Know what an HBIC is? Head Bitch in Charge. And lucky for us ladies out there, Norse mythology is chock full of them. You see, of all the cultures in the world who thought their women were subservient, the Norse would come in nearly dead last. They valued their women as scholars, heads of households– and yes, even as warriors. These are some of our favorite HBICs from the Norse canon.
Ok, this one is cheating since there is more than one Valkyrie. But they’re so boss, we just couldn’t help ourselves. Valkyrie literally means, “Chooser of the slain.” So, it’s pretty much like it sounds: they fly over the battlefield (yes, they can fly!) and pick who lives and who dies in each battle. They take the dead to either Valhalla or Sessrúmnir where they are feasted until Ragnarok, when all will rise again to fight.
There are a ton of Valkyries mentioned throughout Norse canon, and they all have some real bitchin’ names that mean things like ‘axe-age,’ and ‘spear-fight.’ And for many women warriors, the symbol of the Valkyrie has long been inspirational– because like these beautiful bird ladies, they, too, choose who doesn’t make it off the battlefield.
Only in Norse mythology would the goddess of love, sex, and beauty also be the goddess of war and death. And not only that– she rides in a chariot pulled by cats.
Freyja rules over Sessrúmnir, her great hall, and Fólkvangr, her heavenly field of battle. She recieves half of the brave dead– the rest go to Valhalla with Odin. Freyja has a husband, Óðr, but he’s missing. While he’s gone, many suitors come before her, seeking her favor, but she turns them all down.
Freyja doesn’t take shit from anyone though, which is what makes her a true goddess. At one point, Thor tries to force her to help him find his missing hammer, Mjolnir (which, of course, has been stolen by Loki). He wants Freyja to dress up in a bride’s dress and trick Loki, but Freyja doesn’t get bossed around by anyone:
“Know of me to be of women the lewdest, if we thee I drive to Jötunheim.”
She screams, causing a freaking earthquake. The other gods and goddesses assemble to see what’s the matter, and they all agree that instead of using Freyja, Thor should dress up like Freyja and get his own damn hammer back. Yeah!
The goddess of the underworld and appropriately named, too. Hel actually got her name from the underworld, where she was thrown by Odin. She’s the sister of both Fenrir and Jörmungandr, so you know she don’t fuck around. You’d have to be pretty powerful to share a nursery with the snake who engulfs the world and the god-eating wolf.
When Odin found out about Loki’s three kiddos, he sent for them and placed them far from one another (and Loki). As we know, Jörmungandr went into the ocean, Fenrir was kept as a pet until he got too unwieldy, and Hel was dumped into Niflheim. Wait– did I say dumped? I meant that she was placed there and given authority over nine worlds. Yeah– Odin met her and was like, “Oh, you’re cool. Here, go to the coldest, darkest place imaginable and RULE LIKE THE QUEEN YOU ARE.”
In modern times, Hel has been so kind as to lend her name to Hell, Norway, where we hear it’s deathly cold during the winter. Hmm.
And honestly, this list isn’t even the bare minimum of kickass ladies in Norse mythology. Keep an ear to our blog to hear about more.