Celtic Cross | Origin and Meaning of this Nordic Symbol ! | Viking Heritage

Celtic Cross

Celtic Cross | An emblem rooted in the Nordic culture

A civilization of travelers, nomads and great warriors, the Viking mixed with all cultures, and their influence spread throughout their reign. The nobility and refinement of this culture can be seen in one of the greatest symbols of our time: the Celtic cross.

Widespread throughout Scandinavia and the Celtic region, it transmits the heritage of Northern Europe, and carries its values. Behind its religious appearance are hidden meanings and values intimately linked to Viking and Celtic beliefs and deities.

Do you know the mysterious origins of the Celtic cross? Do you want to discover in more depth the symbolism and the implicit meanings it inspires? In today's article, we will trace the history of this priceless jewel, and explore in great detail all aspects associated with it.

The structure of the Celtic cross

The Celtic cross, also known as the nimbus cross or the eucharistic cross, is a well-known emblem consisting of a cross and a ring. It represents the symbol of Celtic Christianity, the religious and spiritual current that reached its peak in the 7th century, following the pagan religions that were widespread in the region.

The two elements of which it is made up, the cross and the circle in its center, constitute a rather characteristic whole, and distinguish it radically from similar and derived symbols. The central part, which was initially used to consolidate the assembly, was gradually transformed into a decorative item from which the branches of the cross protrude.

Depending on the context in which it is found, there are two distinct configurations

  • The irregular cross, where the vertical leg is longer than the horizontal, which has a religious connotation.
  • The regular cross, with legs of the same length, which is better known in symbology and politics.

The mystical origins of the Celtic cross

Named after the region that gave birth to it, the Celtic cross was the pride of ancient European populations, and by extension that of the Vikings. Its origin is not in doubt, and is duly documented by historical and archaeological findings dating back to the 8th century.

The etymology of the Celtic cross

There are several terms that can refer to the Celtic cross. The original term for it was "Nimbed Cross," meaning that it was hooped, a way of describing its distinctive structure. Gradually, as this distinctive element took a back seat to religious values, the term Celtic took over.

It was first mentioned by Anglo-Saxons in the mid-nineteenth century, initiated by the Pancelltic cultural movement Celtic Revival. Indeed, there was a tendency to associate the Celtic cross exclusively with Ireland, to the point of calling it the Irish Cross. In order to avoid the appropriation of this common heritage, it was preferred to switch to the word Celtic which also includes Scotland, Cornwall and Wales.

On the other hand, it was also called "Eucharistic Cross", especially in religious circles. Thus, the circle of the cross would be the holy host, the round-shaped bread, found during the Christian Eucharist.

Scandinavian roots, Catholic influences

Historians trace the origins of the Celtic cross to the British Isles. The Vikings would also have contributed to the emergence of its first examples. Although the exact inspirations are mysterious, it is suggested that these would have been linked to the pagan beliefs that were dominant at the time. Norse mythology, including the god Odin, and Celtic beliefs contributed greatly.

It is through migrations and sea explorations that this symbol reached the continent, and that it mixed with other cultures. Traces of the passage of the Scandinavians are notably evoked in Brittany, where the most models of these crosses are found in France.

It is at this time that the impregnation of the Catholic religion took place, to which it is very much linked today. Many monuments, places of worship and cemeteries testify to the first rapprochement between these two entities. The most emblematic are :

  • The Celtic cross of Kells, established in Ireland, on areas that suffered Viking plunder in the 10th century.
  • The cross of Saint Cado, located in Brittany which was a region occupied by the Vikings for years.

The mysterious history of Celtic crosses

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The history of the Celtic cross is intimately linked to that of Ireland in the Middle Ages. Its evolution followed that of the country, in parallel with the cultural and societal changes of which it was seat.

The Celtic cross and Ireland

At the very beginning, Ireland was formed by a group of villages independent of each other. The lack of coordination exposed them to the danger of the Viking invasion and its disastrous consequences. The largest naval force of the time made short work of the divided people of the time.

Nevertheless, the arrival of the Vikings unified the kingdom, and more importantly, allowed the Nordic culture and its associated pagan beliefs to reign. Various items and runes were brought in during the Scandinavian raids, all related to Viking symbolism. The most notable was, without a doubt, the Celtic cross.

After the raids, the peasants had no other refuge than the churches, because everything was ravaged by the barbarians. Gathered around a Celtic cross, one of the few objects that resisted the massacres, they prayed to be delivered from the Scandinavian occupiers. The rapprochement towards the monotheistic religion started from then on, under the effect of the oppression and the war.

According to some sources, it was Saint Patrick who introduced this symbol to the Irish, as part of the conversion of the people under pagan rule to Christianity. A movement that led to radical revolutions in Ireland, and in the whole Celtic region. A metaphor would therefore be hidden behind this nimbed cross: the circle, representing the obscurantism of the Nordic religions, disappeared, giving way to Christianity.

The double origin of Celtic crosses is well demonstrated by this example, which is also the origin of the diversity of meanings of this symbol. The balance between darkness and light, between rings and crosses, is well highlighted throughout its history.

The panceltic movement, the savior of the nimbed cross

After many centuries, the Celtic cross has been in sharp decline, especially in Great Britain. Long used in religious ceremonies, the very existence of the nimbed crosses ceased following the Reformation in the 14th century. It was thought that they would disappear for good.

The great return of the Celtic crosses was made thanks to the Celtic Revival Movement. It has allowed the rediscovery of this symbol rooted in the culture of the region, and to give it its due. They have taken up this mystical symbol for the making of traditional jewelry with a tinge of Celtic and Scandinavian culture.

Meaning of the Celtic cross

The Celtic cross is an ancient symbol whose origins go back to the time of the most ancient civilizations. Whether in Native American, Chinese or more recent Christian traditions, the cross has existed in various forms before becoming the Celtic cross we know today.

The oldest crosses, with only four branches that stop at the edges of their circles, are called "sun wheels". This primary type of cross is found as early as the beginning of the Stone Age on rock paintings in Sweden, dating back to well before the age of Christianity.

It was long after this that the cross was adopted as a Christian symbol. It represents the "signaculum domini": the five-pointed wound of Christ. Alluding to the heart, it symbolizes life, love and the essence of all things.

The heart is seen as a symbol, more powerful than the sun itself, because it offers without taking. Indeed, the heart gives life without asking for anything in return, just like the Lord's limitless graces to mankind.

However, it is long before that; more precisely in Celtic mythology, that the nimbed cross finds all its quintessence.

The meaning of the cross in the Celtic civilization

The Celtic cross has three circles, each representing in Celtic mythology the different levels of the universe, where the soul will make its ascent:

  1. The outermost circle, which is called the "Keugant". It represents the world of chaos and emptiness, where only the Uncreated or the Creator can live. It encompasses the other two circles that represent creation.
  2. The second circle corresponds to "Abred". It is the representation of the earthly world, where man must prove himself, and acquire the experience that will be necessary to reach the last celestial level.
  3. The last circle, the smallest of the three circles, represents the "Gwenwed". It is the equivalent of paradise, a world of light and prosperity where the soul lives in peace for all eternity.

Thus, the Celtic cross symbolizes both the journey of man and the experience he must acquire to reach transcendence, but also reminds us of the omnipresence of the creator at each of these stages.

Indeed, to hope to reach the world of Gwenwed light, man must first prove his worth on Abred. To do so, he must acquire the necessary knowledge, the source of all enlightenment.

But if he fails, he will be sent back to the very first circle, the Keugant. He will have to wait to be reincarnated by God, to try once again to reach the white world Gwenwed.

Only, if in the course of this journey, the man allows his soul to be perverted, he risks being lost in the darkness. His punishment will be to descend to Annoum or Anwn, the fourth hidden circle of the Celtic cross that illustrates hell. Ironically, it is represented by the shadow of the last circle Gwenwed.

This particular arrangement of the different circles also symbolizes our solar system. Gwenwed in the center represents the sun which is surrounded by eight planets.

As for the four branches of the Celtic cross, they symbolize either :

  • The four elements of the earth, that is to say: water, air, fire and earth;
  • Astronomical representations of the seasons, more precisely the 2 solstices and 2 equinoxes;
  • Or by the 4 plant elements corresponding to each of these seasons: mistletoe, clover, ear, acorn.

Whatever their meaning, these four branches are linked to the fifth element "ether". In ancient times, this element was considered the fluid that fills all space and represents the source of all light. In the Celtic cross, the Gwenwed or circle of divine light is the ether.

The Celtic cross in modern civilizations

Despite its modern representation essentially linked to Christianity, the Celtic cross has very ancient origins, essentially pagan.

It is found in various cultures, but the most significant is undoubtedly the Viking civilization. The wheel of the sun, another name for the nimbed cross, was also called the cross of Odin. This is a direct allusion to the origins of the father of the gods, the one who was at the origin of the creation of the Viking world.

According to Viking mythology, it was Odin who gave the first Viking men the gift of knowledge. It is thanks to this knowledge that they will be able to reach the ultimate enlightenment and thus be able to make their ascent from the circle of "Abred" to the paradise.

Discover our Celtic Crosses !

The nimbed cross, whether considered a Celtic or Catholic symbol, is now ubiquitous in our modern culture. It can be found in tattoos, pendants and objects of worship, all of which are charged with mysticism and meaning.

A pillar of Scandinavian cultural identity, it is the pride of the Celtic countries, and a strong link to their ancient origins. You too can discover our Celtic crosses, a symbol that will surely seduce you.

All About Viking Runes Origins and Meanings ! Viking Heritage


Viking Runes Origins and Meanings

The Vikings are a people considered as barbarians. Warriors, plunderers, they spread terror throughout Europe. This is what appears from the writings of other civilizations of their time. They were called pagans because of the violence of their raids and their acts of piracy.

However, they are a civilization with a rich and interesting history, creating all kinds of objects. And like other peoples, to share this culture, they had an alphabet. In this article, we tell you everything about the Viking runes.

The origin of Runes

Viking Runes are the alphabet and writing system invented and used by the Norse. The origin of the runes can be traced back to the Nordic raids in Europe, especially in southern Italy. Scholars wonder whether the runes originated from an ancient Italic alphabet or from an Etruscan script.

The nascent runic alphabet was then called Futhark because of the appearance of the first 6 runes: Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raidho, Kaunan. The invention of the first alphabet, the old Futhark began in the first century of our era, ending before the year 400. The first real runic inscriptions are found on the comb of Vimose, Denmark.

The harja inscription (perhaps a proper name) on the Vimose comb (Fionie, second half of the 2nd century) is one of the oldest known runic texts.
Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen.

A special meaning

First of all, there is no Indo-European root for the word rune. This means that it was only used by the Nordic peoples.

Etymologically, the word *rūno- means secret, mystery, or incantation in most known Celtic languages. In Old Norse, the Viking language, or the Old Saxon of the Anglo-Saxons, rún means secret knowledge, whispering or simply secrecy.

God of victory but also of wisdom, Odin would have acquired the knowledge of runes during a physical sacrifice. Wounded by his own spear Gungnir, Odin will then hang himself from the tree of life, Yggdrasil, for 9 nights. This ash tree contains branches and roots containing the Nine Worlds. Below this tree is the well of Urd, which would have been the original habitat of the runes.

The invention of the runes would therefore be divine according to the Poetic Edda. Odin would have given the runes to the Vikings.

They then engraved them on small stones, which we finally call the runic stones. The first use was to separate the tribe, in disagreement on a certain subject. As they did not agree on the common action to be taken, they would then pick a stone and obtain a divine answer to their problem. This allowed them to discover the solutions and finally agree.

