As most of my readers will be aware there is an association between dying a 'warrior's death' and entering Walhalla. However I believe that the perception that our heathen ancestors had regarding this was not a perfect one and the concept of the afterlife in pre-Christian Germanic society clearly evolved over time. An excellent book which discusses the concept of the afterlife in Germanic society is The Road to Hel: A Study of the Conception of the Dead in Old Norse Literature (1943) by Hilda Ellis (maiden name of Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson). I heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in this particular aspect of the heathen worldview of our ancestors. The book makes clear that the ancient Germanic peoples held varying views about the afterlife and Walhalla as a destination is not the only option.
The image of Walhalla that the Norse peoples had was a crude version of something which can only clearly be understood by an Initiate and this article is not the place for me to expound on this. For those of you who are concerned about the prospect of NOT entering Walhalla I have identified a near death rite that can be very easily practised and has some mythological basis.
Most of my readers will be aware that the author of the Younger or Prose Edda was Snorri Sturluson but in addition to this work he also composed the Heimskringla, a selection of sagas of the old Norwegian kings. The first part of this work is called the Ynglinga Saga and is in my opinion the most important part of the collection. However most English language versions of Heimskringla do not for some inexplicable reason contain this most important work. Snorri based his work on the much earlier 9th century skaldic work of Þjóðólfr of Hvinir, the skald of Harald Fairhair (reigned 872-930), the Ynglingatal. Snorri in both his Ynglinga Saga and the Prologue to the Younger Edda euhemerises the Gods and presents Odin as an historical king who emigrated from Turkey to Northern Europe. It should be borne in mind that Snorri, being a Christian was a product of the post conversion era of the late 12th to mid 13th century Iceland. Whilst his work in preserving our heathen mythology is credit worthy his bias against the Gods is evident. This bias can also be seen in the Elder Edda, allegedly composed by Sæmundur "the Learned" Sigfússon, a Christian priest from mid 11th century to mid 12th century Iceland. We see in the Elder Edda for instance how Thor is mocked and ridiculed in the story of Thor's 'wedding' in the Þrymskviða (the Lay of Thrym). We must therefore use caution when interpreting the Eddas and take into account the obvious Christian contamination.
Our Gods have the ability to take the form of man but they do not have their origins in Midgarth for they are celestial and divine entities that formed us. In the Ynglinga Saga Snorri relates the story of the death of the human Odin and it certainly has some interesting elements:
"Odin died in his bed in Swithiod; and when he was near his death
he made himself be marked with the point of a spear, and said he
was going to Godheim, and would give a welcome there to all his
friends, and all brave warriors should be dedicated to him; and
the Swedes believed that he was gone to the ancient Asgaard, and
would live there eternally. Then began the belief in Odin, and
the calling upon him. The Swedes believed that he often showed
to them before any great battle. To some he gave victory; others
he invited to himself; and they reckoned both of these to be
fortunate. Odin was burnt, and at his pile there was great
splendour. It was their faith that the higher the smoke arose in
the air, the higher he would be raised whose pile it was; and the
richer he would be, the more property that was consumed with him."
I have underlined here the pertinent points of the passage. The human Odin died a 'straw death' which will be the fate of most of us and indeed of many ancient warriors for they did not all die on the battlefield. For those of us who serve Him we could take the first underlined part of the passage as a form of a 'last rite' where we can consecrate ourselves to Odin/Woden/Wodan/Wotan. Trust me-He knows His own but it will provide solace at the last moment and reaffirm our faith in Him. It makes sense therefore to keep on one's person a sharp object such as a penknife. It is perfectly legal to carry a penknife in England and one does not have to give any reason to a Police Officer. So long as the blade of the knife is no more than 3 inches in length and it is a folding blade, not a lock knife for instance. One does not need to literally fall upon one's sword but if you sense that your last moment is near and can feel the presence of the GRIM Reaper (Odin) then one can prick one's skin and draw blood, invoking His name at the same time.