The Music of Burzum and the
Writings of Varg Vikernes

Burzum's Iconography

During the development of his Burzum project Varg has used a myriad of different logos and names, which chart his ideological development and musical progression.

The Burzum Logo

To the best of my knowledge there have been four 'Burzum' logos.

This is the original 'demo' logo, perhaps the most conventional form for an old-school Norwegian Black Metal band. At this point in time Varg was still using his birth name Kristian Vikernes, and the logo reflects the typical style for a Black/Death metal band at the time:

Varg has never been a 'Satanist' in the sense of Euronymous or Lavey, but rather initially expressed his Pagan/Viking beliefs from a Satanist perspective ‐ he correctly identified both the true Nordic religions and Satanism as opposed to Judeo-Christianity, but initially accepted the Judeo-Christian view of them being directly linked. This coincided with him using the nom de guerre of 'Count Grishnackh'. In many ways the idea of the evil 'Count' was misinterpreted by the media as an abstract reference to Stoker's 'Count Dracula' figure. In fact Varg now explains says that he took the title 'Count' due to its root in the Latin 'Comtes', meaning 'companion' ‐ specifically implying himself as a 'companion to the Germanic peoples'. The 'Grishnackh' part is of course a slight variation on the evil Orc character who fought for Sauron in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Prior to this he also changed his name to 'Varg', saying he could not stand the Christian implications associated with the name 'Kristian'.

This actually bears an interesting parallel to the Black Panther movement in '60s America, where the leaders often abandoned their 'slave' names in protest to the reigning American culture. Though a very different context, Varg sees Christianity as having 'enslaved' Odinism and rejected his 'Christian' name in favour of 'Varg', the true Pagan name of his heritage. We will return to the name Varg later.

During this period of '92/early '93, two Burzum logos appear to have been in use. The first is seen on Varg's debut album:

This new style was somewhat different to the more fanciful scrawled logos of other bands of the time, which were invariably littered with pentagrams and upturned crosses. One might interpret that as a move away from the overt, slightly cartoonish, Satanism of some of the other groups at the time. However, this logo was used in conjunction with another logo at the time which did bear and upturned cross and was the one included with numerous Burzum flyers:

Vikernes made a statement via email on March 4, 2010, regarding this logo: "This is a logo printed by some (unknown) guy who made a 'fun' Burzum t-shirt with the text 'Burzum ‐ coming to a church near you.' It was not produced or endorsed by Burzum or Varg Vikernes."

The final development in the logo occurred with the re-release of his earlier albums on the Misanthropy label:

The logo, a modified version of the one on the original DSP Burzum releases, now had replaced Satanism with a more subtle tone of Gothic/ancient Paganism. Of course the 'Old English' font is hardly very ancient in Pagan terms, but it nevertheless helped convey that impression. And although Varg's hatred for Judeo-Christianity had, if anything, only intensified since his imprisonment in late '93, this logo was more dignified than those of some of his peer bands. This coincided with Varg largely dropping the name 'Count Grishnackh' ("it had served its purpose, there was simply no need for it anymore") and reinventing his brand of Satanism as a kind of revisionary Odinism, something it perhaps always was anyway.

For the release of Dauđi Baldrs, Varg had considered dropping the mighty Burzum name completely, in favour of 'Hliđskjalf' (later to become the title of his next album). A combination of the name's mighty history and commercial reasons probably made him change his mind, but nevertheless he legally changed his name to Varg Kvisling Larsson Vikarnes.

The 'Kvisling' part is a salute to the temporary leader of occupied 1940s Norway, Vidkun Quisling, and the Larsson stems from Varg's nom de plume, well described in his 1995 interview by Kadmon for AORTA zine issue XX "Oskorei", which highlights briefly how his extensive study of Norse/Germanic culture has led to the use of his current titles:

Why did you choose the name Greifi Grishnackh?

