The meaning of the Vegvisir
The Vegvísir is of pure Northern Germanic, Old Norse origin to be precise, the Vegvisir has no equivalents in any other symbol, it is unique, mysterious and its exact age as a symbol has been lost due to Christian defilement and suppression, defiant Asatro folk bear this symbol increasingly. Thus it is necessary to establish its accurate definition and an understanding of its wider metaphorical uses, purely in direct accordance with its attested historical function.
The Vegvísir is recorded only as an ancient Icelandic magical stave, its original meaning was attested to by folk traditions which informed the compiling of the Huld Manuscript by Geir Vigfusson in 1860, who attempted to compile and categorize various Icelandic folk symbols. The symbolic meaning of the Vegvisir is recorded only symbolically in the Huld Manuscript, as being a symbol designed to help the bearer navigate through storms, heavy seas and similar weathers such as heavy snow. The Vegvisir is depicted on the 60th page of the Huld Manuscript, beneath the heading ‘Vegvísir’, adjacent to the Þjófastafur.
The design of the Vegvísir is symbolically related to that of a compass and the Aegishjalmur, Þjófastafur, Veiðistafur, Hólastafur and ‘Að fá stúlku’ although its meaning is completely unique whilst sharing a similar compass configuration. The meaning of Vegvísir means ‘sign post’.
The Huld Manuscript depicts one recorded variant using visibly runic structures or icons at the apex of each detailed compass line. The similarity to a compass is consistent across several Germanic symbols, indicating a practical use and central symmetry inherent in our pure ancestral symbolism. It is possible, that with the correct central placement of a nail or rod into the middle of the Vegvísir, placed at 90 degrees to the two dimensional symbol, the markings on the Vegvísir would act like a sun dial or directional navigation compass and the intricate details may be used as navigation checkpoints for a known area.
The movement of the shadow created by a nail or rod as the sun moves over time and the direction of the user changes, thus has the possibility to allow the user to estimate with high accuracy their current time, distance from the equator, and their heading, when at sea or on land coupled with an understanding of the rotation of the sun, as our ancestors clearly had, as is evident from our Germanic metaphorical depiction of our Sun Goddess Sunna being chased across the sky by wolves, in a rotating format, endlessly as an easily communicable riddle conveying knowledge pertaining to the movement of celestial objects. It is possible that the strange symbols on the Vegvísir were used for such navigational purposes.
The Vegvísir when carried, with the knowledge of its practical possibility can by itself help to keep someone calm when they are effectively lost in low visibility weather, this positive confidence effect or “faith” in the power of the Vegvísir could help someone survive lethal or rough weather, by preventing them from falling into a state of panic and by helping keep an individual calm and confident, the Vegvísir if theoretically used in a survival situation, which it undoubtedly has over its history, could help maintain morale and a sense of direction even when all else is lost.
“If this sign is carried, one will never lose one’s way in storms or bad weather, even when the way is not known”.
-60th page of the Huld Manuscript, description of the Vegvísir.
The meaning of the Vegvisir in this brief description, which is all that exists of a historical description of its original or folk usage obviously refers to a special power inherent in the Vegvisir, or realised instrumentally through its use as an instrument of navigation.
In our ancestral lore, from the Sagas to what can be learned through Beowulf to the records of the historians at the time from Tacitus to Bede, that which composes what we true Asatro Germanic folk hold dear as our ancestral spiritual inheritance, it is self evidence that there are many riddles, metaphors or symbolic meanings containing inherent knowledge. The majority of these symbols survived Christian defilement precisely because of their hard to decipher spiritual and political meanings and purposes. The Vegvísir is clearly designed for navigation through “storms”, metaphorically it is theoretically possible that such storms or “bad weather” could be interpreted as referring to something beyond atmospheric precipitation patterns and wind/sea currents.
The Vegvísir in being a symbol designed to prevent the wearer from losing “one’s way in storms or bad weather” could also have profound spiritual meanings, political meanings, intellectual meanings and life meanings. For example in the Huld Manuscript description, although itself not definitive and a record of its original meaning, states that “one will never lose one’s way in bad weather, even when the way is not known” when wearing the Vegvísir, this could be a metaphor for the symbols representation of an ideal being able to find your way, even when your destiny is not known and of maintaining course through life’s storms and rough weather, even when you do not know your heading or direction, or are for a time lost or engulfed in storms.
This is a positive and logical metaphorical interpretation and meaning inspired through the Vegvisir’s otherwise simple and functional purpose as a navigational instrument.
The Vegvísir is often worn by Asatro women, and men alike as a symbol of identification as Asatro folk and I also hope that it is worn in accordance with the above definition, that our awakened folk proudly bear this undeniable pure Germanic symbol for more than just its symmetrical elegance and style, as an indication of their intention to never become lost, and if they are already lost to be able to find their way, “even when the way is not known”.
Wearing the Vegvísir is in itself a symbolic celebration and statement of ancestral loyalty, re-awakened inheritance and understanding of our archetypical Germanic racial nature, history and spirituality, in this case to an ancient Icelandic symbol, evidently of ancient Northern Germanic inception as with all natural Icelandic symbols, genetics and customs.
When displayed by the only people worthy of bearing it, us Germanic folk, the Vegvisir becomes a defiant, practical and racial-spiritual statement indicating the wearers confidence in their direction through the storms of life alongside being an indication of the practical minded nature of the wearer, for wearing a literal navigation symbol, around ones neck or carved upon your very being, a symbol of an intention to never lose your way, to always stay true to our Asa (Æsir) Goddesses and Gods and their descendants: our Germanic folk, past, present and future, (which is what Asatru/Asatro means) for the duration of one’s life, “even when the way is not known” or storms are expected.