Meaning of the Valknut: Odin’s Symbol PLUS Valknut Tattoos
I wear my Valknut to invoke power and to feel the Allfather’s protection around me. It reminds me of my search for wisdom and strength. As I believe it would for many who walk the Norse pagan path, and in particular those who are devotees of Odin. Unfortunately, there are certain symbols that have gotten a bad rap over the years. The Valknut is one of them. We will clear up the confusion here and dive into the amazing properties of Odin’s trinity symbol. Find the meaning of the Valknut here, how to charge and wear it as an amulet, plus check out a few bad @ss Valknut tattoo ideas.
First, Who is Odin and Why is he important?
Odin, the Allfather, the King of the Aesir. Blood brother of Loki. Odin’s name is uttered by thousands of mouths every day. Belief and honor of this ancient Norse god has seen a resurgence in recent years. But his origins date back to before the time of Jesus. Odin is a patron god of many Norse pagans and witches today, and he was once the patron to shamans in the Norse tradition of the past. He is a wanderer. A wise man. One who practiced Seidr and shapeshifting. He traveled up and down the Norse World Tree Yggdrasil seeking experience and wisdom. For nine days, Odin hung upside down from Yggdrasil to receive the wisdom of the runes.
While Thor was technically the people’s favorite god to call on in days past, Odin was often a favorite of the priests, priestesses, shamans, and volva. And today he is probably even more popular than Thor in mainstream pagan terms. Though both Thor and Odin’s names are household names because of the Marvel franchise. If you were to study Odin’s origins, you’d see just how widespread his worship was at one point in history. And how many names are linked to the Allfather (literally hundreds). If that doesn’t prove just how important this deity is in the grand scheme of time, I don’t know what will. NOW onto the meaning of the Valknut and its significance.
What is the Meaning of the Valknut? Odin’s Knot
If we are to describe the true meaning of the Valknut, we have to take a look at its structure first. The Valknut is made up of three interlocking triangles. If there are three sides to a triangle, this means there are nine sides in the Valknut. Immediately, I think of this symbol in terms of numbers and sacred geometry:
- The number 3: to our ancient ancestors, the number three was a sacred number. It represented multiple triplicities including Life, Death, and Rebirth; Land, Sea, and Sky; Past, Present, and Future; Mind, Body, Spirit; the 3 Norns; and the structure of Yggdrasil (the world tree) in its Roots, Trunk, and Branches
- The number 9: nine is a number of completion (when we count onward to 10, we see digits simply repeating themselves). Odin hung from the World Tree for 9 days. 9 represents the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.
The Valknut represents ALL life and ALL phases of life. It symbolizes the power of BIRTH and beginnings, our walk through life, and the end of our lives. And yet, because the three triangles are interlocked, we know that life, death, and rebirth are linked and inseparable. We also know that 9 signifies the end of a cycle in preparation for a new cycle. And that the Valknut’s meaning is nearly impossible to tell apart from the Triquetra of Celtic origin. Which also signifies divine triplicity.
The Sacred Triangle in the Valknut
We talked about how there are 3 sides to a triangle and 9 total in the Valknut. But what is the symbolism of the triangle itself? Since the Valknut is made up of triangles, we should examine what the triangle actually means. In Ancient Egypt, we see the pyramids (a form of the triangle) and think of royalty. And passage from this life to the next. Not to mention, the triangle is the connection between the earth and the heavens…since it is pointing to the skies.
In addition, in New Age schools of thought, the triangle is the perfect shape and the strongest, spiritually. It represents wholeness, unity, and the balance between the male and female energies to fuel creation. Our third eye chakra, in Hindu belief, is shaped like a triangle and gives us the ability to see into other realms of existence. Into the realm of spirits, ancestors, and the gods.
The Valknut Meaning for Warriors: Your Ticket to Valhalla
Odin is a fierce god who leads the Aesir into many battles, when the need calls for it. And he will fight for you when it is necessary. But he will also teach you how to be your own warrior and win your own battles. The meaning of the Valknut symbol isn’t just one that says Odin is protecting you, but that YOU are willing to stand up for yourself. To fight for what’s right for yourself and for others. The Valknut is a symbol for the warrior in us all.
There are sources online that will tell you the Valknut means death or bad luck. Just because you get a Valknut tattooed or wear the amulet doesn’t mean you’re going to die. It does mean that you are dedicating yourself to Odin, and yes, if you were to die a “warrior’s death”, your soul would be ushered to Valhalla. But saying the Valknut means you’re going to die is like saying wearing the cross as a Christian brings the wearer death. Not true.
Is the Valknut a Racist Emblem?
Sadly, there are hateful groups of people on this planet who use ancient symbols as emblems. It is no secret that Hitler and his Nazis “adopted”, or what I like to call stole, ancient Germanic and Norse symbols to use as representation. Those included a few of the Elder Futhark runes, the Valknut, and the Swastika. NONE of those symbols originally had anything to do with racism, hatred, or anything of the sort. And to this day, they still have nothing to do with White supremacy or racism of any kind. Remember, it’s the person who uses a symbol’s intent that makes the difference. So, to answer the question, NO. The Valknut is in no way a racist symbol. But there are racist, hateful individuals who may use it in their twisted idea of religion.
Warning: if you decide to wear or use this symbol in your practice or in daily life, you may indeed have some judgments cast on you by those who are uneducated. If someone asks you why you’re wearing the Valknut, tell them you are not racist and that the symbol existed long before White Supremacists began using it. Educate them on the beautiful, sacred meaning of the Valknut in Norse paganism instead. Wear your Valknut proudly but be prepared to explain its meaning to those who don’t understand. Truthfully, I’ve had to explain it only once and the person was very accepting of my truth!
How to Charge and Wear the Valknut
I purchased my Valknut pendant online after I had dedicated myself to Odin. When I wear it, it makes me feel protected, strong, and that Odin is with me. I’ve worn it on planes during long flights and on long hikes through wild forests in the U.S. and in Ireland. Because Odin is the Wanderer, I feel the Valknut is particularly powerful for those of us with wanderlust. Those of us who seek experience in the wilderness, in place unknown. NOW onto how to cleanse, charge, and wear the Valknut as an amulet.
- Take your Valknut pendant and cleanse it. I like to pass my amulets through smoke of juniper or rosemary. Juniper is traditional in Norse practices, if you want to be a purist. You can also bury the pendant in the soil or place it in a selenite bowl to cleanse it of negative energy.
- Next, we charge our amulet with Odin’s energy. You can do this in a few ways. Typically, I will hold the amulet in my hands, close my eyes, and ask Odin to fill the Valknut with his protective, wise presence. Then I leave it on his altar for further imbuing of power. OR you can invoke Odin in ritual space, raise energy via dancing, chanting, praying, etc. and then direct that energy into the Valknut amulet.
- Last, wear the Valknut and understand its meaning in your life. While it might mean the power of 3 and 9 to me, perhaps it simply means the journey of life to you. Or protection, pure and simple.
- When I’m not wearing my Valknut amulet, I place it on my altar to be touched by Odin’s presence. OR place it back in my selenite bowl to cleanse it of negative energy. I will also sometimes charge it in the Sun (briefly) or the moonlight.
Valknut Tattoo Ideas: From Simple to Elaborate
If you are a devotee of Odin’s and/or of the Norse pagan path, you might have considered getting a tattoo. And maybe even a Valknut tattoo. Ask your tattoo artist to please consider the sanctity of such a tattoo and the spiritual significance it has to you. There are many tattoo artists out there now who tattoo in a ritualistic light. Here are a few Valknut tattoos I found on the web that I thought were inspiring:
I like how this Valknut tattoo seems like the skin is crackling around it. And it’s small enough to conceal if you need to for work or professional events.
This is a more intricate and detailed tattoo with various Norse Viking symbols including a Valknut tattoo towards the wrist. I really like the dark black ink of this design.
If you feel your warrior aspect comes out when you invoke Odin, consider this Valknut tattoo with battle axes and helmet. The placement of this tattoo on the outer leg is perfect too.
OMGODS. This tattoo of the Valknut with Fenrir on one end and Jormungand on the other is seriously bad @ss. I can’t help but love the design and the ferocity of the wolf. The Ouroboros is insanely good too!
Ths Valknut is in black ink with a watercolor background. I am a fan of watercolor as a highlight of an outlined tattoo. The reason is, I chose to put a watercolor sunflower on my left arm and it has since faded. And now I want to cover it with an OUTLINED sunflower tattoo! So learn from my mistakes.
A Valknut tattoo with landscape scene within it? Brilliant! Powerful. And invokes that wanderer’s spirit.