I used it as a nom de guerre, but as my real name is known to everybody there's no point in using it anymore. The point was to stay unknown, while this fantasy figure Count Grishnackh should be known./p>

It failed so there's no point in continuing to use the name. My legal name is Varg Vikernes, my nom de guerre is Hofding Vargr, and my nom de plume is Vargr Víkarnes Lárusson. Hofding Vargr means Häuptling Warg, and the latter of the three names is the old version of my legal name, it is like how my name would be like a thousand years ago. All Graf, Greifi, Count and Grev before Grishnackh mean Count in different Germanic languages. Comtes in Latin means companion, and I chose the title because I view myself as the companion to all of the Germanic Volk. Also I have Norwegian blue-blood, so it was not a major misuse of that noble title. I got tired of the name as well, I am a man of many names, and I like that. It is a Norse tradition to give names to people as they suit them, as you view them. Thus we all have many names. Odinn as an example has 149 different names in the Edda poems alone.

The Nomenclature of 'Varg'

We have already mentioned why Vikernes felt the need to change his name, though his particular choice of 'Varg' deserves some analysis too.

There a number of different forms and roots of the name Varg, such as Vargr (Norse), Wargus and Warg (Germanic) and special (and rather appropriate) designations such as morthvargr (killer) and brennuvargr (arsonist/'fire wolf'). The etymology of all the forms relates around the Wolf, and indeed the Wolf is a very symbolic creature in all of Varg's interests.

In his book Lords of Chaos, author Michael Moynihan suggests even further and somewhat sinister implications of Varg's choice of name. He points the dissertation 'Wargus, Vargr ‐ 'Criminal' 'Wolf': A Linguistic and Legal Historical Investigation' by Michael Jacoby, a highly detailed exploration of the name Warg. In his investigation Jacoby finds the most noteworthy crimes connected to this name to be: grave robbery ("if anyone shall have dug up or despoiled an already buried corpse, let him be a varg"), treason, theft, and manslaughter.

Moynihan points out the uncanny resemblance between this list and those crimes that Varg Vikernes committed. He argues that since Varg was likely unaware of these connotations of his name when he committed crimes, the etymology of his name almost served to prophesise his future actions.

Of course, one problem is that etymology is by its very nature rooted in a myriad of historical implications, thus making this  discovery perhaps seem more dramatic than otherwise warranted, but nevertheless the parallel and fulfillment of the prophecies embodied in the nomenclature are hard to ignore.

One thing of more certainty is the way Varg relates his name to other meanings, as he states in the Terrorizer interview:

the word 'Varg' has a great meaning for me. I could speak about this matter for an hour, anyway briefly, if you make a diagram of this word, you'll see that it's the combination of the vertical and horizontal of the words 'Amor' (the strongest feeling), 'Roma' (the centre of the world) and 'Grav' (grave). Besides, 'Varg' derives from an archaic Nordic language and means wolf."

The illustration below shows the 'word diagram' Varg is referring to, and how the different combinations fit into place:

Varg speaks on the subject: (Update)

The first logo was drawn by the same person that drew the cover of the first two albums. This was in 1991. However, later in 1991 I decided not to use a logo at all, as some sort of protest against the over-fancy "impossible to read" logos at the time (I can mention Immortal's logo to give you an example). Instead I just used gothic writing. The reason I changed the type of the gothic writing is simply that I wanted to stress that Burzum has no logo, only a name. I have used gothic writing simply because that is old, it looks old and make people think of gothic art and old German propoganda. I can just as well write the name like this for instance; BURZUM, or BURZUM or BURZUM etc.

As for the "inverted cross" logo, I have never used that. That is a logo used in 1993 by some people who printed a T-shirt mocking me ("The coming soon to a church near you" shirts). [Although Varg does wear that shirt in court ‐ Rainer] I have always stressed the fact that Burzum has never used any trendy symbols, pentagrams or inverted crosses or baphomets etc. I have always been very careful not to use such symbols, which is why I changed the original logo in the first place; NO logo for Burzum, NO trendy symbols for Burzum, etc. That is the whole point with Burzum. Being different to the trend-scene, doing things my way, a new way, a different way.

As for the nomenclature of "Varg", to put it short Moynihan just wants to make the thing look a bit more "mysterious" than it really is. The meaning of the name Varg is common knowledge in Norway, so why should I not know it as well? "Varg i veum" means "outlaw" in Norwegian, and I am sure that everyone who can speak it knows this. I have read book on these things since I was 13 years old, and I knew what Varg meant since then, when I read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, where he mentions Warges. From the moment I read about the Warges I was fascinated by it.