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The Vikings were deeply religious, and their symbols reflected their beliefs. While Viking accessories are fashionable to wear, it matters to understand their symbolism, as each symbol had given them power, strength, inspiration, and glory.
What do Viking symbols in jewelry stand for, and why did the Vikings value them so highly? Let’s take a look at some of the popular Viking symbols, their history, and their meanings.
Who Were the Vikings?
The Vikings were known as seafaring people that made their mark as traders, explorers, and warriors between the late 8th and early 11th centuries. They came from Scandinavia, which is modern-day Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, in northern Europe. They frequently sailed by sea and raided the European coastlines, so they became known as pirates.
The Vikings are sometimes depicted as savages conquering more civilized countries in search of fortune, but their motivations and culture are far more varied. These invaders also facilitated several changes in the nation’s politics, economics, and military strategies.
They shared the characteristics of being from a different country, not being “civilized” in the traditional sense of the word, and—most importantly—not being Christian, which distinguished them from the European people they encountered.
Nowadays, the Scandinavian roots of several place names and terminology in the regions where the Vikings settled, such as northern England, Scotland, and Russia, can still be found. The Icelandic sagas, a vast collection of literature that the Vikings left behind, commemorate their achievements and glorious history.
What Are Viking Symbols?
Lots of symbolism surround the Vikings. The meanings of their most well-known symbols are still known, though most of them have been lost to history. Let’s examine some of the most prevalent Viking symbols seen in jewelry and discover what they symbolize.
1. Yggdrasil (Tree of Life)
Symbolism: life, interconnectedness
In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is known as the Tree of Life. It is an evergreen ash tree, and its branches spread above and above the sky, crossing over the nine worlds.
The Yggdrasil symbol is a representation of the interconnectedness of all things in many ancient nations’ mythologies. Everything is constantly in a condition of infinite change, and nothing can die. It also represents the idea that water is the source of all life.
2. Vegvisir (Viking Compass)
Symbolism: guidance, safety, good fortune
The Vegvisir served as a kind of map that led its bearer home. It was thought to provide navigational guidance and safeguard sailors’ ships from storms, inclement weather, and other strange environments. Before setting sail, the Vikings utilized this mark and painted it on their ships to guarantee their safe return home.
Although not entirely a Viking sign, the Vegvisir was embraced by the Vikings while traveling through Iceland and is at the core of Icelandic heritage. It was also used as a charm for good fortune, safety, and blessings, as the Norse people believed.
3. Aegishjalmur (Helm of Awe)
Symbolism: protection, victory, power
Aegishjalmur, a rune stave, is well recognized as a Viking emblem of protection and triumph. The emblem itself is composed of eight branches that resemble radiant tridents, arranged around the symbol’s important core point. That primary point is guarded by those eight tridents.
The eight-armed circle, which is deeply embedded in the heart of Viking history and culture, stands for power and invincibility. Through its various representations, the Helm of Awe, a shield for soldiers, continues to hold a certain air of mystery today.
4. Mjölnir (Thor’s Hammer)
Symbolism: protection, strength
Mjolnir, also known as the Hammer of Thor, is one of the representations of the Vikings. In Viking culture, Thor is one of the most revered gods. Respected by men and warriors, he served as a representation of power and defense.
Thus, Mjölnir is associated with thunder and lightning, representing a hammer, grinder, and crusher. A symbol of choice at the core of Norse tradition, it is most frequently worn as a talisman and offers protection to the wearer.
5. Valknut (Knot of the Slain)
Symbolism: life cycle, the honor of the fallen
The valknut, also called the Odin’s Knot, is a representation of slain soldiers or even of fallen knots. The name valknut comes from the words valr, which means slain warrior, and knut, which means knot.
The three triangles represent kingdoms of the earth, hell, and heaven, which is all linked. The nine edges of those triangles that make up the valknut symbol also represent the nine Norse mythological worlds and the nine stages of a life cycle, from conception to motherhood.
The valknut was employed by the Vikings, to honor the courageous and well-known Nordic warriors. It is also known as the Heart of Hrunger.
6. Web of Wyrd (Fate)
Symbolism: fate/destiny, past, present, and future
The Web of Wyrd, or the Skuld’s Web, is considered the matrix of fate. It is the rune-based representation of destiny. The nine staves and all the runes that made up this symbol represent all the potentialities of the past, present, and future. The Norns are believed to be responsible for weaving the fate of every living thing, thus, they are called the Shapers of Destiny.
