Fylgja are, I have read, " a supernatural being or creature that accompanies one in connection with our fate or fortune." The word itself, in Old Norse, means, " One who accompanies". Kveldulf Gundarsson relates this definition to them : " Usually either a supernatural ally who holds luck for humans, or a persons inner nature manifested in semi - independent form, usually an animal." These Fylgjur ( Plural ) appear mainly while you are sleeping, but some of the Icelandic Sagas tell us that they come to visit us while we are concious as well. However, if you see one of these animals while your are awake it supposedly means your death is imminent. In the form of a woman they represent a guardian spirit of an individual or family.
Prepare yourselves for a shock, I have a much different take on who, or what, these Fylgjur are. Actually if you have read my blog before you are probably familiar with this and are not surprised at all. My interpretation of our religion comes from personal experiences, not from what some writer tells me it is, in their highly authoritative books. Which by the way they make profit from. That in itself will be an article someday. Religious writers who profit off of our religion. But I digress.......
I believe that these Fylgjur are assigned to us at birth, probably by the Norn, Urd, and become joined to our soul, and live in us as a moral compass to show us our Tru way in life. In essence I believe that they are our concious. You know, that little "voice" inside of all of us that tells us not to do things that are questionable, or worse. They are not like other helpful spirits that you cannot feel, but are that gnawing, burning ache of pain that you feel deep inside when you know that you are doing, or have done something wrong. We human beings call Her " Guilt ". We also feel her presence in that feeling of exhilaration when we do something good and decent. But without doubt we all feel Them, so we know that they are there !
I also do not believe that seeing your Fylgja, in the form of an animal, means that your death is forthcoming. Instead, I believe it means that your Fylgja has abandoned you because your life has become so corrupt that She has literally given up trying to put you on a path of righteousnous. The animal you see will be a representation of ones own personality. A nervous, energetic person, for instance, might see their Fylgja, as a humming bird nervously flying from flower to flower. A lazy, grouchy person, might see themselves as a big lumbering bear, etc... Once the Fylgja leaves someone I am not sure that it will ever come back to that individual, no matter how many amends they make for their transgressions.
Losing your Fylgja is not just damaging in this life, but would be devastating in the afterlife. Your Fylgja stands with you, at your judgement, before the Gods and Goddesses, and defends your life. Without Their help there is little chance of spending eternity in one of the many heavens such as Gimle. Depending on how immoral your life was, you will end up either in Niflheim, until Ragnarok, or in the caves of Nastrond being ripped apart every day by Niddhogg.
The next time you feel that gnawing ache inside, reconsider what you are doing, or what you are thinking of doing . Your Fylgja is there to help and guide you through life. Listen to Her and be well. Ignore Her and She will leave you to your own devices. A life without a healthy Fylgja is not a life well lived !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !