10 Viking And Norse Symbols Explained

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AncientPages.com - Vikings used a number of ancient symbols based on Norse mythology. Symbols played a vital role in the Viking society and were used to represent their gods, beliefs and myths. Some Viking symbols remain mysterious and their meaning is still unknown, but there are also many ancient symbols that have clear messages.

Viking symbols

In this top list we examine some of the most powerful and significant Viking symbols and take a look at the meaning behind them.

1. Thor’s Hammer - Mjölnir

Left: Drawing of a Viking Age gold-plated silver Mjölnir pendant (length 4.6 cm) found at Bredsätra in Öland, Sweden, now kept in the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities. Right: A 10th century Thor's Hammer (Mjölnir) from Odeshog, Sweden

Left: Drawing of a Viking Age gold-plated silver Mjölnir pendant (length 4.6 cm) found at Bredsätra in Öland, Sweden, now kept in the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities. Right: A 10th century Thor's Hammer (Mjölnir) from Odeshog, Sweden

Mjölnir means lightning, and Thor’s hammer indicates the god’s power over thunder and lightning. Thor, ancient god of war is one of the most prominent figures in Norse mythology. Thor who was the storm-weather god of sky and thunder and also a fertility god, was  the son of Odin and Fyorgyn, the earth goddess.

Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir is depicted in Norse mythology as one of the most fearsome weapons, capable of leveling mountains. One Norse story tells what happened when when he lost his precious hammer.

Mjölnir, was a magical weapon that always came back to Thor when he threw it. Wearing Thor’s hammer as an amulet of protection was quite common as this was probably the most popular of all the pagan Viking symbols. Even during Christian times, from A.D. 1000 on, Vikings wore Thor’s Mjölnir as well as a cross on a chain or thong around their necks. Read more

2. Yggdrasil - Norse Tree Of Life

Left: Yggdrasil symbol; Right: An 1847 depiction of the Norse Yggdrasil as described in the Icelandic Prose Edda. By Oluf Olufsen Bagge

Left: Yggdrasil symbol; Right: An 1847 depiction of the Norse Yggdrasil as described in the Icelandic Prose Edda. By Oluf Olufsen Bagge

In Norse mythology, the Yggdrasil is a giant mythological tree that holds together the Nine Worlds or realms of existence.

At the very top of Yggdrasil, an eagle lived and at the bottom of the tree lived a dragon named Nidhug. Both hated each other and were bitter enemies. The Nine Worlds are guarded by the serpent Jormungandr. Yggdrasil is one of many variations of the Cosmic Axis or Universal World Tree known to all human cultures and home to many fascinating creatures.

The image of Yggdrasil appears on the famous Överhogdal Tapestry, which dates to the year 1066 and depicts the events of Ragnarok, the doom of the Gods and apocalyptic record of the coming comet. Read more

3. Valknut – Viking Symbol For Death In A Battle

The Valknut, also known as Hrungnir’s heart, heart of the slain, Heart of Vala, and borromean triangles is a mysterious Norse symbol. its true meaning is still debated, but it is often associated with a warrior’s death in a battle.

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The symbol has been found on old Norse stone carvings and funerary steles. It is sometimes called “Hrungnir’s heart,” after the legendary giant of the Eddas. It's also possible to find a depiction of the Valknut on stone carvings as a funerary motif, where it probably signified the afterlife. In art, the Valknut is a representation of God Odin, and it demonstrates gods’ power over death. A Valknut is also believed to offer protection against spririts which is the reason why it is often carried as a talisman.

A Valknut is made of three parts, and the number three is a very common magic symbol in many cultures. In this case, the symbolism in Norse mythology showing three multiplied by three might designate the nine worlds, which are united by the Yggdrasil tree. In modern times Valknut, like Triquetra and Horn Triskelion, is often interpreted as a symbol pointing to heathen convictions.

4. The Helm Of Awe - Viking Symbol For Protection

Helm of Awe

The Helm of Awe is one of the most powerful protective Viking symbols used not only for the purpose of protection from disease, but even to encourage all people who might suffer from depression or anxiety.

