The Helm of Awe, sometimes called the Helm of Terror, is one of the most recognized Icelandic symbols. In old Norse lore, it was believed that individuals who wore the symbol during battle would be protected from harm. The helm uses different runes to embody the magical qualities of this symbol.
Although people today know that the Helm of Awe will not actually protect them from any physical pains, it has become a popular tattoo. It is used in the same way that the ancient Norse soldiers wore it – it is meant to symbolically protect the wearer.
Keep reading to learn more about the Helm of Awe, including its symbolism, mythology, and tattoo history.
What Is the History of Helm of Awe Tattoos?
The Helm of Awe has been one of the most popular tattoos ever since the Viking era. Then, the symbol was often painted on bodies, especially that of soldiers. Even though this is not a permanent tattoo, it still is a form of a tattoo.
During the dark ages, Germanic tribes started blending with Christian culture, causing a lot of the pagan symbols to be ignored and outright ostracized.
The Helm of Awe was one of these symbols. Hence, the Helm of Awe tattoos became even less popular during the dark ages and the new modern era.
It wasn’t until the dissolving of Christianity from the culture that the Helm of Awe became popular again as a tattoo. During the tattoo renaissance, many tattoo artists and tattoo wearers became inspired by the symbol and what it represented, causing them to tattoo it on their bodies.
Today, the Helm of Awe is one of the most recognizable old Norse symbols. It can be found in many scenarios, including in artwork and in tattoo form.
What Does the Helm of Awe Symbolize?
If you want to learn about the Helm of Awe, you have to read ancient poems and texts that describe the symbol.
Luckily, there are poems and written texts that have helped historians understand what the Helm of Awe represented for old Norse cultures.
Understanding this mythology can help you understand what the tattoo means.
Helm of Awe Mythology
It is unclear exactly where the Helm of Awe originated. More than likely, it was created by women, who were a type of religious leader that practiced magic.
It is believed that magicians were responsible for the Helm of Awe because its symbol is found and described in grimoires, which is sort of like a book of spells or magic.
In these grimoires, the symbol associated with Helm of Awe is a rune spell. The spell could be painted onto bodies or carved into objects in order to work. Often, the Helm of Awe was carved into bones, dirt, and bark, as well as painted on the body.
More than likely, the grimoires we have today were not written during the Viking age. During the time of the Vikings, books made from paper were not in circulation.
Instead, the spells were probably written down on bark or animal hide. As a result, the grimoires are a much later representation of the Helm of Awe.
The oldest record we have of this symbol is found in a poem. In this poem, the Helm of Awe is described as follows: “I carried a helmet of the frightener, Ægishjálmr, among men while I laid upon the treasures. I thought myself stronger than all, I did not meet many men.” Ægishjálmr is referring to the symbol.
Thus, the Helm of Awe is almost always associated in mythology with being protected from harm and having undescribed strength.
What the Mythology Means for Tattoos
Today, Helm of Awe tattoos still embody the meanings of the old Norse legends. The wearer of the tattoo is thought to have strength and be protected from harm, though not literally.
Instead, the tattoo is typically associated with metaphorical meaning today since we know that the symbol does not literally make you invincible.
What Do Helm of Awe Tattoos Mean?
Helm of Awe tattoos are one of the few tattoos with very little interpretation. Because the symbol very clearly represents protection and strength, the tattoos represent these meetings as well.
Today, there aren’t many negative meanings associated with this tattoo, but that has not always been the case.
Whereas the Helm of Awe tattoos represented literal protection and strength during the Viking eras, today it is associated with metaphorical protection and strength. This can be protection against illness, bad luck, or anything else that can cause pain and trouble.
Most people today do not have any negative associations with the Helm of Awe tattoos. However, middle and early modern era individuals associated the tattoo with Pagan traditions, which were anti-Christianity.
Some people today will still associate the symbol with Pagan magic, but this is not common.
Characteristics and Styles of Helm of Awe Tattoos
Helm of Awe tattoos almost always have the same basic form. That’s because the symbol itself is based on runic letters, which means there’s not a lot of room for reinterpretation or artistic designs.
However, Helm of Awe tattoos can be paired with other tattoos to create it kaleidoscope of ideas and meanings.
Often, Helm of Awe tattoos are popular for individuals with minimalistic tattoos. Because the symbol includes primarily lines and circles, it easily matches the aesthetics of other minimalistic tattoos. This tattoo type is almost always black.
Where Do Helm of Awe Tattoos Usually Go?
There’s no one exclusive location for Helm of Awe tattoos. You can find them all over the body, including the chest, back, arms, and legs. They can be very large and take up the majority of the space, or they can be dainty tattoos on the wrist or ankle.
Helm of Awe tattoos are meant to protect the wearer and give them strength, much like the symbol did for Vikings. These tattoos can go practically anywhere and be of any size so that they match your aesthetics and the space on your body.