7. Gungnir (Odin’s spear)
Symbolism: courage, strength, wisdom, skill, inspiration
Gungnir is a valuable weapon and magical spear connected to Odin. It was the dwarves, which are also the best blacksmiths in the cosmos, who named this weapon. The Vikings believed it would provide them the protection of Odin they would need during battle.
According to certain myths, Gungnir can be compared to Thor’s hammer since every time it was hurled, it returned to its owner, Odin. It never ever failed to hit its mark. That’s why this symbol stands for strength, courage, fearlessness, inspiration, wisdom, and skill.
8. Longship (Viking Ships)
Symbolism: explorations, Viking raiders
Longship served as the most exquisite tool for the Vikings’ conquest and a source of wealth and glory during the Viking age. Viking ships were robust and well-built. Even in the raging oceans, they were very adaptable and maneuverable.
These longboats had evolved into a representation of the Viking raiders and the horror they inflicted on the inhabitants of Britain and the rest of Europe.
9. Huginn and Muninn (Ravens)
Symbolism: intelligence, loyalty
Known as Muninn (“Memory”) and Huginn (“Thought”), the two ravens served as Odin’s constant helpers. They soared around the world every day, reporting what they saw to Odin.
Ravens are intelligent birds, and it’s hard to miss their head movements and dark eyes staring at you as if they want to learn everything there is to know about you. That’s why Odin used them as his eyes to know all they observed while in the air.
10. Sleipnir (8-legged Horse)
Symbolism: speed, power, enlightenment, travel
Odin’s horse Sleipnir has eight legs as opposed to the usual four. He was regarded as “the greatest of horses.” He surprised people with his strength, power, and speed while accompanying Odin on various quests.
Sleipnir is a particularly significant emblem for travelers, athletes, those who have lost their course in life, and people who have also lost their love. It is a powerful symbol that can give anyone spiritual protection and enlightenment. The deep meaning of Sleipnir includes speed, strength, power, perception, assurance of eternal life, and travel.
Most Stylish Jewelry Pieces with Viking Symbols
Some Viking symbols are now being incorporated into jewelry, such as bracelets, necklaces, rings, and earrings. Wearing such pieces will not only revive the rich Nordic heritage but also add meaning to life.
Check out some of these stylish pieces with Viking symbols:
1. Vegvisir Rune Circle Pendant Necklace
Isn’t this an enchanting piece to have? By encircling the Vegvisir with the full runic alphabet, this pendant attempts to capture some of the strength and enchantment of the symbol. It is composed of steel, has two sides, and has been slightly aged to enhance the details.
2. Odin’s Ravens Huginn and Muninn Pendant Necklace
The delicate design of this Vikings-themed necklace is truly captivating. The two ravens are featured in this piece, with Huginn at the top part sharing its thoughts with Muninn. The details on each raven are beautifully handcrafted to look classic and expensive for your Nordic collection.
3. Mjölnir Viking Battle Axe Necklace
This double-sided axe is perfect for a tough and badass look. The details on this Mjölnir necklace make it a stunning piece to wear or collect for your jewelry set. Do you have someone in mind who might like this necklace?
4. Gungnir and Odin’s Ravens with Valknut Symbol Pendant Necklace
The majestic look of this piece is worth being called a timeless treasure. Odin’s beloved ravens Huginn and Muninn are featured on each side of this pendant in black enamel, as well as the valknut symbol, which is also known as Odin’s Knot. The main detail of the pendant is the spear of Odin, also known as Gungnir with gold plating.
5. Tree of Life Yggdrasil Vintage Ring for Men
This ring features a symbolic Yggdrasil band with a contemporary flair. The relationship between nature and life is honored through this ring. The engraved details of this ring make it a perfect anniversary or engagement ring as a symbol of a life-long commitment. Why don’t you pick this for your next special gift-giving?
The belief in the past was that when someone held an amulet, nothing bad could happen to them. That might be true for Viking symbols, as they were once believed to protect and give strength to the wearer. These meaningful symbols are being incorporated into fashion nowadays, so why not add them to your jewelry collection?