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Valknut Symbol – The Most Enigmatic Viking Symbol

valknut symbol with runes

Norse Mythology is full of symbols. The most important are the runes. The runes were used for writing, but they also had a magical purpose.

They were believed to have power over the natural world and the forces of fate.

Thor’s hammer was also a very popular symbol and often worn as a necklace for protection and strength.

Other symbols included animals like the raven, wolves, and bears.

Vikings often used symbols to express their ideas about life, they believe that symbols were powerful enough to change the world. Each of the symbols that they had, represented something that can influence people’s behavior.

Among all these symbols, the Valknut definitely stands out.

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What is the Valknut?

The Valknut is an ancient symbol that first appeared during the Viking age (although the word itself is not that old).

There are many different designs for the Valknut, but the most prominent are all based on a series of three interlocking triangles.

Old Viking valknuts are shown in two different forms: the unicursal form ( like the one found on Tängelgårda stone) or triquetra; and the tricursal or Borromean design which consists of three linked triangles or Borromean rings.

There are many other symbols that look very similar to the Valknut, including the Trefoil knot and the Triquetra.

These are not valknuts but are simply similar to each other in terms of the three triangles that they resemble.

Valknuts have been found on the Tängelgrda stone in the swedish island of gotland. The tricursal valknut can be found on another ancient Gottland monument, the Lärbro stones.

Tangelgarda stone showing valknut symbol

Tangelgarda stone showing the symbol

Some examples of the Valknut appear on runestones in Scandinavia, and in grave goods associated with Viking burials.

It is also found on a monument in Gotland, Sweden, and on grave goods in oseberg ship burial in Norway, where it is inscribed on a bedpost, and appears on a tapestry, however, the surviving design is quite incomplete.

The Oseberg ship (Viking Ship Museum, Norway)

The Oseberg ship (Viking Ship Museum, Norway)

Similar motifs may also be seen on modern Anglo-Saxon burial urns and the grave goods of several Germanic populations closely linked to the Vikings, proving the Valknut symbol’s relationship with death.

For this reason, It is commonly believed that the Valknut is a symbol associated with warriors killed in battle and for this reason, it’s strongly related to Odin, funerals, and burials in the ancient world.

Odin and the Valknut

The Valknut is often shown with an image of the Norse god Odin. Even though Odin isn’t depicted explicitly, the Valknut is sometimes depicted with horses and wolves, two creatures linked to the Norse God.

It is not surprising that the figure of Odin may be related to the Valknut because, in Norse Mythology, Odin is a psychopomp, i.e. the guide of the spirits of the dead.

In many Norse Myths, Odin or one of his valkyries helps to lead the Viking warriors who have died to the next world.

Aside from this relationship, the Valknut has also been linked to Odin’s “mental bonds.” Norse Legends depict the god as being able to “tie up the mind,” making warriors incapacitated in warfare.

These same mental ties might be utilized to release the tensions caused by fear and pressure.

Where does the name Valknut come from?

The name “Valknut” (pronounced val-knoot) is of relatively recent origin, some say it comes from the Old Norse valr, meaning “slain warrior,” and knut, meaning “knot.” so it can be translated as “knot of the slain”.

While others say it comes from the Norwegian word valknute which is a traditional square looped knot often found on tapestry

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What does it mean?

Valknut is a combination of two words that mean ‘tied around a warrior’ or ‘tied up as a knot’ in Norwegian.

The name of the symbol is derived from a combination of two Norwegian words. It means tying up a warrior that has been killed in battle.

It was given this name because a symbol that symbolizes death was often found on burial grounds and on cremation urns.

The symbol was often shown alongside the god Odin and his trusted companions. It was believed that Valknut was Odin’s god of war, and that he was able to select the souls of warriors who died in battle.

Origins Of The Valknut Symbol

The exact meaning and origin of the symbol Valknut is unclear, as is the symbol itself. It appears in many ancient Germanic and Scandinavian artifacts, but its original name is unknown.

The two stones that contain the original symbol for the Valknut are the Tängelgårda stone and the Stora Hammars I stone. Some important objects that show the Vlknut symbol are the Nene River Ring, and a timber bed from an Oseberg

Nene River Ring with valknut symbol on it from british museum

Nene River Ring (British Museum)

Here is one of the many carvings that are found in the Lärbro rune stones in Stockholm.

A relief carving of human sacrifice from the Stora Hammars stones of Lärbro (circa 8th to 11th century valknut

This violent relief is filled with symbols of Odin: a warrior holds a captive and shoots a spear to kill him while two ravens (or eagles) fly overhead.

Those who are portrayed at the center of the image are warriors in full armor looking upon the death of a person while another person hangs from a tree.

