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The Vegvisir, also known as the runic compass or the Viking compass made of eight Viking rune staves, is a symbol of PROTECTION and GUIDANCE believed to be used as a compass by Vikings. The word vegvisir means ‘wayfinder’ and ‘sign post’ in Icelandic language.
The Vegvisir as The Viking Compass/Runic Compass:
Although there is no certain knowledge of the Vegvisir’s origins and when it was used the first time, some people believe the symbol was used for navigational purposes by the Vikings.
Archeological findings revealed that the Vikings used a ‘sunstone’, a sun compass of sorts while they sailed around the world from North America to Far East. While the said sun compass does not look anything like the Vegvisir and/or have such markings on it, it might be the inspiration behind the symbol according to some experts.
It is believed that the eight Viking rune staves comprising the Vegvisir could be representing the cardinal (North, South, West, East) and intercardinal directions (Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, Southeast). Some people believe that a nail placed right in the middle of the Vegvisir would tell of directions (through its shadow’s position at certain times of day) and help the Vikings navigate the seas.
On a side note, in some legends, it is mentioned that the Vegvisir would be drawn on Viking ships to help them find their way back and come back home safely.
Today, the Vegvisir is used as symbol of Icelandic culture while people of Asatru faith also use it to identify themselves and as a symbol of spiritual guidance.