Valknut

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):

Triceps

The triceps was used into the middle ages as a magical sign of protection.  The othala rune signifies the home and one’s ancestors.

valknut3 vikingsymbolshorntriskele


More valknuts
Related Symbols:
Nine worldsJormunganderTriqueta
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Valknut, valknute, valknop | veruce blog
August 2, 2012 at 3:27 pm

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

C funk March 20, 2014 at 4:11 am

The Valknut is also known as the Death Knot by Asatru practitioners. As a tattoo artists tend to research pagan tattooing and found some not so fun tidbits on this particular design. The Vikings believed that only those that died violently in battle would be ascended in Valhalla to feast with the Gods until Ragnarok approached. In tattooing the wearer typical prays to Odin and the mark itself was essentially a talisman that would help them die violently and go to Valhalla. Even with runic tattooing I highly advise that one spends a good deal of time researching their runes… They hold a great deal of power and ancient as they are, they should be treated with respect.

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Alvin July 6, 2014 at 4:10 pm

I am a Heathen and I find through most of my sudies that the Valknut is a symbol of the nine worlds inter conected and the power they hold through this connection.

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Gwydmiir Scottson August 11, 2014 at 8:35 am

As one of the Asatruar, I contend with C funk’s comment of “…only those that died violently in battle would be ascended in Valhalla to feast with the Gods until Ragnarok approached.”
This is not entirely true. There is a ceremony where one can be “marked for Odin” in which the individual has the Valknut ritually tattooed or carved onto the body.
The Valknut tattoo/scarification then signifies to the All-Father that they acknowledge Valhalla and wish to ascend should their death not be in battle.
The nobility and kings who couldn’t be allowed to die before their time were often marked for Odin so that on Vigrid, they could lead their men under Odin once more in Ragnarok.
Traditionally the mark is to be made by carving it into the skin with a spear, a symbol of Odin, but of course not everyone has a spear on hand, so some Asatruar tattoo it instead.
I plan on being marked for Odin very soon, the traditional way. You never know when the Norns have ordained your end to be, and I certainly don’t want to spend my post-mortem existence in Hel’s keeping when there’s feasting and mirth up in The Hall of the Chosen to be had.

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Jaylyn October 21, 2013 at 7:43 am

@Evan
I’m not trying to concur, or go against your words, but what was Christianity before it adopted its beliefs of Heaven and Hell? I’ve also read/heard of Christianity having Pagan(most likely Greek) rituals and traditions implemented into its practices. For example, Sunday: most ancient civilizations worshipped the sun, this was the day of the sun, and most Christians worship on this day.(Loosely explained)
But, I was just wanting to know what Christianity was before these beliefs, and where some of the places were that it attained it beliefs and practices.
(*I’m only 15, so I’m still learning this stuff.)

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Radboud November 9, 2013 at 7:43 pm

@jaylyn
Christians always have had some notion of heaven and hell. As far as I know their view of heaven is more or less copied from Judaism, with some adaptations along the years. The christian hell is primarily based on the greek concept of Hades. In the beginning of christianity hell was actually called hades. With the christianisation of Europe they decided to rename it to Hell, based on the norse/germanic Hel, to make the transition to christianity easier

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Josh November 23, 2013 at 8:38 am

Thursday is actually suppose to be Thorsday yay Thor!

Story of Adam and Eve was taken from the Norse Ragnarok in which only two people survive. The Christians made this to establish a connection with them to get the Pagans to convert over. That’s most of Christianity just stuff they made up to get more members. I would really just read up on other cultures and look for connections.

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Marie September 30, 2013 at 2:51 am

The triceps is also the logo for the Mitsubishi car company.

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Vic October 5, 2012 at 4:30 am

As it seems, we do not fully understand the meaning of Valknut as it was understood during the Viking Age. Connections to Odin and death are suggested bacause of the other images associated with it on the runestones. Do various forms of it modify the meaning? Are there any connections to magic rituals? It remains a mystery.

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Norse September 23, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Valknut is an ancient Viking symbol. However, its exact connection with Odinism and warrior rituals remains unclear. Interpretation of the runestone images that feature Valknut are hard to interpret. It is a pity Valknut is sometimes used by hate groups.

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Hans Cappelen June 21, 2012 at 4:53 am

In Norway we use the name “Valknute” on the cross of St John.

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Evan May 25, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Jorgensen, I give respect to your knowledge. As with everything else in the religion/cult/sect/etc, Christianity had to get their image of hell and heaven from somewhere. They may have gotten how it was from the Greeks and Romans, but it seems the placement of heaven in the sky and hell underneath was gotten from looking at our great Yggdrasil. I wear the Valknut proudly on a rope around my neck and I am ready to defend my faith and my family in the name of the Allfather.

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Jørgensen March 25, 2012 at 9:23 am

May i ask what you mean when you say “earth, hel and the heavens”? There is no realm called the heavens, or earth for that matter. As i see it, i seems like you’re suggesting that there is a hell and a heaven, like in christianity?
Midgaard, hel and valhal, part of the nine realms on the branches of yggdrasil, is what you mean i think. Hel does not work the same way as hell, but is simply the realm of the dead, and is where you end up, if not choosen by the valkyries in combat to be slain and taken to valhal, waiting to fight in ragnarok. Maybe you know all this, but just wrote it anyway

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Jennifer April 20, 2012 at 10:06 am

Of course there were. One you are standing on, the other is above your head.

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Eric June 9, 2011 at 4:03 am

Hi I live in Minnesota and I am of Nordic decent and have the mark of the slain on me could anyone tell me how to find others that also follow. Anyone please feel free to email me at any time. My name is Eric ericfad@hotmail.com

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admin November 13, 2009 at 9:04 am

Actually, an illustration has gone missing in the move. the one on top left is not unicursal. I will see if I can’t locate the missing image.

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nosesquid November 8, 2009 at 7:08 am

It can’t be strictly unicursal, there’s too many spots with three vertices. You can draw it in one continuous motion without changing direction when you lift the pen, though, which just goes to show that Euler wasn’t a true Viking.

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Åhnberg July 28, 2009 at 1:59 am

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