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Norse Tattoo: Meanings Designs and Ideas

by TattoosNear 25 Jun 2023

With rich mythology, evocative symbols, and a fascinating history, Norse tattoos offer a unique way to display your personality, beliefs, or heritage. Tattoos have been a part of human culture for thousands of years, from ancient tribal marks to modern symbols of self-expression. One fascinating tradition that continues to captivate tattoo enthusiasts worldwide stems from the Norse culture.  Let's explore the world of Norse tattoos in detail.

Norse Tattoo Meaning

At the core, Norse tattoos are steeped in the ancient culture of the Vikings and their mythology. They were a warrior society that believed in the power of symbols and runes, often seen on their jewelry, and other artifacts. The tattoos are representations of these powerful symbols, each carrying its unique meaning, often connected to protection, strength, wisdom, or connection to nature and the gods.

Norse Mythology Tattoos

Norse mythology is a rich tapestry of gods, monsters, heroes, and complex cosmological concepts. Tattoos based on this mythology may feature iconic characters such as Odin, Thor, Loki, or the World Serpent, Jörmungandr. These symbols offer a unique way to embody the power, wisdom, cunning, or raw elemental force associated with these characters.

Norse Raven Tattoo

In Norse mythology, Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory) are the two ravens of Odin, symbolizing his wisdom and knowledge. A Norse raven tattoo, thus, represents wisdom, intellect, and a connection to the divine.

Norse Tattoo Sleeve

A Norse tattoo sleeve is a grand canvas for storytelling. It might weave together elements from different Norse myths, or depict a single epic tale such as Ragnarök, the fabled end of the world. Combining various symbols like runes, gods, and mythological creatures, these sleeves are vibrant depictions of the rich Norse culture.

Berserker Norse Tattoos

Berserkers were fierce Viking warriors who were said to fight in a trance-like fury. Tattoos featuring the Berserkers often depict a bear or a wolf, symbolizing raw power, ferocity, and a fearless approach to life's battles.

Norse Rune Tattoo

Runes were the written language of the Vikings and are believed to hold magical properties. Each rune is a symbol with a specific meaning, making them perfect for tattoos. For example, Algiz (protection), Fehu (prosperity), or Gebo (gift, generosity) are common choices for rune tattoos.

Norse Compass Tattoo

The Vegvísir, or Norse compass, is a symbol that was said to guide its bearer through storms and unfamiliar paths. As a tattoo, it symbolizes guidance, protection, and the ability to navigate life's challenges.

Norse Pagan Tattoos

These tattoos feature symbols related to Norse paganism, like the Triquetra (representing the interconnection of earth, sea, and sky) or the Irminsul (symbolizing Yggdrasil, the world tree). They are often seen as symbols of nature, harmony, and the cycle of life.

Norse God Tattoos

Norse God tattoos are powerful symbols of the divine forces revered in Norse culture. Odin, the Allfather, Thor, the God of Thunder, or Freya, the Goddess of Love and War, are popular choices for these tattoos. Each deity embodies a particular aspect of life and existence, making their symbols deeply personal tattoos.

Norse Hand Tattoos

Hand tattoos are a bold statement and can carry a range of Norse symbols. From a simple rune for protection or strength, to intricate depictions of Norse gods or mythological creatures, hand tattoos can be both discreet and potent.

Norse Valkyrie Tattoo

Valkyries, the chooser of the slain, are strong female figures in Norse mythology. A Valkyrie tattoo often represents bravery, duty, and a connection to the divine.

Norse Wolf Tattoo

The wolf is a central figure in Norse mythology, most notably Fenrir, the monstrous wolf prophesied to devour Odin during Ragnarök. A Norse wolf tattoo can symbolize strength, freedom, and the courage to face one's destiny.

Odin Norse Raven Tattoos

In Norse mythology, Odin's ravens, Huginn and Muninn, served as his eyes and ears in the world. Tattoos featuring Odin and his ravens symbolize the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge.

Norse Viking Tattoos

Norse Viking tattoos often depict scenes from Viking life or symbols that were important to this seafaring warrior culture. This could include longships, axes, or the Viking helmet, symbols of exploration, strength, and courage.

Old Norse Tattoo

Old Norse tattoos pay homage to the earliest forms of Norse art and symbolism. These designs often incorporate traditional Norse knotwork, animals, or Viking ships, offering a timeless connection to this ancient culture.

Traditional Norse Tattoos

Traditional Norse tattoos stick closely to the historical record, using designs and symbols found on Viking artifacts. These might include symbols like the Valknut, the Triple Horn of Odin, or intricate knotwork designs.

Norse Dragon Tattoo

The dragon, or serpent, is a common figure in Norse mythology, representing chaos and destruction but also wisdom and longevity. The most famous is Jörmungandr, the World Serpent. A Norse dragon tattoo could represent a personal struggle or the inevitable cycle of creation and destruction in life.