The legend says that a Viking druid discovered the secret and the power of the runes. He used the rune stones to perform magic and predict the future. This is how the druid of the village realized clairvoyance for the inhabitants and enlightened them on their future. The strength of the spirits also allowed the sick to be cured.

There were 24 rune stones in all, each corresponding to a rune.

The Old Futhark

The Kylver stone (Gotland, around 400)

On the stones that the Vikings used to draw, the symbols finally correspond to what is called the old Futhark.

This initial alphabet is divided into 3 groups of 8 runes each, which are called ættir (i.e. families). The first rune of each æt gives the group its name. The first group we will focus on is the æt of Freyr.

Æt de Freyr

Rune Fehu

The one that gives its name to the æt is called Fehu. It corresponds to the grapheme f, which we know better. Some of the Vikings were farmers, and this symbol is also associated with prosperity and abundance.

Rune Uruz | Viking Heritage

Uruz, representing the grapheme tu, means Auroch. It refers to raw strength, courage and vigor, directed towards a just cause. Uruz was also the perfect symbol of the wilderness.

Rune Thurisaz | Viking Heritage

Thurisaz was pronounced "Thor is as". This letter was related to chaos and destruction by natural forces. On the positive side, it corresponded to Thor defending Asgar. On the negative side, it was associated with Loki, the Nordic trickster.

Rune Ansuz | Viking Heritage

The Ansuz symbol embodied the qualities of the most powerful god, Odin. It represented the power of mind control, enthusiasm and the inspiration of languages.

Rune Raidho | Viking Heritage

The runic letter Raidho represented travel and movement. It helped to recognize the place where one wanted to go. It was thus a perfect compass for a better place in life.

Rune Kenaz | Viking Heritage

Kenaz is a rune that means torch. It was thus used to shed light on matters of life. It was also interpreted to mean boiling or eruption.

Rune Gebo | Viking Heritage

Gebo corresponds to the current g was used for gifts and fair exchanges. The word gift is understood to mean sacrifice and generosity.

Rune Wunjo | Viking Heritage

Wunjo, pronounced "won-jo," was closely related to joy and pleasure. Luck, hope and harmony were also meanings of this rune.

Æt by Hagall

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Rune Hagalaz | Viking Heritage

In futhark, the Hagalaz symbol in this very ancient language is very similar to the H. Its meaning revolves around destruction and salvation in the sense of crisis. Its destruction is always followed by rebirth.

Rune Nauthiz | Viking Heritage

Rune of desire and innovation, Nauthiz also indicated necessity. Like that of re-learning or planning future actions in order to have what is expected.

Rune Ísaz | Viking Heritage

The symbol Ísaz represents ice and immobility. The simplest letter of the runic alphabet, it plays an important role because ice played a role in the creation of the cosmos according to Norse mythology.

Rune Jera | Viking Heritage

Jera meant the good harvest, having two scythes for representation. In the modern sense, this rune was considered the reward for trials.

Rune Eihwaz | Viking Heritage

The rune Eihwaz, corresponding to æ, represented strength and reliability to face the changing phases of life. This could take place during youth or adulthood.

Rune Pertra | Viking Heritage

This letter was the most controversial of the Viking runes Pertra (Perð). Its meaning revolved around the word stone and the possibilities of the future as well as the word fate.

Rune Algiz | Viking Heritage

The rune Algiz is found in other Viking symbols such as the Aegishjalmur. It represents protection against evil powers as well as enemies during battles. Algiz was also a source of spiritual strength.

Rune Sowilo | Viking Heritage

Sowilo is the 16th letter of the alphabetfuthark. It represents the sun and the source of energy and inspiration.

Æt of Týr

Rune Tiwaz | Viking Heritage

The rune Tiwaz is closely related to the god Tyr in Norse mythology. This symbol, corresponding to the grapheme t, indicates honor and authority, qualities of the deity.

Rune Berkanan | Viknig Heritage

When the Berkanan symbol appeared, it indicated a new beginning in life. This meaning is not limited to birth. It indicates a great source of creativity within one's mind.

Rune Ehwaz | Viking Heritage

The name Ehwaz looks like another one. But this symbol here means transportation, carried out with the help of two horses. It was also compared to the collaboration between several individuals.

Rune Mannaz | Viking Heritage

In the same theme, the rune Mannaz represented humanity, man and social relations. This included family, friends and colleagues.

Rune Laguz | Viking Heritage

The Vikings represented water with this letter. Laguz is finally similar to an l in our alphabet. The rune could also represent something uncertain that one could suffer from.

Rune Ingwaz | Viking Heritage

Pronounced "Ing-Huz", Ingwaz represented the land and the connection the Vikings had with it. They had to pay attention to the environment.

Rune Othala | Viking Heritage

The Othala symbol was finally represented by what we call an o today. It signified the domain or ancestral possession, of one's house for example.

Rune Dagaz | Viking Heritage

The last Viking rune Dagaz represented the day and the day, in the sense of awakening or dawn of a person.

The New Futhark

Erected by a father in memory of his son, the Rök stone (Östergötland, around 800)

Like any alphabet in the world, this one evolves. It undergoes modifications, transformations which redefine it continuously.

From the 8th century onwards, the old Futhark was reduced and the runes only had 16 characters. It was used to transcribe Old Norse during the Viking Age. Thus, we find symbols with more or less the same meaning.

Æt de Freyr

Rune Fehu | Viking Heritage

If the symbol does not change, it is called fe or fé. It is associated with growth, dynamism and prosperity.

Rune Uruz | Viking Hritage

Translating into u, y or o, úr then represents iron or rain.

Closely related to Thor, this rune represents the alliance of fire and ice. It is still used in the Icelandic alphabet today.

Named áss or óss, this symbol still represents divinity in the new futhark.

Drakkar voyages through Europe did not change this letter, which was then called reið or reiðr.

In new futhark, kaunan has been shortened to kaun and its design has changed.

  • ᚷ and ᚹ

These letters did not exist in the new futhark alphabet.

Æt by Hagall

In new futhark, the letter that means salvation is called hagall. However, it does not look like the grapheme H.

nauðr was also used to transcribe the sound of the letter N, and describe servitude and slavery.

The name loses its final z to become ísaouíss, while retaining the meaning of ice.

In new futhark, jera turns into ár. This symbol still means culture and production, even abundance.

  • ᛇ and ᛈ

These two letters do not exist in the new futhark alphabet.

Yr replaces in this alphabet the symbol for algiz. It then means if and is used when the R sound is the last rune in the word.

This letter is called sól. So it represents the sun but also heat.

Æt of Týr

This rune means, in addition to Týr, the word warrior. It thus borrows the direct name of the god.

The letter is called bjarkan also means birch, or even birch branches.

The difference between ehwaz and eihwaz has gradually been lost. It is not present in new futhark.

Man no longer represents himself by mannaz but by maðr.

Surrounded by large surrounded by water, lögr orlaukr represented the sea. It is pronounced as an l.

  • ᛜ, ᛟ and ᛞ

These runes are not present within the new futhark.

Geographical variations

But it also varies according to the many Germanic peoples that existed. Whether they were in Norway or Sweden, the Vikings did not have quite the same runes, some of them not even existing.

Æt de Freyr

  • ᚠ, ᚢ,ᚦ,ᚱ and ᚴ

The Danish version does not change while the Swedish and Norwegian versions have shorter twigs.

In the Danish variant, the symbol does not change, while Norwegian and Swedish used this one instead:ᚭ.

  • ᚷ and ᚹ

No variations have been found to date for these two symbols.

Æt by Hagall

The Danes have not changed it. The Norwegian and Swedish variant is this: ᚽ.

The Norwegians and Swedes shortened the twig (ᚿ) while the Danes did not change it.

The Danish version does not change while the Swedish and Norwegian versions have shorter twigs.

In Norway and Sweden, the symbol loses its straight bar. The twigs remain normal in Denmark.

  • ᛇ and ᛈ

No variations have been found to date for these two symbols.

The basic version was used by the Danes. ᛧ was then used by Norwegians and Swedes.

Normal form among Danes while it is shortened (ᛌ) for Swedes and Norwegians.

Æt of Týr

No change in the south of the Nordic countries. The rune in Norway and Sweden is this one: ᛐ.

The Danish variant has the same twigs when the Norwegian and Swedish letter is shorter: ᛓ.

  • ᛖ, ᛜ and ᛟ

Runes with no geographical variations.

The Danes used this symbol for man while the Norwegian and Swedish Vikings used ᛙ.

The twigs were shorter on the Norwegian and Swedish versions. The Danish one did not change.

Dagaz is named differently depending on the territory: daeg in Anglo-Saxon for example.

The disappearance of the Vikings

Scandinavian looting and warfare stopped at the end of the Viking Age. At the same time, the new futhark and its variants fell into disuse. This is the consequence of the Christianization of this territory.

From the 12th century onwards, runic manuscripts were written in two types of runes, alongside the Latin alphabet. They return in particular to the system of correspondence by phoneme of the old Futhark.

The medieval runes were used from 1100 to 1500, while the Dalecarlian runes were used from 1500 to 1910.

An astrological link

Rune and astrology | Viking Heritage

Of the 24 letters of the runic alphabet, 12 correspond to the 12 signs of the zodiac. For example, the fish corresponds to the rune Gebo, the bull is linked to the rune Uruz or the scorpion corresponds to Eihwaz.

In addition, there are some that are associated with the planets of the solar system. This is the case of Thurisaz, linked to Mars or the rune Perthro which goes with the planet Saturn.

An artistic use

Finally, the Viking runes are not only used as an alphabet or magic. The various signs and symbols of this culture had an artistic significance. Many objects have one or more runes.

This is the case of the bell of the church of Saleby in Västergötland in Sweden which dates from 1228 for example. But it is not the only one. The runic circles surround very famous symbols such as the Aegishjalmur. Meaning "helmet of terror", it is a symbol which associates the notions of magic and protections. It was found in a grimoire of runic magic, the Galdrabók.

Finally, Viking runes are also present in the form of runic circles. They surround the Valknut or the Vegesir. On Viking Heritage, we propose you different clothes and accessories which present this symbolism. Do not hesitate to visit our site to discover them.


Viking Symbols

Viking symbols: what do we need to know?

In order to know the present, one must know enough about the past to be able to move forward, as they say. It is in this line of sight that we must stay and inform ourselves about past histories, even if they are not ours. This is a great help for our general culture and is a passion, especially for tourists looking for novelties.

Among the oldest civilizations, the one that has left its mark on the world is by far the Nordic culture and especially its many myths. It has mostly attracted the attention of the public thanks to the symbols of its people, who were called Vikings.

The Viking symbols tell very special stories and have very special meanings. In addition, these symbols bring gods and goddesses to the fore, which makes the search for information very exciting and compelling. So what do you need to know that has to do with Viking symbols?

What is the origin of the Viking symbols?

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First of all, we need to know where these symbols really come from in order to be able to trace their history properly. As we like to say, the Vikings were barbarians who pillaged and made bloodshed wherever they went. They were largely interested in conquering new lands and riches aboard their great ships. So they were not afraid of death, but rather welcomed it with open arms.

Their different symbols were for them the heritage of their multiple gods who inhabited the earth many years ago. The symbols go back centuries with their gods as the main investigators, who are only mythological. But for them these gods were an inescapable truth in the name of which they killed and made human sacrifices, to honor them. It is from there that the symbols took shape and exist in different forms, each with its own distinct meaning.

What is the history of the different Viking symbols?

The symbols being multiple, they cannot all trace a common history. Each one appeared differently with a particularity of its own.


Aegishjalmur Symbol | Viking Heritage

One of the most powerful of all is the Aegishjalmur a rather particular name, it is used to symbolize the protection and the victory over the enemies. It reassured the Viking warriors during the great battles and to recognize it, one could notice eight tridents which composed it.

