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What do Celtic symbols mean?

The symbology of the most popular Celtic designs – their meanings, Celtic spirituality and reflections.

In this guide, we’ll explore the unique history and meaning popular Celtic symbols and what they are believed to represent.

It is important to understand that the Celts worshipped the cycles of nature that they lived within and relied upon, and they worshipped this as a feminine force. They believed in the interconnectedness of all life, and that our life energy will always loop around and continue; hence the eternal Celtic Knotwork patterns with no beginning and no end.

“There never was, nor will there ever be a time, when we did not, or do not exist in some form”

Triquetra: 3 levels of existence – The Mind, The Body & The Spirit.

The Triquetra is a symbol that consists of three interlocking loops, often in the shape of a triangle. It is understood to represent the fundamental belief in 3 distinct but interwoven levels of existence – Mind, Body, and Spirit – the physical, spiritual and mental levels within our eternal journey, and the interlaced single line displays the belief that life is an eternal cycle – with no beginning and no end.

When the Celts merged with Christianity in Eire over 1500 years ago this became the symbol for the holy trinity- the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and is one of the most common Celtic symbols we see today.

The Tree of Life: Birth, Death and Rebirth – the continuous cycle of life.

A common archetype in many mythologies, religions and folklore, the tree of life, in it’s various forms, is recognised universally as a symbol of the eternal cycle of life. The tree of life symbols are related to the World Tree, a motif found across many cultures that is typified by the Norse belief in the sacred tree Yggdrasill, and the tree of knowledge, which was said to grow in the Garden of Eden in Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). In ancient Egypt the tree of life was thought to have held the Knowledge of the Divine Plan. In Chinese mythology, a carving of a Tree of Life depicts a phoenix and a dragon; the dragon often represents immortality. 

Roots below are often mirrored in the branches above and remind us of our ancestry and past. The trunk itself represents the body and the present, and the branches, leaves and fruit our future.

Celtic Cross: Faith, Heritage and Cultural Identity.

Also know as the High Cross there are many examples of this symbol across the UK and Eire, some are over 1500 years old. Today this symbol represents the blending of the Celtic and Christian traditions – woven in with the Intricate Celtic Knotwork symbolising a belief in energetic reincarnation, with no beginning and no end.

The ringed cross has been seen in other faiths also – Hindus call it Kiakra, a sign of union, the The Novgorod cross is visually similar to the Celtic cross but originated in Eastern Europe rather than the British Isles, and in pre christian texts an equilateral cross inside a circle represents the sun, worshipped by many ancient cultures including the Celts , Druids and Picts. For ancient Egyptians this symbol meant “Village”. A sun crosssolar cross, or wheel cross is a solar symbol frequently found in the symbolism of prehistoric cultures, particularly during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods of European prehistory.

Triple Spiral: Maiden, Mother, Crone

Also known as the Triskele, Triskellion and Triple Goddess, this symbol has been used since pre-Celtic days to symbolise the 3 stages of the Divine Feminine – The Maiden, The Mother and The Crone (old, wise woman). This refers to the 3 stages of our own existence and the power of the feminine forces in nature. The spirals represent the eternal continuation of these cycles.

In Nature we see all around us the constant cycle of birth death and rebirth, of youth maturity and ageing

What is the Four Elements Symbol?

The ancient Celts viewed life as an eternal journey, believing in continual reincarnation until spiritual fulfilment was achieved. Elaborate interlacing of one single line, with no beginning and no end, forms the knot work thought to represent the fundamental belief in spiritual eternity. Knots comprising 4 defined, separate sections are understood also to symbolise the 4 elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, the 4 directions, North, East, South, West, and the 4 seasons of the year.

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