Symbols

In addition to the runes, the pre-Christian mythology and religion of the Norse and other Germanic peoples were full of intriguing and powerful symbols. Here are some of them:

Mjollnir

Thor’s Hammer, a symbol of protection, strength, consecration, and the integrity of custom and tradition.

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swastika

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

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Valknut 1

The Valknut, a symbol associated with death, the transition from life to death, and Odin.

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Helm of Awe

The Helm of Awe, a symbol of protection and might, but in a darker and more individualistic sense than Thor’s Hammer.

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Svefnthorn

The Svefnthorn, a symbol that could put someone into a long, deep sleep.

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Vegvisir.svg

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

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Just about any other so-called “Norse symbol” out there doesn’t date from the Viking Age or earlier, and is therefore not authentically Norse. How can you tell the difference between truly Norse symbols and the countless “Norse-flavored” symbols? Simple: is there any concrete evidence that the symbol in question dates from the Viking Age or earlier? If not, one can reasonably assume that it’s a pseudo-Norse symbol that somebody came up with in the Middle Ages or modern times. Those kinds of symbols greatly outnumber genuinely Norse ones. And no, “It looks kinda Norse-y and some New Age website says it’s the ‘Norse symbol for love’” is not evidence.

Looking for more great information on Norse mythology and religion? While this site provides the ultimate online introduction to the topic, my book The Viking Spirit provides the ultimate introduction to Norse mythology and religion period. I’ve also written a popular list of The 10 Best Norse Mythology Books, which you’ll probably find helpful in your pursuit.

The Viking Spirit Daniel McCoy

The Ultimate Online Resource for Norse Mythology and Religion