October 03, 2022 2 min read

There is a lot to consider when choosing the right tattoo; and certainly no guide can be completely comprehensive; however, if you’re looking for body art with deep meaning to inspire yourself and others, you’ve come to the right place!

We’ve covered Norse tattoos before, but this article is to give some ideas specifically for our shieldmaidens!

There are many accounts with descriptions of the Viking, with a few even mentioning tattoos, saying they were “...covered in dark-green lines, pictures and such like” (PRICE, 2022). Some accounts even mention trees, animals, and other symbols.

While this doesn’t give us a lot to go on, we can safely say that the Vikings were tattooed, and with a collection of symbols and images available from the archaeological record, there is certainly a lot to choose from!

Raven

Norse raven tattoo

With deep symbolism stemming from both Odin and his ravens Huginn and Munnin, as well as that of the battlefield, these beautiful black birds are heralds of victory! And they provoke the namesakes Odin’s companions, Thought and Memory. 

Runes

Norse Runes for tattoo

There is a lot that can be done with runic tattoos (see meaning behind eachRune).

The Runes were the alphabet of the era, and a tattoo of them can bring strength, courage, peace...

Here are some ideas of words in Elder Furthark:

Skjaldmær - ᛊᚲᛁᚨᛚᛞ ᛗᛇᚱ

The Old Norse for “Shield Maiden”. A tattoo that brings victory to your own battles.

Freyja - ᚠᚱᛖᛁᚨ

Pay homage to this Norse Goddess of love, war, and fertility.

Words of Inspiration

While it’s best to look up words in an Old Norse dictionary to find what suits you best, just a few examples are listed here:

  • Nāthæ - Peace - ᚾᚨᚦᛇ
  • Hreysti - Courage, Valor - ᚺᚱᛖᛁᛊᛏᛁ
  • Elska - Love, Affection - ᛖᛚᛊᚲᚨ
  • Sigrsæll - Victorious - ᛊᛁᚷᚱᛊᛇᛚ
  • Þrá - Persistence - ᚦᚱᚨ
  • Valhöll - Valhalla - ᚢᚨᛚᚺᛟᛚ 

It can really be anything! Just remember that the Elder Futhark is a tonal language, so write how it would be pronounced!

The Helm of Awe or Vegvisir

helm of awe and vegvísir symbols

Both the Helm of Awe and Vegvisir appear in a much later codex dating to the 19th century, but are still powerful and evocative images nonetheless. Conduct yourself to battle and back again with the protection from these symbols.

Yggdrasil

yggdrasil the tree of life tattoo

The World Tree or the Tree of Life! There are many different visual interpretations, and each as engaging as the last. The swirling and interlocking patterns that can be found on each evoke a spirit of the interconnectivity of all things, from the nine realms, to each of the beings that live in them.

The Valkyrie

valkyrie norse symbol

The warrior spirits that shepherd the fallen to Valhalla, and who, at Ragnarök will fight alongside Odin.

This symbol is a sign of female power and prestige and represents the Norse way of life.

Ultimately, any tattoo will come down to personal preference. Are you a warrior seeking Valhalla from fighting your modern battles? Do you seek solace, peace, and guidance? We hope that this guide will serve as an inspiration, and a jumping off point for choosing your own artistic expression.

Works Cited:

  1. PRICE, N., 2022.CHILDREN OF ASH AND ELM. 1st ed. [S.l.]: BASIC BOOKS, p.124.



Also in Norse Tales

Viking Women: Beyond the Battlefield
Viking Women: Beyond the Battlefield

February 23, 2024 2 min read

In the popular imagination, the Vikings are often portrayed as fierce warriors, their exploits immortalized in tales of conquest and plunder. Yet, amidst the clash of swords and the roar of battle, another narrative emerges—a story of resilience, strength, and remarkable diversity. 
Who Lives in Yggdrasil and What's Its Fate in the Time of Ragnarök?
Who Lives in Yggdrasil and What's Its Fate in the Time of Ragnarök?

February 23, 2024 2 min read

In the heart of Norse mythology stands a towering ash tree, its roots delving deep into the earth and its branches reaching toward the heavens—a symbol of the interconnectedness of all things and the cycle of life and death. Besides being the link between all the nine worlds, Yggdrasill itself was home to many creatures that dwell within its vast expanse.
Nøkken: The Enigmatic Spirit of the Waters
Nøkken: The Enigmatic Spirit of the Waters

February 23, 2024 2 min read

In the shadowy depths of Scandinavia's lakes and rivers dwells a mysterious entity—a being of both beauty and dread, known by many names but feared by all who venture too close. Let's unravel the ancient myths and legends surrounding Nøkken, exploring the enigmatic nature of this water spirit and its enduring presence in Norse folklore.