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7 Ancient Viking Symbols: A Fascinating Guide

viking symbols

Norse mythology is extensively rich and has a lot of mysteries to explore. One such fascinating aspect is the Viking symbols. Even if you’re not a fan, everyone has come across some of the symbols, be it through books, pop culture, or other media.

Apart from the fact that they look cool, you’ll be surprised to learn how deep and intricate the meanings of these Viking symbols are. Here’s a handy guide to the 7 most well-known Viking symbols and what they represent.

7 Viking Symbols and Their Meanings

#1. Mjölnir

Mjölnir

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Undoubtedly one of the easiest and most important Norse symbols, the Mjölnir or Hammer of Thor represents strength and protection.

The word is derived from the Old Norse word “Mjǫllnir” meaning lightning. There are also other indications that the word refers to the color white or “new snow” — both direct representations of purity.

Thor’s hammer is not just a weapon but was also used to bestow blessings and gifts. The Norse God of Thunder used his hammer to consecrate the people and their earthly possessions and could use the same tool to wreak havoc.

According to Norse mythology, Thor used Mjölnir to sanctify marriages and bless couples with fertility as well as protect his realm against the threat of giants by crushing them with it.

It was also common for Viking warriors to wear miniature versions of the Mjölnir as amulets when they went to war, which is indicative of the symbol’s significance.

Today, the Mjölnir is not only believed to provide a blanket of protection but is also used to represent the Germanic Neopaganism faith called heathenism or heathenry.

#2. The Helm Of Awe

Awe

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One of the most renowned Viking symbols for protection is the Helm of Awe, also called the Helm of Terror. Also called Aegishjalmur or Aegishjalmr in Old Norse, this word is made up of two different words — aegis meaning “shield” and Hjalmar meaning means “helm.”

This symbol was often drawn on the foreheads of the Viking warriors as it was believed to intimidate and strike fear in their enemies and at the same time could provide the Vikings with protection. This is one of the most popular protection symbols that has often been included in the different stories of the fearless Viking warriors like the Völsunga Saga.

But more than a protection symbol, the Helm of Awe is, in fact, a magic spell and is a combination of runes.

It’s a fascinating symbol that has also become a tattoo favorite and is also a symbol among the Asatru believers.

#3. Huginn and Muninn

Muninn

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A pair of ravens are often seen sitting to the right of Odin or on his shoulders, these loyal servants of Odin serve as his messengers.

According to Norse lore, Huginn and Muninn would fly around Midgard (the world), and return to Odin by the end of the day to inform him about everything they saw.

Odin gave these ravens unique abilities to speak and understand the human language. They were considered reliable observers and were even regarded as the projection of Odin’s consciousness. This assumption is primarily due to the direct meaning of the names Huginn and Muninn — “thought” and “mind,” respectively.

#4. Troll Cross

Cross

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Of all the Viking symbols, the Troll Cross is the least known. It is another symbol of protection and is, in fact, found in Swedish folklore and not in Norse mythology. It was created by a goldsmith named Kari Erlands in the 1990s to serve as an amulet.

The Troll Cross is represented by an Othala or Odal rune in the Elder Futhark. The rune was used in ancient times to ward off evil spirits, dark magic, wicked elves, and hateful trolls.

#5. Runes

Runes

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The Norse runes are symbols that are said to have come from the source of all fates — the Well of Urd. It is said that Odin impaled his heart using his spear, and for nine days and nights, he hung on Yggdrasil, the world tree to understand these rules. Odin believed that he would gain profound wisdom and power if he fully understood what the symbols meant.

For the Vikings, the runes are not just their alphabets, but each symbol comes with virtue and even magic. This is also why Vikings carved runes in wood or stone shields and jewelry for protection and power.

Runes are almost always incorporated when commemorating the Vikings’ ancestors and marking their fallen heroes’ graves. They were also used to form a bridge between the human and supernatural realm as each runic symbol had inherent meaning.

#6. The Swastika

Swastika

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Far from what the swastika has become associated with (Nazis and WWII), it is a symbol of peace, sanctity, protection, prosperity, and strength.

The Vikings used this symbol for blessing and consecration. It is a revered symbol that is believed to bring good luck. The swastika is also connected to Thor’s hammer and the sun wheel, and the three are often interchangeable. Archeologists have often it engraved on hammers and in runestones in relation to Thor.

Apart from the Norse connection, the swastika has a rich history in Indian and Buddhist cultures.

#7. Valknut

Valknut

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Also known as the Hrungnir’s heart, Odin’s knot, and the Heart of Vala, the Valknut is very much an Odin representation.

The word comes from the words “valr” meaning slain warrior and “knut” meaning a knot. As the Norse mythology goes, Odin, the god of death and war, would welcome all the warriors who were slain in battle in the Hall of the Slain or Valhalla.

Viking symbols are used to design Viking jewelry. For more information, you can browse Viking rings here.

The Valknut symbol is made of three intersecting triangles that make up the nine corners representing the nine Norse worlds. It also symbolizes the cycle of life, including motherhood and pregnancy.

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