10 norse viking mythology symbols and their meanings

The origin of Norse mythology can be found in the Nordic prehistory. After the Christianization of Scandinavia, Norse mythology developed rapidly and became the folklore in the Nordic Region, part of it exist to this day. The Norse mythology after the romantic Viking Revival is greatly influenced by modern literature and popular culture.

The most existing records regarding Norse mythology can be dated back to the period between 11th century and 18th century, they are proctected through dictation for more than two centuries. Researchers started their study from this point, especially the Prose Edda and Heimskringla written by Snorri Sturluson, who believed that these pre-Christianity myths were related to real historical figures.

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Here are some of the most popular sympols in Viking Age below.

Hrunger’s heart

This Nordic symbol was first found in the Nordic carved stone named Valknut , which means slain warriors or knot. It is also called “Hrungnir’s heart” in memory of Hrungnir, a jötunn in the Prose Edda. This symbol has been found on several carved stones with funeral patterns and is considered an emblem of afterlife.

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The three interlocked triangles and nine points in the Valknut symbol sometimes is used to stand for rebirth, fetation and regeneration cycle. The interlocking also suggests the interconnection between three worlds: earth, hell and paradise, which include nine realms.

Mjölnir pendant

The Mjölnir pendants were worn by Nordic pagans between 9th an 10th century. Mjölnir, also known as Thor’s hammer, is the weapon used by Thor in Norse mythology. As the exclusive weapon for Thor, Mjölnir can hit the target accurately when thrown out.

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The Yggdrasil

In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is an immense tree located in the center of universe, linking the nine realms around Yggdrasil. Yggdrasil is widely considered to be a term meaning “Odin’s horse”.  It is also believed to be a huge and sacred Chinese ash.

Odin’s horn

Odin’s horn consists of three interlocked horns, it represents the lord god of Nordic deities, Odin. This horn-shape symbol is commonly found in the Eddas, and is often recalled in traditional Norse toasting rituals. In some stories, each of three horns is also called Odhroerir.

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Sleipnir

In Norse mythology, Odin rides a eight-leg horse named Sleipnir. This powerful and magic creature can often be found in prose and poems. The image of Sleipnir was first found on a 8th-century carved stone. Many researchers think that Sleipnir has eight leg instead four as usual. It is the emblem of journey in Shamanism, which means this horse symbol can be originated from primitive Indo-european religion.

Symbols of the nine realms

In Norse cosmology, there are nine realms connected by Yggdrasil. The description of nine realms is not accurate, because the Poetic Edda was written in a way of vague implication and likely influenced by the cosmology of medieval Christianity. Norse genesis mythology describes how everything is born between fire and ice, and how the deities create the home of human.

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Gungnir

In Norse mythology, Gungnir is Odin’s magic spear, which always hits and kills the target.

The Swastika or sunwheel

The Swastika or sunwheel, a symbol of luck, holiness, power, prosperity, and the sky. This article covers both its original usage and meaning and its later, tragic appropriation by the Nazis.

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Out of all Viking symbols, the Swastika is most definitely the one that almost lost its true meaning.
The symbol, which was used for consecration and blessing by Vikings and Indo-Europeans in a way that is very similar to Mjölnir, was appropriated by Hitler and the Nazi party and unfortunately is widely associated with that and only that since then.

If a person or a thing was hallowed by using the Swastika, that person/thing would become holy and lucky. In fact, the Swastika was believed to be the most significant good luck symbol/charm by some people. It was believed to bring a person in a desperate, chaotic state to a one that is of strength, prosperity and order.

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Aegishjalmur/Aegishjalmr, The Helm of Awe and Terror

a symbol of protection and might, but in a darker and more individualistic sense than Thor’s Hammer.Aegishjalmur (also known as the Helm of Awe and terror) is a rune stave that is known as a Viking symbol of protection.

The word Aegishjalmr is comprised of two different words in Old Norse language: aegis meaning ‘shield’ and hjalmr meaning ‘helm’.
In fact, Viking warriors used to draw Aegishjalmr on their foreheads to be protected from their enemies and to instill fear in them.
The symbol is mentioned in several sagas regarding the deeds of the Viking heroes including the Völsunga Saga.
Today, the Aegishjalmur is drawn or used in form of tattoos as a protection symbol or a symbol of identification among Asatru believers.

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Vegvisir, The Viking Compass/The Runic Compass

a symbol from an early modern Icelandic magical manuscript (and therefore not necessarily a truly “Norse” symbol), which was supposed to help with finding one’s way when lost.

Widely associated with Aegishjalmr or sometimes even confused with it on account of the similarity between the two, the Vegvisir is another Viking symbol comprised of rune staves.
Vegvisir-Viking-Symbol-of-Protection-and-Guidance-The-Runic-Viking-Compass

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The Vegvisir, also known as the Viking compass or the runic compass, was believed to provide guidance for a person who might lose/lost his way. It would also be drawn on Viking ships before they set sail to ensure they would come back home safely.

That said, there is a confusion about the origin of the symbol and whether or not it is a genuine symbol inherited from the Viking Age since there are very few resources mentioning it.

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