These eight tridents all converge towards the central point, to form a kind of defensive wall against the enemy forces. It was also an association made with the snake and its powers of paralysis, facing its prey. Thanks to this symbol the northern forces felt invulnerable.



Gungnir Symbol | Viking Heritage

Come immediately after one of the most sacred symbols that is Gungnir, because of its belonging to the great god Odin. It is said that Gungnir was the magic spear of Odin made by the dwarves. Its power was due to the fact that it was designed by these blacksmiths who draw their skills from the cosmos.

It is also a spear with multiple powers that, once projected, did not stop unless it hit its target precisely. Let us not forget to underline that Gungnir, called the wavering one, was the representation of the supreme power of authority.

Hugin and Munin

Hugin and Munin | Viking Heritage

Still belonging to the god Odin, we have Hugin and Munin, which represent his two majestic ravens. The mythical stories about them tell us that the ravens were for the god a kind of reporter. They came to report faithfully all that they had heard or seen, which was their primary function.

The symbol of these two ravens taught good education, wisdom and intelligence. They are beings with multiple qualities that should not be underestimated.


Mjolnir symbol | Viking Heritage

Of the most formidable and powerful weapons that the Nordic mythology has to present, there is the Mjolnir which represents the hammer of the god Thor who is not unknown. Since his character has been imitated several times in movies and animated cult. Thor being the god of thunder and lightning, he needs his powerful hammer to cause these two phenomena of which he is master.

The hammer itself is a weapon of destruction, but was nevertheless used as a symbol of blessing and protection for weddings, births and also funerals. It is a hammer that is very special.


The thorn of sleep, also called Svefnthorn, had the ability to make the opponent fall asleep deeply, so that he could not realize anything when he woke up. It is a symbol that is still unknown to this day, but nevertheless its existence appears in two completely different forms.


Swastiska Symbol | Viking Heritage

One of the symbols with a special connection to Thor's hammer and sun wheel was the Swastiska. Indeed, it is a symbol whose existence was ignored for some time because of the appearance of the Nazis. But its representation of holiness, luck, security and also prosperity has completely taken over.

Triple horn of Odin

Triple horn of Odin | Viking Heritage

In the Nordic culture, drinking horns are sacred objects intended for special rituals. It is from there that takes all the meaning of the triple horn of Odin still called the Triskelion golden horn, which is a symbol representing three drinking horns intertwined. The great feature of these horns is that they are quite sacred, because being associated with the god Odin. Through them, wisdom and inspiration take all their meaning.

Troll Cross

Troll Cross Symbol | Viking Heritage

It is said that the Trolls are somewhat supernatural beings because of their deformity. So the symbol of the Troll cross was especially intended for their protection. It diminished the dangers considerably.


Vegvisir Symbol | Viking Heritage

The Vikings are known for their sense of adventure and discovery through their travels, so it is not surprising that a symbol exists to guide them. It is the Vegvisir which shows the way when one is in a bad situation. In particular during a storm or any other barrier preventing to find its way. It is a kind of compass that helps in all cases, to find his destination while being safe and sound. 


Valknut Symbol | Viking Heritage

The Vikings were more than warriors, they were great sculptors who did not hesitate to demonstrate their art. On their graves, especially those of the ships, the symbol Valknut was present. This symbol signified a transition from life to death and vice versa, which is where the meaning of the Nordic beliefs came from. Through this symbol, Odin's power of binding and unbinding took shape.


Wyrd Symbol | Viking Heritage

For the Nordic people, the knowledge of the past, present and future are intimately linked. It is within this framework that the Wyrd symbol comes to materialize all that, by maintaining in a firm way this belief. We can therefore say that the law of cause and effect is real and that it is not just imaginary.


Yggdrasil Symbol | Viking Heritage

The last symbol at the bottom of the list is the Yggdrasil, which is a large tree symbolizing the nine worlds of the cosmos through their union. It has always been said that it is an unusual tree that shelters all kinds of animals. To this tree it has been associated several supernatural beings like the dragon Nidhogg.

A mythical giant dragon that would have the habit of gnawing the roots of the tree with the help of other snakes. Moreover in this tree, we witness a quarrel between Nodhogg and an eagle whose name remains unknown. The two despised each other to such an extent that the squirrel Ratatatosk served as an intermediary, reporting the insults to them.

Which animals were symbols in the Nordic culture?

When the knowledge is a little more advanced, one realizes that the preceding symbols were not the only ones which made the composition of the culture, at the Nordic. Very particular mythical animals have largely marked this culture.

Fenrir Wolf | Viking Heritage

The first of the mythical animals that does not go unnoticed, is the giant wolf Fenrir who was the essence of loyalty, protection and also of a superpowerful strength. For it must be said that his power surpassed that of the gods. Indeed, Fenrir is the son of Loki and his wife Argboda, a special being.

When he was born, the wolf had in him a superhuman strength that was destructive and had to be controlled through a very special chain. His legend made him very famous because it is said that he was the wolf who killed the god Odin.

This was not without punishment, since in his turn the son of the same god took revenge by killing Fenrir. Many warriors wore this wolf as a tattoo, to symbolize their loyalty. It should be noted that the Viking were fervent believers in their gods and did not hesitate to pledge allegiance to their kings and masters.


Gullinbursti | Viking Heritage

One of the animal symbols that emphasize spirituality is of course the boar, which was considered a spiritual authority. Freya, the goddess of love, and Frey, the god of fertility, had boars as their spirits. On the one hand, Frey's boar, Gullinborsti, still called golden silk, was superior in speed and skills that developed in the water.

The dwarves of the meantime had made it with the greatest of care. On the other hand, Freya's boar was named Hildisvini, which means battle pig. This boar symbolizes love, happiness, abundance and peace. The Swedes used it as a symbol of supreme royalty, which meant a lot.


Ouroboros | Viking Heritage

The Nordic mythology, was largely impacted by the snakes. One of the symbols reflecting this is that of the Ouroboros, which meant a continuous return to time. As the symbol can easily reveal, we notice a snake forming a circle that continuously bites its tail without the cycle ending.

Etymologically, it has two main meanings: on the one hand the snake king and on the other hand, of course, the snake that bites its own tail. It is through the Ouroboros that any material, physical or spiritual unit truly comes to life. It is a cycle through which the perpetual rebirth from life to death is incarnated.

What is the history of the Viking runes?

Runes Symbols | Viking Heritage

Runes are Germanic symbols inscribed on all Viking symbols which are very popular. It is a kind of ancient writing that appeared among the northern Germans in the first place. They help in the communication with the gods in a very special way.

Since the gods did not have the possibility to manifest themselves in a physical way to express themselves, it was necessary to know their desire by communicating with them. The runes, still called secret and mystery, were used to solicit the gods and implore their help. Their inscriptions inspired a strong magic, since they were also present on the weapons that it is the axe or the sword of Vikings.

The runes originate from the goddess Freyja. They were like oracles that were used in the augury ceremonies to question this or that God on a subject of great importance. The magic that these runes contained was used to predict the outcome of battles and to keep people safe. Viking families used it as a symbol of protection in any situation.

What is the particularity of the Viking runes whether it is tattoos or on a jewel?

Viking Tattoo Symbol | Viking Heritage

The particularity of their inscription in tattoos or on jewels, lies in the fact that they constitute a spiritual protection. Up to now, runes still have the same mythical force, which is why many professionals flock to this jewelry. The other special feature is that the runes provide concrete answers to past, present and future events by way of prediction.

Everything you must Know About Valknut Symbol - Viking Heritage


The Valknut: an important symbol in Viking history?

The Nordic mythology is very varied in symbols. Indeed, they are very anchored in the Viking civilization. Whether it is the Valknut, the Triskel or the Triquetra, each had a clear and precise meaning.

The Valknut is still one of the most popular symbols that existed in Viking times. Today, it is possible to find it on different jewelry or clothing of Viking origin. At the time of meaning and significance, it was associated with the God Odin. At the time, the latter honored by humans. The symbol of the Valknut, as you must know, had many meanings.

Let's go together to discover this symbol heavy with meaning! You can discover the origin, the history, but also the legends that have been associated with this symbol!

What exactly does the Valknut mean in Norse mythology?

The Valknut comes from old narrois and is composed of varl which means "dead warriors" and knut, which means "knot". It therefore refers to warriors who lost their lives in battle. The Valknut symbol was seen as the "knot of the fallen", and several meanings could arise:

  • Death: indeed, since this symbol is associated with Odin. The latter during the battle of Ragnarök would have had the Valknut on him. This is how it became the symbol of death.
  • Research and discovery are also two meanings that can be attributed to Valknut.
  • The extension of the new world and the new horizon can also be attributed to the Valknut symbol.

Nevertheless, the number three and the number nine are two very present elements in this symbol. And for good reason, these are two numbers that were heavy with meaning at the time. Whether it is the Gods, the Goddesses, the religion or the nine worlds, the Valknut has many meanings in the Nordic mythology

What was the meaning of the number 3 in Norse mythology?

Everything you must Know About Valknut Symbol - Viking Heritage

In Norse mythology, the number three is very symbolic. Here are the different meanings that this number can have:

  • It is present in different symbols that were very popular at the time of the Vikings: the Triquetra which represents the Celtic love knots, the Trinity knot (Triquetra) and the Celtic spiral (Triskel).
  • The Norns: they are the three goddesses of Fate. They can be easily compared to the Dises, who were the Gods in the Nordic mythology. There are three of them: Urd (who represents what happened in the past), Verdani (who represents the present) and Skuld (who represents the future). It is necessary to know that the latter have always lived near the well of Urd which was none other than the well of Destiny. Nevertheless, in spite of these three main Norns, it is necessary to know that others could also exist. They allow to fix the Destiny of a person before they are born.
  • The three worlds and the three roots of life are also a meaning of the number three in Norse mythology. It is important to know that one of the roots led to the kingdom of Asgard, one was more towards Jotunheim and the last root was oriented towards Niflheim. Note also that there were three wells: one under each root of the tree of life.

As you can see, the number three was very present in Norse mythology. This list of meanings is exhaustive. It is possible to find many other interpretations. But the number three, is still very present at that time!

The number 9 also had a meaning

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We have talked about the number three and its symbolism in Norse mythology. Nevertheless, you should know that the number nine also has a meaning and not the least. Why do we talk about the number nine, when it is only three intertwined triangles? Simply because if you multiply the number of triangles by 3, it makes a total of nine. And you should know that this is a number that has its place in Norse mythology as well.

Like the number three, the number 9 has different meanings

Everything you must Know About Valknut Symbol - Viking Heritage

  • Midgard : the world of mortals.
  • Asgard: which was the world of the Gods and Goddesses.
  • Vanaheim : it was the world of the Vanes, associated with the cults of fertility, fecundity, wisdom and precognition.
  • Jotunheim: which was none other than the world of the giants.
  • Niflheim : the oldest of the nine kingdoms, entirely made of ice.
  • Muspelheim : which is a world of fire, unlike Niflheim.
  • Alfheim : which is the world of the elves.
  • Svartalfheim : which is the world of the dark elves (svartálfar)
  • Hel : the world of the dead.

This is not the only meaning that can be found in the number nine. Here are some other elements that will certainly pique your curiosity:

  • Nine can be related to the number of nights during which Odin remained suspended on the cosmic tree Yggdrasil. During this period, he had to acquire new knowledge, but also a certain wisdom. It should be known that every ninth night his ring the Draupnir, gave 8 new rings.
  • Nine is also the number of mothers of the God Heimdal, who was the guardian of Bifrost Rainbow Bridge. This bridge was none other than the link between Asgard and Midgard.
  • Nine can also correspond to the nights that the god Frey had to wait to unite with the goddess Gerd, the Mother Earth.
  • The number nine also corresponds to the number of days that Skadi and Njörd spent alternately in Nóatún.
  • There were also nine girls surrounding Menglöd. The latter was the virgin who is compared to the goddess Freyja.
  • The God Thor took nine steps backwards in his final battle with the serpent Jörmungand.
  • Sacrifices and offerings for nine days were also made at the temple in Uppsala, Sweden.

