Matthew Leigh Embleton

Musician, Composer, Producer, Language and History Enthusiast, and Author

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Viking Tattoos: Nordic and Norse Pagan Symbols of Spirituality

In recent decades popular culture has rediscovered the Viking Age and North Germanic Paganism with fresh eyes. From the pirates and sea raiders known as Vikings, to the fierce warriors called Berserkers, and the wider Norse or Nordic people as a whole, symbols played an important role in daily life and spirituality. These symbols were used in many different ways, including writing, divination, recording events, marking and indicating ownership of personal items, and talismanic protection, strength, and luck.

Today we find these symbols visually eye catching and their meanings fascinating. People all over the world are finding meaning in these symbols that resonate with their personality, identity, and spiritual beliefs. Each of these symbols is a visual representation of a thought or an idea, from a single line to an ever increasingly complex symmetry of lines, circles, intersecting lines, and bold striking angles.

Perhaps one of the most popular of these symbols is the Vegvísir, one of the many Galdrastafir (praying or chanting staves) that appeared in Iceland after its settlement by Norse people in the late 9th centuy, but there are many more.

Preserved manuscripts contain a wealth of these magical symbols drawn by hand in personal hand books or grimoires. In some cases there are accompanying sentences explaining their meanings and instruction on their use, and in many cases the very name of the symbol told them all they needed to know, with their uses open to interpretation.

The magic of the Norse people worked because they believed that it worked. They believed in the process of signalling and communicating their intentions and desirable outcomes to the forces around them, projecting them into the universe, and having the confidence and belief to make things happen.

The aim of this book is to explore these symbols and present them to the reader for their consideration as ideas for tattoos or symbols for personal talismanic magic.

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