Aegishjalmr is an ancient magical Norse symbol of protection and victory. It’s also known as Helm of Awe and Terror. This symbol we can meet in a few sagas. Warriors and even dragons used it.
In the Poetic Edda the havoc-wreaking dragon Fafnir used the Helm of Awe to get the ability of invincibility:
“I wore my terror-helmet against all men …and I blew poison in every direction before me so that no man dared to come near me, and I feared no weapon. I never faced so many men that I did not feel myself much stronger than they were, and everyone feared me.”
The Origins of the Aegishjalmr Symbol
When one studies the Aegishjalmr closely, it becomes fairly easily recognizable as a symbol of protection rather than an offensive one.
There is a circle at the center surrounded by eight prongs, four in the cardinal directions and four in between those. The ends of the prongs have three points each and may be represented as either curved or straight lines but are seen far more often in the former style.
Sometimes, the Aegishjalmr is shown with a circle of runes around it but this is a stylistic addition made in recent times and no actual Aegishjalmr has ever been found displaying that design.
The central circle represents the circle of protection within which the bearer is safe. This is a representation common to many cultures and is similar to the Magic Circle of protection and invocation used in Wicca.
The eight prongs represent protection against evil intent, perceived or otherwise, from all directions.
In the Aegishjalmr, it is believed that the presence of the crossbars strengthened the spell just as physical crossbars on an outward-pointing spear would afford greater protection in real life.
The eight points of the Aegishjalmr are actually tridents, a very common symbol in Hinduism. Shiva, the Destroyer of worlds, is always depicted in Hindu iconography as holding a trident, called a trishool in Sanskrit.
The Hindu trishool also often sports the same horizontal crossbars immediately under the trident head as seen in the Aegishjalmr. The three horizontal lines are also a very common ‘tilak’ or forehead marking among followers of Shiva. They may be drawn right across the forehead or just at the center.
The interpretation of these words we can find in 19th century collection of Icelandic folktales of the great Jón Árnason in a spell called “There is a Simple Helm of Awe Working”:
“Make a helm of awe in lead, press the lead sign between the eyebrows, and speak the formula:
I bear the helm of awe
between my brows!
Thus a man could meet his enemies and be sure of victory.”
Aegishjalmr was even used in Galdrabók – the Icelandic book of magic that was written after the Viking Age but from an unbroken intellectual line to those times.
The meaning of the symbol:
The eight rays-arms go from the center of the symbol. And these rays by themselves consist of two interesting runes.
The Algiz rune is used in this symbol for the meaning of protection and victory.
It’s intersected by Isa rune that is a symbol of concentration and hardening, as well as a connection to the animating spirits of wintry cold and darkness, the fearsome giants. So that, the meaning of this symbol is following: the ability to overcome through superior hardening of the mind and soul.