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The Norse and Vikings used many symbols, which held great significance in their culture. One such symbol is the Horn of Odin, also called the Triple Crescent Moon, which is often depicted as three interlocked drinking horns. Here’s a closer look at the meaning and origins of the Horn of Odin.
Origins of the Triple Horn of Odin
The Triple Horn of Odin can be traced back to Norse mythology, even before the Viking Age. The Vikings dominated Northern Europe (now known as Germanic Europe or Scandinavia) for 300 years from the late 8th century, but they left no written records of their culture. Most stories about the Vikings were written only during the 12th and 13th century, providing a partial scope of their beliefs and traditions.
One of the most important texts about their pagan mythology, The Prose of Edda, contains the The Mead of Poetry. Odin is the father of Norse gods and rules over all the world. He’s also referred to as Wodan, Raven God, All-Father, and Father of the Slain. According to myth, Odin sought the magical mead, a mythical beverage which rendered anyone who drank it a scholar, or skald. The Triple Horn of Odin represents the vats which held the mead. Here’s how the myth goes:
According to mythology, the gods Aesir of Asgard and Vanir of Vanaheim decided to end their conflict in a peaceful way. To make the treaty official, both spat into one communal vat, which formed into a divine being named Kvasir, who became the wisest man.
Unfortunately, two dwarfs had killed him and drained his blood to create a magical mead. The dwarfs blended honey with the blood. Anyone who drank it had the gift of poetry or wisdom. They placed the magical mead in two vats (called Son and Bodn) and a kettle (named Odrerir).
Odin, the chief of the gods, was unstoppable in his pursuit of wisdom, so he searched for the mead. When he found the magical mead, he drank the whole kettle and emptied the two vats. In a form of an eagle, Odin flew off towards Asgard to escape.
The myth gave rise to the popularity of mead, an alcoholic drink made of fermented honey and water, as well as the drinking horns, which were used by the Vikings for drinking and traditional toasting rituals. The Triple Horn of Odin also became strongly associated with the drinking of the mead to acquire wisdom and poetry.
Symbolic Meaning of Triple Horn of Odin
The Norse and Vikings had a long oral history, but this gave rise to many interpretations. The exact symbolism of the Triple Horn of Odin remains under debate. Here are some interpretations about the symbol:
- A Symbol of Wisdom – Many associate the Triple Horn of Odin with the Mead of Poetry and what is obtained from it: wisdom and poetic inspiration. In the myth, whoever drinks the magic mead would be able to compose brilliant verse since poetry was associated with wisdom. Some also associate the symbol with the sacrifice needed to acquire wisdom, just as how Odin gave his time and energy for the sake of finding knowledge and understanding.
- A Symbol of Ásatrú Faith – The Triple Horn of Odin has significance in Ásatrú faith, a religious movement that practices the ancient polytheistic traditions, worshipping Odin, Thor, Freya, and other gods in Norse religion.
In fact, they use a drinking horn filled with mead, wine, or beer in their rituals to honor their gods, in which the symbol emphasizes their connection with the Norse god Odin and to each other during communal gatherings.
Triple Horn of Odin in Modern Times
Over the years, many cultures have adopted the symbol to show appreciation for Norse culture—and as a form of fashion statement. The Triple Horn of Odin can now be seen in tattoos and fashion items, from clothing to athletic wear.
In jewelry, it’s a popular motif on stud earrings, necklace pendants, and signet rings. Some designs are made of precious metals, while others are crafted from brass or stainless steel. Also, the horns can have minimal or intricate detailing, and are sometimes combined with other Viking symbols.
The Triple Horn of Odin had a long history as a symbol of wisdom and poetic inspiration in Norse culture. This gives it universality, transcending its original culture and religious beliefs. Today, the Triple Horn of Odin is a popular symbol in fashion, tattoos and artwork.