All You Need to Know About the Vikings and Dragons
Dragons Among the Vikings
To your swords and shields, blow into the horn dear Viking warriors, the hour is grave! Today we take on the Viking dragons. Fear not, in the worst case we will join Odin in Valhalla. More seriously, in this article we will tackle the many mysteries floating between the Viking people and the dragons. ?
Since ancient times, the dragon has been an important creature and symbol associated with northern mythology. Later, it was incorporated and described in folk tales of the Scandinavian countries. Dragons were mentioned and depicted in various legends, sagas, chronicles and scaldic poems during the high Middle Ages, both in Iceland and Denmark. Among the epic literary works from this period that describe in detail the role attributed to dragons in Nordic mythology are the following:
?The Völuspá: this is one of the first and most famous poems written in Old Norse.
?The Völsunga saga: it is a series of famous Scandinavian legends recorded in literary form in medieval Iceland and in the form of rock engravings in present-day Norway, Sweden and England.
?The Danish gestures (Gesta Danorum or Historia Danica in Latin): it is a chronicle of the 12th century written by Saxo Grammaticus that retraces the history of the Danes.
Keep in mind that the image of the dragon in Norse mythology is different from the one we have today. Let’s go on an incursion and discover together the meaning of the dragon among the Vikings. ⚔️
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Significance of the Dragon Among the Vikings
If you are a big fan of dragon and northern mythology, allow me to clarify the meanings and symbolism of the Viking dragon. This fabulous animal has long been known as the most powerful mystical creature in northern mythology. They are famous for their splendid and often frightening appearance. In addition, they are characterized by extraordinary feats that words could hardly describe.
The Nordic dragon is described as mysterious, powerful and majestic. In Viking mythology, the dragon is a dangerous and unpredictable creature whose feats and abilities cannot be overlooked. Viking warriors take these attributes and embody the characteristics of this fierce beast. For the Danes, the dragon was a protective guardian and the symbol of the King. ?
The Vikings most likely knew the power and symbolism of the dragon. There are illustrations of it on buildings, engravings on runic stones, and jewelry bearing the Viking dragon in jewelry. The dragon, or snake, was considered a symbol of strength and bravery. Wearing a dragon motif would therefore symbolize valor, daring and ardor for these ancient Scandinavian warriors. ?
The symbol of the Viking dragon was also used to repel beasts and creatures with vile intentions. The Viking dragon could thus offer additional protection to northern warriors. This may be the reason why the dragon was so common on everyday objects and continued to be used even in the early Christian period in Scandinavia.
The Viking Dragon in Nordic Mythology
As an important part of northern mythology, the dragon has always been representative of Viking culture. The Vikings had many stories of dragons and giant snakes that they left behind in their art. Some Viking dragons were not just giant monsters, they were cosmic forces in themselves. The most famous Nordic dragons are :
?Nídhögg (Níðhöggr in Old Norse): A dragon that devours the roots of the Yggdrasil, the tree that holds the cosmos between the nine worlds.
?Jörmungand (Jǫrmungandr in Old Norse): A huge dragon that surrounds the world and bites its tail.
?Fáfnir : A dwarf with a curse, who turns into a dragon to protect his cursed treasure.
A predator par excellence, in mythology, the Viking dragon represents both a great strength and a great danger. They can sometimes symbolize spiritual corruption or the dark side of human nature. Above all, Viking dragons embody the destructive phase of the creation-destruction cycle. This means that they evoke chaos and cataclysm, but also change and renewal.
The Nídhögg Dragon
Nídhögg is the most powerful dragon of all. In Nordic mythology, Nídhögg (literally translated as “Cursed Striker” or “He who strikes with Malice”) is a dragon or snake that resides under the Yggdrasil World Tree, whose roots he devours. The chaotic actions that the dragon Nídhögg undertakes are very detrimental to the Tree of Life, which carries the nine worlds of the cosmos.
In historical Viking culture, “níd” was a term that denoted a social stigma involving the loss of honor and status as a villain. Thus, Nídhögg’s name could refer to his role as an appalling monster devouring the bodies of the condemned of Náströnd (the bank of corpses). These people are guilty of murder, adultery and perjury, and Scandinavian society considered them the worst possible.