The Valknut symbol is in the center of the picture just above the spearman who kills a supine figure.

Some scholars believe that the Valknut is a representation of Odin, the all-father who has appeared in many different forms including the god of war and death and that of the human sacrifice.

Others have suggested that the points in the interlinked triangles represent the nine realms that are connected to Yggdrasil the mighty tree.

Hrungnir’s heart

The Valknut is also mentioned in two famous texts from the 13th century, including the famous Prose Edda. One of them is the description of the way that Hrungnir’s heart was constructed, which is thought to have been made of hard stone and has three corners.

The description of this symbol is very vague, but it appears to be similar to the symbol of the Valknut. The symbol appears in some literature accounts where Odin talks about his ability to seize and control the thoughts of humans.

It is believed that the Valknut was Odin’s symbol that he used to perform the mental bind. Odin was believed to have created the symbol to represent the afterlife.

One of the theories that are proposed by some scientists about the symbol is the story of Hrungnir’s inner being told in the Prose Edda.

Hrungnir was a fearless giant who fought a great battle with Thor, who ultimately killed him. Hrungnir’s heart was said to be made of stone and shaped like a heart with three sharp corners. This would have been similar to the symbol that the Valknut is based on.

His heart may have been the Valknut emblem, according to scholars. Because the emblem depicts warriors who died in battle, and Hrungnir was a warrior killed in battle, the description matches.

It also makes sense in terms of death, as Hrungnir was regarded as the spirit of winter, darkness, night, and the dead. Some researchers, however, dispute this notion in favor of the Odin-Valknut symbol relationship.

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What Is The Meaning Of The Valknut Symbol?

There are many different meanings that could be derived from the Valknut symbol, including that of magic.

It is believed that the shape of the Valknut symbol is related to a form of magic that was used in ancient Norse culture, called Seidr which was a sort of sorcery practiced during the Viking age.

This practice is said to be a type of sorcery connected to both the telling and influencing of the future.

It is possible that the Valknut was a symbol of this sorcery that Odin was mastering. Odin believed that he could mentally bind enemy warriors, and that he could help them to think clearly during times of war.

The Valknut has also been viewed as a sacred emblem due to its relationship with the holy numbers 3 and 9 in Norse mythology.

Because the sign is composed of three triangles and nine total vertices, it may be interpreted as a depiction of many things in Norse mythology.

For instance three are roots of Yggdrasil and the there are three wells that nourish it.

Three are the Norns responsible of the fate of each human.

The three interconnected triangles are thought to symbolize Heaven, Hell, and Earth.

The nine vertices of the Valknut might refer to the Nine worlds connected through the mighty tree Yggdrasil.

According to some experts, the sign represents rebirth and the passage from life to death. It is thought to represent soldiers whose spirits were sent to Valhalla.

Other experts believe it is a protective emblem that shields the souls of the deceased from bad spirits.

Valknut Symbol Today

Despite its ambiguous and unclear meaning, the Valknut symbol has been gaining popularity in recent years. It is often seen on tattoos, clothing, and jewelry.

norse tattoos Valknut

The symbol is often used in popular culture to indicate power. The Valknut is used by members of Heathenry, a new religious movement that is inspired by Norse Paganism.

Many companies in the European Union use the Valknut symbol to identify their products. The DFB has used a symbol based on the three-ringed Valknut for its national team jerseys since 1991.

The Valknut appears as a fancy inlay on some of the guitars of former Carcass guitarist Michael Amott, and it is used by the company that makes the Red Viking computers.

The Valknut is a symbol that has been used by white supremacists, but non-racist pagans may also use this symbol.

The Anti-Defamation League suggests that non-racist pagans may also use this symbol, so one should carefully examine it in context rather than assume that the particular use of this symbol is racist.

We think that are many reasons why the Valknut is popular today.

  • Is a symbol of Norse mythology. The Valknut is associated with Odin, the god of war and death. Many people are interested in Norse mythology and see the Valknut as a way to connect with that history.
  • The Valknut is also a symbol of protection. It was believed to be a powerful charm against evil spirits. It was often worn by warriors into battle.
  • Today, the Valknut is still seen as a symbol of strength and courage. It is a reminder that we can overcome any obstacle in our lives.
  • Another reason the Valknut is popular is that it looks cool. The three interlocking triangles of the symbol are eye-catching and unique. It can be used as a fashion statement or as a way to show your interest in Norse culture.

Conclusion

There is a lot of ambiguity when it comes to the meaning of the Valknut symbol and where it comes from.

As we have seen in this article there are many theories and ideas about what this enigmatic symbol might mean.

Nevertheless, we think that the Valknut is still a fascinating symbol that has captured the attention of many people and It is up to each individual to decide what the Valknut symbol means to them.

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