Planning to get a Nordic/ Viking tattoo? Oh well, they are currently one of the most popular kinds of ink art among people in different countries. Not only it is an alluring piece of trendy art, but it also has a fascinating story with captivating mythology, culture, and beliefs attached to it.
The origin of these tattoos dates back to the 8th century when an ethnic group named “THE VIKINGS” from Scandinavian regions ruled the rivers of Western Europe and Russia. Their stories are popular on the pages of the historical books because of their enchanting and amusing culture.
Vikings were the sovereigns of the sea. They were adventurers, explorers, traders, and plunderers. They explored and traveled all over Europe and beyond in their high-quality ships between the 8th and 11th century.
History sketches the Vikings as bulky barbarians with strong muscles and flesh. They covered their bodies with various meaningful symbols, from fingernails to the neck. Thus, they had traditional, spiritual and sacred tattoos all over them. Even though there is no documented evidence to prove it, but these facts are credible as many archeologists studied them.
It is a known fact that Vikings were decked out with convoluted signs and symbols. However, we have not discovered their meaning.
Nordic tattoos are a mixture of the rune alphabets. Runes used to write both Germanic and Welsh languages- the language of the Scandinavians. They made various symbols by joining different alphabets. Many cool writers like JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien, and Jules Verne, etc. have valued these alphabets in their novels and stories.
If books of literature can become enchanting and fascinating with these ancient, ethnic symbols, your body can too. Although modern Nordic tattoo designs are not actually from the Viking era, most of them are inspirations from Norse mythological objects, animals, symbols, and weapons.
Let’s find out the meanings and significance of the most popular Viking tattoo designs, so that it is easier for you to choose your ink art design when you visit your tattooist the next time.
Aegishjalmur – The Helm of Awe
This is one of the most all-powerful and cryptic signs from Norse mythology. This symbol is an eight-armed harpoon that secures the mid, central point from all the negative forces. Various archeologists and scholars have many different interpretations of this sign. One of them is that it represents security, protection, and defense from all the hostile forces that may surround you in the world.
Many Viking barbarians drew, engraved or painted this symbol on their forehead, right between their eyes in the belief that this would protect them and will induce horror among their foes.
The Valknut – 3 Interlaced Triangles
The word Valknut has its roots in old Norse words valor and Knut. It means “the knot of the fallen.” It attributes to the killed warriors. This symbol has three interlaced triangles. Many archeological archives show it engraved on a variety of objects, like funerary stones, of German-Nordic people.
People believe that it has a deep connection to death- something Nordics worshipped rather than feared; god Odin who receives the fallen warriors killed in the war at Valhalla is very famous.
Other explanations associate it with a three-horned symbol, Snoldelevstone; found in the 9th century or German-Nordic paganism, etc.
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Horn Triskelion – Three-Legged
This is a threefold rotational symmetry figure and is one of the most important Viking symbols. It has connections with Valknut and Triquetra. It is known as the three horns of god Ordin. People believe that god Ordin negotiated with three nights with the giantess Gunnloo to acquire the mead of poetry.
As soon as he finished those three meads, he got what he wanted, and then he transformed into an eagle and flew away. Ordin gained wisdom and knowledge from those three meads. Thus, this symbol symbolizes wisdom and intelligence.
Troll Cross – The Protector
People of Scandinavia wear a bent piece of iron ornament for protection, which is known as a troll cross. A historical fact suggests that Vikings wore fake cross troll on their necks for protection against awful trolls. Or they use to hang these cross trolls on the doors of their homes and stables. People believed that it does not only protect you from disasters but also keeps you safe from supernatural entities, like black magic.
So, troll cross is a symbol of protection against all negativities, and it is also associated with Othala. It is an Odal rune that means land and property.
Yggdrasil – Spine of all Existence
Trees hold symbolic importance in many cultures; likewise, Germanic mythology sees a significant tree at the center of the world. People see this tree as a versatile symbol with a variety of meanings and interpretations. On the one hand, it is considered to be the connector and the center of the nine worlds. On the other hand, people believe that the branches of the tree support and hold the sky.
Furthermore, people see it as a world axis. Mythological perspectives also refer that the heaven, middle world, and underworld are safe under the protection of Yggdrasil.
Vegvisir – The Way Finder
This is also known as the Viking compass, and this particular Nordic symbol means signpost. People consider it a sijil- magical symbol. The main purpose of this sign is to show the light to the lost soul. People believed that if someone carries this sign with them, they will never forget the route.
It will guide them even in the worst of weather and will show a path even though one doesn’t have any idea about it. So, many people get it tattooed so that they never lose the path of righteousness and prosperity.
Mjölnir – Savior of the World
According to Nordic mythology, Mjölnir is the short handled magical hammer of Thor- god of thunder and lightning. It is one of the most powerful weapons of gods. The mythological perspective states that Thor used his most powerful weapon for the protection of the universe and to slaughter all the enemies of gods.
It is symbolical for the protection and safety against the evil and chaotic energies in the world. Also, it provides security, stability, capability, force, and courage to the wearer.
Gungnir – Swaying One
It is a magical weapon of god Ordin- the god of war. People believed that once they took a pledge, nothing could stop this enchanted spear from fulfilling its oath. On one occasion it was said that this spear never stopped once there was a war.
Thus, giving an insight that this particular symbol puts a spotlight on fulfilling promises, no matter whatever it takes.
Huginn and Muninn – The Messengers
According to Nordic mythology, the supreme god Odin had two ravens that use to sit on his shoulders. Their work was to go around the worlds and bring back all the important news and information of the nine worlds to Ordin.
The meaning of this symbol breaks into two main branches. One meaning is that no matter what, one has to have all the important knowledge and it points toward wisdom and intelligence. On the other hand, the loyalty of ravens toward their masters gives a message of adherence, allegiance, devotion and to give the righteous and honest message to everyone.
The Web of Wyrd – Norns of Faith
Nordic concept of destiny is rooted in the web of Wyrd. According to Nordic beliefs, Norns made it- the ones who wrote fate. Norns were the goddesses who wrote, decided and determined people’s destiny.
Web of wyrd is associated with the past, the present and the future. According to this, there is a connection between all three of them; so, whatever we do in the past and the present affects our future.
Triquetra – A Mystery
The triquetra is related to Valknut and horn triskelion. Although we have not discovered its main symbolic meaning, researchers have found out it has something to do with paganism. There are many controversies about this particular symbol as it was used by Christians too at one time.
There are many discoveries in the Viking world where this symbol was present on different objects, like combs. However, the meaning of this symbol remains a mystery to date.
So, we have come to the end of this article. Above, you read about the history, origin, and meanings of some popular Nordic tattoos. Now you have an open choice of what would be best for you.
Art is never about aesthetics only, but it also tells a lot about people. So my advice for you would be, please don’t look for aesthetic tattoos only. A tattoo would remain on your body for eternity, so choose your design wisely. Get something memorable, or something closer to you. Get something that is your own reflection. I hope some of these brilliantly aesthetic designs with deep meanings would help you choose the best tattoo for your body that others will covet.