Could there be a link between Hrungnir and the Valknut?

The symbol of Valknut would have a link with the Hrungir. But before anything else, it would be interesting to determine what it is really about.

In Norse mythology, Hrungir was none other than a giant. It is important to know that his name simply meant "the noisy one" or "the big and heavy being". He lived in Jotunheim and was the strongest ice giant that existed in his time.

But what interests us more is his heart. Indeed, according to the legend and the Norse mythology, this last would be in stone. We must also add that the edges of the latter are sharp and that it has three protruding horns. It is a magical symbol that has long been put on some runic stones.

But then, what is the link between the heart of this giant and the Valknut symbol? Quite simply, the fact that the giant's heart would have been in the shape of a triangle.

The Valknut symbol will remain popular throughout the ages. Whether it's in music bands like Linkin Park or represented on many tattoos, this mythical symbol will continue to fascinate all future generations.

Aegishjalmur : All About This Viking Symbol | Viking Heritage


Aegishjalmur: Viking symbol of terror

Land of the Vikings, Northern Europe is full of interesting stories. Within the Nordic mythology, the Aegishjalmur is a symbol as mysterious as powerful. In this article we will introduce you to it.

The origin of the word Aegishjalmur 

Before discovering its real history, let's recall the etymological meaning of the word Aegishjalmur. This word is composed of 2 distinct roots. First, there is "Aegis" which means shield in Old Norse. In this same language, the second root, "hjalmr" means bars.

The Aegishjalmur is also known as the Helm of Awe and Terror. First of all, we need to clarify one point about this. In the Nordic language, the words helmet and helm have the same root. This does not refer to the physical helmet that one may wear in battle. This translation has long put researchers on the wrong track. Some may have thought that it was a type of helmet that was common during battle.

In fact, the word bar also refers to the expression: "in the foreground", "in front". It is in this etymological conception that the Aegishjalmur has its full meaning. 

The meaning of this ancient symbol

Le mot et symbole Aegishjalmur n’est donc pas un casque que portaient les guerriers Vikings lors de leurs pillages et combats. Mais alors que signifie-t-il ?

Finally, this explanation is not so far from reality. Before leaving to fight their enemies, the Vikings drew the symbol Aegishjalmur on their foreheads. Painting this symbol on their face, between their eyebrows, was a form of good luck charm. This way they could protect themselves and hope to win their battles. This painting took place during a magical ritual, as the Vikings do so well.

From a more symbolic point of view, this sign allowed to protect oneself against direct and frank attacks. Indeed, on the battlefield, many warriors faced each other face to face in a fight with shields and swords. With this design worn on the face, a Viking would have been invincible, impossible to defeat.

This symbol was not only displayed for protection. The Aegishjalmur was also painted on the forehead to create fear in the enemy. Indeed, opponents who saw this symbol understood the strength of the Viking and thus developed a fear of fighting him, even to the point of terror. The nickname "terror spell" that was given to him is therefore totally justified. This double meaning shows the power of this symbol, which is quite old.

History and function

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The Aegishjalmur is a magical Icelandic symbol that did not appear during the Viking Age. The traces of its presence go back much earlier. Many books and grimoires mention its history before.

For example, the fact that the Vikings decorated their foreheads with the symbol is true. The Volsunga saga is a legendary Norse saga, originating in Iceland in the 13th century. It tells of the rise of the Volsung clan to power and their fall. In chapter 18, one of the heroes, Sigurd, has a discussion with Fafnir, a man transformed into a dragon after being cursed for a golden treasure he coveted. In his battles, he wore the Aegishjalmur, which earned him many victories. Fafnir describes that the enemies were in great numbers but were afraid of the power delivered by this man.

The Poetic Edda is a collection of texts from the Viking oral tradition, transmitted from generation to generation. It is said of him:

I wore against the sons of men" A helmet of terror

When I lay on the treasure;

Stronger on my own

I thought I was stronger than all,

Unmindful of the number of my enemies".

The Aegishjalmur is a symbol that was also very well worn on oneself. In the form of bracelets or necklaces, the sign offered the same power to the Nordic warrior, as long as it was stuck to his skin. Some people even had it tattooed on their body in order to have it on a daily basis.

During the 14th century, some Viking clans painted it on the helmet used during battles. They think that the power is increased tenfold and more effective. Whether on the forehead or on the equipment, all agree that this lucky symbol works well.

The various accounts that we have on the Aegishjalmur do not really mention its functioning. However, it seems that it is linked to an ancient form of Viking magic called the Seidr.

Symbol design


The Aegishjalmur is a circular symbol that consists of 8 tridents that point outwards. One could even say that they seek to protect the central point. This design finally reminds us of the very purpose of the symbol: protection.

The helmet of terror has a link with the Viking runes. These are the alphabet and writing system used by the Nordic people. They have a link with the Odin deity.

Its arms are strongly reminiscent of the Algiz rune: ᛉ. This rune is also called the Z-shaped rune. It represents the protection and security that comes from the connection with the gods and the sacred. The so-called "peak", represented by the rune Isaz "ᛁ", appears as an ice that freezes what is around it. Some people even describe it as the rune of perseverance.

Being connected to the runes, the power of the Aegishjalmur is doubled. It benefits from a physical protection against attacks as well as a spiritual protection. Indeed, a fight was not only played on the physical aspect. The mental aspect made it possible to overcome its fears.

This association of protections made it possible to consider the Viking Aegishjalmur as a symbol of courage making it possible to overcome each difficulty which occurs in the life.

The resemblance with Vegvisir

Aegishjalmur Vegvisir

There are many Viking symbols. The Vegvisir is one of them. It appears in two different sources: the Galdrabok and the Huld manuscript. In the latter, the Vegvisir symbolizes orientation and protection. The sources all show that this symbol would have been used for navigation purposes during their raids on Europe, allowing them to return home safely.

The one often associated with a compass consists of a compass with 8 branches. The symbols on these branches are circles, lines, semi-circles and dots. Viking runes are also present around the Vegvisir.

In the Galdrabok, this symbol must be drawn on the forehead with blood to guide and protect it.

Finally the Aegishjalmur and the Vegvisir have some similarities in their meanings and customs. However, they are not the same symbols and should not be confused. The Aegishjalmur is painted with lead or copper paint.

An artistic presence

This Viking sign was important in the Nordic culture. When they were on the front line, they disappeared after a while. But this was not the case when the Vikings tattooed them on their bodies. This is the most common art form in which the Aegishjalmur is used.

On Viking Heritage, we have a whole series of products that remind us of this symbol of protection and power. If you want to wear it directly on your skin, Aegishjalmur bracelets and watches are for you! Among the latter, the wooden watch models have their dials engraved with Viking runes. Finally, wearing it proudly on your chest is also possible with the Aegishjalmur t-shirt.

It is a branch of magic that the Nordic people used to deal with destiny. The masters of the Seidr, who are usually the elders of the villages, were able to perceive the lines of a person's destiny within their very existence. It would even be possible to modify them in order to change the future and thus rewrite history.

The Seidr would give its power to the Aegishjalmur through its branch entirely dedicated to illusion. The use of the sign would change the perception of the people around the wearer, whether they were enemies or friends. This is how a warrior appeared much more powerful and frightening.

It is important to know that this is a magic that Freya taught to the Aesir. Odin is said to be the only one who became its master. Seidr was apparently mainly performed by women, who were then called seiokona.

Viking Compass Meaning of the Vegvisir Compass | Viking Heritage


The Vegvisir Symbol

The Vegvisir is a symbol widely present in Norse mythology and Viking tradition. But where does it come from and what does it mean? You will find out in this article.

The origin of Vegvisir

Viking Compass Meaning of the Vegvisir Compass | Viking Heritage


Norse mythology and Viking culture are full of symbols. One of the oldest of these is the Vegvisir. Part of its origin is mythological.

Mythological origin

To understand the origin of the Vegvisir symbol, we must go back to the Viking runes. These other symbols were a way to represent and concretize their ideas. Discovered by Odin, the most powerful of the gods, they finally allowed him to learn the meaning of the Vegvisir during his ordeal of hanging from the tree of life Yggdrasil.

Manuscripts and grimoires

The Vegvisir appears in several different sources, which puts a doubt and a blur on its true origin. The Galdrabok is an Icelandic grimoire that contains 47 spells and seals. A lot of knowledge about deities and magic is recorded in this book published around 1600.

A certain number of signs is still not explained today. They all had a more or less close link with the gods of the time. The gods feared the shamans, as could be the powerful priestess and prophetess Volva. Freya was the most famous of them. Some people suggest that Vegvisir was invented by the Ásatrú, a very old Nordic religion (of the New Age) which is part of the reconstructionist movement. This movement aims at bringing back the polytheistic religions that existed before the arrival of the monotheists. Unfortunately, this statement is false.

In the Galdrabok, the Vegvisir is described as an aid that would allow its bearer not to get lost and to find the way back to his destiny. It is then necessary to call upon mystical forces that were found in Viking magic.

The second source is the Huld manuscript. Compiled by Geir Vigfusson in the 19th century, it was also a book of spells and symbols with different powers. It should be noted that this book is controversial as to its veracity in its entirety. Indeed, there are traces of influence of Christianity and magic from Southern Europe. On one page of this collection it is written that if this sign is worn, one will never lose his way in storms or bad weather, even if he does not know his way. A picture and the explanation of its name are present beside.

The Saga of Hrana hrings, another Icelandic saga existing only in the manuscripts of 1887-1888, makes direct mention of Vegvisir:

"The weather was cloudy and stormy.... The king looked around and did not see the blue of the sky... then the king took the Vegvisir in his hands and saw where [the sun] appeared on the stone..."

There are other grimoires that trace Vegvisir back to the Viking past. First, there is The Book of Spells, translated by Galdrakver. This is nothing but a book of runic magic written by Olgeir Geirsson during the years 1868-1869. Of the 58 pages it contains, one is dedicated to the runic compass. The text is written partly in Latin, partly in runic:

"Take this sign with you and you will not get lost in the storms or die from the cold and bad weather, and you will easily find your way through the unknown."

Another grimoire mentions the Vegvisir. It bears the same name as the previous one. However, its author, place and period of writing are unknown. The information allows to say that it was probably written in the 19th century, in the region of Eyjafjord:

"To avoid getting lost: keep this sign under your left arm, its name is Vegvísir and it will serve you if you believe in it, if you believe in God and in Jesus. The meaning of this sign is hidden in these words, so you will not risk perishing. May God give me luck and blessing in Jesus' name.

These last texts show the influence that the Christian religion had on Viking traditions.

The meaning and use of the symbol

The first use of Vegvisir remains a mystery to this day. There is no reliable source that mentions its first use at any time in history.

Cependant, tout indique que le symbole était utilisé par les Nordiques à des fins de navigation. Les Vikings en avaient grand besoin pour se rendre dans toute l'Europe, que ce soit à l'est ou à l'ouest. Ils utilisaient également d'autres instruments tels que la Pierre de Soleil ou le disque Uunartoq. La Sunstone est finalement similaire à une boussole solaire. Celle-ci ne ressemble pas au Vegvisir et ne porte aucune marque. Mais elle pourrait être une source d'inspiration pour le symbole, selon certains experts.

