Whether you practice Norse paganism or you are someone that loves the rich history of Norse mythology, Viking and norse tattoos are seeing a dramatic spike in popularity. Unfortunately, many Nordic runes have been hijacked by hate groups and the villains of history. Tattoos to avoid include the Triskelion, Odin's ravens, Tyr's rune, and Thor's hammer.
Symbols like the swastika have Nordic origins by Scandinavian and Germanic peoples, and getting a tattoo of a swastika, no matter its original intentions, is always a bad idea.
While the swastika is an unmistakable symbol of hate groups, some lesser-known Viking symbols are used by hate groups and Neo-Nazis worldwide. If you are in the market for a Nordic tattoo, here are some Viking tattoos that you should avoid.
What Are Some Norse Symbols Not To Get?
The Triskelion, aka the Celtic Triskele, is compiled of interlocking drinking horns to create an intriguing pattern. It’s the balanced representation of three, and some believe it honors creative types like musicians and storytellers.
Please don’t get too attached to the beautiful design because it’s another symbol used by hate groups worldwide. It was used by white supremacists in the early 1970s and is still used today.
2. Odin’s Raven
Unfortunately, this unique raven tattoo is often seen as a gang symbol or a symbol of hate. Unless you want to get side-eyed by the wrong people, avoiding this tattoo is best.
3. The Sonnenrad
The Sonnenrad is the depiction of the Black Sun or the Sunwheel. To the Norse pagans, it represents anything from goodness, unity, and balance.
In Nazi Germany, the swastika was often centered in the circle of the Sonnenrad. Today, Neo-Nazis still use the Sonnenrad (sans the swastika) to demonstrate their deep hate without the immediate recognition of the swastika.
4. Tiwaz Rune named after Tyr
Tyr was the mysterious one-handed god of Norse mythology. He symbolizes justice and the notion that even though you can fight, it doesn’t mean you should. It’s a simple symbol of a spear, but unfortunately, it’s used by modern white supremacy groups.
The Tyr symbol represented that fights weren’t the only path forward, which makes it even more unfortunate that his symbol is appropriated for nefarious purposes.
The good news: the Vegvisir symbol is not associated with hate groups. The bad news: it’s not precisely a Viking rune. It’s Icelandic.
The Valknut is a connection of triangles often represented by Odin, the most powerful of the Norse gods, and to the Germanic people, it represents the honorable death of warriors slain in battle. The interlocking triangles would make an excellent tattoo design if Nazis didn’t hijack them.
This symbol demonstrates those willing to die for their cause, even if their cause is white supremacist groups and Neo-Nazism.
7. Thor’s Hammer
This one stings. Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, is one of the most famous symbols in Norse mythology, but hate groups have also hijacked this symbol. Thor is the god of the people since he’s powerful, friendly, and compassionate.
However, white supremacists across North America and Europe use this as a symbol of hate. Sorry, Thor.
Do You Have To Be Norse To Get A Norse Tattoo?
Overall, it’s not considered cultural appropriation to get Nordic body art unless you are a Neo-Nazi.
The use of old Norse runic inscriptions of Scandanavian people is encouraged to keep the history of the Vikings alive. Cultural appropriation is when we adopt the customs of persecuted people.
What Should You Be Aware Of When Getting A Norse Tattoo?
Tattoos are permanent, so you must take the time to consider what symbol tattoo speaks to you. Before you take the plunge, be sure to do exhaustive research. This list only accounts for some of the few Viking tattoos hate groups use.
Extremist groups often use even the most innocent Norse symbols. The World Tree, Yggdrasil, is the tree of life that connects all realms but is also used by hate groups.
Finding a good tattoo artist is also important. A good tattoo artist can see your vision and are often aware of tattoos that have dark underpinnings.
Generally, symbols that are used for battles, reference slain warriors, or Valhalla are likely hijacked by hate groups. A veteran tattoo artist will probably know the modern meaning behind many Viking symbols.