Calling all Vanatruar: PLEASE USE THIS SYMBOL!
I have long been frustrated by the lack of a single clear symbol for modern Vanatru suitable for a pendant. Mjolnir and Valknots are popular among modern Asatruar. The most popular symbol for the Vanir are knotwork boars, and various Trees but they’re used among Pagans in general, especially Celtic pagans, so it’s not a clear message when we use them to represent Vanatru.
So I have been searching for some time for a suitable symbol, preferably with some historical basis, but not already in common modern use, that can represent Vanatru clearly when we wear it. I have hoped to find something simple and striking, such that it is instantly recognizable even when drawn casually by a person who isn’t much of an artist.
Well, I do believe I’ve found it!
Last November, I returned to LosCon (the convention where I first found my own Brisingamen necklace) after years away. While I was there, I was shown this design by a numismatist in the vendors room. He studies all kinds of Medieval European coins, and when I asked after coins depicting Norse gods, he showed me a series of Sceattas.
This stylized boar symbol is derived from coins issued by Pagan Danes during the era of the Danelaw in Anglo-Saxon England. The Anglo-Saxons were Christians by then, and had learned coin making from the Romans. When the Pagan Danes invaded, they learned coin making from their Anglo-Saxon subjects, and designed their own coins with Pagan themes including Mjolnirs, solar crosses, horses, birds – and BOARS!
Their boars started out more recognizable, but still clearly stylized, and as they increased their contact with neighboring Anglo-Saxons and Celts, became progressively simpler and more symbolic – “Celticized” – until they settled into this abstract gesture of an arching boar with characteristic bristles and four legs.
Similar designs can be found on Sceattas throughout the region and era, and boar art with similar shapes can be found on Scandinavian armor and jewelry in honor of various Vanic gods, especially Swedish references to Freyr. Coins with this design are sometimes labelled “porcupine”, but it is clear if you look at pictures of the progression of designs over time that it is intended to be a boar.
When I saw this symbol and he explained it to me, it was like a bell ringing in my mind. This is it. This is what you’ll use. Show them! I quite literally thanked the gods for Their guidance, and have been buzzing with excitement over this ever since. I have been waiting to show it to you all until I could compose a well-researched essay about the history of these coins, to back up my UPG with a strong reconstructionist argument for using it to represent Vanatru. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find appropriate online resources showing what the numismatist I talked to showed me in his books.
After showing the design to several fellow Vanatruar at PantheaCon, I just couldn’t hold back any longer. Honestly, it was all I could do to even postpone this post until the afternoon, so everyone could see it!
I intend to make this design available on stickers, t-shirts, and hopefully jewelry in my store, but I want to be clear: this design is historically based, and thus not under any copyright. I would LOVE it if other Vanatruar used it in their designs too. I am really hoping we can promote this as a symbol reclaimed especially for Vanatru!
P.S. Edited to note: I’m getting feedback that the title is misleading, because this is not a historical symbol for Vanatru, and is thus not authoritative. To be clear: There is no source of authority for Vanatru, either modern or historical. This is a historical symbol directly linked with honoring the Vanir, which I did indeed find for this use – I do not claim to have discovered it.
Please also note that Vanatru as we know it today is not a historical tradition, so there can’t be a historical symbol for it. At best we can find symbols which were used historically to honor and represent the Vanir and employ them for this purpose. That is exactly what I propose here.