The Vikings were a group of people who came from different countries like Sweden, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark during the 8th to 11th century. They raided different countries in Europe, Asia, and the North Atlantic to find a place where they can settle down. So, it’s no surprise if you want to get a Nordic or a Viking tattoo.
Besides being well-known for their navigational skills, the Vikings were also known for their Norse Mythology. In fact, many of Viking tattoos were designed after the gods and goddesses of these people. Some of the most popular mythological characters are the gods Loki and Thor as well as creatures like eight-legged horses and the frost giants.
Meaning of Viking Tattoo Designs
Tattoos can have many different meanings. In fact, it can depend on the wearer. If they see a Viking tattoo and want it as a symbol of their love for Norse mythology, it can be it. Or it can mean that they have a Nordic blood in them. Or it may also mean they love hearing stories of the Vikings.
Anything is possible when you’re thinking about tattoos. It all depends on how you view your tattoo and what you want its message to be.
However, here are the meanings of the most common Viking tattoos:
- Helm of awe – The Helm of Awe is also called the “Aegishjalmur” in Iceland. It’s an eight-armed figure where each one is a trident guarding the central point. This has become a powerful symbol of might and protection.
- Horn Triskelion – The Horn Triskelion are three overlapping horns. These were Viking drinking vessels that becomes the symbol of the god Odin once in a tattoo.
- Odin – If you know anything about Norse mythology, Odin is the father of Thor. He’s a mighty god and is depicted as a bearded man with a Viking helmet. He oozes power and royalty and therefore, he has become a symbol of that. An Odin tattoo can also represent knowledge, healing, and death.
- Thor – Thor became a popular figure after the Marvel superhero based on the Norse god of Thunder. He is known as the protector of mankind for the Vikings.
- Valkyrie – The Valkyrie is a strong female warrior. In Norse mythology, a Valkyrie is known as the “chooser of the slain.” That means she chooses who lives and dies in battle. A Valkyrie tattoo could symbolize your power and control over your own fate.
- Ouroboros – Ouroboros is also known as Jormundgandr and is one of the sons of the Norse gods Loki and Angrboda. As a tattoo, Ouroboros is depicted as a snake that’s biting or eating its own tail.
- Valknut – The Valknut is perhaps one of the most common Viking tattoo designs. It’s depicted as three overlapping triangles and is often used in various death-related religious rituals. The triangles represent the metal bind that were used to make a man either helpless or strong in battle. This tattoo is also known as a symbol of Odin.
- Vegvisir – The Vegvisir translates to “sign post” and is a tattoo design meant to be a symbol of guidance for people in poor weather conditions.
- Troll Cross – The Troll cross was a piece of bent iron that the Scandinavians wore as an amulet. It was their protection against black magic and trolls. As a tattoo design, it has become the symbol of protection.
- Yggdrasil – Yggdrasil or better known as the Tree of Life is one of the Viking’s and Norse mythology’s most important symbols. According to their myth, the Tree of Life connects all the nine worlds and it also held them together. The branches extend to each of the nine worlds and then up to the heaven.
- Mjölnir – The Mjölnir is the name of Thor’s hammer. It is one of the best and most powerful weapons created. As a Viking tattoo design, the Mjölnir can be a symbol of protection and strength.
- Gungnir – Another weapon of the Norse gods is the Gungnir. It’s the spear of Odin and otherwise known as the spear of heaven. When translated, it means “Swaying One.”
- Huginn and Muninn – Huginn and Munnin are the twin ravens of Odin. They fly all around the world to bring news and information to the god. Huginn is also known as the thought while Munnin is memory. Many Nordic people believe that the ravens were the projections of Odin’s consciousness.
- The Web of the Wyrd – The web of the wyrd is also known as the Skuld’s net. It is the Norse matrix of fate and is said to have been woven by the Norn or the Shapers of Destiny. They are basically the Norse counterpart of the Fates of Greek myth. The web consists of nine staves that are arranged in an angular grid. This contains all the shapes of the runes and represent the possibilities of the past, present, and the future. As a tattoo design, it can be a symbol that timelines are interconnected and that past actions can affect both the present and the future.
Did the Vikings Have Tattoos?
Tattoos have been around for a long time. It’s been around since the time of the Vikings. According to historical evidence, these people covered almost half of their body with tattoos. These consisted of various Norse symbols and knot patterns. There were also dark green patterns that are said to be a symbol of a tree.
