The Prose Edda tells about the two ravens called Huginn and Muninn sitting on the god Odin’s shoulders. The god sends these birds out flying all over the world at dawn. They return at night to inform him of the many events they have seen and heard.
If you want to learn more about the Huginn and Muninn symbol, read on to find out the meaning, history, and significance of this Viking symbol.
Huginn and Muninn Symbol – History And Meaning
The role of the ravens, Huginn and Muninn, as Odin’s messengers has been linked to shamanic practices and the Norse concepts of the fylgja (a spirit that is believed to accompany a person in connection to their fate or fortune and the hamingja (a female guardian angel said to decide a person’s luck and happiness).
Huginn and Muninn History
Two of the Norse god Odin’s many names are Hrafnaguð and Hrafnáss, which both mean ‘raven god.’ It is because of his association with Huginn and Muninn that Odin is referred to as such.
Often depicted as perched on Odin’s shoulders, these birds appear in brooches, amulets, and helmet plates that date back to the 5th until the 7th centuries. They can be seen on Thorwald’s Cross found in the Andreas Parish on the Isle of Man. They also grace the Oseberg tapestry, which was discovered within the 9th-century ship burial in Norway.
Evidence also suggests that the people of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and England entreated Huginn and Muninn for power and guidance.
The Huginn and Muninn Symbol
The raven is a magical creature and a powerful symbol of war in the Viking world. It is also considered to be a remarkably intelligent bird.
Odin’s divine ravens, Huginn and Muninn, actually symbolize the human mind. Huginn symbolizes the thought while Muninn represents mind or memory.
These big, ominous-looking birds have black feathers, sharp beaks, and strong wings. They are able to fly the whole of Midgard in just one day. Odin has endowed them with special abilities such as understanding men and speaking in the human language. Huginn and Muninn are also shrewd and highly observant.
These birds are not just mere spies or messengers for the highest god; they also serve as his confidants and advisors.
The Huginn and Muninn symbol is linked to shamanism because of Odin’s ability to send his ‘thought’ (Huginn) and ‘mind’ (Muninn) to the trance-state journey of shamans. It is also connected to the Norse raven banner and the general raven symbolism among the Germanic peoples.
Huginn and Muninn Symbol Meaning
In Norse mythology, Huginn and Muninn not only represent Odin’s ravens but the concept of duality as well.
Huginn is from Old Norse meaning ‘thought’ and Muninn from ‘mind’ or ‘memory.’ In some excerpts from the Prose Edda, Muninn is cited in a common noun for ‘raven,’ while Huginn is referenced in a compound expression for ‘carrion.’ The names of these ravens are modernly anglicized as Hugin and Munin.
These ravens, Odin’s messengers, fly daily all over Midgard (world) to gather information for the highest God. Being one-eyed and forgetful, Huginn and Muninn compensate for Odin’s said weaknesses by keeping him well informed. Huginn and Muninn are often depicted as sitting on the god’s shoulders, bringing him information.