The Vegvisir is an Icelandic symbol with eight radiating arms that has over the years become a popular choice for a tattoo. 

Its intricate design and powerful meaning resonate with those seeking guidance, protection, and a connection to Norse mythology. 

Read on as I take you through the meaning of the Vegvisir, exploring its history, symbolism, interpretations, and take a look at some of the best Vegvisir tattoo designs out there.

What is the Vegvisir?

Originating from Icelandic magical tradition, the Vegvisir is a symbolic stave often misconstrued as a Viking compass.

Its name, “Vegvisir,” translates to “wayfinder” in Icelandic, which symbolizes guiding individuals through various journeys. 

With regards to the design, the Vegvisir comprises eight staves radiating outward from a central point, resembling a compass rose (but not one). 

Each stave represents a directional point, symbolizing the cardinal and ordinal directions. 

This gives us the idea that the symbol stands for the idea of navigation, and serves as a navigational aid for travelers, guiding them along their path.

Traditionally, the Vegvisir is believed to offer guidance and protection to its bearer, particularly during challenging conditions such as adverse weather or unfamiliar terrain. 

It acts as a symbol of assurance, ensuring you never lose your way despite encountering obstacles or uncertainties. 

The earliest known depiction appears in the Icelandic Magical Staves (galdrastafir), a 17th-century manuscript containing various magical symbols. 

The manuscript’s author attributed the Vegvisir’s creation to the völva, a Norse female seer, and claimed its purpose was to ensure safe passage through bad weather, both literal and metaphorical.

Symbolism of the Vegvisir Design

Here’s a closer look at the Vegvisir’s key components;

  • Eight Staves: First up are the eight staves extending outward, each pointing in a different direction. These staves signify your capability to navigate any path you choose, no matter the direction.
  • Stave Ends: Next, notice how the tips of these staves often curve or curl inward, resembling ancient runic characters or stylized arrows. These curved ends serve as visual cues, reminiscent of pathways or guiding signs, helping you find your way.
  • Central Circle: Finally, the central circle anchoring the design. It represents stability and focus amidst the outward-reaching staves, ensuring you remain centered on your journey.

Which Famous Personality Has a Vegvisir Tattoo?

The most famous person with a Vegvisir tattoo is likely Icelandic singer Björk. She has a Vegvisir tattooed on her upper arm.

Where to Get a Vegvisir Tattoo?

While this simple yet profound symbol can adorn any part of your body, certain areas tend to accentuate its beauty and meaning.

One popular choice is placing the Vegvisir tattoo below your wrist on the inside of your forearm offers constant visual reminders of its message. Its minimalist design can be effortlessly displayed without the need to remove clothing, making it an ideal spot for daily inspiration.

Another is the back of the shoulder, offering a balance between visibility and discretion. Whether peeking out from an off-the-shoulder top or concealed beneath clothing, this placement allows you to showcase your tattoo at your discretion.

For those seeking a less conventional location, the legs provide ample canvas for the Vegvisir tattoo. Whether adorning the thigh or calf, this placement offers a lower level of discomfort compared to more sensitive areas, ensuring a more comfortable tattooing experience.

Ultimately, the choice of where to get your Vegvisir tattoo rests entirely with you. Consider factors such as aesthetics, comfort, and personal significance. If you’re uncertain, experimenting with temporary tattoos can provide insight into which placement resonates best with you.

After Care Tips for Your New Tattoo

  • Keep it clean and dry: Wash the tattoo gently with unscented antibacterial soap and warm water 2-3 times a day for the first week. Avoid soaking it in baths, showers, or swimming pools for at least 2 weeks.
  • Pat it dry thoroughly: Don’t rub the tattoo, as this can irritate it. Use a clean, lint-free cloth or paper towel to gently pat it dry.
  • Moisturize regularly: Once the tattoo is dry, apply a thin layer of fragrance-free, oil-free moisturizer. Look for ointments recommended by your tattoo artist. Avoid petroleum jelly, as it can trap moisture and bacteria.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing: Tight clothing can irritate the tattoo and prevent it from healing properly. Wear loose, breathable clothing made from natural fibers like cotton.
  • Avoid sun exposure: Direct sunlight can damage the tattoo and make it fade. Avoid prolonged sun exposure for at least 4 weeks, and always use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher when outdoors.
  • Don’t pick, scratch, or itch: This can damage the tattoo and increase the risk of infection. If the tattoo itches, resist the urge to scratch and gently pat it instead.
  • Avoid saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms: These can irritate the tattoo and hinder healing. Wait at least 4 weeks before using these facilities.


In summary, the Vegvisir stands as a potent symbol deeply rooted in Icelandic magical tradition, offering guidance and protection to those who carry it. 

While its origins may remain shrouded in mystery, its enduring relevance and symbolism continue to captivate and inspire individuals seeking direction and assurance on their life’s journey.