Norse Fenrir Tattoo

Fenrir, the monstrous wolf, symbolizes raw, untamed power. As a tattoo, Fenrir represents strength, fearlessness, and the courage to face even the most daunting challenges.

Norse Forearm Tattoo

Forearm tattoos are an excellent location for Norse symbols or runes. They can be easily displayed or hidden, and the forearm's length makes it ideal for vertical designs like Yggdrasil, the Norse Tree of Life, or a row of powerful runes.

Norse Tree of Life Tattoo

The Yggdrasil, or the Tree of Life, connects the nine realms of the Norse cosmos. As a tattoo, it symbolizes interconnectedness, growth, and the cyclical nature of life.

Norse Tribal Tattoos

Norse tribal tattoos often take inspiration from traditional Norse art, including the intricate knotwork, animal motifs, and stylized nature themes. These designs are a unique blend of the tribal tattoo aesthetic with the rich symbolism of the Norse culture.

Norse Yggdrasil Tattoo

The Yggdrasil, the immense ash tree that connects the nine worlds in Norse mythology, is a popular motif for Norse tattoos. A Yggdrasil tattoo symbolizes interconnectedness, the cycle of life, and rebirth, and the vastness of the cosmos.

Simple Norse Raven Tattoo

Even a simple Norse raven tattoo can carry profound meaning. Whether it's a single raven to represent thought, memory, or wisdom, or two ravens to embody Odin's connection to these qualities, such tattoos can be both minimalistic and deeply meaningful.

Fenrir Norse Wolf Tattoo

A Fenrir Norse Wolf Tattoo symbolizes raw power, ferocity, and the courage to face one's destiny. Whether Fenrir is depicted in full, monstrous form, or as a stylized wolf, this tattoo carries a potent message of courage and determination.

Norse Back Tattoo

The back provides a large canvas for a Norse tattoo, allowing for intricate designs and storytelling. From a majestic Yggdrasil spanning the whole back to a detailed depiction of a Norse battle, the possibilities are vast.

Norse Head Tattoos

Norse head tattoos are a daring choice, often featuring powerful symbols like runes, Viking warrior symbols, or images of Norse gods. This is a bold way to express one's commitment to the Viking spirit.

Norse Viking Finger Tattoos

Norse finger tattoos often feature runes, small symbols, or thin knotwork bands. Despite their small size, they carry significant meaning and offer a subtle yet powerful nod to Norse culture.

Norse Warrior Tattoo

A Norse warrior tattoo can symbolize courage, resilience, and strength. Whether it's a lone Viking, a Berserker, or a god like Thor or Odin, these tattoos speak of valor and indomitable spirit.

Norse Arm Tattoo

Norse arm tattoos are versatile, encompassing everything from full sleeves depicting Norse sagas to smaller, powerful symbols. They're a popular choice for those wanting to proudly display their Norse-themed ink.

Norse Bear Tattoo

Bears were highly respected in Norse culture, representing strength and bravery. A Norse bear tattoo can symbolize these qualities and might even depict a Berserker in his bear-skin attire.

Norse Chest Tattoo

Norse chest tattoos provide a large, flat surface to work with, perfect for larger designs like the Yggdrasil, Valknut, or a powerful depiction of a Norse deity or hero.

Norse Face Tattoos

Norse face tattoos are a bold statement of one's connection to Norse culture. They often feature tribal elements, runes, or small Norse symbols.

Small Norse Tattoos

Small Norse tattoos can carry just as much meaning as larger pieces. These often feature a simple rune, a small symbol like Mjölnir (Thor's hammer), or a minimalist design of a raven or wolf.

Female Traditional Norse Tattoos

Female traditional Norse tattoos often feature goddesses like Freya or symbols associated with femininity and strength in Norse culture. Valkyrie, disir (protective spirits), or symbols like the triquetra are popular choices.

Norse Armband Tattoo

Armband tattoos can incorporate Norse knotwork, runes, or stylized depictions of animals like the raven or wolf. They symbolize unity, protection, and a connection to the Norse heritage.

Norse Freya Tattoo

Freya, the goddess of love, beauty, and war, is a powerful figure in Norse mythology. A Freya tattoo can symbolize femininity, beauty, strength, and duality.

Norse Knotwork Tattoo

Norse knotwork designs are intricate and symbolize the interconnectedness of life and the cosmos. These tattoos often incorporate animal designs or other symbolic Norse elements.

Norse Shoulder Tattoos

Norse shoulder tattoos offer an intriguing way to showcase the striking aesthetics of Norse mythology, and their location on the body allows for both public display and private concealment. From the detailed depiction of a Norse god to intricate knotwork patterns, shoulder tattoos are often visually compelling and rich in symbolism.

Norse Viking Skull Tattoo

In the Viking culture, a Norse Viking skull tattoo may also stand for the warrior spirit and the cycle of life, fatality, and rebirth in addition to the common meaning of tragedy.

