Viking Symbols and Meaning
Posted by Epic Loot Shop
The Epic Loot Shop aims to bring a conscious awareness of Viking history through artistic, unique and well-crafted jewelry pieces.
Appreciation of Nordic art stems from a deeper and better understanding of their culture. Starting with the blending of the Viking culture and other cultures that they came across with due to their travels and trade. A symbol is an established and recognized visual image and is rendered in a specific way. They are much older than written words which is why they are not seen very often and are most often only used during special occasions such as weddings, harvest and burial. Indeed, symbols played an important role in Nordic culture and the symbols themselves were thought to have their own power.
A quick note: while many of these symbols were used by the Norse before and during the Viking era, some of these symbols are still a mystery and require further research to truly uncover its true history and beginning.
Coming from the word rune which means secret, runes were letters used by the Vikings in what was their alphabet. Each rune had an individual meaning and denoted phonetic sounds. The runic alphabet was called the Futharks where the first six runes were F, U, Th, A, R and K. It was sometime between the second and fourth century that the runes started to become more popular due to the growing trade between the Germanic and Mediterranean people.
The Vikings were not known for their written language but more on their oral culture which was why they did not write as often as they shared stories. Many poems and songs were passed on from one generation to another through stories. However, for the Vikings, runes were not just letters they were potent symbols and they believed that their runes had power. They often also associated runes with the god Odin, giving him the credit he deserved for the discovery of the runes when he stabbed himself and then hung himself for nine days and nine nights with the goal of learning the meaning of runes and the magic they held.
Aegishjalmur - Helm of Awe
The Helm of Awe is an ancient Norse symbol that also goes by the name Aegishjalmur.
Aegishjalmur is a rune stave that is well known to be a Viking symbol of victory and protection. The Helm of Awe emblem has eight branches that look like radiant tridents that are located around a central point of the symbol, the point that should be protected. Those eight tridents protect that central point. Aegishjalmur was derived from the God of the ocean and makes an appearance in the Poetic Edda when the dragon Fafnir claims that he derived his invincibility from the symbol he wore.
Taking their cue from Fafnir, Viking warriors would wear the symbol between their brows as a sign of strength in battle believing that it would help them defeat their enemies and gain victory in the battlefield. It was also said to provide mental and spiritual protection as it is meant to open their third eye and keep them away from death.
Pronounced “VAL-knoot”, the Valknut is one of the most widely discussed and yet ironically most enigmatic symbol of the Norse mythology. While it is used often, its history is unknown. It appears only in connection with the cult of the dead and is often mentioned during runestones and ship burials. If we were to break it down, the Valknut meant "knot of the fallen in battle" which is probably why it is often also associated with Odin and his Valkyries.
Derived from the Greek word "Triskeles" which means "three legs", the Triskele (also called The Triple Spiral) is a complex and ancient symbol used by the Celtics. It was first discovered during the Neolithic era and was seen at the entrance of Newgrange in Ireland. The triskele has several interpretations. First, it can be thought to represent motion and signifies energy because of the way the three arms are positioned. Upon closer examination, it appears to be moving outward from the center signifying movement. It also signifies the three arms of the triskele with each arm varying in meaning and definition depending on its era, culture and history. The triskelion is a representation of the many cyclical triplicities of the Celtic belief system including life, death and rebirth.
The symbol of Mjolnir is an ancient Norse symbol, that in Norse mythology, has the power of lightning and wielded by the god of thunder, Thor. Because Thor was the protector of the humans, Mjolnir was often included in the stories of when Thor protected the land from giants, crushing them with his might hammer, Mjolnir.
Ironically, if legends were to be believed, it was Loki's trickster ways that brought together Thor and Mjolnir. In his efforts to appease Thor after playing a cruel trick on his wife, Sif, Loki made a bet with the brothers, Brokkr and Sindri. This bet resulted in the creation of several noteworthy weapons that Loki gifted to his family.
Meaning, "That Which Shows the Way", the Vegvisir is often confused with the Helm of Awe because of their similarities. However, to differentiate the Vegvisir from the Helm of Awe, the Vegvisir does not have two of the same arms and are very different in form.
The Nordics believed that the Vegvisir was meant to provide them with guidance for when they were lost in life. It is often found in the Huld Manuscript and was often found on longships to guide them back home from long and treacherous journeys at sea.
Mysterious, powerful, perplexing and mysterious, in some folklore, the dragon is often illustrated as dangerous and unpredictable. In Norse mythology, three of the most famous dragons are Jormungdandr, Nidhogg, and Fafnir.
Jormungdandr - son of Loki and brother to the feared wolf, Fenrir. He was often called the Midgard Serpent and he was so big in size that his entire body encircled the whole of Midgard. In appearance, Jormungdandr was both dragon and serpent. Out of fear of his role in the prophecy of the Ragnarok, Odin cast Jormungdandr in a deep sleep and hid him in the deepest and darkest ocean. However, in stories shared,Jormungdandr would join forces with his brother, Fenrir, and rise above the waves, signaling the start of Ragnarok.
