Symbols of the Sea

Symbols of the Sea

Some of the most iconic nautical images we love today come from well known ancient symbols of the sea. The Vegvisir Norse Compass, the Fishermans Anchor, the Hawaiian hook and the Compass Rose to name a few. We see them everywhere but did you ever wonder about the deeper meaning of these nautical symbols?

The Vegvisir Norse Compass: “That which shows the way.” A Vegvisir is a Nordic compass & Icelandic magical stave intended to help the bearer find their way through rough weather. First discovered in manuscripts in 1880, the 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.” At SS Magpie, I design Vegvisir jewelry for couples by separating the inner and outer symbols into two individual pieces. Each section is worn by one person, and is a link that ties the couple together. By sharing this symbol, no matter what storms they weather, they will always find their way back to one another.

Vegvisir Compass Necklace

The Fisherman’s Anchor: Before there were steel anchors, to secure their vessels, mariners used large stones, sacks filled with sand, or bundles of wood loaded with lead. As ships became larger, wooden hooks were developed to provide more hold. By the early 1800’s iron replaced wood and was used to make the traditional anchor with a straight stock and curved flukes that we know today. The stock ensured that the flukes would rest vertically on the seabed while one of the two flukes would dig in providing maximum holding power. While anchor design has come a long way from the Fisherman design, this is the anchor image that is most associated with the sea and is the logo symbol in SS Magpie jewelry.

The Hawaiian Hook: First found in Polynesia, the Hawaiian Hook symbolizes the deep connection, prosperity, strength and reverence for the ocean. Hooks were traditionally carved out of whale or fish bone that were part of daily life. In Hawaiian culture, legend has it that when wearing a hook necklace, a part of the wearer’s spirit is transferred into the piece. As it’s passed down between generations, it becomes the spiritual link between present and past family members. I designed two original hook necklaces as part of my collection. Each one is individually hand formed and cast in sterling silver.

The Compass Rose:Not all who wander are lost.” The traditional Compass Rose, sometimes know as the “Wind Rose,” is a star shaped symbol that points North/South/East/West and directions in between. First uses of this symbol date back to the ancient Greeks and have been depicted with as few as 4 to as many as 32 points. It is found on all nautical charts and serve as a navigation tool for mariners. Symbolically, the Compass Rose represents direction, awakening and discovery. The 4 main “winds” of the rose represent infinite possibility, the present, the past and the future. This beloved symbol is the inspiration for a new collection coming Spring of 2021.

Now you know a little more about these symbols of the sea. If you’re a lover of the ocean it’s the perfect way to bring some history and inspiration into your life. So, comment back and tell me which of these is your new favorite?

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