Valknut Symbol Meaning


The Valknut, is one of the most studied and at the same time mysterious Germanic symbols related to the Norse culture and mythology of the Vikings.

This magical symbol consists of three interlocking triangles and visually has certain similarities with the triquetra.

The Valknut appears in connection with death and burials throughout the Viking world, but is not mentioned in any surviving literary sources.

Therefore, its meaning is inferred from what is known about the Vikings.

The Viking world was full of symbols. Not only were they a powerful means of expressing ideas, but the Vikings also believed that symbols had mysterious powers.

In the archaeological sense, this symbol appears on several effigy stones, especially the Gothic effigy stones that date back to the Viking Age.

The name Valknut is not a traditional term from the time of the Vikings, but a modern Norwegian term given to the symbol, because this name does not appear in contemporary historical sources, so the origin of this word is unknown.

This word is composed of "valr", warriors fallen in battle, and "knut", knot, and was introduced by the Norwegians long after the Viking Age.

Although this symbol is difficult to interpret because, as for any other symbol, there are countless interpretations, today this magical symbol is often associated with motifs such as battle, sacrifice, death in battle and the father of the gods Odin and his willingness to sacrifice.

The Valknut knot is considered a symbol of the three triads. One triad stands for Odin, Vili and Ve, (Odin and his brothers) and represents the triad of creation.

Another triad stands for "being" or "is", and refers to the three fated women Urd, Verdandi and Skuld, who personify the past, present and future.

The third and final triad symbolizes destruction but also new beginnings.

An example of the Valknut symbol was found in the 7th century in Gotland, Sweden, on the Tängelgårda stone.

Historical background of the Valknut

This symbol is often associated with the cult of the dead and similar symbols of the Anglo-Saxons, who had certain similarities with the Norse peoples due to their language and religion.

The Gothic effigy stone most clearly shows the connection between Odin and the Valknut, as they are depicted side by side in most stones.

The stone shows the image of Valknut's knot above a burial mound and below it is a raven.

Next to it is a man with a spear, accompanied by another raven. The man and the two ravens are most likely Odin and his two companions Huginn and Muninn.

Odin was one of the most powerful of all magicians and shamans. Historically, the Valknut knot symbolizes all the virtues that distinguish him.

These include his connection with death, his wisdom and his self-sacrifice.

His connection to death is represented by the fact that Odin was particularly known for being a soul guide, transferring the soul of the dead to the underworld and then transporting them back to the upper world.

The Valknut knot seems to be associated not only with death, but also with the death of a fallen warrior.

The Vikings also believed that warriors who died bravely in battle were brought in Valhalla by Odin's servants, the Valkyries.

There they were to enjoy themselves until the arrival of Ragnarok, only to be called to battle again alongside the gods.

In the literary sources, Odin and the spirits accompanying him, like the Valkyries, often use magic that enabled them to cast spells on the minds of the men in battle to render them helpless or, if necessary, to release them from the tension and strain.

Odin was the god of war and was believed to be responsible for granting victory or causing defeat.

They applied Norse magic and shamanism to discern the path of destiny and work within its structure to bring about change, which was done by symbolically weaving in new events.

Weaving in this symbolic sense and spiritual power were almost synonymous, so it is not surprising that a symbol involving power over life and death was visualized as a knot.

Valknut Symbol Meaning

The particular meaning of the Valknut knot has remained a perplexing mystery to this day.

Several theories have been proposed for the meaning of the Valknut.

Some scholars believe that it is a symbol of reincarnation, while others hold that it serves as a protective symbol of the dead soul from evil.

The symbol has also been associated as a part of Seidr magic, of which Odin was the master.

The nine points of the triangle, formed by the three intertwined triangles or lines, were associated with the nine worlds of Norse mythology and held in the branches of the world tree that is Yggdrasil.

The three interconnected triangles are said to reflect the connection between earth, heaven and hell and symbolize fertility, rebirth and reincarnation.

So, with the current state of our knowledge, we can reasonably assume that the meaning of the Valknut has much to do with death, with the passage from life to death and probably back again, Odin, and with the power to bind and loose.

The Vikings believed that you only had to die as a warrior in a battle to be taken to Valhalla, or you would find yourself in another of the Norse afterlives.

Therefore, it was a common custom to stab those who died of a disease and put a sword in their hand to give the impression that the warrior had died in battle.

However, many questions are still open and there are many theories around the possible meanings of the magical symbol.

It is still up for interpretation whether a special power over life and death was attributed to the Valknut, and whether this power refers to the person who drew the symbol or to the dead person over whom it was drawn.

The Valknut could have been a symbol used as part of the magical rituals of the Seidr to send those who had not died in battle to Valhalla.

Or it could have had an influence on a certain desired state of being in the realm of the dead or the quick return of the dead back to life.

Modern use of the Valknut

Nowadays, the Valknut plays a great role in modern Germanic paganism, in which many explanations as well as interpretations of the symbol are given.

This symbol is often used by nationalist groups, who consider this symbol to be inherent for people of Germanic descent and that is connected to their ancestors before their forced conversion to the foreign religion that Christianity represents.

Moreover, it is used as a logo by various political groups, in German industry but also in modern pop culture.

In the US, the symbol is used as the logo of a fraternity, while it is also used by some white nationalist groups to represent their heritage.

However, as the exact meaning of the Valknut is still unclear, it is also worn by people who are not part of these spheres, in the form of necklaces and rings, clothing and tattoo motifs.

Similar symbols

Similar symbols also appear on contemporary Anglo-Saxon funerary urns and on the grave goods of some Germanic peoples closely related to the Vikings, confirming the connection between the Valknut symbol and death.

The Valknut knot has certain similarities with other symbols such as Hrungnirs heart, triskele and the swastika.

A symbol very similar to Valknut's knot is Hrungnirs-heart, which also consists of three triangles twisted into each other and is mainly depicted on Gothic effigy stones.

This also makes sense in the context of death, as Hrungnir was a spirit of night, winter, darkness and the grave.

Many scholars believe that the Valknut could be the Hrungnir heart mentioned in Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda.

But this is a general and insufficient description, so the idea that they are one and the same symbol could be taken really seriously only if the archaeological context of these two symbols coincides, which is not the case.

The Hrungnir heart is in complete contradiction with Odin's ecstatic magic, so this association with Odin has been discarded.

Valknut's knot is sometimes associated with the swastika, as this symbol apparently represented Odin moving through all worlds like a flying disc.