Shield Knot (Four Corners, Quaternary knot)

The shield knot is an ancient and nearly universal symbol. The shield knot has been used for thousands of years by a variety of cultures for protection and warding. While the common design is most often associated with the Celts and ancient Norse, the most basic form is much older.

The fourfold version at right is Mesopotamian in origin and is associated with protective spells invoking the gods of the four corners of the earth.

Later, the four-corners emblem was used in the Kabbalah as a symbol of the Shema, the prayer/spell to invoke the four Archangels; it is the origin of the “Qabbalistic Cross” ritual still used in magic today. This knot is sometimes referred to as the “Earth Square” or St. Hans cross, named for the biblical John the Baptist. The Norse and Celtic versions of the knot are used for the same purposes of protection but are related to the fourfold solar cross in origin.

Traditional Norse, built on a swastika/solar cross motif


A simple and an intricate Celtic version


Another version of the symbol consists of two interlocked loops and is called the Solomon’s knot:



A shield knot on a Norse stele



Related Symbols:


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonyme April 7, 2016 at 10:34 am

I studied this symbol , i mean the traditional one , and , using the runes , i found that the shield knot can be understood as a symbol of the links between peoples , like a big family. If we watch it more closer , we can see four Wunjo runes , the runes of the family links , one Gego , the rune of sharing and sacrifice for the others , and two Dagaz , the rune of the infinite cycle. I think , and it’s a personal opinion , that the shield knot is more than a protection symbol , it’s almost a social symbol , like a unified community used to go through the difficulties like an only men.


Anonymous March 23, 2016 at 10:39 am

The part about the shema is wrong. The shema was spoken by Moses to b’ni Israel in the literal text, however the midrash (scholarly stories about the text), is that it was originally said by Benjamin, the youngest of the twelve brothers, to his father, Jacob, or Israel, the name given to him by the angel he wrestled. Benjamin was trying to assure his father that they will not assimilate to the point of extinction of their religion, and they will always keep Judaism, and god, alive in their hearts. It is said to remind us that god is one and that god is always with us. It is, debatably, but most unanimously agreed, the most important Jewish prayer, and doesn’t “invoke archangels” and most definitely NOT a spell. I would appreciate it if you would check your facts before posting as it is somewhat offensive to me to see my religion misinterpreted to be some sort of coven. Thank you.


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