Norse mythology) is a Viking warrior’s greatest honor.

This is despite the fact that fate has already predetermined that all of Odin’s forces, including the all-father himself, are destined to perish amid the fierce fighting. But ultimately, order prevails over chaos.

As far as members of modern military forces are concerned, the phrase “until Valhalla” has several meanings:

  • “Until Valhalla” conveys a strong sense of camaraderie among peers, particularly the idea that ultimately, they are comrades in life and beyond
  • It promotes the notion that a greater destiny awaits soldiers and members of the military who fall during conflict and therefore serves as a powerful rallying cry
  • And perhaps most importantly, “until Valhalla” reinforces the mindset that members of the military who are killed in action may be gone, but they will never be forgotten [2]

The words “until Valhalla” hold special meaning to those who utter them and those to whom they are spoken. They are meant to encourage, to uplift, and ultimately, to pay respect.

What was the Meaning of “Until Valhalla” to the Vikings?

The Vikings accomplished much during the relatively short period, that was the Viking Age, but they did not document their own history.

Much of what is known about the Vikings today is the result of painstaking research and piecing together archeological evidence with corroborating third-party accounts.

As such, it can never be conclusively established that the Vikings ever urged each other on prior to a battle with the words “until Valhalla.” But the simple truth of the matter is that it would make no difference.

What is beyond any doubt is the fact that the Vikings believed in Valhalla, and it not only shaped their attitudes toward living but also fueled their legendary courage in the face of peril or death.

The Vikings would certainly look favorably upon one particular group of their modern-day descendants. (During their heyday, the Vikings lived in what is now modern-day Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.)

The Telemark Battalion of the Norwegian army is an elite infantry group, and they served with distinction in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s military presence in the war against the Taliban. [3]

In 2010, this unit, under the command of Major Rune Wenneberg, gained notoriety for an impassioned rally prior to engaging with enemy forces in which the soldiers chanted “til Valhalla” in unison and to great cheers. [4]

Not only did this incident make international headlines, but it also won the respect of military forces and commanders around the world.

soldiers military Valhalla
Do soldiers believe in Valhalla? See below

Do People Still Believe in Valhalla Today?

Needless to say, the world is a drastically different place today than it was when the Vikings were at the peak of their dominion over Northern Europe centuries ago.

Even though old Norse religion is experiencing a major revival in modern times, its practices and beliefs are tempered by contemporary values and practicalities.

Even the most ardent practitioners of Norse paganism would be hard-pressed to say they believe that Odin still rides around on his eight-legged horse Sleipnir, but conceptually speaking, the values that Odin represents and the attributes he embodies are still held in the highest regard. 

It is in this same spirit that people still believe in Valhalla today; not so much as an actual destination in the afterlife, but rather, in the abstract sense that one’s benevolent and honorable deeds in life are impactful and their effects are felt after passing on. [5]

In other words, the concept of Valhalla to followers of heathen-inspired religions like Asatru serves as a spiritual roadmap for navigating life’s challenges.

Another modern-day interpretation of Valhalla reinforces the belief that just as the Vikings did so many centuries ago, people should focus on living life in the here and now and not be preoccupied with where they will spend the afterlife. [6]

The Vikings believed that their fates were already written and could not be changed and therefore focused on ideals like honor, valor, courage, and hospitality to their peers.

Valhalla Vikings
How does Norse mythology describe Valhalla? See below

What is Valhalla Like?

As it is described in Norse poems and sagas, Valhalla is quite simply a true warrior’s paradise (but not to be confused with the notion of heaven in a Christian sense). Odin’s Hall, as it is also known, is situated in Asgard, the realm of the Aesir gods, with features that defy the imagination, including:

  • A roof thatched with golden shields
  • Ceiling rafters fashioned from spears
  • An immense size beyond proper measure, as indicated by over 500 doors, each wide enough for 800 soldiers to walk through side-by-side [7]

Aside from its mythical structural attributes, Valhalla serves as an exclusive assembly hall and training ground for Odin’s einherjar. [8] Resurrected Viking warriors train by day in preparation for Ragnarok, but by evening all their wounds and injuries are healed.

A nightly feast is held with limitless food and drink as warriors fraternize with each other in the company of Odin and his Valkyries.

Through the eyes of a Viking warrior, Valhalla represents the ultimate reward for courage and valor on the field of battle, with the honor of keeping company with the noblest of Norse figures and serving on Odin’s personal army. With such inspiration in mind, it is no wonder that the Vikings rank among history’s most fearsome fighters ever.

Conclusion

The Vikings fought with legendary courage and even today serve as inspiration for soldiers who inspire and encourage each other with the words “until Valhalla.”

References:
[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source
[4] Source
[5] Source
[6] Source
[7] Source
[8] Source

Recent Posts