Norse Baldur Tattoos

Baldur, the Norse god of light, joy, purity, and beauty, is a popular figure for Norse tattoos. Baldur tattoos often symbolize innocence, joy, and the tragic beauty of life.

Norse Loki Tattoo

Loki, the trickster god, symbolizes mischief, change, and chaos. A Loki tattoo can represent an embrace of unpredictability, change, and even the occasional need for a little mischief in life.

Norse World Serpent Tattoo

The World Serpent, Jörmungandr, encircles Midgard (the world of humans) in Norse mythology. A tattoo of this creature represents the cyclical nature of life and the cosmos, and the inevitable chaos that comes with existence.

Cool Norse Tattoos

Cool Norse tattoos are typically a blend of traditional Norse symbolism with modern tattoo styles. This can result in incredibly creative designs, from a stylized Thor's hammer to a Norse compass combined with an abstract geometric design.

Norse Axe Tattoo

In Viking culture, the axe was s useful tool. As a tattoo, it can symbolize utility, strength, and the determination of the warrior spirit.

Norse Crow Tattoo

In Norse mythology, the crow often represents Odin's ravens, Huginn and Muninn. A crow tattoo can symbolize wisdom, knowledge, and the search for enlightenment.

Norse Half Sleeve Tattoos

Half sleeve tattoos are an excellent way to display a detailed scene from Norse mythology or a combination of Norse symbols and runes. They offer a balance between commitment to a larger piece and the flexibility of less coverage than a full sleeve.

Norse Leg Tattoos

The leg, like the arm, provides a vertical canvas ideal for depicting the Norse Tree of Life, a series of interconnected runes, or the elongated form of the World Serpent. Norse leg tattoos can range from simple to complex, always carrying with them a touch of the ancient Viking spirit.


In conclusion, each Norse tattoo carries a unique story, a piece of ancient mythology, or a symbol of personal strength, guidance, and protection. Whether it's an elaborate sleeve, a minimalist finger tattoo, or a powerful depiction of a god on the chest, the mystique and depth of Norse symbolism offer a vast realm of possibilities for unique, meaningful body art.

If you're looking to explore the world of tattoos without the permanence, our range of real looking temporary tattoos is the perfect solution. Fake temporary tattoos offer the flexibility and fun of trying out different designs to match your mood or style.

Norse Tattoo FAQ

1. Are Norse tattoos disrespectful?

No, Norse tattoos are generally not seen as disrespectful. However, it's important to understand the meaning behind the symbols you're getting and to approach this ancient culture with respect and understanding.

2. What is the most popular Norse tattoo?

The Vegvísir, often referred to as the Norse compass, and the Helm of Awe are among the most popular Norse tattoos. The Yggdrasil (Tree of Life) and runes are also frequently chosen.

3. Can Norse tattoos protect you?

While many of the symbols in Norse tattoos were used historically for protection or good luck, tattoos in the modern age are typically seen as a form of self-expression or a way to honor one's heritage. The perceived protection they provide is generally symbolic or personal.

4. What do Viking tattoos mean?

Viking tattoos often represent strength, courage, wisdom, protection, or connection to nature, depending on the specific symbols used. For example, a Viking warrior may symbolize bravery and strength, while the Vegvísir represents guidance and not losing one's way.

5. How to choose a Norse tattoo?

Start by researching the rich mythology and symbolism of the Norse culture. Consider what aspects resonate with you the most – is it a particular god or goddess, a symbol like a rune or knotwork, or a mythological creature? Consult with your tattoo artist to create a design that not only represents your chosen symbol but also works well with your body's shape and your aesthetic preferences.

6. What do different Norse runes mean?

Each rune in the Elder Futhark, the oldest form of the runic alphabets used by Norse and Germanic peoples, has a unique meaning. For instance, 'Algiz' is a rune of protection and awakening, 'Tiwaz' represents honor and justice, and 'Ehwaz' symbolizes partnership and trust.

7. Is it okay to get a Norse god tattoo?

Yes, it's generally considered okay to get a tattoo of a Norse god. However, as with any tattoo, it's important to understand what the deity represents and to ensure the design is respectful to the culture from which it originates.

8. Are there any gender-specific Norse tattoos?

Norse tattoos are generally not gender-specific. Both men and women can get any Norse tattoo they feel resonates with them. There are goddesses as well as gods in Norse mythology, and symbols like runes or the Yggdrasil are not gender-specific.

9. What is a berserker Norse tattoo?

A berserker was a type of Norse warrior who fought in an almost uncontrollable, trance-like fury. A berserker Norse tattoo typically represents this fierce warrior, often portrayed amidst battle, and symbolizes fearlessness, strength, and ferocity.

10. Can I design my own Norse tattoo?

Absolutely! Many people choose to design their own Norse tattoos, combining different elements of Norse symbolism that are personally meaningful. However, it's important to consult with a knowledgeable tattoo artist to ensure the design will work well as a tattoo and is historically and culturally accurate.



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