The Valknut is one of the most intriguing symbols that the Norse people have left behind. The name comprises of two root words, ‘valr’ which means ‘slain warrior’ and ‘knut’, which is rather more easily decipherable as ‘knot’. Thus, the Valknut is the ‘Knot of the Slain Warrior’.
The design of the Valknut is always a series of three interlocking triangles. Sometimes, the triangles are drawn in the Borromean style as three discreet but overlapping and interlocking shapes; however, the more interesting variation is an ingenious unicursal where a single, unending line completes all three shapes as one.This ancient symbol is associated with the god Odin of Norse mythology. Odin was not only the ruler of all of the Norse gods but also the Norsemen’s god of war and of death.Warriors who lost their lives in battle earned themselves a place in the grand hall overseen by Odin, Valhalla (Hall of the Slain) and became his adopted sons. In fact, ‘valr’ is the source of the English word ‘valour’ which we associate with great deeds of brave individuals.
Several depictions of the Valknut that have been unearthed from archaeological sites also bear the figure of Odin himself, or animals like the raven and the wolf that were his constant companions. That is the main reason why it is known as the symbol of Odin today.This association with the dead and with the god of death have led to the Valknut being regarded as the symbol of a ‘Cult of the Dead’.While this might seem accurate upon a cursory look, it is actually a shallow interpretation of something much more meaningful. The Valknut symbolizes the recognition of brave individuals in the prime of life who sacrificed themselves for the good of the clan.
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