Valhalla (âcarrion-hall’) is Odin’s hall where half of those who die in battle go:
Gladsheim a fifth [abode of the gods] is called, there gold-bright Valhall
Rises peacefully, seen from afar,
There Odin chooses every day
Those dead in combat. (GrÃmnismÃ¡l, 8)
It is decorated according to the tastes, we can assume, of the warriors chosen to travel there: âthe hall has spear-shafts for rafters, with shields it is thatched/ mail-coats are strewn on the benches’ (GrÃmnismÃ¡l, 8). Furthermore, there is endless mead at Valhalla: âshe will fill a vat of shining mead/ that liquor cannot ever diminish’ (GrÃmnismÃ¡l, 25).
Those who die and are chosen to travel to Valhalla are called einherjar (âlone-fighters’), and are personally selected by the valkyries (female spirits who choose who lives and dies in battle). Further detail about the entertainment for fallen warriors at Valhalla is provided by another Poetic Edda poem, VafÃ¾rÃºÃ°nismÃ¡l: âall the einherjar fight in Odin’s courts every day’ (41). After fighting one another all day, the warriors enjoy a nightly hog-roast, made of the self-resurrecting pig SÃ¦hrÃmnir. They are also served beer by the valkyries themselves. The afterlife, for the einherjar, really is just more of the same warrior-culture.
An interesting divergence from more familiar religions is that the afterlife in Norse Mythology is not permanent. The einherjar are selected not merely for dying a noble death in battle, but because they are brilliant warriors, and thus suitable for fighting alongside Odin at the end of the world (RagnarÃ¶k). Specifically, the einherjar will die helping Odin fight the great wolf, Fenrir. Both their physical lifestyle and daily nourishment keep the einherjar in suitable shape for battle. In further preparation for the final battle with Fenrir, Valhalla has 540 doors so that 800 einherjar can leave all at once.