In Norse myths it is said that the Helm of Awe symbol was worn between the eyes to cause fear in your enemies, and to protect against the abuse of power. The Norse word for this very important symbol (Ægishjálmr or Aegishjalmur) is translated in English "helm of awe" or "helm of terror." The meaning of the name awe is to strike with fear and reverence; to influence by fear, terror or respect; as, his majesty awed them into silence.  Read more

5. Huginn And Muninn – The Twin Ravens In Norse Mythology

hugin munin

Among the Aesir gods in Norse mythology, the supreme god Odin, is frequently depicted sitting on his high seat, Hlidskjalf, in Asgard, the home of the gods.

Odin always has his two raven companions, Hugin (Huginn)  and Munin (Munnin) on his shoulders.

Hugin is believed to represent ‘memory’, while Munin personifies ‘thought’. Every day, Odin sends them out and they fly across the worlds to seek for important news and events. Odin surveys the worlds from Hlidskjalf and must know reports of what is going on in all Nine Worlds. In the evening, Hugin and Munin return to Odin’s shoulders and during dinner in Valhalla, they whisper all they have heard in his ears. Read more

See also:

Runes: Facts And History About Odin’s Secret Language

More About Vikings

6. Web Of Wyrd (Skuld’s Net) – Viking Matrix Of Fate

Left: Web Of Wyrd (Skuld’s Net); Right: The Norns

Left: Web Of Wyrd (Skuld’s Net); Right: The Norns

In Norse mythology the concept of fate is reflected by the Web of Wyrd that is created by the Norns who were known as ‘Shapers of Destiny. The Norns were goddesses who ruled the fates of people, determined the destinies and lifespans of individuals.

With its nine stave, the Web of Wyrd is a matrix of fate that represents past, present and future events in a person’s life. Norse people believed that everything we do in life affects future events and thus, all timelines, the past, present and future are connected with each other.

7. Troll Cross – Norse Symbol Protecing Against Trolls And Elves

troll cross

The troll cross is an amulet made of a circle of iron crossed at the bottom in a shape of an odal rune. It was worn by Scandinavian people as a protection against trolls and elves. Read more

See also: 

Uggly Trolls – Fascinating Mythical Creatures Of Scandinavia

8. The Triple Horn Of Odin

triple horm of odin

The Triple Horn of Odin is yet another symbol of the great Norse God Odin. The symbol consists of three interlocked drinking horns, and is commonly worn or displayed as a sign of commitment to the modern Asatru faith. The horns figure in the mythological stories of Odin and are recalled in traditional Norse toasting rituals. In Norse mythology there are some tales describing God’s quest for the Odhroerir, a magical mead brewed from the blood of the wise god Kvasir. There are several account of the tale, but typically, Odin uses his wits and magic to procure the brew over three days time; the three horns reflect the three draughts of the magical mead.

9. Gungnir – The Spear Of Odin

Left: Gungnir - Viking symbol; Right: Odin (1939). Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington, D.C.

Left: Gungnir - Viking symbol; Right: Odin (1939). Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington, D.C.

Gungnir was a magical weapon created by the dwarves and given to Odin by Loki. The Gungnir never missed its mark and like Mjölnir, the hammer of Thor, it always returned to Odin. Read more

See also:

10 Ancient Celtic Symbols Explained

10. Vegvisir – Runic Compass

vegvisir

Vegvisir is among the oldest and sacred Norse symbols and it initially originated from Iceland, where ‘Vegur' means - road or path and ‘Vísir’ means – Guide. The symbol was frequently inscribed on seagoing vessels to insure their safe return home.

The device was believed to show the way back home and protect seamen and their ships from storms. The Vegvisir was like a guide helping its bearer to find his way home. Norse people believed that the Vegvisir had special powers and it was treated like talisman for luck, protection and blessings. This powerful symbol could help a person to find the right way in storms or bad weather whatever unfamiliar surroundings he or she may encounter.

It has also long played an important role among people who believe in magic powers, such as Norse Shamans. As a spiritual compass, this magical device guides your heart and steps to make the right choices in life. If you have lost yourself and your faith, this sacred symbol helps you find confidence again. Read more

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