This vision of the afterlife, based on moral punishment, is profoundly foreign to the mentality of the Nordic and Germanic peoples. This is the example that Christian influence can have, especially on the poem “the Völuspá”.
In Nordic cosmology, the Yggdrasil ash tree is the pillar of the Cosmos and the universe, its branches and roots are connected to the nine kingdoms. Nídhögg tries to bring down the World Tree so that the Cosmos plunges into Chaos. According to many representations, Nídhögg was a giant dragon whose eyes glowed diabolically in the darkness, exposing a deadly jaw ajar.
During Ragnarök, Nídhögg frees himself from his roots and flies to join the army of the Giants to dethrone the Aesir Gods. Nídhögg is one of the few survivors of Ragnarök to have witnessed the new era of the cosmos. Because of his actions, Nídhögg plays a major role in the creation of Ragnarök. Considered to be the strongest mythical animal, no God has ever succeeded in taming it.
The Jörmungand Dragon
Jörmungand (literally “Great Beast”), is also called the “Midgard Serpent”. This Viking dragon is one of the three children of the God Loki and the giant Angrboda, along with Hel and Fenrir. It is found in the ocean surrounding Midgard, the only world visible to human eyes. ??
According to the legend, Jörmungand lived in the house of Angraboda, until the Gods discovered the adultery of the God of Malice, Loki, who was married to Sigyn and not Angrboda. When the Gods learned of the existence of Loki’s three monstrous children, they burst into Jötunheim. They were convinced by prophecies that these children (Fenrir, Jörmungand and Hel) would become too powerful and dangerous if they were given absolute freedom. The Gods treated each of them in a different way.
The Dragon Jörmungand was thrown into the sea by Odin. There he grew to a huge size. It had to wrap itself around Midgard (the “Middle-earth”, located below Asgard, above Helheim, and between Niflheim and Muspellheim) to avoid falling into the void. When he became big enough, Jörmungand started to eat his own tail as a symbol of eternity. It is said that if Jörmungand will release his tail, Ragnarök will start. He is also the emblem of the ouroboros.
His real enemy is Thor, the God of Thunder, protector of humanity. Moreover, they are destined to kill each other and fight two battles told by the Eddas. Thor strikes a fatal blow to Jörmungand with his hammer, Mjöllnir. Thor, after having taken nine steps, dies in his turn of the damage caused by the poison of Jörmungand.
Jörmungand has become by far one of the most notorious titanic creatures of northern mythology. In the modern sense of the word, this enormous snake-like dragon symbolizes the cycle of destruction and rebirth as well as fullness or infinity.
The Fáfnir Dragon
Fáfnir is the eldest son of the dwarf king Hreidmar, he is also the brother of Ótr and Regin. Originally, Fáfnir was a dwarf, but his greed and avarice led him to kill his own father to get his cursed treasure. He later took the form of a dragon to protect it. Later, the dragon will be killed by Sigurd, a legendary hero of Scandinavian folklore sent by Regin, his adoptive father.
To summarize the mythical story, it was during a fishing trip that the gods Aesir Odin, Hoenir and Loki met an otter. Loki killed the otter by throwing a stone at it and skinned the animal. Without knowing it, this otter was actually Ótr, which had the ability to metamorphose. They were invited by Hreidmar to feast and as a token of thanks, they offered him, without realizing it, the skin of his son. ?
The king, mad with rage, took them prisoner. Loki was forced to collect a ransom, which was to fill and cover the otter’s skin with yellow gold. He managed to do this by obtaining a net from Rán and capturing Andvari, from whom he demanded the gold from his river and his ring named Andvaranaut. The latter, reluctant to give up his fortune, cursed the ring and the gold so that they would kill its owner.
As promised, Loki offered the treasure and Andvaranaut to the King of the Dwarves and paid his debt. However, the curse was not long in coming. Hreidmar’s throat was slit in his sleep by Fáfnir, his son, who appropriated the ring. In turn, Fáfnir had his life taken away by Sigurd. Sigurd gave the ring as a gift to his beloved Brynhild, who committed suicide when she later learned of his death.
