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Flight of the Valkyries

by Galen Cunningham

Image of a viking woman.
Image credit: Baran Lotfollahi on Unsplash

The Viking women of yore knew what they were doing; 

many a modern gal could take a note or two: not only did 

they know how to handle a man like a man does his oxen, 

knowing how to use his skin to fortress themselves from 

the cold, but were expected to do so by mother, father

brother, aunt, lover; the entire society depended

upon woman’s artful manipulation of man. It’s not that 

Viking women were opposed to violence, or weren’t 

victims of it; but that they, more than any woman 

of European brood, knew how to use the brute of man to 

violate anyone that has or may cross them: knew how to 

summon storms, nightmares, fears as primordial as the tuck 

away of all sexual prominence: for it is woman who chooses

what she begets—what goes in or out—and the Viking 

enchantress chose a magic more powerful, closer

to the earth—which is the beginning of things—than 

any a priest or shaman could hope; a force more nuanced

and numinous than the unveiling of the tomb without 

its master prince: they chose as their power the love, 

the fear, the mystery—both creator and destroyer—

of themselves. Thus, is it any mystery why Viking 

women were the last to succumb to Christianity; 

which bade them, against their wisdom and gain, 

to give unto man all obedience; to make Him the head, 

as befits a good Christian woman? Is it any wonder why

the descendants of those countries now prop up with 

women leaders; as forefronts of feminism or equity 

or other? Or perhaps it is true that religion and myth

inspires our best and worst; that the Viking women have

and will always have a little of the Valkyrie in them; 

or perhaps, this is but a stereotype derived from myth.  

But if the former be so, let the myth of flying Valkyries project

on all you women, above the plentiful myth’s Christianity—

Grecia and Rome—has left unguarded for you to plunder; 

let your wings flame, like rose-blooded dawn blooms 

over the battlefield of all the men you marked 

with not mere lust but courage to die the greatest death. 

Yes, my sisters, my friends, my mothers, my aunts, 

my cousins, my lovers; fly like a Valkyrie, and no more 

of these sexless angels’ Christianity surrounds you with. 

So, mark those that have the courage for your love; and 

may it only assail those men most deserving of a warrior’s 

gift—only they that death can resurrect, and make war again—

do this, and not just All-Father, but you’ll be rich; and

not even Wagner, with chorus’s wide, will outperform you: 

Now go you with winged plunder, and tell the men All-Father 

gave you permit; of him must they plead back their life;

that none of your gold and costly breastplates shall hide from 

the sun’s eye until all the Einhardt fill Valhalla; that all of 

mankind is being purged of their war-filling lust, and only his 

Valkyries have the power to curb history’s blow. Yes, go, 

and do not hesitate upon an inch of the good man’s life, 

for nothing here finds worth that was not first refined by death: 

go, reveal your wombs, chasten your legs; do all but that which 

gives man the better proposition on all your promises. 

Fight, yes; fight the good man and see if not his morality

were a mere varnish to hide an inferior wood; do not let him 

clone his smile into yours as so many liars do; or with false 

affections steal your reasoning, your ability to see a thing 

for what it is---both its surface and utter depths. Oh, woman, 

you know not your power, nor that I and All-Father do so 

sorely envy what you pack away like hideous, embarrassing 

things. Great psyche! indomitable intuition; infinite

feeling; instinctual foresight and knowing; you very sight 

seers of future’s wisdom—know you not that all the Universe

frets, dreads, despairs, waits expectantly, for your flight?


Black and white photo of the author, Galen Cunningham.
Galen Cunningham

Galen Cunningham has been published or is forthcoming in Literary Yard, The Creativity Webzine, Blue Unicorn, Ink In Thirds, Sparks of Calliope, Apocalypse Confidential, Fresh Words Magazine, IHRAF, Choeofpleirn Press, Rundelania, Modern Literature, and North of Oxford. Originally from New York (the North Country), he lives in the foothills of Colorado.

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