The one that today is also called Vegvisir compass, is composed of two words. The first is "Vegur" and means road or path. The second is "Visir" and represents the guide. In Icelandic language, largely based on the old futhark used by the Vikings, Vegvisir means traveler and sign post.

The meaning of such an ancient symbol in Norse mythology is obviously multiple. The Vegvisir, a sign of guidance for navigation, also refers to the journey we make in our life. Finally, it is a true symbol of protection, allowing us to get back on our life path with each of our actions.

The Nordic shamans used it as a spiritual compass. This magical device guides the heart to make the right choices for its future. When someone had lost his faith in himself, he could use the Vegvisir. This sacred symbol helps to regain self-confidence.

To have all the virtues of Vegvisir, the tradition consisted in painting the symbol on the forehead. The practice was done on a person who was embarking on a distant journey. This was done with the help of blood, allowing the paint to disappear after a while. But what kind of symbol and writing did the Vikings wear on this part of the face?

Viking Compass

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The Vegvisir is a symbol that consists of 8 staves of Viking runes. Its power lies in each of its 8 staves. They give each one different types of protection against the numerous obstacles and tests which can occur in a maritime crossing or life. The rods are decorated with circles, lines, dots and semi-circles which are as many symbols as different protections.

It is also believed that the 8 spans of the rods represent the cardinal (North, South, East, West) and intercardinal (Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest) directions.

One belief states that by placing a nail in the middle of the symbol, it would be possible to find its way. The position of its shadow in relation to the Sun at certain times of the day would indicate the direction to follow in order to get where you want to go. It would have really helped the Vikings to navigate at sea.

There is a legend that the Vegvisir was fired on Viking longships to help them find their way home safely.

Finally, the number 8 could be a direct link with Odin. His horse Sleipnir had 8 legs and could move over the seas and in the air. A way to never lose his way finally.

An accompaniment with runes


The Vegvisir circle, also known as the Viking compass, is sometimes accompanied by runes, which made up the Norse alphabet. However, these symbols can have several meanings and it can be complicated to understand them. They linked humanity to the divine world via rune stones.

Some runes appear regularly around the Vegvisir. We find for example :

  • ᚦ : called Thurisaz, it is similar to the modern "e". This rune symbolizes strength, especially that of Thor and his hammer. The god ensured the protection of Asgrad against curses.
  • ᚷ : called Gebo, it was pronounced as a present-day g. This rune symbolizes giving and hospitality.
  • ᛖ : called Ehwaz, it is related to the m that we use today. It has several meanings: communication, travel, loyalty, team spirit or harmony. It is for one of these reasons that this rune is often located next to the Vegvisir.
  • ᛉ : called Algiz, this rune represents divine connection, protection, guidance or cooperation.
  • ᛗ : called Mannaz, this rune represents the human and the man.

These often catch your eye when you look at the Vegvisir symbol.

The artistic representation of this symbol

Archaeological traces

The Vegvisir symbol was materialized by a compass. It could be found on jewelry, weapons, tools or amulets, in addition to the human forehead.

As they were great travelers, plunderers and traders, the Vikings have left examples throughout Europe: England, Normandy or Russia. But it is in Iceland that one finds the majority of the archaeological traces of Vegvisir. This last country has preserved many traditions of its Viking past.

This is why many traces of Vegvisir compasses are only 300 or 400 years old.


This symbol meant a lot to the Scandinavian population. That's why, instead of having it only for a moment on their foreheads, some Vikings had a tattoo of the Viking compass on their bodies.

The Vegvisir gave its power at all times. The Vegvisir tattoo could then be found on the shoulder, the back, the chest or the arms. These virtues, giving confidence, allowed to face all the obstacles of the daily life and to know which choice to take in order to follow the most adapted way.

What if the Vegvisir was not a Viking symbol?

Although it may seem improbable in view of the various sources, there is no indication that the Vegvisir compass was used during the Viking Age.

The traces that result from this symbol, within manuscripts for example, are late if we compare them to the Viking Age, a period that can be described as the golden age of Scandinavian warriors. The large concentration in Iceland has led historians to develop another theory.

The Vikings who conquered the present Iceland were among the most adventurous of their community. Some left along the rivers to the west while others went east to the open sea, with no assurance of returning to their families.

It is not impossible that the symbol has changed in appearance and power through being passed on and copied.

The Viking compass could therefore be an expression of those men with exceptional courage, or those who came after. Today, some people consider that the runic symbol has not lost its effectiveness: its power allows one to find the way to overcome difficulties.

Wearing the Vegvisir

This ancient symbol was found on many objects that archaeological findings have demonstrated. On Viking Heritage we want to pay tribute to this Nordic tradition.

You can display it on your hands with a Vegvisir ring surrounded by a runic circle. A model in the shape of a raven is also remarkable. The Vegvisir necklace will allow you to have the symbol close to your heart, for even stronger powers. The Viking cap with the sign of protection is a garment that will protect from the sun and will mark the minds of people you meet in the street. If you don't want to be cold, the sweatshirt with the Viking compass will be the best possible piece.

This set will allow you to show your Viking look in any circumstance and according to your tastes.

Triskele | A Meaningful Symbol  | Viking Heritage


The Triskele: a symbol that is still very meaningful today!

The Triskel is a well known and recognized symbol, at this time. Many people have already seen it or know the history of the symbol! Although some say that it is Breton, you should know that its origin goes back to a much more distant era. But don't panic, in this article, you will know everything about this symbol that fascinates more than one! Moreover, whether it is in tattoo or in drawing, the Triskèle has real symbolism! Ready to learn more? Let's discover together the Triskèle, its history, its origins, but also its meanings! So, let's go !

What is the meaning of the Triskele?


The Triskel is a symbol that we have known for years. Between Viking and Celtic, the war is not really finished to know to which belongs this symbol. The history of the Triskel is quite complicated, but we will see it later in this article.

Nevertheless, it is important to say that it can be found in different forms of writing: Triskel, Triskell, Triskelion or Triskèle. It is a symbol that represents three legs (if we talk about a Triskel of the first type) or three spirals (if we talk about the Triskel of the second type). But it can also be related to any other symbol with three geometrically similar elements.

It is also important to know that the Triskel can turn in two different directions:

  • Dextrogyre: which turns to the right and therefore represents the positive side.
  • Sénestrogyre: which turns to the left and therefore represents the negative side.

But it is legitimate to ask whether the meaning of the Triskel is really important or not. And as surprising as it may seem, opinions differ:

  • Some will say that it makes no sense and that it only represents a shamrock.
  • Others say that the Triskel turning to the left is a diurnal symbol and therefore a sign of peace. For the right side, it is possible to say that it is a sign of refusal and war.

What are the meanings of the Triskel?

It is also important to know that the Triskel has different symbolism. At the time of the Vikings, but also in other civilizations, the number three represented many different elements. We have made a list of these so that you can easily find your way around:

  • At the Celts: it represents the three principal Gods who were only Lug, the primordial god, Dagda, but also Ogme. It is also necessary to know that it represents the trinitarian character of the single goddess at the latter.
  • From a social point of view, it could also represent the three social classes which are the priestly break (that of the druids, the bards, but also the vates), the warrior class as well as the productive class which represents the inhabitants of a village.
  • Note also that the Triskeles could also represent the three elements: water, earth and fire.
  • It is also possible to see time passing through the three branches of the Triskel: the past, the present and the future.
  • When you see a rotating Triskel, you should know that it can also represent the sun.
  • The Triskel could also represent the three age groups: youth, adulthood, but also old age.
  • Again, the Triskel could be seen as a religious symbol and thus represent the Holy Trinity.
  • It is also important to know that the Triskele could also represent the three worlds of the human: the physical, the spiritual and the divine.

What is the history of this unique symbol?

Triskele | A Meaningful Symbol  | Viking Heritage

But before we go any further, let's tell you about the history of the Triskel. This way you will really understand what it is all about. It is a very ancient symbol. Indeed, it was possible to find it in various civilizations, but the first appearance of the Triskel was on the Megalithic temples of Malta.

It is also possible to see it on the Neolithic tombs of Newgrange in Ireland. Newgrange is one of the most popular archaeological sites in Ireland. And this can impress many: it is simply a circular tomb that has large stone walls.

In other words, it is perfectly possible to see it from far. Let us also note that when one enters inside this tomb, a long corridor is drawn with small rooms. Human remains could besides be found inside these last ones.

It is important to know that the entrance of the tomb is oriented with the rising sun in winter. Thus the light is entirely on the tomb, which was very important at the time.

Nevertheless, the inhabitants of the time were not Celts. But the Triskel was indeed present on this tomb. This symbol dates from about 5200 years before our era.

Nevertheless, the Bretons and Celts are pleased to say that it is a symbol created by them. Indeed, it is used in these civilizations between the 5th and 1st before Christ. Nevertheless, as we have seen in the previous paragraph, the Triskel would have existed long before this civilization.

But it is important to know that it is a symbol that has remained popular throughout its life. Indeed, following the use of the latter among the Bretons, it fell into oblivion. Yes, other symbols were created and the Triskèle was not really part of it.

It is under the Merovingian era that it reappeared. Nevertheless, with the arrival of the Middle Ages, it was quickly forgotten.

It will thus be necessary to make a good until the 20th century to see again the Triskèle! It is in 1914, that the Triskèle was rediscovered in Brittany. It is certainly from there that comes the idea that this symbol is more Celtic than Viking. And for good reason, the Triskèle has been used many times in different nationalities. The Breton national party finally made it its symbol in 1940.

Later, in the 1970s, the Triskel also got a new lease of life! Yes, Celtic music made its appearance bringing this unforgettable symbol out of its tavern. It is partly the artist Alan Stivell who wanted to make this symbol known in all Brittany, but also in all France.

At present, the Triskèle is very associated with the Breton culture. Moreover, it is one of the elements that tourists wish to see when they come to spend a few days in Brittany.

Some will say that the Triskèle deserves to be Breton, only because they reinvest, but also because this symbol could be used in the current culture. It is also necessary that the Bretons have a real attachment to this symbol and that one cannot take that away from them.

To answer the question, no it is not a Breton symbol, nor even a Celtic one, but it would certainly have been forgotten again if the Celts had not paid any attention to it.

The Triskele and the Triquetra: difficult to find your way!

Triskele | A Meaningful Symbol  | Viking Heritage


If you have read our article on the Triquetra, you must certainly see that there is a real resemblance between these two symbols. Indeed, in both, it is perfectly possible to see the three symbolic branches, but also the circular movement of the latter.

Moreover, it is important to note that the Triskeles as the Triquetra had a real symbolism in the religious field, but also pagan. And when we study the meanings of these two symbols, we can notice that they are rather close too. We can find, in particular, the Holy Trinity or the symbolism of the Gods, which is not negligible!

The Triskel in popular culture: a much used symbol!

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Nowadays, the Triskel is a very popular symbol in the popular culture, since the Bretons made it rise from its ashes. Here are some examples where you can easily find a Triskel:

  • This is a very popular tattoo. Indeed, many people who appreciate the Celtic or Viking culture wear this type of tattoo. It is also possible to find it in the form of drawings, but also in jewelry. In other words, it is a very used symbol in the current artistic field.
  • Some flags also have their Triskel. Indeed, we can quote for example that of Sicily or that of the Isle of Man.
  • It is perfectly possible to find this symbol in popular culture, and especially on television. You can see it in the series "Marvel's: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D". But the series "Merlin" also has its symbolism of the Triskele through the episodes.

As you can see, the Triskèle has a very strong symbolism. Nevertheless, the origins, at the present time, are still unclear. Indeed, many researchers are still working on the subject to learn more. However, the next time you come across a Breton who claims the Triskel as a Celtic symbol, you will be able to share your culture with him!

