Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Valknut, Sacred Sign of Woden

The Valknut is one of the most mysterious of Germanic sacred symbols and is associated with the God Woden/Wotan/Odin.
It consists of three interlocked triangles and appears on a number of objects, ranging from standing stones to rings and other items. The Germanic scholar Hilda Ellis Davidson stated: "...beside the figure of Odin on his horse shown on several memorial stones there is a kind of knot depicted, called the valknut, related to the triskele. This is thought to symbolise the power of the god to bind and unbind, mentioned in the poems and elsewhere. Odin has power to lay bonds upon the mind, so that men become helpless in battle, and he could also loosen the tensions of fear and strain by his gifts of battle-madness, intoxification, and inspiration. Symbols resembling this knot of Odin are found beside figures of the horse and wolf on certain cremation urns from early heathen cemetries in East Anglia."[Page 147 of Gods and Myths of Northern Europe].
Edred Thorsson in his Futhark A Handbook of Rune Magic states on page 107: "Valknutr[the knot of the fallen, or chosen]-the Nine Worlds embodied in the three realms in eternal unity expressing the evolutionary law of arising-being/becoming-passing-away to new beginning." This clearly demonstrates a key idea in Listian thought.
Nigel Pennick in his Practical Magic in the Northern Tradition[page 200] states:"The valknut is composed of three interlinked equilateral triangles. The nine lines symbolize the nine worlds of the Norse tradition, the power of three times three. Specifically, it is a symbol of Odin, and is sometimes used with an eye at the centre. As a protector, it invokes the power of eternal unity. Its name means the knot of the fallen[or chosen] ones.
Ron McVan in his Creed of Iron on page 88 states: "Valknut. "Knot of the slain", this is the sign of Wotan symbolizing his power of binding and loosening, which is especially shown in the field of battle. The Valknut is worn only by those who choose to give themselves to Wotan. The Valknut is a sign to Wotan that one is ready to be taken into the ranks of his chosen warriors at any time he chooses."
The Valknut like the Hammer of Thunor may be traced in the air as a means of blessing.
Clearly this sacred sign has a shamanic function as hinted by Nigel Pennick with his reference to the nine lines symbolizing the nine worlds of Germanic mythology. We recall that Woden is the rider of Yggdrasil, the world tree and is able to manifest Himself in different dimensions not being bound by the normal laws of time and space that govern our lives here in Midgard. The association of the Valknut with the wolf referred to by Hilda Ellis Davidson also hints at further shamanic links as the shifting from man into animal, especially the wolf in the Northern Tradition is a shamanic function. We recall also the Volsunga dynasty or the Wuffingas as they were known in East Anglia and their abilty to transform into the form of the wolf. Clearly they have inherited this abilty from their divine ancestor the wolf lord Woden.
As the aforementioned authors pointed out the wearing of this symbol does signify our readiness to be both used by the High God Woden and if necessary to die for Him. Those who don this sign must therefore think extremely carefully before doing so as Woden will not forget any bargain made.