Viking Symbols: A Guide To Meanings of Nordic Emblems

by | Sep 2, 2021 | Vikings | 0 comments

When one evokes the Viking peoples, one thinks of the course of Norse Mythology, the great warriors, explorers, and traders, known to have plundered and destroyed monasteries and abbeys for centuries, between the 8th to the 11th century. If you have ever seen the cult series in honor of the Vikings, you have certainly noticed the tattoos on their bodies. The Vikings used symbols that still inspire enthusiasts of Viking culture today. These Viking symbols are numerous and rich in meaning, so it is advisable to present them in more detail to understand them better.

When Viking symbols become popular, tattoos.

Viking tattoos are intriguing, and their symbols mysterious. They evoke centuries of history around Nordic cultures. Today, many people choose a Viking tattoo to mark their personality and make the motive of Viking tattoos send a message. Note that each has a historical origin and a particular meaning.

Yggdrasil: the tree of life or world-tree

Yggdrasil is one of the Viking symbols whose meaning is attached to that of absolute power, knowledge, and mystical divinity.

This tree is a huge ash tree representing the axis of the world, connecting the nine worlds, represented by nine kingdoms: Ásgard, the kingdom of the Ases, Vanaheim, the kingdom of the Vanir, Álfheim, the kingdom of the light elves, Midgard, the kingdom of men, Jötunheim, the realm of giants, Svartalfheim, the realm of the dark elves, Niflheim, the realm of the mists, Muspellheim, the realm of fire and Helheim, the realm of the dead.

Also called “tree of life” or “world tree,” the Yggdrasil has three roots, the first of which is in Asgard, the second descends to Jotunheim, and the third descends to Niflheim, near the Hvergelmir well.

Vegvisir compass: the Viking compass of luck and protection

Vegvisir Compass

The Vegvisir is an eight-armed Viking compass. This talisman served as a guide to help the Vikings find their way and reach their destination safely. At sea or elsewhere, especially in stormy weather or bad weather, the Vegvisir has the power to help the wearer find the right path. It is no coincidence that it is considered a symbol of luck and protection.

Each arm of the Vegvisir represents a cardinal or intercardinal direction. Many Vikings believed and still believe in the magical powers of this spiritual compass. This sacred symbol served as a guide for them in the choice they had to make in their life. Even today, people interested in Viking symbols choose this Viking motif for its guidance and protective power.

Breton triskele: an ancestral Viking symbol

Breton triskele

The triskele is a sacred symbol with three branches well known to Bretons. But in reality, it draws its origins from several eras and several civilizations. Although it is known as a Celtic symbol, the triskele is, above all, pagan.

Traces of this symbol can be found in the Nordic Bronze Age. It symbolizes the number 3 and, therefore, the sacred trinity in different cultures.

Among the Vikings, and more widely in Norse mythology, the triskele represents Thor, Odin, and Freyr.

The triskele also represents the three fundamental elements of earth, water, and fire. Air is represented by the point in the center of the symbol.

Symbols in honor of Odin

In Norse mythology, Odin is the god of the gods, the “father of all things,” which explains many Viking symbols in his honor.

The Valknut symbol of warriors killed in battle

Valknut symbol

The Valknut is one of the most popular Nordic symbols. The figure represents three interlaced triangles with the point pointing upwards. It evokes the journey of the Viking warriors who lost their lives until they arrived in Valhalla. This is where the god Odin welcomes them. It is a great honor for these slain warriors to end up in this place for the brave. Paying tribute to them is the raison d’être of Valknut.

Odin’s ravens: symbol of death

Odin ravens

Two crows, Hugin and Munin, always accompany the God Odin. Their names signify thought for Hugin and memory for Munin. Every day, they fly into the land of Midgard to inform Odin of what is happening there. You can also come across Hugin and Munin on the battlefield. They spy on Odin’s enemies and report their plans to him. Like all crows, they feed on the rotting flesh that is found abundantly after a battle.

Read more on the symbolic meaning of Ravens

Odin’s horn: symbol of wisdom

odin's horn

odin’s horn by Avana Vana from the Noun Project

The Odin’s horn is a symbol Viking emblem. It is a sacred Norse symbol that consists of three intertwined drinking horns. These three horns also symbolize the three air currents of the magic mead. Wearing the Triple Horn of Odin evokes commitment to the modern Asatru faith. It also acts on wisdom, inspiration, and eloquence by serving as a protector. The drink “Blood of Kvasir” is also found in these horns. It is a drink that was at the origin of mead. It is said that poetry derives its power from this drink.

Gungnir: the spear that never misses its mark

gungnir by Avana Vana from the Noun Project

It is a spear cut from a branch of Yggdrasil and whose head was forged by the Dwarves Brok and Eitri of Nidavellir. The latter used uru ore to do this. They also enchanted him so that this spear would always hit its target. Note that uru is a mystical metal of Asgardian origin. He can keep enchantments cast on an item. The word Gungnir means “the tottering one,” and runes are engraved on it.

The Celtic Cross: symbol of resurrection

Celtic Cross

Celtic Cross by Alvaro Cabrera from the Noun Project

The Celtic cross evokes Ireland, Scotland, or Wales. So many places were visited and looted by the Vikings.

The symbolism of this cross is deeply pagan but has also been strongly influenced by the Christian religion, which has come to convert the “pagan” peoples.

Also called “Odin’s cross” in Norse mythology, the Celtic cross symbolizes the resurrection.

Viking symbols of strength

Vikings are brave warriors, and they also emanate a strength that many people would like to have. Moreover, many are the Viking symbols that testify to it.

Aegishjalmur or “Helm of Awe”: symbol of invincibility


This Viking symbol is both mysterious and powerful. A circle with 8 arms and eight runes of Algiz is the sign of the warrior representing strength and invincibility. Wearing this magical symbol helps achieve victory on the battlefield. Its power is concentrated in the pineal glands, and it protects the body, mind, and mind of the warrior. Like a third eye, it was painted on the forehead of the warriors, between the eyebrows. Wearing it allows you to overcome fear and submit terror to your enemy.

The rune Elhaz is one of the runes that make up this symbol. It is a great Viking protection rune. Vikings even used it in the “Armor of Elhaz” protection ritual. To do this, it was drawn in front, behind, on the sides, above, and below the practitioner. Even today, this talisman provides better protection to the wearer. Tattoo, jewelry, or clothing with this symbol activates its power. This symbol will make a perfect Viking tattoo for women.

Mjölnir: Thor’s hammer , symbol of power and protection


Mjolnir by Grégory Montigny from the Noun Project

The Mjölnir is a war hammer belonging to Thor, the god of thunder and war. He uses it to fight against the forces of chaos, which is why it symbolizes protection against nuisances and evil spells. It was forged by the dwarves Brok and Eitri. The head of this symbol of Thor is made of uru, and the relatively short sleeve ends with a strap that ensures a good hold in hand. Inscribed on one of the flanks of this crusher is: “Whoever holds this hammer if he is worthy of it, will receive the power of Thor.” ”

Thor’s hammer can also bring things to life, as in the case of Thor’s goats. Just as it can kill gods and bring down mountains, the Mjölnir was also used to bless birth, marriage, and funeral. Runes are also engraved on it, and the Vikings even created amulets from this hammer to protect themselves from storms.

Mythical animals

Besides Odin’s crows, other animals also make up the Viking symbols that mark Nordic culture.

The giant wolf Fenrir: symbol of loyalty, protection, and strength

Fenrir wolf

His name is Fenrir, he keeps growing, and even the gods found it difficult to control him. Son of Loki and a giantess called Angrboda, this wolf represents destructive forces, and the dwarves of Svartalfheim have made a special chain to keep him under control. He then remained in chains until the dawn of Ragnarok, where he freed himself to eat the moon and the sun. It is, in particular, this wolf who killed Odin, but he was killed in his turn by the son of Odin Vidar. A Viking wolf tattoo can then signify the loyalty and strength of the wearer.

On the other hand, this symbol of strength also evokes the Ulfhednar. They are special warriors in Odin who had a great resemblance to the berserkers. The latter worshiped Odin, but they also praised Tyr. Their fury is uncontrollable when under the influence of drugs, mead, and mushrooms. They dressed in bearskin and scared people who fear wild animals. Unlike the Berserkers, the Ulfhednar protect peoples, and they fight in groups around the battlefield.

The boar: symbol of spiritual authority

boar by Icon Factory from the Noun Project

In Norse mythology, wild boars represent the minds in charge of Freya, the goddess of love, and Frey, the god of fertility. The latter’s boar is Gullinborsti or golden bristles. It was the dwarf Brook who made this boar whose silks glow in the dark. This wild boar is remarkably fast both in the air and on the water.

As for Freya’s boar, it is called Hildisvini, the meaning of which is “battle pig.” The goddess Freya rides this boar in battle. This Viking symbol of love also represents abundance, happiness, and peace. This is one of the reasons people choose it as a Scandinavian tattoo. Even today, this animal represents Swedish royalty.

Ouroboros: symbol of the eternal return and time


This symbol represents a snake biting its tail. Etymologically, the word Ouroboros comes from the Coptic ouros, which means “king,” and from the Hebrew ob, which means “serpent.” It is a term coming from the Greek era, which means “tail” and Boros, whose meaning is “devouring” or “which devours.” On the one hand, Ouroboros means Serpent-King, and on the other hand, it describes the serpent biting its tail. Ouroboros then represents the unity of all things, whether spiritual or material. At the same time, it represents the cycle of rebirth and destruction. It is perfect for making a Viking bracelet tattoo.

Other emblematic symbols of Norse mythology

Other symbols have also marked the history of the Viking. We can cite:

  • The Troll Cross: it protects against bad trolls, demons, and negative vibrations.
  • The Web of Wyrd: it is the symbol of fate in the form of runes. It is the Norns who have woven the destiny of all beings who made it.
  • The Viking ax symbolizes Viking strength and bravery: Viking warriors used it on the battlefield. They had a single edge, and the bottom of the blade takes the shape of a hook, thus simplifying the grip.
  • The helmet of fear or Aegishjalmur represents protection and power. Many Viking warriors wore it during battles to protect themselves and have the courage to defeat their enemies.

Viking runes

viking runes

They are usually seen in most popular Viking symbols: Vegvisir, Thor’s Hammer, Helm of Awe, Valknut, etc. But what is a rune? It is indeed a Germanic symbol or, more precisely, ancient writing formed of special signs that the Germanic peoples of northern Europe from the III to the XVII use.

Runes to communicate with the gods

The Vikings did not use the runes to communicate with each other. They use this alphabetical system to call on the gods and ask them for help. Also called futhark, the word rune means “secret and mystery.” The magic is also present there, and it is for this reason, the runic inscriptions are present on the weapons of the Vikings.

This magic comes from the goddess Freyja. To prepare their future well, the Vikings used runes to question the Gods and used oracles. They use it to anticipate battles and guarantee the security of their people. It is also a symbol of protection of the family.

Viking rune: tattoo or jewel?

The rune is a symbol of Viking loveIt also represents strength, protection, and will. Today, a Viking rune’s tattoo still has the power to protect the wearer. It is also the same for very successful jewelry in the market, especially for lovers of symbolic Viking objects. Some people also wear bracelets or necklaces made up of iconic symbols from Norse mythology to predict the future. Runes, however, can provide answers to a past or present situation.


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