Fenrir Tattoos: History, Meaning & Designs

Fenrir Tattoos: History, Meaning & Designs

Do the tattoos of vicious wolves, sometimes surrounded by Nordic symbols, seem mysterious to you? Sure, a snarling wolf looks great inked on your arm or leg, and the Viking-like markings are just as interesting to look at. But what do they symbolize?

Let’s take a closer look at Fenrir Tattoos: history, meanings ; designs!

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What is the History of Fenrir Tattoos?

In order to understand why tattoos of Fenrir are so popular, it is essential to know a brief history of Fenrir himself!

The wolf of Norse mythology is infamous as a type of villainous figure. He is  a monstrous, giant wolf who is prophesied to bring down the head god, Odin, at the end of the world. 

Most of what is known about this mythological figure is compiled from a combination of Nordic poetry, illustrations and objects. A large portion of this information comes from something called the Prose Edda.

The Edda was an Old Norse book written in the 13th century by an Icelandic professor of sorts named Snorri Sturluson. It is a collection of myths and fables that make up most of the stories of the Norse gods, including the Prose Edda, which contains information about Fenrir.

Fenrir has some strange relatives. He is the child of Loki, a sorcerous troublemaker, and this makes him a brother to the World Serpent and Hel, both of whom are also villains involved in Armageddon. 

According to the myth, the gods initially welcomed the wolf and raised him, but made several attempts to bind Fenrir once they realized that he was prophesied to kill Odin. This led to the ferocious creature actually biting off the hand of one of the gods named Tyre! 

However, eventually the wolf was bound until Ragnarok, the end of the world, when he did indeed kill Odin. Afterward, the Odin was prophesied to be avenged by his son Vidar, who would stab the wolf in the heart or break his jaws, depending on which prophecy you read.

The myth of this monster has inspired artwork by many artists and is also one of the fathers of villainous wolves in modern fantasy. For example, C.S. Lewis named his character Maugrim “Fenris Ulf” in the American editions of his series, The Chronicles of Narnia. J.R.R. Tolkien also drew inspiration from Norse Mythology when he created his wolf villain, Carcharoth.

Other inclusions of the character in modern entertainment are seen in the film Thor: Ragnarok, the video game Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and even one of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling.

With so much rich lore and modern inspiration, it is no wonder this wolf makes such a great subject for tattoos!

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What Do Fenrir Tattoos Symbolize?

Tattoos of this wolf can symbolize a few things. According to most scholars of Norse mythology, the wolf is not like other villains in that he is a giant beast, unable to be reasoned with or stopped. Most prominently, he symbolizes a savage nature that can’t be restrained.

This character symbolizes wildness and ultimately a force of nature that cannot be stopped. It is also a symbol of betrayal and vengeance: although the gods initially raise Fenrir as one of them, they ultimately trick and trap him until Ragnarok, when he breaks free and enacts his vengeance.

Although he does kill Odin, typically a heroic figure, to the Norse people, Fenrir was not exactly a villain. Instead, he represents a force of nature that is inevitable and will tear old things down to make way for the new era.

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What Do Fenrir Tattoos Mean?

There are several possible meanings to tattoos of this mythological creature. Let’s take a look at a list of popular Fenrir tattoos:

  • Wolf and Viking Compass
  • Hati and Skoll 
  • Wolf Skull and Norse Symbols

Let’s take a closer look at each of these Fenrir tattoos to get a better understanding of their meanings!

Wolf and Viking Compass

This tattoo usually features the wolf character in profile with an open mouth and a long neck, as if lunging forward to take a bite out of Odin himself! However, the negative space of the illustration is taken up by a Viking compass.

Viking compasses were the only way to navigate for Vikings in the ancient world. To have one paired with this monstrous wolf is significant! It could mean that the wearer believes that, no matter how hard man might try to plan out their lives, nature’s power and the end is inevitable. 

Hati and Skoll

Fenrir’s relations aren’t just the scary World Serpent, demonic Loki, and frightening Hel! He also had children of his own: Hati and Skoll. 

This tattoo is usually a type of iconic illustration found in the folios of Norse mythology books, sometimes paired on one of each wrist or ankle. Hati chased the moon while Skoll chased the sun. 

This tattoo could mean that the wearer is, again, familiar with Norse mythology. The symbolism and distinct cultural nature of the illustrations could also mean that the wearer identifies with Scandinavian culture, or can simply relate to having a sibling.

Wolf Skull and Norse Symbols

This tattoo is meant to be scary and intimidating in nature, featuring a prominent wolf skull and etchings of stylized Norse symbols, usually in the shape of other wolves. These other wolves can be interpreted as Skoll and Hati once again. 

The Norse usually combined these wolf images to symbolize guidance after death. However, with a skull nearby, one can’t help but think that the meaning may also lie in association with death, or the end of the world.

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Characteristics and Styles of Fenrir Tattoos

Many tattoos of this Norse wolf are meant to be sinister in style. Therefore, they usually don’t require many more colors beyond black and the occasional red. Most of them are iconic, made to recall Norse designs, and are characterized by a fierce-looking wolf with teeth bared.

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Where Do Fenrir Tattoos Usually Go?

Tattoos of the mythological wolf typically go along the forearm. This is because, whether using the head or the Norse symbol styles of illustration, these tattoos are typically long and narrow in shape. Because of this, they fit best on forearms, legs, or wrists.

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In summary, Fenrir tattoos, which are normally black and red and can be either simply iconic or illustrative in nature, represent a character from Norse mythology. They can mean that the wearer likes wolves, or is a student of mythology, or is connected to Scandinavian ancestry. Fenrir tattoos symbolize the ferocity and inevitability of nature, or the power of the wilderness.

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