Getting a new tattoo can be a difficult process, especially if you’re looking for design inspiration in foreign cultures. Sometimes people want to show their appreciation of a certain culture by opting for its traditional symbols as their tattoo design. But that’s usually where things get tricky.
Sometimes, certain cultural symbols are only reserved for members of the specific community and may be culturally appropriate when used by someone outside of said community. Other times the symbols can be offensive and inappropriate, or even used by hate groups to show supremacy and racism. This is why, before getting a tattoo, it is important to do thorough research.
Now, chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re looking to get a Nordic-inspired tattoo, which is cool. But, there are certain Norse symbols that you should definitely stay away from. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the Norse tattoo symbols to avoid!
Norse symbols to avoid getting tattooed
Symbol of Norse God Odin
Odin is the main god of Norse mythology and probably the best known Norse mythological god in the world. It serves as an inspiration for all things Norse as well as different characters, games, movies and of course, designs. Odin is known as a god of war as well as a symbol or god of death.
As such, he is often depicted as a warrior, surrounded by ruins or Valhalla. Due to such symbolism, some people see Odin as the patron of warriors, rulers, and outlaws. Such symbolism of course attracts problematic people in real life, which brings us to the real reason why you should avoid getting an Odin tattoo.
Well, some white supremacist groups have been known to use Odin or Odin’s two crows, Huginn and Muninn, as their primary symbol. The two ravens are often placed on white flags to symbolize neighborhoods that will come to stand up for the white race, religion, and other things associated with white supremacy, like racism.
So unless you want to be associated with the Ravens of Odin group, you should definitely avoid getting the Ravens of Odin or Odin tattoo. These symbols are even questionable in Scandinavian countries, so be sure to keep that in mind. The designs could be offensive and considered racist.
Thor’s hammer symbol
Thor’s hammer is probably one of the most recognizable symbols in Norse mythology. It is an Old Norse symbol that has been popularized by modern superhero movies and the adaptation of Norse mythological stories. However, this hammer symbol is not just a harmless mythological symbol. Due to its meaning and symbolism, today Thor’s hammer is adopted by outlaw motorcycle groups and white supremacist groups in Europe, North America and elsewhere.
Now, experts in Norse mythology and Viking history don’t think people should stop going after Thor’s hammer symbolism. They believe that people should reclaim the “hammer” from hate groups and groups trying to ruin Viking heritage.
However, getting a Thor’s hammer tattoo is not really recommended, especially if it’s really visible. You could easily be associated with hate groups and considered a member of the hate propaganda community. But, if you follow the expert advice and decide to go for this tattoo design, make sure you have an explanation ready in case someone finds your tattoo offensive.
Valknut is a Norwegian word used to describe three interlocking triangles. The word translates to “slain warrior knot” and the symbol is associated with the god Odin as well as war, death and the dead. Above all, Valknut usually also symbolizes the afterlife. Unfortunately, this symbol is used today by hate groups, neo-Nazis and white supremacists to show their will to fight and their loyalty to the white power group.
Valknut is also one of those symbols stolen by the Nazis and is to this day associated with neo-Nazi groups in Germany. The Valknut symbol is often accompanied by Thor’s hammer or Odin imagery to further transform these initially benign symbols into symbols of hatred, racism, and white supremacy.
Viking Triskelion Symbol
Viking Triskelion is a Norse Viking symbol depicting three intertwined horns. It is similar to the Valknut symbol, instead of war and death, Triskelion symbolizes rotational symmetry. As such, one would think that this symbol would not be misused by hate groups, but, unfortunately, it was and still is used by ‘outlaws’.
Unfortunately, the Vikin Triskelion is a common tattoo choice for far-right activists and white supremacists in the United States as well as European countries. The Triskelion is also associated with the Nazis as they tend to “borrow” Norse symbols to create Nazified images and even Nazified tattoos.
Nordic sun wheel icon
One of the main symbols of Scandinavian or Norse heritage is the Sonnenrad or sun wheel. Unfortunately, like any other prominent Nordic symbol, this one is also used or associated with the far right, hate groups, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis in the United States and European countries.
The Sonnenrad symbol is generally used to represent idealized Aryan heritage and show white supremacy. For example, this symbol was used for a tattoo design by far-right activist Jacob Chansley, who was one of many who broke into the US Capitol during the January 2021 Capitol attack. This far-right activist also had tattoos with almost all of the aforementioned Norse symbols, which further shows the direct association between traditional Norse symbols and far-right activists, hate groups, and white supremacists. .
Runic symbol of Othala
Othala is a runic symbol that represents the “o” sound and symbolizes ancestry, ancestral heritage, inheritance, succession and much more. This runic symbol is characteristic of pre-Roman Europe, as well as Nordic and Germanic peoples before they adopted the Latin alphabet.
Today, the symbol of the rune Othala is found in the emblems of white nationalists in Europe and the United States. The symbol is, of course, once again abused in an effort to spread and show hatred and racism, as well as white supremacy or even neo-Nazi tendencies.
We know this is a really cool symbol that would be a great choice for a tattoo. But, unless you want to be associated with hate groups and white supremacists, you’ll avoid getting this Norse-inspired symbol tattoo. All in all, it can be quite risky to get a rune tattoo, as runes tend to be misused by far-right hate groups. So if you want to get one, even be sure to triple check the meaning, possible hate group association, and spelling, of course.
Yggdrasil is a sacred ash tree in Norse cosmology. Everything is believed to exist around this tree, including the so-called Nine Worlds, or the Nordic Cosmos. Yggdrasil is believed to translate to “Odin’s horse”, however, this is not the officially accepted translation. This tree was rarely mentioned by the Vikings, but Norse literature and art have been incredibly inspired by this tree.
Overall, Yggdrasil is an extremely important symbol in Norse mythology, as well as culture. This has, of course, made them the target of global hate groups, far-right groups and white supremacists, as a symbol to represent their beliefs.
Why You Should Avoid Norse Symbols As A Tattoo Design
As we mentioned earlier, almost every major Norse symbol is now associated with some kind of hate group, far-right group, and far-right activists. White supremacists and neo-Nazis, as well as racists, tend to “borrow” traditional Norse and mythological symbols and present them as symbols of white supremacy and far-right activism. So, that would probably be the main reason why you should avoid getting the aforementioned Nordic symbols tattoo.
Generally speaking, much of Norse mythology and Viking culture is misused for the purpose of spreading the ideology of hate, which has nothing to do with Norse or Norse tradition. Hate groups, today and in the past, have taken initially innocuous symbols and transformed them into symbols of an ideology.
For example, Adolf Hitler did the same with the Swastika symbol. It is actually the symbol of an ancient religious icon in Eurasian cultures. It is a symbol of “well-being” that was and still is used by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Unfortunately, with the rise of Nazism in the 1930s and World War II, the world now associates the swastika with Hitler and Nazism.
It has been noted that many current far-right activists in the United States, Europe, and even Australia and New Zealand use Norse symbolism, or the symbolism of a Viking warrior to describe their extremist beliefs and ideology. . One of the most prominent examples of this would be Capitol riot leader Jacob Chansey.
So, these are usually the main reasons why you should avoid the aforementioned Norse symbols for your new tattoo. You could easily be associated with hate groups, far-right or white supremacist groups. You could be perceived as racist, offensive, xenophobic or homophobic.
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