It is also possible to see this symbol both in Brittany and in Britain, during the Celtic era, but also pre-Celtic. In other words, they would have almost the same origin and would have been used both by the same civilizations.

Moreover, it should also be noted that the Triskèle and the Triquetra are two symbols very much used in the popular culture, at the present time. They are not about to be forgotten soon!

Triquetra: The Trinity Knot in Detail | Viking Heritage


Triquetra: the Trinity Knot in detail!

In the Nordic mythology, many symbols could make their appearance. Indeed, whether it is the Valknut, the Triquetra or the Triskel, a wide choice is offered to you! But each symbol has its meaning and its origins.

As you can see, the Triquetra is a very similar symbol to the Valknut, but is it really the same meaning? Do they have the same origins? You can imagine that they are not! The Triquetra is a symbol in its own right that amazes many. Owning an object with this symbol and knowing its origin are two very different things.

Get ready to travel through time! The Triquetra symbol has traveled through time, eras, but also civilizations! Legendary symbol, you will notice that it is easily found in popular culture too! Ready to start your journey with us? It's over here!

Triquetra: a little history on this Viking symbol!

Triquetra: The Trinity Knot in Detail | Viking Heritage



Like all Viking symbols, the Triquetra also has a history and meaning. But after much research and hours of trying to understand what it could mean, historians do not know many things about this symbol. If its origin is still unclear, it is a popular symbol since it can be found in various places and on various objects!

Origins still uncertain!

The Triquetra is a Viking symbol that we know rather well. You should know that its name comes directly from Latin. Indeed, in this ancient language, this term simply means "three corners". Nevertheless, it is impossible at present to say where this symbol can come from. Indeed, even today, its origin is a mystery to all historians, but also to those who are very focused on Viking culture.

However, we can tell you perfectly well that it is more than 5,000 years since we know its existence. We have discovered this symbol in two different places: on Indian territories, but also engraved on some stones that can be seen in Northern Europe.

It is a symbol that can also be found on the Book of Kells. The latter is a manuscript that was created during the Middle Ages. In other words, it is a book that is almost 800 years old. Nowadays, we strongly believe that the Triquetra had a religious consonance. Indeed, it is a symbol very much used in the pagan culture. Note also that it strongly resembles the symbol of Valknut, which we have discovered in another article. The latter was associated with Odin, and therefore with a religion as well.

The Triquetra is a symbol that can be easily found among the Celts. Nevertheless, we lack information about its appearance in this civilization. According to our few sources, it could be a symbol that appeared during the movement of the island air of Ireland.

The Triquetra at the Vikings

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The Triquetra did exist among the Vikings. Indeed, it represents a Celtic knot, which had a great significance for them. Although it is very old and we don't really have any information about its origin, it can be found on many Viking objects, such as combs or saddles, for example.

According to the Celts, they would have created it. But, at the moment, we are not sure of anything. According to the legend and what the Celts could tell, it would be even the Christians who would have tried to move them away from their ideology, because of this symbolism.

But after many archaeological excavations, the mystery remains.

Many traces of the Triquetra throughout the world

But this symbol does not only belong to the Vikings. Indeed, throughout Europe, it has been shown that the Triquetra was found in various places. Obviously, the symbol does not necessarily date from the same periods. Nevertheless, during the various excavations carried out on this subject, different geographical areas have emerged:

  • Some stones in Europe may have been engraved, as we mentioned above.
  • It is a symbol that could be seen on rune stones in Europe, but also on German coins.
  • Similarly, as we have mentioned, the book of Kells, also had its Triquetra.

As you can see, it is rather difficult to have an idea of its origin. Did the Celts? The Vikings? Or another people that we would not dare to imagine? It's hard to answer these questions! But we don't despair of finding the answers to them, one day!

What are the various meanings of the Triquetra?

Triquetra: The Trinity Knot in Detail | Viking Heritage


Although it is still a mysterious symbol, at the present time, it does not prevent that meanings could be born. Whether it is from a religious point of view or rather at the level of civilization, you will be surprised to see that a simple symbol could represent a lot for certain civilizations and certain believers.

The symbol of Triquetra

The Triquetra simply represents a Celtic knot. Indeed, it is three triangles that intersect and are surrounded by a circle. It has an uncanny resemblance to the Valknut, but it is much simpler than the latter.

It should be noted that sometimes the Triquetra was drawn without a circle. When it has one, the symbol represents protection. In other words, when an object, a stone or a place has a Triquetra with a circle, it is supposed to be protected. Moreover, it is a circle of protection which cannot, under any circumstances, be broken.

The meanings related to this symbol

Like all Viking signs, the Triquetra is no exception to the rule! Indeed, it has its own meaning too. You must certainly know some of them, but it would surprise us greatly if you knew all the meanings of the Triquetra!

  • The first meaning concerning the gods and goddesses. It is necessary to know that the Celts worshipped the goddess Danu (who was none other than the goddess of the moon). It is important to know that she was a goddess of three. In other words, she was associated with the different phases of the moon: when it is increasing, decreasing and when it is full moon. Among the Celts, another goddess of "three" was also recognized: it was Morrigan. She was one of the three goddesses of war, along with Badb and Macha. As you can see, like the Valknut, the three has a very important meaning in this symbol.
  • Among Christians, it was also possible to find a meaning to this symbol. Once again, you can see the presence of the "three" because, for them, it represented the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Note also that the Christians really saw in it a sign of unity, but also of eternity.
  • Among the Wiccans and Neopagans: among the pagans, it is also possible to find the number "three" again in the meaning of the Triquetra symbol. Indeed, it represented the goddess in three different forms: mother, maiden and knight. The mother as goddess represents creation and procreation, the maiden represents innocence, but also wisdom.
  • At the moment, it is a symbol that can be found in a certain well-known television series, released in the late 1990s. It is simply Charmed, which is also three. Even in modern times, this mysterious symbol keeps its meaning of "three".

Whether in ancient times or in modern times, it is a symbol that is much talked about. Nevertheless, the number "three" remains stuck to it in any case.

What are the different uses of Triquetra?

Triquetra: The Trinity Knot in Detail | Viking Heritage

After having tried to understand the origins of this symbol and to have studied its different meanings, it would be interesting now to see what could be the uses of the Triquetra. Of course, we will give you details on the ancient uses of this symbol, but also on more contemporary uses. You thought it was a forgotten symbol? Well, think again! Even today, it is still a very popular symbol!

Diverse and varied ancient uses

Throughout history, it has been possible to see that the Triquetra is a symbol that was used a lot. Indeed, at the time religion took a considerable place. Everything or almost everything was attached to it. This is why this symbol could not escape the rule:

  • Germanic paganism: this is simply the Germanic religion that was in force at the time. It should be known that the Triquetra was present on many runic stones, certainly to protect them.
  • Celtic art: it also has a number of objects bearing the Triquetra symbol. Indeed, it is mainly on books and manuscripts that this symbol has been found over the years. It is also possible to see this symbol on Celtic crosses and stones from the beginning of Christianity. Moreover, the fact that it is rarely alone on objects has led historians to doubt its religious implication, at least among the Celts.
  • Among Christians, it was the symbol of the Trinity. Moreover, in the Christian world, the circle is always omnipresent on this symbol.

Even today, it is difficult to know if it was really a religious symbol or not. It is likely to be different from one belief to another, but also from one civilization to another. The different eras can also lead historians to question whether or not this symbol is present on objects, for example.

But also rather contemporary uses!

In popular culture, it is possible to find this symbol in a fairly common way. Some of the references we will mention in this article are already known to you. Nevertheless, you will see that the Triquetra still has a strong impact, even today:

  • It is a symbol that appears strongly in Celtic interlacing. These are Celtic sculptures, which can still be admired today. It is enough to observe them well to realize their presence.
  • The Charmed series, as we have mentioned, also has a book with the symbol of the Triquetra. Moreover, it is a manuscript very similar to the Book of Kells, in its aesthetics, but also its colors.
  • Some rock bands, like Led Zeppelin, for example, have used this symbol on some of their record covers.
  • In the movie Constantine, a necklace with a Triquetra pendant is also visible.
  • For video game fans, it is possible to see a symbol of the Triquetra on the floor of the laboratory at the end of Assassin's Creed.
  • The clothing brand TNA has three small Triquetra as a logo for its clothing.
  • In the Vampire Diaries series, the witch Tessa also creates a Triquetra.
  • It is possible to see this symbol in the game Overwatch too.
  • The German series Dark also has some Triquetra symbols visible through the episodes.

Although the origins of this symbol are not known, it has managed to cross the ages and to develop in popular culture. Indeed, whether in video games, television, movies and even in the world of music, it is widely used. Each person will be able to give the meaning he wishes to this symbol. Protection? Unity? Trinity? Let your imagination run wild!

Mjolnir Hammer The Story of Thor's Hammer! | Viking Heritage

Mjolnir Hammer

The Mjolnir Hammer - the story of Thor's amazing hammer!

Viking mythology is full of many legends and fantastic stories. This folklore reflects the perpetual struggle of good against evil and order against chaos. The gods, endowed with mystical power, are accompanied by magical creatures and fantastic weapons to fight the giants, the incarnation of evil.

The god Thor, armed with his famous hammer Mjolnir, is the strongest god in the pantheon of Norse deities. His hammer, which is considered the most formidable weapon of the gods, is the secret of his greatness.

It is thanks to this that the god Thor became the protector of the kingdom of the Aesir and of men. He stands against the giants who tremble at the mere mention of Mjöllnir: the hammer of thunder and protection.

In this article you will discover the history and origin of the hammer Mjöllnir, one of the most prominent Viking symbols. You will learn its hidden meaning and the source of its enchantment.

The Mjollnir hammer: the ultimate Viking weapon against darkness

The most famous Viking gods in the pantheon of Norse deities are :

  • The god Odin: god of protection and father of all
  • The god Thor: god of thunder and symbol of strength
  • The god Loki: the god of cunning, deceit and chaos

Between them, they are the origin of the most fantastic Viking legends. In the course of their many adventures, each of them has acquired unusual objects and surprising powers.

No fabulous object in Viking folklore equaled Thor's: the hammer Mjöllnir. It is the most powerful object possessed by the Aesir people, inhabitants of the kingdom of Asgard. According to Viking legends, it is the ultimate weapon to fight the forces of evil.

Indeed, the hammer Mjöllnir is the most feared and considerable weapon of the whole Nordic universe. Thor never took it off his back when fighting against the giants, the enemies of gods and men. Moreover, one of the meanings of the term "Mjöllnir" is "destroyer of giant's head" as he killed many by crushing their skulls.

All this to say that Mjöllnir is no ordinary weapon! Its immense power was the envy of all creatures in the universe. That's why Thor's hammer "Mjöllnir" has always been so popular.

Whether in Viking civilization, after the advent of Christianity, or in modern culture: it feeds many myths and legends. The most popular adaptation of our time is that of Marvel Studios.

The creation of the hammer Mjöllnir : the powerful hammer of the god Thor

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Mjöllnir, Thor's hammer, gave him the ability to control lightning and thunder. This devastating property comes from the magical creation process of this hammer. Only the unique skills of the dwarves of "Svartalfheim" could have been responsible for its creation.

Why did the dwarves offer such power to the gods? The answer to this riddle lies in the malice of the god Loki. Using his deviousness and trickery, he lures the dwarves into creating several magical objects, including the hammer Mjöllnir. They will later be known as the fantastic attributes of the Viking gods of Asgard.

The legend of Snorri's Edda: the malice of the god Loki

According to Snorri's Edda, the goddess Sif, Thor's wife, was known to have the most beautiful hair in Asgard. Loki, bored and in need of mischievous ideas, decides one day to cut off all her beautiful hair.

