What is the Valknut Symbol?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The Valknut symbol is a symbol made from three interconnected triangles which may be joined in various ways. It is closely associated with Norse paganism, and numerous works of Norse art feature this symbol. The term “Valknut” is a neologism; Norse pagans did not refer to this symbol by this name. You may also hear this symbol referred to as the knot of the slain or Hrungnir's heart, and the symbol is very popular with Germanic Neopagans, who have adopted it as a symbol of their faith.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The symbolism of the Valknut symbol in ancient art is not fully understood, although certain suppositions can be made about it. The number three is a common symbol in many cultures and religions, as is the number nine, which is made by multiplying three by three. When the symbol began to be used in Norse art, it may have symbolized any number of things, and it was probably meant to be a powerful talisman.

In Norse mythology, the number nine has special significance because Norse myths include the idea that there are nine worlds, united by the Yggdrasil Tree. The nine points of the Valknut symbol could symbolize the nine worlds and their interconnected nature, and the symbol may also be a reference to reincarnation and cyclical relationships.

It is possible to draw the Valknut symbol in a single stroke, and many versions of this symbol in ancient art were drawn this way. Symbols which can be drawn with one stroke described as “unicursal,” and they have special significance as talismans to ward against evil in some cultures. The symbol can also be drawn in the form of Borromean rings, or in the form of a complex interlocked triquetra in which the triangles are all connected to each other.

In ancient art, the Valknut symbol is often linked with gods, specifically Odin, and it may be depicted with the points facing up, or down. Numerous examples of the this symbol can be found in Norse image stones and carvings such as those found on the Oseberg ship, a Viking ship which has some of the oldest known examples of this symbol. It is also possible to see various versions of this symbol appearing in artifacts from other cultures.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments



It is this belief system which many Europeans see as having held them back and having caused much unnecessary bloodshed. A reversion to pagan belief may be a return to reason. Nietzsche was seeking a new system which was above and beyond the failing and fading Judeo-Christian ethic. Many in the Germanic world continue to seek this system of living, a lebensraum of the mind.



It is interesting that you mention Norse churches, there has been a spike in arson on these churches by Paganists and metal band members in Scandinavia in the past couple decades. It is unfortunate that they fail to recognize the important role that Judeo-Christian values played in forming their society. We were truly in the dark ages in terms of thinking before we were given literacy and the Bible.


The Celtic cross and patterns in design in Norse and Irish churches have a lot of interesting knotted patterns which are remnants of older designs. The cross symbol was predated by many life symbols which are similar to it. The Celtic cross keeps the circle in the center of the Celtic cross, which is an old sign from Celtic pagan tradition.


Many Celtic patterns also adopt this concept of interconnectivity and repetition. The ancient religions of North-Western Europe had much in common, with many nature gods and sea mythology coming into play. There was also a large amount of reverence for the cow, which is a strong staple in all Indo-European belief systems.

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