Norse tattoos have to be one of our favourite types of tattoo. Our love for them goes far beyond the design; we love their meaning and the history. In a demanding world that requires us to be increasingly resilient, Norse tattoos seem to resonate more than ever. They are a reminder of inner strength and unwavering faith in challenging times.
Norse tattoos are born out of Norse mythology and were originally worn by the Vikings.
The Vikings were warriors from Scandinavia who invaded the rest of Europe, Britain and parts of Asia. They were said to be tattooed with symbols that they believed protected them in battle. The meaning of these symbols has carried through to today making the Norse full sleeve tattoo a popular choice among males. Shows such as Game of Thrones and Vikings has also increased the popularity of Norse tattoos.
What are the common Nordic runes and what do they symbolise? There are many out there, so we’ve compiled our favourite ones along with their meaning to give you some inspiration. But beware, you might just find your inner warrior craving a Norse tattoo after this read…
Helm of Awe (Aegishjalmur)
This is a round design with eight spokes radiating from the centre. This symbol represents protection and victory. It was believed that Vikings that went to war had this symbol tattooed as a stave for protection.
This symbol comprises of three interlocking triangles pointing up. The symbol appears commonly alongside Odin, so it’s also become known as the Symbol of Odin. It is said that viking warriors believe that this sign would get them into Valhalla or the Hall of the Brave Warriors in Asgard, for which Odin was the gatekeeper. This symbol is a sign of resilience through life with the help of Odin or god.
This tattoo symbolised the Tree of Life for the Vikings. It is believed that the Ash tree connected nine worlds and the universe together. The tree is symbolic of life, wisdom and the interconnectedness of everything in the universe.
Huginn and Muninn
Huginn and Muninn were the names of two ravens that were often seen on Odin’s shoulder. They represented ‘thought’ and ‘memory’ and are revered in Norse mythology. They are also representative of Odin’s presence and power.
This tattoo depicts a snake in a circular shape eating it’s tail. The snake is said to be Jormungand, one of Loki’s children, who was banished to the sea by Odin as be believed Loki’s children would cause the fall of the Gods. Jormungand grew to be a huge serpent who was able to circle the entire Midgard by holding it’s tail in it’s mouth. Thor eventually slayed Jormungand however also died himself from the snake’s bite.
This tattoo has a fantastic story behind it and represents the circle life and death or creation and destruction. Although a villain, the destruction that Jormungand cause bought about the creation of a brand-new world.
The Troll Cross
This tattoo commonly appeared on Viking homes to ward off any trolls, bad vibes and negative energy. This quaint symbol is a reminder to stay positive and optimistic.
Web of Wyrd
This geometic tattoo is said to be created by the Norns who design the destiny of all beings. The symbol represents cause and effect, that actions have reactions and shape the future. This beautiful clean matrix design is symbolic of the interconnectedness of the universe.
The Vegvisir symbol looks very similar to the Helm of Awe, however the shapes on the end of the spokes are different. The Vegvisir was symbolic of a life compass and the Vikings believed this symbol would guide them in the right direction, whether at sea or coming home safely. This symbol is believed to keep one from going astray.
Runes are symbols that Vikings used in an alphabet system. However, they were not used to spell words or for communication. Rather, each symbol has it’s own meaning and they were usually worn to attract aid and blessings from the Gods.
It’s easy to see why Norse mythology tattoos are so popular, they have amazing designs with pretty cool meanings. We hope this article has given you some inspiration and ideas for your next tattoo sleeve.