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Swan Cloak
(also known as Swan Shift or Alftarham)


In Norse mythology, the concept of the valkyrie changed over time. Originally a corpse goddess, (literally "chooser of the slain") over time the concept of the valkyrie became intertwined with that of the swan maiden. Swan maidens wore a cloak that allowed them to shapeshift into the form of a swan, and when they took it off they changed into the shape of a woman. There are several stories in which men steal their swan cloaks in order to receive a wish from them, marry them, or otherwise press them into their service.

In Helreid Brynhildar (part of the Poetic Edda) Agnar captured Brynhild and her seven sisters by stealing their cloaks and forced her to marry him. In Volundarkvida, also part of the Poetic Edda, Volund (Wayland the Smith) and his two brothers spotted three valkyries on the shore spinning flax, their swan cloaks set aside. The brothers married them, but after seven years the valkyries flew away to find battles and resume their duties, never to return.

Mythology, Norse, Wayland the Smith


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