What are the symbols of Odin? Which symbol represents the god of war, death, wisdom, knowledge, healing, sorcery, magic, poetry and royalty in Norse mythology? For the curious ones on an everlasting journey seeking knowledge, just like the Allfather himself, here is every single Odin symbol explained in detail.
Valknut, The Knot of the Slain Warriors
Valknut also known as the Knot of the Slain Warriors, Hrungnir’s Heart and Valknotr, is an ancient Viking symbol found on several artworks in the 8th and 9th centuries.
One of the earliest examples of those artworks is the Stora Hammars Stone I on the island of Gotland in Sweden. This ‘picture stone’ with 6 panels depicts several events with mythological, religious and martial backgrounds including what is believed to be a human sacrifice by some experts. The valknut symbol is featured in one of these scenes.
That said, it still could not be determined to this day how or when the symbol actually emerged. In fact, even the name ‘valknut’ was given to the symbol in the modern era.
What the symbol was called at the time of its emergence is also not known.
The term ‘valknut’ is a compound word in Norwegian language and it simply means ‘the knot of the fallen/slain warriors’ as in ‘the knot of warriors who died in battle’.
It was believed in Norse mythology that the warriors who fell in battle would go to Halls of Valhalla in Asgard to live in Odin’s company. Odin,in addition to being the god of death, is also known as the god that carried the souls of the dead to the underworld (and back to the world of living sometimes).
Why would that be important?
It is because most of the archeological findings featuring the valknut symbol either has Odin himself on them or his animal companions, namely ravens and wolves, which are also considered Odin’s symbols.
Not to mention the fact that many of the artworks featuring valknut were discovered on belongings in ship burial sites and memorial stones, all related to death and the transition from this life to another.
Another reason for valknut being a popular Odin symbol today is about Odin being the god of magic in Norse mythology.
Odin is known as the chief practitioner of seidr (pronounced as SAY-der), the Norse practice of magic. According to the belief, Odin had the power to bind people’s minds with his magical powers and make men panic during battle. He could also unbind their minds and provide relief to them by removing fear.
Seidr practices heavily featured imagery and symbols. Therefore, it is believed by some experts that valknut, which is essentially a knot/binding, might have been used by practitioners of seidr with similar intentions.
The Triple Horn of Odin Also Known As The Horns of Odin
The next item in our list of Odin symbols is the Triple Horn of Odin. This symbol featuring three interlocking horns is a reference to the myth regarding Odin and the Mead of Poetry and Wisdom.
According to the legend, the Mead of Poetry and Wisdom, also known as the Mead of Suttungr granted wisdom to whoever drank it.
After a series of events, at the end of his pursuit of the magical mead, Odin confronted Gunnlöd the jötunn/giant guarding the mead, fooled her and drank the mead three times over a period of three nights and gained wisdom.
This is how the triple horn symbol became one of the prominent symbols of Odin.
Gungnir, The Spear of Odin As An Odin Symbol
If you are interested in Norse mythology or its pop culture representations in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you surely are familiar with Mjolnir, the magical hammer of Thor, the god of Thunder.
Well, Gungnir is Odin’s own weapon with magical properties. Similar to Mjolnir, it was also crafted by the dwarves. The magical spear of Odin was believed to always hit its intended target.
As a symbol of Odin, it represents wisdom, courage, strength, precision and inspiration.
Sleipnir, The Eight-legged Horse of Odin
Sleipnir, also known as the Steed of Odin, is the mythical eight-legged horse of Odin in Norse mythology gifted to him by Loki.
The word ‘sleipnir’ means something along the lines of ‘slipper/slipping/gliding’ in Old Norse language.
It was believed that the eight-legged horse of Odin was the fastest horse ever created and could run through the air and over water.
Along with the other animal companions of the Allfather, ravens and wolves, Sleipnir is considered a symbol of Odin.
Ravens As A Symbol of Odin
Ravens were an integral part of Viking culture and symbolism. They were considered a symbol of Odin as he himself had two ravens as trusted companions of his own.
Named Huginn (Thought) and Muninn (Memory), the twin ravens of Odin flew all over Midgard (the world we live in) and told Odin about what they saw and experienced.
Odin has been symbolized in artworks as a raven/by ravens because of this. He was also named Hrafnaguð or Hrafnáss which means ‘the Raven God’ in Old Norse.
Some Viking warlords including Ragnar Lothbrok’s sons, Ivar the Boneless and Halfdan Ragnarsson, carried the raven banner which was believed by Christian Anglo-Saxons to be imbued with the main pagan idol, Odin, as noted by one of the scholars of the time.
Wolves As A Symbol of Odin – Geri and Freki, Odin’s Wolves
The last item in our list of Odin symbols is wolves. Wolves were revered in Viking culture as they were one of the two prominent animal companions of Odin alongside ravens.
That said, wolves were there first as Odin created his two wolves Geri and Freki (meaning ‘greedy’ and ‘ravenous’) to keep him company during his travels after he created the world.
According to the legend, it is only when Geri and Freki started to have trouble finding food for themselves Odin created Huginn and Muninn, his two ravens, to help the two wolves.
The four of them travelled together and the wolves hunted with the help of ravens showing them their prey. In exchange for that, Odin’s wolves left some of their food to Huginn and Muninn.
It is also believed that Odin told humans to look up to wolves as an example since wolves cared about the pack rather than the one individual member, the pack always ran together and every member of it cared about every one of their young ones.
It was also believed that Geri and Freki roamed the halls of Valhalla with Odin and also kept watch (in shifts) against a possible attack of giants, the enemies of the Aesir gods (and men).
This concludes our article on symbols of Odin. We hope you enjoyed reading on Symbols and Meanings. If you did, you might want to check out other articles we have on Norse Viking symbols through the main menu.