It is interesting to note that the Fáfnir Dragon could be the origin of the fantasy dragon “Smaug” from J.R.R. Tolkien’s first fantasy novel, “The Hobbit“, published in 1937. In which the “dragon disease” and its gold bait would be explained.
Overall, while Jörmungand and Nídhögg symbolized death, beginning and end, Fáfnir represented greed and limitless chaos. Nevertheless, to some extent, these three Viking dragons from the Scandinavian myth embodied a deadly threat to all.
What Does the Viking Dragon Tattoo Mean?
Viking warriors are often described as invaders, predators and barbarians whose exploits are limited to looting and raids. However, Viking mythology is very rich, there are Gods, Giants, Dwarves and all kinds of mythical creatures. Originally from the Scandinavian countries, these pirates are full of stories, as well as exploits that have greatly inspired modern popular culture.
Although it is not 100% proven that the Vikings had tattoos, it is strongly believed that some of them did. The meaning of the Viking dragon tattoo varies depending on the elements and patterns present on the design. In general, a Viking dragon tattoo symbolizes the following features and virtues:
?Protection and Wisdom
?Strength and Power
?Courage and Bravery
Many people of Scandinavian origin get tattoos to show their pride in their Viking roots, while others are simply fascinated by the art of an ancient culture that is steeped in mystery. The mystical dimension of the Viking culture and its beliefs remain relevant today. The level of interest can be seen in many Viking dragon tattoos that are just incredible.
Meaning of the Viking Dragon Bracelet
Viking bracelets were not just decorative objects, they had a much deeper meaning than that. These jewels were popular with men, they were easily transportable and protectable. Here are the different meanings of the viking dragon bracelet:
?Rite of passage: In Viking culture and tradition, a bracelet was given to a boy who had attained the status of a man.
?Souvenirs: When a Viking was preparing to go to sea, they would make a bracelet for his wife as a symbol of their love.
?Currency: At a time when paper money (coins and paper) did not exist, Viking bracelets were used as a form of currency.
?Oath: Lords and warriors swore allegiance and loyalty to each other until their death thanks to Viking bracelets.
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The dragon motifs on Viking bracelets may seem purely decorative, but remember the Nordic beliefs and creatures, we think they would influence these jewels by incorporating their mystical characteristics.
Today Viking dragon bracelets are worn by both women and men, they are distinguished and elegant. They exude an air of mystery and fascination. Having crossed many cultures around the world, the idea of the Viking dragon bracelet is still relevant today. With the incorporation of new artistic expressions, the bracelets and their designs continue to evolve and change.
Drakkar : the Dragon Boat of the Vikings
To elucidate all curiosities, the word “Drakkar” was actually invented by the French in the 19th century, can be inspired by the word “Dreki” (drekar in plural, which means dragon in old Norse). This was intended to name and give a Scandinavian sound to Viking ships with a figurehead in the effigy of dragons. These Viking ships are described as elegant and decorated in an original way. They were used by warriors for raiding and pillaging.
The bows of Viking longships were decorated with carvings of threatening beasts, such as dragons or snakes, which were supposed to protect the ship and its crew. One of the symbolisms of the Viking drakkar was to keep the terrible sea monsters away from northern mythology. It is likely that these sculptures had a ritual purpose and that the effect produced was to frighten the enemies and the inhabitants of the future plundered cities.
To sum up, the drakkar was a symbol of war which was intended to repel evil spirits and instill fear in the enemies during Viking attacks from the sea. Very practical during naval battles, Viking drakkars were long, light and slender, facilitating rapid movement. The Vikings would also use the dragon as a symbol of strength on their shields, boats, jewelry and carvings.
Gets the Powers of a Viking Dragon !
We learned a lot about the presence and usefulness of the Viking dragon among northern peoples. Although depicted as evil in myths, Scandinavian dragons, in the modern sense of the word, represent the cycle of beginning and end. They are also the guardians of treasures, be it gold in the literal sense or wisdom in the figurative sense.
The Viking dragons will remain a mystery in the hearts and minds of mankind. Now it’s up to you to take the step and equip one of our fabulous Viking dragon rings. Just click on the image. ?
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