No one can be entirely sure what the symbols meant for the Vikings and why they had it tattooed. However, the symbols can also be found in their jewelries and boats. These were carved onto the bones and skulls of their enemies as well as other artifacts they have collected.
Nowadays, more people are getting more Viking tattoos. Some like the symbolism and the meanings behind the images. Others have it to show their love for Norse mythology and the rich history of the Nordic people. There are also many others who wear Viking tattoos to show their pride as a descendant of these people.
Your tattoo’s placement can affect how it will look as well as the design you should make. When thinking of where you want to have a tattoo, it should coincide with your tattoo’s design. For example, a smaller tattoo works best when they’re placed in a smaller area of the body. If you put it in a wider area such as on your back, it’s possible that the tattoo will get lost in all of the space.
Additionally, the design of your tattoo may work best on certain areas. Big tattoos with more details would of course work best in wider areas such as the back. That’s because it’s easier to see the details when your artist have more space to work with.
But there are also other factors that you have to consider.
One is how exposed you want your tattoo. While many are getting more open-minded about tattoos these days, there are still others who see it as something negative. It can be the people in your family, your religion, or even your workplace. Because of this, there are tattoo enthusiasts who hide their tattoos in certain areas that can be covered by clothes.
If you’re like that or you’re not ready to show your tattoo to everyone yet, have it tattooed on your body or feet. The rib and the back part are normally covered so these are safe places. The feet is normally covered by a sock or a shoe so it’s also safer there.
Another has more to do with the healing process of your tattoo. Having it in an area that constantly rubs your skin or your clothes may affect how it heals and even then. Getting a tattoo on the inner bicep is an example. It normally brushes on your body so it can affect how your tattoo heals.
Additionally, the frequent friction may cause your tattoo to fade faster than normal.
Are Tattoos Painful?
People who are getting a tattoo for the first time normally ask if it’s painful to get a tattoo. It’s normal to feel nervous. And while it’s going to make you more anxious, it’s best that you know that tattoos are painful to get. But it’s bearable, especially when you have a higher pain tolerance.
It doesn’t matter where you get a tattoo, once the needle pierces your skin, you will feel something. For others it’s small as an ant’s sting while others may have to go through the whole process while biting a stick.
However, your choice of placement does affect the pain level of your tattoo. There’s a chart online that shows areas that tend to be more painful than others. These areas are normally the bony parts such as the hands, the ribs, and the feet. Apart from bony areas, parts that have more sensitive skin will also be more painful. Examples are the groin and the inner biceps.
So, before getting a tattoo, it’s best to prepare your body and your mind for the pain. Most of all, choose an area that’s more bearable for you.
Which Part of the Tattoo Process Hurts More?
A tattoo process can have various parts. Normally, it consists of the lining, the shadowing, the coloring, and the highlighting. However, this all depends on the design and the style of the tattoo you want to get. Some don’t have colors or even shading. These types are normally the minimalist types that only require the lining.
But more realistic tattoos often need all of these. If you’re going to get something like that, you have to prepare.
Each part has a different kind of pain. The lining often digs deep into the skin and may be the most painful for some, especially when it hits your bony area or a sensitive part. The shading and coloring often has that kind of pain that is hot but will numb you after getting it. That’s because your tattoo artist have to go back to certain places several times to fill it in. Lighter colors will be harder as your artist have to go back to certain areas a few more times to ensure the color shows up.
But for many, highlighting is the most painful part. And there might be two explanations for that.
First off, the color white is the lightest ink and it’s very hard to make it show up. Your artist may have to do a few strokes to ensure it does show.
Another explanation is that highlighting normally is the last part. By this time, the endorphins released by your body has almost no effect. That means you’ll feel more pain than usual.
Finding an Artist for Your Viking Tattoo
The most important part of your tattoo journey is finding the right artist. Not everyone is the same. Some artists are better at certain designs and styles. If you’re looking for an artist, be sure they can do the design you have chosen for your viking tattoo.
Check your tattoo’s portfolio or previous works. This will give you an idea about their style and whether their work is closely related to your design. You can also ask for your family or friends’ recommendations. If possible, read reviews about them online.
Additionally, ensure their place is clean and safe. They should follow certain rules such as wearing gloves, using new needles and equipment, using high-quality ink and so on. Your safety should always be a priority. Make sure they show you the needles that will be used on you and it should be brand new. You should also see them breaking the needle they used on you and disposing of it as well.
The artist you choose can make or break your viking tattoo. Make sure you choose the right one.