Your Cart


Ravens, Vikings, and Norse Mythology

Posted by Sons Of Vikings on

Huginn and Muninn

The most famous ravens would be Odin's two ravens, Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory). These two ravens are central figures in Norse mythology, embodying his intellectual and spiritual attributes. These ravens are his eyes and ears, flying across the world to gather information and return to whisper all they have seen and heard into his ear. This ability makes Odin the most well-informed of the gods.

One of the primary sources detailing Odin's relationship with his ravens is the Prose Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century. In the Prose Edda, there’s a section where Odin himself expresses anxiety over the return of his ravens, saying, "For Huginn I fear lest he come not back, yet more anxious am I for Muninn."

The Poetic Edda also touches on this theme, specifically in poems like "Grímnismál," where Odin, disguised as Grímnir, shares knowledge about the universe, including his relationship with the ravens, to the young Agnar. The verse from "Grímnismál" elaborates on the ravens flying from Odin’s shoulders at dawn to traverse the world, and returning at meal-time to perch on his shoulders, indicating the constant cycle of seeking and returning with wisdom.

These stories underline the deep connection Odin has with his ravens, highlighting their role not only as tools of surveillance but as integral parts of his vast knowledge and governance over the cosmos. This setup serves to emphasize themes of wisdom, forethought, and memory, which are crucial for leadership and governance, aspects Odin is known for in Norse lore.


The connection between ravens and Valkyries in the direct context of the Old Norse sagas is more implied through their shared association with Odin rather than explicitly stated. The Norse sagas, such as the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, do not directly link ravens and Valkyries in narrative instances. Instead, they emphasize the roles of ravens primarily as Odin's companions.

However, there are poetic and metaphorical links that can be drawn from the imagery used in these texts. For example, in skaldic poetry and some Eddic verses, battle is often symbolically represented with "raven-feed" or "raven-harvest," referring to the dead bodies left on the battlefield as food for ravens. Given that Valkyries are also associated with battlefields as they choose the slain warriors, there is an indirect poetic connection through this shared thematic element.

Other Mentions within the Sagas

Ravens appear in various contexts within Norse sagas, often as symbols of war, wisdom, and prophecy. Apart from Odin’s two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, ravens are featured in several other Norse texts and stories, reflecting their significant role in Norse culture and mythology.


  1. The Saga of the Volsungs: Ravens appear in this saga, particularly during the story of Sigurd, one of the central heroes of Norse mythology. After Sigurd slays the dragon Fafnir, he encounters two ravens that advise him on how to understand the speech of birds, which leads him to learn of a plot against his life. These ravens are implied to be Huginn and Muninn. Which if so, they were guiding Sigurd as Odin's chosen hero.

  2. Egil’s Saga: This saga, which tells the life of the poet and warrior Egill Skallagrímsson, also references ravens. Egill is described in one part of the saga as composing a poem where he identifies himself with a raven, a common kenning (a type of metaphor in Old Norse poetry) for warriors. This association highlights again the cultural link between ravens, battle, and the fallen.

  3. Harald's Saga: In this saga, part of the Heimskringla which details the history of Norwegian kings, King Harald Hardrada is said to have a standard depicting a raven, known as the "Landeythan." This banner was believed to be enchanted, with the raven appearing to flutter in the wind, especially before a victorious battle, further cementing the raven's role as a Norse battle symbol.

  4. The Saga of Hrafnkell, Frey's Priest: The saga’s protagonist, Hrafnkell, is named after the raven (Hrafn in Old Norse) and has a deep connection to the god Freyr. Hrafnkell's story, while not directly involving mystical ravens, underscores the importance of the raven in names and religious practices.

Ravens in these sagas serve various narrative functions, from providing crucial information and prophecy to symbolizing the presence of Odin or foretelling the outcomes of battles. Their pervasive presence across these stories underscores the raven's symbolic importance in Norse culture as messengers, omens, and embodiments of divine will or intervention.

Vikings and the Raven Banner

The raven banner, often associated with the legendary Norse figure Ragnar Loðbrók and other Norse leaders, is a significant symbol referenced in several primary historical sources. The banner, depicting a raven, was considered a totem of Odin, symbolizing the god’s favor and thus believed to grant victory to those who carried it into battle. Here’s what primary sources say about it:


  1. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: The raven banner is mentioned in the context of the Viking invasions of England. The chronicle notes that a Viking leader, possibly one of Ragnar's sons, used a raven banner during their campaigns in England in the 9th century. The banner was reputed to possess magical qualities, with the raven depicted on the banner seeming to flap its wings before a forthcoming victory.

  2. Norse Sagas: In the Norse sagas, particularly in sagas like "Sons of Ragnar" and other tales that describe the exploits of Ragnar Loðbrók’s sons, the raven banner is noted as a symbol of their divine right to rule and conquer. These sagas, while semi-historical and infused with mythological elements, reflect the banner's importance as a military standard that embodies Odin's support.

  3. Heimskringla: This collection of sagas about the Norwegian kings, written by Snorri Sturluson, also mentions the raven banner. It was used by several Norse leaders including Harald Hardrada who believed the banner could predict the outcome of forthcoming battles. According to the "Heimskringla," the banner was both a blessing and a curse—while it promised victory to the army, it also foretold death for the bearer.

These primary sources indicate the significant role the raven banner played not only as a practical battle standard but also as a symbolic source of power and protection, deeply rooted in the Norse belief system and their veneration of Odin.

Sons of Vikings offers over a hundred different items relating to Norse Ravens, including t-shirts, jewelry, drinking horns and more here on our website: