what does odin’s spear gungnir symbol meaning

In Norse mythology, Gungnir was the weapon of lord God Odin. It was made of the branches from the World Tree Yggdrasil by dwarves. The Gungnir was a holy weapon, and the oath made in front of it could not be broken and was be bound to come true. Gungnir was fashioned based on javelin, therefore it was a mighty weapon when being used as javelin. And as it looked like a meteor arching across the sky when thrown out, it was referred to as “the Spear of Meteor”.

Gungnir was also called “the Eternal Spear” or “the Declaration of Lord God”. Literally, “Gungnir” means “penetrating”.

Gungnir was the weapon of Odin, who used it with his right hand. It was so accurate that it never missed the target. But its power was not fully shown as Odin was more of a strategist and he himself seldom joined battle. Also, Gungnir was so mighty that it “would surely hit the target once it was thrown out”, never missed, and could penetrate anything.

The Origin of Gungnir

There are different theories about the origin of Gungnir. It is said that since the creation of world there had been four mythic items which were protecting this world from the Jötnar, namely the bow of demon Hilvin, the sword of flame Laevatain, the jade of dragon, as well as Gungnir.

Another story is, Gungnir was crafted by dwarves under the order of Dvalin (there is also a theory that it was made by dwarves under the request of Loki who just shaved off Sif’s hair). On Gungnir it carved a sacred covenant in runes, which was of magic and enabled Gungnir to penetrate any armor. Besides, the handle of Gungnir made from the branch from Yggdrasil was surprisingly hard and no weapon could destroy it. Anyone who possesses this spear shall rule the world. Regarding the strength of this spear, it is said to be able to smash the mythic sword Gram.

Odin realized the fact that their time would eventually end and all the deities would vanish. Therefore, in order to cultivate a hero to create the future world, he gave Gram to a man named Sigurd and entrusted the future to him. However, Sigurd fell in love with his younger sister and they even had a child. Odin’s wife Frigg was angry about this and expressed her dissatisfaction to her husband, because she thought the child of consanguineous marriage would not became a hero in the future. Odin had no option but to join battle himself, and destroyed Gram with Gungnir.

Gram was smashed, and its blade was shattered. (Later the debris of Gram was collected and used to re-create Gram). Odin, who destroyed the future of all deities with his spear Gungnir, could do no more but waiting for their ending, Ragnarök.

Moreover, there is another story about Gungnir: Odin rode through the misty forest and met the wise giant Mimir, who was guarding the World Tree Mímameiðr. He got a sip of the water from the well of wisdom Mimisbrunnr at the cost of losing one of his eyes, thus acquired great wisdom. He also obtained Gungnir, which was made of the branches from World Tree Yggdrasil. On Gungnir it carved a sacred covenant: anyone who possesses this spear shall rule the world. This was the reason why Odin became the king of all gods.

That is also the legend about how he made a great sacrifice to obtain wisdom when being hung on the World Tree Yggdrasil. At that time, Gungnir pierced his flank and brought him great pain. This story is similar to the episode about the “Spear of Longinus” in the Bible. The Rhongomyniad (King Arthur’s spear) in Arthurian legend also shares some similarities with Gungnir.

For Odin, the god of war and storm, Gungnir represented lightning. When Gungnir was thrown out by Odin, it flew across the sky with brilliant light, and people on the ground called it “lightning” or “meteor”. According to the legends, anyone who made a wish in front of Gungnir would have his/her wish come true. This might be the origin of making a wish on a meteor.


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