A vegvísir (Icelandic for 'sign post, wayfinder') is an Icelandic magical stave intended to help the bearer find their way through rough weather. The symbol is attested in the Huld Manuscript, collected in Iceland by Geir Vigfusson in Akureyri in 1860, and does not have any earlier attestations.
A leaf of the manuscript provides an image of the vegvísir, gives its name, and, in prose, declares that "if this sign is carried, one will never lose one's way in storms or bad weather, even when the way is not known".
It has been claimed that it also features in the Galdrabók, a magical grimoire. although this latter location is denied and contested by Jackson Crawford. Stephen E. Flowers lists the Vegvisir in his translation of the Galdrabók, but in a later publication cites it in “Isländische Zauberzeichen und Zauberbücher” by Ólafur Davíðsson rather than the Galdrabók. It is also only claimed to be in the Huld manuscript by Daniel McCoy. Tomáš Vlasatý claims that it is not only in the Huld manuscript but also in two other Icelandic grimoires, Galdrakver (designated Lbs 2917 a 4to and Lbs 4627 8vo) and has Jewish roots.
The vegvísir is often confused to be a Viking symbol. There is however no evidence of this, and the Huld Manuscript, where it is mentioned, was collected eight centuries after the end of the Viking Age.
Vegvísir is derived from two Icelandic words, vegur and vísir. Vegur means 'way, road, path', and vísir means 'path, guide'.
Vegur is derived from the Old Norse vegr, Proto-Germanic *wegaz, or the Proto-Indo-European *weǵʰ-. Vísir is derived from the Old Norse vísa meaning 'to show, point out, indicate', or the Proto-Germanic wīsōną or wisaz, meaning 'to visit'.
Vegur ('way') + vísir ('pointer') derives its meaning from the same word as the English wise. It points someone the right way.
- Huld Manuscript ÍB 383 4 in the National Library in Reykjavík
- Flowers (1989:88).
- "Berloga Workshop Vegvisir the Viking compass".
- "Vegvisir (wrongly called "Viking Compass"), Jackson W. Crawford, YouTube, January 28th 2022". YouTube.
- "Manuscript scans of the Galdrabók at Handrit.is, am Icelandic manuscript preservation database".
- Flowers, Stephen E.; Galdrabók: An Icelandic Book of Magic (Second, Revised Edition), Rûna-Raven Press, 2005, p. 64 (originally published in 1989 by Samuel Weiser as Galdrabók: An Icelandic Grimoire.)
- Flowers lists the image on page 88 of Icelandic Magic: Practical Secrets of the Northern Grimoires, Inner Traditions, 2016 giving the source, page 125, as “Isländische Zauberzeichen und Zauberbücher.” Zeitschrift des Vereins für Volkskunde 13 (1903): 150–67, 267–79; Tables III–VII. English version: Icelandic Magic Symbols and Spell Books. Translated and annotated by Justin Foster. www.academia.edu (accessed July 17, 2015).
- "The Vegvisir".
- Vlasatý, Tomáš; Origins of the “vegvísir” symbol, Project Forlǫg (Reenactment and Science), April 5, 2019.
- "THE VEGVISIR".
- "Vegvisir Path Guide Justin Foster 2013 - 2015".
- "Wiktionary visir".
- "Wiktionary vise". 2 February 2022.
- "Wiktionary wisona".
- Magnússon, Ásgeir Blöndal (1989). Íslensk orðsifjabók (Icelandic Etymological Dictionary). Orðabók Háskólans.
- Flowers, Stephen (1989). The Galdrabók: An Icelandic Grimoire. Samuel Weiser, Inc. ISBN 087728685X
- Justin Foster Huld Manuscript of Galdrastafir Witchcraft Magic Symbols and Runes - English Translation (2015)
- Geirsson, Olgair (2004). Galdrakver: A Book of Magic. Landsbokasafn Islands Haskolabokasafn ISBN 9979800402
- Skuggi J Eggertsson Galdraskraeda The Sorcerer's Screed ISBN 9935908984