The Banner of The Troth
The Banner of the Troth is a ring of four golden apples (at the cardinal points) and four raven-heads (at the cross-points) linked by a ring of twisted gold wire with three twists between each apple/raven pair. In the middle of the ring is a golden-white Hammer with the Troth bind-rune in red upon the haft. The background is deep blue.
The eight elements of the ring show the ætt of the winds; they also show the eight worlds ringed around the Middle-Garth (Miðgarðr) - four shining, four dark. In this reading, the Hammer shows the might of their holiness brought forth into the Middle-Garth.
The apples are the golden apples of Iðunn, which give new life to the god/esses. In a larger sense, they are that life-might embodied by all the goddesses (Iðunn, Freyja, Sif) whom the etins keep trying to steal from the Ases' Garth (Ásgarðr). They are also the apples placed in the howe (as with the Oseberg ship-burial) as a sign of rebirth.
The ravens are Wodan's birds, Huginn (Thoughtful) and Muninn (Mindful); they are the sign of the wisdom and memory which shape the Troth. They are also the sign of the faring between the worlds which brings lore, life, and might into the Middle-Garth from the hidden realms - the faring of the thul and the völva, and the folk-leader who sits on the mound to speak rede.
The Troth of our folk is grounded on this matching of brightness and darkness: we, the living, draw all that we are from our dead kin - from the hidden roots of the World-Tree - and in turn, strengthen them with our life, the blessings that we pour to them and the toasts that we drink to their memory. Among the Northern peoples, there is no sundering between those who still dwell alive in the Middle-Garth and their kin who have fared to the halls of the god/esses before them
Together, the apples and the ravens also refer to the key scene from Völsunga saga, chapter I, in which Óðinn's grandson Rerir and his wife, who have had no children, pray to become fruitful. "That is now said, that Frigg heard their prayer and told Óðinn what they asked for. He was not confounded, and took his wish-maid...and put an apple (or "fruit" - KHG) in her hand and bade her go to the king with it. She took the apple and drew her crow-hide (the birds "kráka" and "hrafn" are not distinguished in Icelandic - a big black corvid is a big black corvid - KHG) upon herself and flew until she came there where the king sat upon a howe. She let the apple fall onto the king's knee. He took that apple and it seemed to him that he knew what must be done. He now went home from the howe and to his men and found the queen, and they ate that apple together", whereupon the queen became pregnant with the son who became the hero Völsi, the father of Sigmundr and Signy, after whom the Völsung line was named. For the Troth, this stands as a sign that, though the ways of our folk seemed to be barren and our god/esses gone from the earth, they heeded us when we raised our call to them again, and the heroes and heroines of our folk shall be born again, mightier for the many years of hiding and the need that has called the souls of the North to life once more.
The ring of wound gold that binds the apples and the ravens is the holy oath-ring, which is also the sign of the ring of our fellowship - truly the Ring of Troth. Three windings show between each apple/raven pair; three are hidden behind each apple and raven, so that there are twenty-four shining coils and twenty-four mirky coils. These show forth the might of the runes, both bright and dark - of that wisdom which was brought up from Yggdrasill's roots in elder days. The pattern of the thrice-wound oath-ring also calls on those three great oath-gods, Wulþur (Ullr), Tiw (Týr), and Thunar (Þórr), or, as another reading may show it, the triad of "Freyr, Njörðr, and the almighty Ase". In either case, these holy ones keep the words and deeds of the Troth true to the ways of our forebears and our own honour.
The Hammer itself was the sign of the elder Troth among the Norsemen, when our folk strove to keep their own ways whole. It is the sigil of all who follow the god/esses of the North, marked for us by the Troth's bind-rune.
The bind-rune of the Troth is formed of eihwaz, the yew-tree which has kept the fire of our folk ever-green through the long winter; nauthiz, the need-rune which has kindled that fire forth again; wunjo, which binds us all as a single clan in joy and love; and raidho, the rune of right measure, by which we are held true and following which we keep the round of the seasons and the blessings of the Troth.
The deep blue background is both the night sky and the sea - the might both of the Ases and of the Wans, who stand matched in strength, in wisdom, and in the love we bear them.
Excerpted from Chapter LVII of the 1993 edition of Our Troth, KveldúlfR Gundarsson, Editor.