A Deep Dive into the Meaning Behind the Beserk Symbol

The berserk symbol is a popular tattoo, charm, and tee-shirt design. Those marked by the “brand of sacrifice” (berserk) symbol in a Japanese manga (comic book) are sacrificed to the dark forces, losing their humanity. The symbol is inspired by a Norse rune that was used as a tribal warrior symbol.  The word “berserk” arose from this usage.  

Old Norse Fight Magic 

The Norse were North German in origin. They lived in the Middle Ages in places like modern-day Scandinavia and England.  The Vikings were Norse.  

The Norse took part in shamanism.  Shamans (religious leaders) are people who have special abilities to control the spirits.  Shamans are religious leaders, tradesmen, and healers holding mysterious powers.  This includes secret writings and rituals.

Shaman magic is used in warfare.  This includes “berserkers,” warriors who fought in a sort of trance as if they were no longer human.  It was believed in this state that they were nearly unbeatable. The word arose from “bear shirt” and the fighters had a “totem” (symbol) of a bear. 

They wore bear skins, at times bare-chested, and had reputations as fierce warriors.  Berserkers allegedly did not only toss aside their shields and armor.  They might fight naked.

The English word “berserk,” meaning to lose one’s senses and go on a type of rampage originates from these practices.  

Berserk Symbol 

The berserk symbol is a stylistic representation of a bear or a bear-skinned warrior (a berserker).  It is a type of rune, a Norse letter or symbol sometimes used magically.  

The berserk symbol brings to mind the fierce warrior spirit of the Norse berserkers.  People with a berserk symbol are likely to be very brave, even recklessly so, doing their tasks with a sense of fixed purpose and fury.  

They have great strength, seem unfazed by pain, and are unstoppable.  They go about their mission with great speed and let nothing get in their way.  

The berserk symbol is a representation of emotion and raw power, not reasoned judgment.  It can be quite useful but dangerous.  The lack of humanity can lead to disaster and ruin.  

The Berserk symbol is sometimes associated with the Norse war god Odin, known for his strength and brutality.  The bear shirt fighters fought in his name.  Therefore, generally, the berserk symbol also represents Norse religion and culture.  Its specific meaning might be lost.

The symbol also has a particular masculine connotation, men being the ones who fought, fighting a masculine quality.  A woman fighter, however, might today wear a berserk symbol. 

Japanese Manga 

Mangas are Japanese comics and graphic novels.  They are a very popular art form and are found both in written and animated forms  (anime).  Many Americans are fans of manga.

The Norse berserker warriors inspired the Japanese manga BerserkBerserk is set in a dark fantasy world in medieval Europe.  Themes of free will, destiny, and the true nature of humanity generally are addressed.  Comic books are often quite into the metaphysical realm!

There is a ceremony where the unfortunate are sacrificed to evil forces, losing their humanity in the process.  They are marked by the “brand of sacrifice,” which is the berserk symbol.  People who have berserk symbols, including tattoos, often are inspired by the Berserk series.  

Band of Sacrifice is also the name of a heavy metal band.  The symbolism of a wild-eyed warrior is quite appropriate for this music genre.  

Berserk Symbols Today

The ceremonial uniforms of guards at Buckingham Palace include their telltale bearskin hats.  The hats were originally worn to make the guards look taller and more intimidating, a continual use of the symbolism of the berserkers of yore.  

The berserk symbol is continued to be used in tattoos, necklaces, t-shirt logos, and many more places.  One of my favorites is a teddy bear wearing a berserk symbol.

Berserk symbols send a range of messages from being fierce, a fan of Japanese manga, or feeling that you lost a bit of your humanity.  Teddy bears mixed in are an ironic twist.  

Final Thoughts 

I came upon a volume from a series of children’s books that help them understand various emotions, including being furious.  The berserk symbol is a good representation of a certain wild emotional state we sometimes fall into, including when a loved one is threatened.  

The story behind the berserk symbol is also interesting if according to the experts not fully understood.  While researching the symbolism for this website, this is a common theme.

Recent Posts