Aegishjalmur – The Helm of Awe Viking Symbol
Every Viking symbol has its own unique meaning. A symbol is a representation of a relationship or ideas that could sometimes go beyond what is seen or known. It’s something that could convey beliefs that carry distinctive meanings depending on a particular culture.
Of all the Viking symbols out there, the Aegishjalmur or The Helm of Awe is one of the most powerful and known symbols. The word “Aegishjalmur” consists of two root words – “Aegis” and “hjalmr”. The former means “shield” while the latter means “helm”. From the word “shield” itself, we can already derive that it indicates or signifies some sort of protection. This symbol is also known as the Helm of Awe and Terror so the meaning makes more sense now. Aegishjalmur is like a shield from terror for the Vikings back in the day.
The Viking culture used a lot of symbols to express and create connections about certain concepts and experiences. Going to battles unarmed was not something they wouldn’t normally do. Aside from their weapons, they also used symbols like Aegishjalmur to protect them from their enemies and help them emerge victorious. It was said that Viking warriors used to apply this particular symbol onto their foreheads (specifically between their brows) before heading out to their destination. They believed this symbol would help them just like Fafnir the dragon.
In the Poetic Edda below, the Helm of Awe was mentioned when Fafnir the dragon claimed that this symbol helped him become invincible or undefeated.
“The Helm of Awe
I wore before the sons of men
In defense of my treasure;
Amongst all, I alone was strong,
I thought to myself,
For I found no power a match for my own”.
The design of this symbol is pretty complex though. It has eight tridents that looked like it was spiking out. It was said that its trident looking arms were similar to the Algiz symbol or Z runes related to protection and victory, while its straight line or the “spike” part could be related to the Isa rune which was said to help with their mental state.
Vikings believed that those bearing this symbol would be protected by the divine power of the Gods not just physically but mentally against any harm and danger. This is probably the reason why they resorted to Aegishjalmur and why it became such an important part of the Norse culture.