Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen

My personal experiences, including religious and spiritual experiences, community interaction, general heathenry, and modern life on my heathen path, which is Asatru.

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Asatru FAQ: Authentic Viking Tattoos?


A frequently asked question is: How do I get an authentic Viking tattoo? There are lots of art designs that Asatruars and other heathens wear, but if you you want something historically accurate to the Viking Age, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Just like today, tattoos in historical times were highly personal and meaningful, often commemorating specific events or achievements, or being magical in intention to draw in specific powers. The magical ones were more likely to be general than specific than ours are today. Because most specific spells were only needed for a certain amount of time, most specific spells were made on temporary media like wood, or later in the post conversion period, paper.

Certain designs are more common now than before, especially the Thorshammer, which would have been worn as jewelry in the Viking Age instead of as a tattoo. People today are wary of the Valknut as possibly attracting death in battle, but the Vikings would not have worried about that. The symbol is far more popular today than it was in historical times, though. When historical heathens used runes they almost always used them to spell out real words or names in their native language; individual symbols were usually Icelandic Magic style bind runes rather than single runes.

See also the previous post: how to design a runic tattoo. Asatru FAQ: How Do I Design a Runic Tattoo?

Image: an example of a Viking Age rune stone on which runes are used to spell actual words.

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Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners, and the updated, longer version of her book, Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path. Erin has been a gythia since 1989. She was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, and is admin/ owner of the Asatru Facebook Forum. She also writes science fiction and poetry, ran for public office, is a dyer and fiber artist, was acquisitions editor at a small press, and founded the Heathen Visibility Project.


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