In Norse history and mythology, the wild boar is utilized symbolically in many different scenarios. The vast meanings of wild boars in Norse mythology provide the most diverse symbolic representation of all the cultures being observed on this website. In one legend, a boars' head was the typical gift presented by the Danish king to the hero Beowulf for having slain the ogre Grendal 1. Within this context, the boar is seen as a foe as fierce as the ogre Grendal.
The head of a boar was also used to symbolize the fierceness of battle. The boar's head translates to "hamalt fylking" 2. Around 1200 A.D, Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus wrote "The History Of The Danes". One of his stories described the battle of Bravalla. Odin's battle device consisted of a boar's head and is thought to refer to military formations that resembled a swine head 3. In another context the boar is portrayed as a magical creature with powers beyond the human realm. In this folklore, the Valkyries, or extravagantly adorned female warriors, served the warriors of Valhalla meat from a boar named Saehrimnir. Remarkably, the boar would come back to life before the next meal was to be served 4.
Freyr and Freyja
Two of the Norse god's also used wild boars as sidekicks. Freyr, the Norse fertility god, possessed a wild boar. Named Gullinbursti, this wild boar had bristles that glowed in the dark and illuminated Freyr's path of travel. Freyr's sister, Freyja, had a boar named Hildesvini that she would ride into battle 5. These two examples present the concept of wild boars as magical creatures, capable of providing guidance and protection during conflict. Additionally, Egil is one of Norse mythology's most distinguished characters. He appears under many different names in mythological sources and heroic sagas. Egil wore the images of a wild boar and bear, and was named after both animals 6.
- 1 - "Sow, The." Khandro, n.d. <link>
- 2 - "Danish History, Books I-IX, The: Introduction Part II." Online Medieval and Classical Library, n.d. <link>
- 3 - "Boar, The: Norse." Khandro, n.d. <link>
- 4 - "Gods, The." Think Quest, n.d. <link>
- 5 - "Mythology and Folklore of the Wild Boar." Trees For Life, n.d. <link>
- 6 - Rydberg, Viktor and William P. Reaves. Our Father's Godsaga: Retold For The Young. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse 2003. <link>