Also known as: Hrungnir’s heart, heart of the slain, Heart of Vala, borromean triangles
The emblem at left found on old Norse stone carvings and funerary stelés, is sometimes called “Hrungnir’s heart,” after the legendary giant of the Eddas. It is best known as the Valknut, or “knot of the slain,” and it has been found on stone carvings as a funerary motif, where it probably signified the afterlife. The emblem is often found in art depicting the God Odin, where it may represent the gods power over death. The valknut can be drawn unicursally (in one stroke), making it a popular talisman of protection against spirits.
The Valknut’s three interlocking shapes are suggestive of related Celtic symbols of motherhood and rebirth- it may have been a goddess symbol at some point in history. The nine points suggest rebirth, pregnancy, and cycles of reincarnation. The number nine also suggestive of the Nine Worlds (and the nine fates) of Norse mythology. Their interwoven shape suggests the belief of the interrelatedness of the three realms of earth, hel, and the heavens, and the nine domains they encompass.
The symbol’s nine points have an obvious correlation with childbirth; the placement of the symbol on funeral monuments mark it as a sign of rebirth of reincarnation. The Valknut is also an important symbol to many followers of the Asatru religion, who often wear it as a symbol of the faith. A variation called an “open” valknut, due to the looser, non-unicursal design:
Another, less common version of the Valknut, called a triceps, resembles a cut-away triangle, or a triangle formed of three diamonds (three ‘othala’ runes interwoven):
The triceps was used into the middle ages as a magical sign of protection. The othala rune signifies the home and one’s ancestors.