Upon hearing the news, Thor becomes enraged and decides to kill Loki. Fortunately for him, the god of mischief is known to save his skin and get out of the worst situations. He managed to calm him down by promising to create a golden hair even more beautiful than the old one, and which will grow like ordinary hair.

To keep his promise and appease Thor's anger, the god Loki goes to Svartalfheim: the land of dwarves, dark elves and jötnar (giants in old Norse).

Loki's journey to Svartalfheim: the birthplace of Mjöllnir

Being legendary blacksmiths, the reputation that dwarves can create anything extends beyond the 9 kingdoms! Loki is resigned to convincing them to make him golden hair for Sif. However, the dwarves are known to charge exorbitant prices, and he fears he will not be able to pay them.

To remedy this, Loki has the devious idea of pitting two rival families of prestigious dwarf smiths against each other. He organized a competition to determine the best silversmiths. The rules were simple: they each had to make 3 fabulous objects to present to the Viking gods.

This duel was once again a ruse by Loki to get his way :

  • The two dwarves, sons of Ivaldi, feared for their reputation and saw nothing in it. They accept the challenge and create a golden hair for Sif, the famous spear of Odin "Gungnir", and the boat "Skidbladnir" that can sail on the earth and in the sky and even change size.
  • The two brothers Brokk and Eitri know the malice of Loki, and are wary of him. They accept this challenge on one condition, which he reluctantly accepts: Loki must put his head on the line. It will come back to them if they win the duel.

The creation of Thor's hammer "Mjöllnir


Loki could not bring himself to fail, at the risk of losing his head. He transforms himself into a black fly to hinder the two dwarfs Brokk and Eitri. 

The creation of fabulous objects requires extreme precision. Eitri asks Brokk not to release the bellows under any circumstances before removing the object from the forge.

Eitri places in the forge:

  • First, pigskin: while Brokk is operating the bellows, Loki bites him on the hand to stop it. Brokk resists, and from the furnace comes out a magic boar: "Gullinbursti", which has golden hair, and is even faster than a horse.
  • Then, gold: Brokk succeeds in activating the bellows a second time, despite Loki's sting in the neck. The object that comes out of the forge is Odin's "Draupnir" ring, a golden ring that multiplies into 8 copies every 9 days.
  • Finally, iron: Loki stings Brokk this time at the level of his eyelid, and he stops using the bellows for a moment. This last object that comes out of the furnace is the Mjöllnir hammer. Unfortunately, this moment of interruption is enough to make it imperfect: the hammer had too short a handle.

The incorrigible god Loki was proud of this mischief. He presented himself with the fabulous objects before the gods, certain that he had won the challenge. Odin and the rest of the Aesir gods were of a different opinion: Mjöllnir is the most wonderful and impressive object of the 6 gifts

This legend begins with a prank by Loki, and ends with the Viking gods possessing the most powerful weapon against the giants: the hammer Mjöllnir.

The power of Mjöllnir: hammer of thunder and lightning

Mjolnir Hammer The Story of Thor's Hammer! | Viking Heritage

Thor's hammer Mjöllnir is the most fantastic object in the myths of Scandinavian folklore. It has been the source of many legends and stories about its powers and its origin. The most widespread is that of the Edda of Snorri, where the power of Mjöllnir comes from the mystical know-how of the dwarf smiths Brokk and Eitri:

  • It is unbreakable and can resist all shocks: nothing can damage Mjöllnir
  • It increases tenfold the strength of the one who wields it
  • It never misses its target, and always returns to the hand of the thrower
  • It allows to control the elements and the weather, especially lightning and thunder

There is another legend according to which Odin asks the dwarves Brokk and Eitri to create Mjöllnir using a magic forge. This forge of immeasurable power is located at the end of the nine worlds and uses the energy of a star.

The power of the hammer Mjöllnir is said to come from the heart of a star, an ability so devastating that it almost destroyed the earth. This legend is very popular, because it is the one that inspired the Marvel comics in their comic "Thor".

In both legends, Mjöllnir is described as the greatest asset of the Viking gods against the forces of evil: an artifact with mystical and unlimited power.

The god Thor and the hammer Mjöllnir

Mjolnir Hammer The Story of Thor's Hammer! | Viking Heritage

The god Thor is the most popular and powerful Viking deity after the god Odin. He protects the worlds against the terrible giants whose skulls he smashes with his hammer Mjöllnir.

  • According to Snorri's Edda, the process of creating Mjöllnir is incomplete. Thor's hammer is imperfect because its handle is too short. To handle it properly, Thor must always put on iron gloves "Járngreipr". Mjöllnir is also very heavy. To be able to lift it, he wears the belt "Megingjord" which increases his strength tenfold.
  • According to another legend, the god Odin has placed an enchantment on Thor's hammer: only a pure being with noble intentions can wield Mjöllnir. This prevents any creature who is not worthy of it from lifting it.

Thor did not use Mjöllnir only as a weapon, it also allowed him to master the elements and control lightning and thunder. Mjöllnir in other Viking legends, and especially in the Marvel comics, allows Thor to fly.

The hammer Mjöllnir: the story of the theft of Thor's hammer

Mjolnir Hammer The Story of Thor's Hammer! | Viking Heritage

A poem in the poetic Edda called "Thrymskvida" tells how Thor had his hammer stolen. To find it, he asks for help from Loki, who flies to the world of the ice giants "Jötunheimr".

Loki discovers that it is the king of the giants "Thrym" who has stolen Mjöllnir, and that he has hidden it deep in "Jötunheimr". To give it back to him, "Thrym" asks in return for the hand of the goddess Freya in marriage. Loki returns to Asgard and warns the Aesir gods.

They met to come up with a plan. Heimdallthe guardian of the passages between the worlds found the solution: Thor and Loki had to disguise themselves as Freya and her handmaiden to lure "Thrym" and recover Mjöllnir.

At first reluctant to the idea, Thor is reasoned by the wise words of Loki. Thus, they set out for "Jötunheimr". The giants do not realize the subterfuge and they give Mjöllnir to Thor disguised as Freya as a wedding gift.

The Viking god, taking back all his powers thanks to his hammer Mjöllnir, kills all the giants present that day.

Mjöllnir: its significance in the Viking civilization

Mjolnir Hammer The Story of Thor's Hammer! | Viking Heritage

Thor's hammer "Mjöllnir" held a central place in Viking civilization and culture. Indeed, Mjöllnir was more than a simple weapon since its symbol was used in various Nordic religious practices.

Even today, amulets and pendants of the Mjöllnir hammer are still being discovered, dating back to the Viking Age. The symbol of Mjöllnir had many meanings:

  • Purity: one of the meanings of the word "Mjöllnir" in Old Norse is lightning or white snow; signs of purity. It is said that the soul of the one who wears the symbol of Mjöllnir is purified, that is why it was used in some Viking birth ceremonies.
  • Strength: Viking warriors used to get a tattoo of the symbol of Mjöllnir, or to wear its pendant. According to the legends, it offers them the power of the god Thor to defeat their enemies.
  • Fertility: in wedding ceremonies, Vikings used to offer a statue of Thor with his hammer Mjöllnir. Being often described as the god of fertility, this custom is also related to the famous legend of the theft of Mjöllnir.
  • Protection: Thor uses Mjöllnir to protect the human kingdom against the forces of darkness. Mjöllnir is thus a symbol of protection, and that is why many Vikings had an amulet of Mjöllnir.

By now you know some of the mystical power and history of Thor's hammer "Mjollnir". But there are still many secrets to be discovered about its hidden abilities and meaning. One thing is for sure, it is without a doubt the most important symbol of the Nordic mythology!


Norse Mythology | The Origin of the Myths of the Norse Gods

Norse Mythology

Norse Mythology | The origin of the myths and legends of the Nordic Gods !

Norse mythology and Scandinavian, although less well known than that of the Greeks or Romans, is today one of the greatest sources of inspiration in popular culture. The modern adaptations that draw their scenarios from it are countless!

Whether in the fabulous universe of Marvel, or the cold and bloody world of the Vikings series, Scandinavian mythology amazes. It fascinates as much by the stories of its gods and by its unique symbolism, as by the role it played in the birth of the greatest civilization of Europe: the Vikings!

Get ready to discover the richness of Norse mythology in this article. We'll reveal the origin of Norse folklore, the meaning of its symbols and how these beliefs shaped the Viking civilization!

Norse Mythology: the birth of the Scandinavian legends!

The Viking Age (between 790 and 1100 AD) is the period during which Norse mythology spread throughout Europe. Just before the influence of Christianity and the church took over this civilization, Viking folklore was the secret of the greatness of the Scandinavian people.

What we know today as "Norse mythology" is not only a collection of stories and myths about fascinating gods and fantastic creatures. This mythology is at the same time a philosophy, a doctrine, but above all the religion that gave meaning to the life of the Vikings.

The Scandinavian civilization was intimately linked to the Nordic landscapes, to their environment and to the harsh and merciless climate where they were located. They were the major source of inspiration for the myths of this pagan religion.

Despite this, the Vikings remain one of the least understood peoples of modern times. This is largely due to the demonization of their culture by the church in the Middle Ages.

However, recent years have seen a huge resurgence of interest in Norse folklore in popular culture. You'd be surprised by the number of works that Norse mythology inspires, some of which you'd never even know existed!

The origin of Norse mythology: the Poetic Edda

The Scandinavians have long been an oral society. They have mainly transmitted their legends, myths and customs in the form of oral poems and songs. This is what makes understanding Norse mythology so complex. In fact, what we know today of Viking legends is only the tip of the narrative and historical iceberg.

The most interesting pre-Christian source of Norse mythology is the Poetic Edda. It is a collection of poems written in Old Norse dating from the 13th century, gathered in a single collection: the Codex Regius. They relate events spanning the entire Viking era.

The poems of the Poetic Edda do not have precise authors. They would be a retranscription of songs and scaldes, or "skald". Skald meaning in Old Norse "a poetic sound". They are Scandinavian lyric poets who would be at the origin.

Moreover, the Codex Regius contains only a part of these poems (31 in total) divided into two categories: mythological and epic. That said, many other poems are classified in the Poetic Edda, without being included.

The extracts of the Norse mythology which contain the Poetic Edda are :

  • The Völuspá: it is the prediction of a seer, the völva. She tells the god Odin the whole history of the Viking universe, from its creation to Ragnarok, even taking an interest in its revival. In this story, she reveals many prophecies that will come true later;
  • The Lokasenna: this poem tells the quarrel between Loki and the other Aesir gods. It is an impressive poem, because it takes up the rivalry that will lead to the imprisonment of the god Loki and the triggering of Ragnarok;
  • The Hávamál: whose name means the words or advice of the Most High. These are the benevolent words of the god Odin to the Vikings, transcribed in a long poem of 165 stanzas. He gives many advices to his believers on how to live and survive the most hostile environments.

As for the epic poems, they tell the story of 19 Viking heroes and their exploits.

Other historical sources of Norse mythology

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Several years after the Poetic Edda, more precisely during the medieval period, two other sources of Norse mythology were written:

  1. The Edda in prose by the great Snorri Sturluson: this is the greatest masterpiece of Norse and Scandinavian literature. Written during the 11th century by the great historian Snorri, he reorganized the poems to better present the course and chronology of Norse mythology;
  2. Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus : this book traces the history of the Danish kingdom and its legendary kings, in particular that of Ragnar Lodbrok. It was largely influenced by Christianity. It remains nevertheless a reliable source of Viking mythology. It elaborates with precision the fate of the Viking gods, who according to the legends would have become human kings.

It is essentially thanks to these two sources that Norse mythology resurfaced in the 18th century. This same fascination will be at the origin of the first researches of history on the Scandinavian and Viking civilization.

However, historians still advise to keep a critical eye on the myths and legends told in these books, especially because of the Christian context of their writing.