Nidhogg was the dragon who lived under the roots of Yggdrasil. He gnawed on the roots of Yggdrasil and ate the corpses. His eyes would sparkle in the darkness and in the prophecy of Ragnarok, he played a vital role in dethroning the Aesir gods. Nidhogg was one of the few survivors after the Ragnarok and witnessed the new period of cosmos that followed. Unlike his fellow dragons, Jormungdandr and Nidhogg, Fafnir played no role in Ragnarok. He was the son of a rich dwarf king and was not always a dragon. After a curse was laid upon him, he killed his father, hoarded his wealth and fled into the forest slowly changing into his dragon form to guard his stolen treasure.
Huginn and Muninn
Serving as Odin's messengers, Huginn and Muninn are often displayed sitting right to Odin or even on his shoulders. Huginn and Muninn were Odin's eyes and ears and would often use them during battle to know and see everything there is to know and use it to his advantage. Huginn and Muninn had the unique ability of being able to fly around the globe and return home to tell Odin of what they had seen during their travels. Their names Huginn and Muninn literally meant "thought" and "mind".
Odin's magical spear meaning "to tremble". Again because of Loki's trickster ways, the Gungnir was given to Odin as a gift by the dwarves. In many legends, the war between the Aesir and the Vanirs - two opposing groups of gods - was signaled by the tossing of Gungnir by Odin to his enemies. It was said that Gungnir never lost sight of its target which was why it was Odin's favorite weapon.
Geri and Freki
Meaning "the ravenous" or "the greedy one", Geri and Freki are two wolves who accompany Odin pretty much everywhere he went. They were his loyal companions and were with him even before Huginn and Muninn. It is said that Geri and Freki are the original wolves and had kept Odin company after he wandered off from his siblings. Their loyalty to Odin is absolute such that, for his protection, they would take turns sleeping to ensure that one would always keep a watchful eye on their master.
Pronounced "FEN-rir" which meant "He Who Dwells in the Marshes", Fenrir is the son of the trickster god Loki and the giantess Angrboda and sibling to the serpent Jormungand and goddess Hel. Because of his rapid growth and incomparable strength, the gods feared Fenrir and chained him and locked him up to avoid having to deal with him. It was the god, Tyr, who was brave enough to chain him using the chain that the dwarves made at the expense of losing one of his hands. It is also said that when brothers Fenrir and Jormungand take to land, it will signal the start of Ragnarok.
Known as the "tree of life", the Yggdrasil appears in the many ancient cultures as a symbol of the connection of all things in the world. The Yggdrasil is found at the center of Norse mythology and is described as an enormous, ever-green ash tree that cradles the nine realms of Viking myth in its roots and branches. It connects all nine realms.
Yggdrasil is fed by three wells located in three separate Norse realms. The first is the Well of Destiny and can be found in Asgard. The second is the Well of Mimisbrunnr, also known as the Well of Wisdom, and is located in the home or Mimir in Jotunheim. The third well, Hvergelmor, is in Niflheim and is a burning hot well.
Also called the Viking ship, the Longship is a type of sail-and-oar vessel that was dominant in northern European waters for more than 1500 years. They played a significant role in history and paved the way for naval innovation. They ranged from 25 to 75 feet in length, clinker built with overlapping planks and carried a single square sail which made the Longship exceptionally sturdy as it paved its way through tumultuous waters.
The Viking history and culture is a combination of mystery, intrigue and drama. With these in mind, Epic Loot Shop has come up with the best interpretation of their symbols and translated them to artistic, unique and well-crafted jewelry pieces. Feel free to browse through our website https://www.epiclootshop.net/ to find the one best for you and your personality.
Rune stone - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sk%C3%A5%C3%A4ng_Runestone
Rune stone - https://pixabay.com/illustrations/rune-stone-runes-haithabu-viking-1748101/
Codex Runicus - https://nn.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex_Runicus
Aegishjalmur - https://www.pinterest.com/pin/670754938236358292/
Valknut - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sacrificial_scene_on_Hammars_(II).png
Valknut Symbol - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Metallic_Valknut_black_background.PNG
Triskele - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Keltische_stammen_Eburonen_gouden_stater.jpg
Triskele - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Triskele_pattern_on_orthostat_C10_at_Newgrange.jpg
Mjolnir - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mjolnir_pag%C3%A3o.jpg
Mjolnir - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Archaeological_record_of_Mj%C3%B6llnir
Vegvisir - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vegvisir-huld-p60.png
Dragon - https://www.flickr.com/photos/pavdw/42592176315
Odin Ravens - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Odin_(Manual_of_Mythology).jpg
Odin Ravens - https://www.pinterest.com/pin/413909021976839889/
Odin Spear - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spearhead_of_kovel.png
Geri and Freki - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Odhinn-oldedda.gif
Fenrir - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tyr_feeding_Fenrir.jpg
Fenrir Wolf - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Odin_und_Fenriswolf_Freyr_und_Surt.jpg
Yggdrasil Tree - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yggdrasil.jpg
Yggdrasil - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DesenhodabandaYggDrasil.jpg
Longship - https://www.flickr.com/photos/16516058@N03/27875959783