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At Off the Map, our most popular travel-inspired jewellery pieces are compass pendants, St. Christopher pendants and Rune engraved jewellery.

In this post, we are sharing the significance and meaning of the symbols and also how they relate to travel and adventure.

Compass Pendants

The compass has been a classic symbol for travellers for as long as navigation of the planet has been around!  

Compass symbols can be used to decorate your home and your body with jewellery and even tattoos.

compass jewellery

History of the Compass

The magnetic compass was first used in China in the 11th or 12th century as a navigation device mainly for sea navigation by sailors and explorers.

In their earliest use, they were likely used as a backup for when the sun, stars or other landmarks could not be seen due to weather. As compasses became more reliable and explorers understood how to read them they became a critical navigation tool.

Magnetic compasses consist of a magnetised needle that is allowed to rotate so that it lines up with the Earth’s magnetic field. The ends point to the magnetic north and south.

As engineers and scientists discovered more about the earth’s magnetism the compass needle was mounted and placed in the middle of a card that showed north, south, east and west. This is the compass design that inspired the design of our compass pendants.

compass pendant

Why Travel with a Compass Pendant: Meaning & Symbolism

The ability of a compass to forever point north is what makes it so symbolic, especially for travellers. You know if you have a compass you can never really get lost!

This gives the compass significant meanings and symbolism which include the following:

  • Guidance: The compass provides a sense of comfort and safety as you know you can always rely on it to point you in the right direction. It is like the North Star, celebrated as a symbol of guidance.
  • Orientation: Having a compass means you will always know which way you are facing. You can always orient yourself and get your bearings no matter how unfamiliar the location is that you are in, which tends to happen frequently when we travel!
  • Travel: The word ‘compass’ comes from the Latin word ‘com’ which means together and ‘passus’ which means step. This combines to mean to step together or travel together. By its very definition compass means to travel, making it the perfect symbol for travellers.
  • Independence: A compass is a device that shows you which direction you need to go without any other help. This signifies independence and willingness to push yourself out of your comfort zone and go at it alone. This is great symbolism for solo travellers! 
  • Safety and protection: Since ancient times when the compass was first created, it has been viewed as a symbol of safety and protection. It can always guide you home safely and protect you from getting lost. Very fitting for a global traveller!
  • Luck: The compass is seen as a device that will bring luck to someone who is lost by guiding them in the right direction. 

Saint Christopher Pendants

st christopher pendant

The History of Saint Christopher

Saint Christopher is the patron saint of travellers, drivers, sailors, storms and gardeners.

He is one of the saints from a group called the “Fourteen Holy Helpers”. These 14 saints helped to fight diseases and were often called on during the Black Death in Europe.

Saint Christopher is most widely known as the patron saint of travellers. 

Here is the story of Saint Christopher

One day a small child asked to be carried across a river. As he was crossing the river rose and the child became so heavy that Christopher staggered under the burden. It was only with great determination that Saint Christopher was able to deliver the child to the other side. 

The child was Christ and when Saint Christopher carried Him, he also carried the weight of the whole world on his shoulders.

What is a Saint Christopher pendant?

A Saint Christopher pendant is a traditional and iconic travel charm that you can take with you and wear during your travels.

It makes an amazing gift for the intrepid traveller in your life. If you are a traveller and want to take a lucky charm on your next trip a Saint Christopher pendant is ideal

Carrying a travel charm like a Saint Christopher pendant is a declaration of good luck. 

There are so many varieties of Saint Christopher pendants, in various designs, metals and finishes. They can be worn around your neck on a chain or even carried as a key chain.

While wearing Saint Christoper pendants started as a Catholic tradition they are now for everyone. Wearing them has since spread to people of different religions and backgrounds.

st christopher pendant

Why travel with a Saint Christopher pendant: Meaning & Symbolism

A traditional and iconic St Christopher necklace is a trusted travel charm with a long history. It is said to bless travellers with luck and good fortune on their journeys.  

People believe that he helps to ward off misfortunes such as accidents, robberies and poor health when you are travelling. And in particular is great for travelling by sea or if you are doing water sports and activities on your travels.

It is worn to engulf you in an aura of protection to keep you happy, healthy, safe and secure. 

A Saint Christopher pendant is something you can keep long after you return home, serving as a beautiful reminder of all of your incredible adventures.

Rune pendants & rings

rune jewellery

Travel Viking Rune Personalised Silver Necklace

The History of Viking Runes

The history of the rune is potent. They are some of the most significant symbols of our time. The origin of the runic alphabet is shrouded in mystery.

Runes are letters in the ancient Runic alphabet, also known as "futhark" and were developed in Scandinavia. The earliest runic inscriptions date back to 160AD.

The mythological origin of Runes has always been associated with the god of magic and wisdom, Odin. 

The 24 magical runes were revealed to Odin as his untimely death was drawing near. As the cults of Odin rose to power, runes remained under his magical domain.

The earliest confirmed runic inscription dates back to 160AD in Denmark.

It was the first system of writing that was ever developed. Runes were prominently used for reading and writing from 160AD onwards. During the Viking Age, large amounts of inscribed rune stones were erected throughout Scandinavia. 

Runes are found in countries with a history of Germanic-speaking people. This extended from Iceland to Scandinavia, England and Central Europe.

What are Viking Runes?

The sacred marks of the runic alphabet are one of the earliest forms of writing, however, they are not just a means of communication through language.

The word ‘rune’ means secret or mystery. The Latin alphabet replaced the Runic alphabet over 1000 years ago but its use has persisted for other specialised purposes such as divination and protection. 

Runes are generally made up of vertical lines with branches or ‘twigs’ jutting out diagonally, upwards, downwards or in a curve. They can be written from left to right and right to left.

Each rune symbol is a symbol of some cosmological power. To manually write or engrave a runic symbol was to invoke and direct the force it stood for.

Each of the 24 runes has a name that is based on the first sound of each symbol. The name and look of each rune point to its philosophical and magical significance. 

The way each rune is pronounced and spoken has significance as well, like casting a spell.

Runes are also believed to be meaningful symbols that can be read and understood by invisible powers that influence our physical world. This allows runes to be used for magical and mystical purposes.

Runes can be carved into wood, bone, shells, paper and stone.

They can also be engraved onto metals such as silver and gold and worn as jewellery. 

By manually carving runes, a stronger connection is created between the rune and the person who carved it. 

All jewellery with Viking rune symbols made by Off the Map Jewellery has been manually engraved by hand.

rune ring

Why Travel with Viking Rune Symbol: Meaning & Symbolism

Runes make the perfect travel charm. Travelling with runes will bring positive energy with you on your journey. 

There are many special runic symbols that we have interpreted to relate to travel and so we have used these symbols on our jewellery.

Travelling with runes can provide you with protection and good luck on your journey. 

Runes carved into silver necklace pendants, bracelets and rings are the perfect travel charm to bring these ancient protective symbols into the modern age of travel.

At Off the Map, we engrave our jewellery with the following 6 Runes which are relevant to travel, adventure and safety.

  • Raido - Travel/Journey
  • Dagaz - Enlightenment/A New Day
  • Aligz - Protection/Courage
  • Berkano - New Beginnings/Rebirth
  • Ehwaz - Travel For Pleasure/Trust
  • Fehu - Wealth Of The Land

Browse our collection of compass, St Christopher & Rune Jewellery!