Of course, there are many other sources on Norse mythology, but they have often had a minor role for historians. They include: the Hauksbók, the Landnámabók, and Völsunga saga.

In contrast to the latter, non-Germanic sources are considered to be a mine of valuable information about Viking civilization and folklore. Historians refer to the most important ones:

  • Germania by the great historian Tacitus: written in the year 98, it traces the origin of the Germanic peoples, ancestors of the Vikings;
  • The Gaulish War written by Julius Caesar: this book tells of the exploits and victories of King Caesar. It cites the way of life of the Nordic peoples, as well as their unfailing courage in battle.

The beginning of the Viking world

Norse Mythology | The Origin of the Myths of the Norse Gods

According to the Poetic Edda, the Scandinavian universe was at the beginning only an immense endless void: the Ginnungagap. It was bordered by two original kingdoms on either side:

  • To the north lies Niflheim, a lifeless world dominated by ice and cold. From this realm flow three icy rivers: the Élivágar ;
  • On the southern side, there is another kingdom opposite to the first one, Muspellheim, made of heat, fire and light.

From the Völuspá, the infallible source of Norse mythology, we learn how the Scandinavian universe came into being. The Elivágar gradually make their way to the center of Ginnungagap, eventually encountering the heat of Muspellheim, which melts them into drops of water.

From this water, the first being of the Nordic universe will be born: "Ymir", the original giant. Soon after, the steam from the meeting of cold and heat of these opposite worlds will give birth to a giant cow: Audhumla. A "mother" cow, from which four rivers of milk flow to feed Ymir.

Ymir will give birth to the lineage of the terrible giants, or Jötunn, enemies of the gods. The cow Audhumla, for her part, will create "Buri", the grandfather of the god Odin, by licking a block of ice from Niflheim.

This marks the beginning of Norse mythology. As we continue to read the Völuspá, we discover the origin of the gods and the giants, and the cause of the rivalry that continues between them until the end of time. If you are intrigued by the story of the creation of the Viking world, you can discover it in more detail in our article on the god Odin.

Norse mythology is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for many literary and cinematographic works, including the Marvel comic book "Thor", the successful series Vikings, but also several Japanese mangas!

Indeed, it may surprise many, but this same legend inspired the Japanese manga with worldwide success "Shingeki no Kyojin or Attack of the Titans". The story takes place in a world where the giants, or titans, represent a real power of destruction. In addition to this reference to the Jötunn, we discover later that all the giants come from the original titan "Ymir".

The Hof, pantheon of the Nordic gods

Norse Mythology | The Origin of the Myths of the Norse Gods

In Norse mythology, the gods are divided into two clans. The Aesir or Æsir, are warriors and sovereign masters of the 9 worlds, whose leader is none other than Odin. The Vanes or Vanir, are essentially gods linked to fertility with divinatory powers.

There are also other deities that do not belong to these two families and that play a fundamental role in the Viking culture.

The main Aesir gods

Based in Asgard, the Aesir are the main deities of Norse mythology. At their head, the god Odin guides the pantheon of deities and makes it a benevolent force that takes care of men, and protects them from the omnipresent threat of the giants.

Odin, the primordial Viking god

Odin, the primordial Viking god | Viking Heritage

The god Odin is the supreme deity of Norse mythology. He has many names, but he is best known by "Alfödrt", which means: father of all gods and creator of men. His thirst for wisdom and power made him the ruler of the 9 worlds, and the most glorious warrior of the universe.

Frigg, the Queen of Heaven

Frigg, the Queen of Heaven | Viking Heritage

Wife of the god Odin, and queen of the gods and the kingdom of Asgard. She possesses powers of premonition, and is the only being allowed to sit on the Hlidskjálf throne, apart from Odin. She can see everything that happens in the nine worlds.

Thor, the destructor of giants

Thor, the destructor of giants | Viking Heritage

Son of Odin, he is the god of lightning and thunder. Armed with his hammer Mjöllnir, he is the greatest enemy of the giants, because he controls all the elements and is characterized by an immeasurable strength. Many consider him to be the most powerful Viking god.

Baldr, Odin's favorite son

Baldr, Odin's favorite son | Viking Heritage

God of love and light, he is an Ases god loved by all, but whose death was foretold by the Völuspá. When Baldr begins to have sinister dreams of his death, his mother Frigg resolves not to let him die. She swore an oath to everything in existence never to harm him, except for mistletoe. This unfortunate oversight had harmful consequences later on.

Loki, the god of chaos

Loki, the god of chaos | Viking Heritage

The god Loki is the master of cunning and malice. He is an omnipresent character in Norse mythology, who has proven to be of great help to the Aesir gods in the worst situations. It is his deviousness that will lead to the death of the god Baldr, and that leads him to be banished from the Aesir kingdom. He is imprisoned in a cave until Ragnarok.

Sigyn, faithful wife of Loki

Sigyn, faithful wife of Loki

Wife of Loki, and mother of his two children, this goddess remains faithful to him against all odds. In spite of her husband's unforgivable crime, and the punishment that the Aesir gods put him through, she remains at his side in the worst situations.

When the Aesir chains Loki in a cave, a snake is placed above him. This one lets venom flow on Loki's face. Sigyn, unable to bear the suffering of her husband, resigns herself to collect this venom in a container, and this until the end of time.

Heimdall, messenger of Ragnarok

Heimdall, messenger of Ragnarok | Viking Heritage

Heimdall is a major god of Norse mythology. His name means in Old Norse the white or flaming god. He has the heavy task of watching over the Bifröst, a bridge made of a rainbow, which connects the world of the gods "Asgard", to that of the Vikings "Midgard".

When the day comes, he announces to the Aesir the beginning of Ragnarok by blowing into a mythical Lur, the "Giallarhorn". During the prophetic end of the world, he kills the god of malice, Loki.

Týr, the ancient essential god

Týr, the ancient essential god | Viking Heritage

He is the god of justice. He would have been the major deity of the Germanic people before the later arrival of Thor and Odin. Despite this, he remains at the center of many legends, including that of the imprisonment of the wolf Fenrir.

Vidar, avenger of the god Odin

Vidar, avenger of the god Odin | Viking Heritage

Divinity born from the union of Odin and Gríðr, a beneficent giantess. She gives Thor his belt and magic gloves, without which he cannot wield his magic hammer.

Vidar, on the other hand, is described as the god of vengeance. More powerful than Thor himself, he avenges the death of the god Odin by killing the terrible wolf Fenrir. Afterwards, he manages to survive Ragnarok, and to make the world be reborn a second time.

Vale, or Vali, avenger of Baldr's death

Vale, or Vali, avenger of Baldr's death | Viking Heritage

Son of Odin and the goddess Rind, he was born with the sole purpose of avenging the death of his older brother Baldr. He is only one day old when he kills Höd who, bewitched by Loki, has mortally wounded Baldr. Of all Norse mythology, he is the only deity, apart from his brother Vidar, to have the title of vengeful god.

Idunn, the goddess of immortality

Idunn, the goddess of immortality | Viking Heritage

Idunn is the Asyne goddess of immortality and eternal youth. In Viking mythology, the Norse deities are mortal, and age like men. In order to preserve their youth, and to obtain their power of immortality, Idunn gives them magical apples that revive their spirits.

The main deities of the Vanes

Few names of gods are remembered among the Vanes. Apart from their chief Njörd, god of the sea and the winds, only the legends of Freyr and Freyja are well known.

Despite their secondary integration into the Aesir, the goddess Freyja and her brother Freyr are the two most notable gods of the Vanes. Many historians state that after resolving their longstanding feud, the Vanes join the Aesir and all live peacefully together in Asgard.

Lódur or Lytir, the brother of Odin

Lódur or Lytir, the brother of Odin | Viking Heritage

He is one of the three primordial gods along with Odin and their brother Honir. Son of the god Bor and the giantess Bestla, they rose up against the reign of the giants by killing their leader and mother Ymir.

In Norse mythology, it is from the body of Ymir that the universe was born. It is also during one of their adventures that the three brothers created the first man from a dead tree trunk: while Odin breathed life into him, Lodur gave him all his senses.

Freya or Freyja, the first Valkyrie

Freya or Freyja, the first Valkyrie | Viking Heritage

The goddess Freya is undoubtedly the most emblematic and venerated goddess of the Nordic pantheon. Goddess of fertility, beauty and love, she is desired by both gods and men.

Nevertheless, underneath her grace and feminine elegance lies a formidable warrior. Freya is the first and most powerful Valkyrie. She leads half the troops of the gods during the Ragnarok.

Frey, or Freyr, the third primordial god

Frey, or Freyr, the third primordial god | Viking Heritage

Along with Thor and Odin, Frey is one of the three fundamental gods of Norse mythology. He represents the god of fertility, fecundity and prosperity, often associated with the sun and light. Despite his pivotal role in Scandinavian civilization, and an importance attested by eminent historians, few legends about Frey have come down to us.

Other Viking deities

Aegir & Ran, the masters of the sea

Aegir & Ran, the masters of the sea | Viking Heritage

Aegir is the personification of the oceans and the sea in Norse mythology. Despite the fact that he belongs to the clan of giants, he is described as a close friend of the Aesir gods, for whom he organizes many banquets.

Endowed with great magical powers, he was granted the privilege of marrying the goddess Asyne "Ran". This goddess is also linked to the sea since she protects men from drowning by fishing them out of the water with a magic net. These two complementary deities protect the Vikings during long sea voyages.

Angrboda, the mother of desolation

Angrboda, the mother of desolation | Viking Heritage

This jötunn, or Viking giantess, is known in Norse mythology as a source of destruction and desolation, and moreover, was the mistress of the god Loki. He had with her 3 children: the wolf Fenrir, the snake Jörmungandr and the goddess of death Hel; filthy creatures at the origin of Ragnarok.

Hela or Hel, the queen of the dead

Hela or Hel, the queen of the dead | Viking Heritage

Daughter of Loki and the giantess Angrboda, she is exiled by the gods to the world of the dead. Goddess of death, Hel takes all the souls of Vikings who did not have a glorious end to Helheim, a dark and cold kingdom. During the Ragnarok, all these souls will reinforce the ranks of Loki's army against the Aesir gods.

Sol & Mani, the sun and the moon

Sol & Mani, the sun and the moon | Viking Heritage

In Scandinavian culture, the sun and the moon are described as goddesses continually pursued by two creatures of darkness. Thus, Sol, goddess representing the sun, and Mani, incarnation of the moon, try to escape from two giant wolves: Sköll and Hati; who are none other than the children of the wolf Fenrir.

When the Ragnarok will sound, these two wolves will finally succeed in devouring these goddesses. Fortunately, before their death they will give birth to a new celestial star, which will continue their mission after their death.

Norse mythology in Viking society

Norse mythology was an integral part of Viking daily life. What proves this point with certainty is the common use of the term "síður" to refer to it. "Síður" means "custom or usage" in Old Norse, and is the closest thing to a religion that the Scandinavians had.

Of course, the beliefs of the Vikings have changed a lot over the ages, and differ from one region to another. However, there is archaeological evidence of devotion to specific gods.

Each Nordic god had his own powers and privileges that he attributed to his followers. This explains why the Viking civilization worshipped and called upon several Nordic gods through numerous rituals.

Indeed, according to the historian Adam of Bremen, there is a large temple in Uppsala, Sweden, where the Vikings met every 9 years. In this sacred place, there were images and effigies in honor of the god Odin, Thor, but also Freyr.

During this great ceremony, the Vikings cut their long braids and sacrificed animals and human beings by tying them to the trees of the sacred grove. According to Norse mythology, this ritual, which might seem barbaric, brought fertility, prosperity and glorious victories to the Vikings.