The origin and meaning of Celtic symbols are difficult to determine, since the Celtic people did not leave knowledge, history and customs in writing, and the evidence that survived the passage of time has been transmitted by word of mouth.
This, however, has helped to forge more myths and legends, surrounding the existence of this civilization with mystery, fostering our love and interest in Celtic symbolism.
The Triskelion Symbol
Of Greek origin, triskelion means “three legs”, exactly what it represents are 3 running legs (known as Manx) . This is another version of the triskele (or triple symbol).
Specifically, this is a heraldic shield of Man (an island in the Irish Sea), and this symbol is identified with the progress and advancement of man throughout history.
This image conveys the idea of perpetual motion, but also a balance and stability of a fiercely independent people.
“No matter how many times I fall, I will get up and move on.”
Celtic Triquetra or Triquetra symbol
The Latin “three corners” symbolizes the 3 concepts of the cosmos and nature: Body, Mind, and Spirit.
Life after death and Underworld.
The use of the Celtic Triquetra varied depending on the tribe and its specific intention, but the central space was considered the union of the tribe or the “individual self”, creating an unbreakable union between gods, country, tribe, and person.
Triple Spiral Symbol (Triskelion or Triskele)
This is another image of the trinity that is often seen among ancient Celtic relics.
Also called a triskelion. The terms are often considered synonymous. This Celtic drawing is associated with the mother, maiden, and witch (the 3 powers and the representation of female strength), progress, growth, and transit, although a later Christian interpretation speaks of the father, the son, and the holy spirit.
The message is: The energy of the whole cannot exist without its parts, the body and the Mind, light and darkness, the earth, the moon and the sun.
The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life is a representation of harmony and balance in nature and, for the Celts, it symbolizes strength, long life, and wisdom.
The Celtic people thought that they came from the trees, and that this gave them a magical origin, and that they symbolize the cycle of life, losing their leaves in autumn to be reborn in spring.
The trunk of these trees has always been a way of connecting them with the spiritual world, because the branches reached the heavens and their gods, while the roots sank into the earth and its depths, the spiritual world.
Celtic symbol Awen (Three Rays)
The symbol of the 3 rays (or flames) is known as Awen, which symbolizes the masculine power (the first ray), the feminine (the third), and the balance between both would give meaning to the central one.
See also the symbol of fire (the 3rd element down) because, deep down, we speak of the constant presence of the trinity, of balance, and of the 3 central energies, which have always been a Celtic influence.
The trinomial and the relationship, of the goddess, the god, and the human, of the future, past and present, of the constant, the created and the destroyed.
The ancient Celts used the Awen to symbolize fire as a transforming element.
The Celtic Spiral Symbol
This symbol reflects the “non-physical” power that emanates from the inside out, from birth, through growth, until …
This pictogram, in many cultures, transmits the idea of the labyrinth, a path between 2 points in the form of a spiral.
The spiral symbolizes the cosmos and the universe.
We could say, in this example, that our plate (we) make up the central part of this spiral, while the universe (pure energy) expands outward forever in an infinite set of possibilities.
The symbol is recognized as a representative of nature or human consciousness, constantly expanding and searching for new experiences.
May you have the hindsight of knowing where you’ve been, the foresight of knowing where you’re going, and the insight of knowing when you’re going too far.
Celtic Five Points Symbol
Like almost all other meanings of Celtic symbols, the Celtic 5 points are also about balance.
The four outer circles symbolize the four elements: Fire, Earth, Air, Water.
The central circle unites all the elements in order to achieve a balance between the four elements or energies. These elements are essential for the stability and progression of all life … so the symbol is very important and conveys the importance of harmony with all of nature. Also, this can be considered a directional symbol.
The four circles represent : North, South, East, West. In this example, the center circle represents our current location.
This can (and often is) taken into a spiritual metaphor. The mind/soul/spirit extends to all directions and elements of existence while the center remains exactly like that… centered.
The ancient Druids recognized that the primary method of achieving growth is to first be present and centered within the space of ‘what is.
The key is to be consciously focused on this present moment as all other moments, events, movements pass through us and through us. This is the only way to progress, and the fivefold symbol is a great icon that conveys this concept.
The symbol of the Mandala
The mandalas enabled the Celtic people to focus and focus to be more aware and feel integrated with the environment. Offering a spiritual way to open your mind and engage your hearts.
This symbol helped establish the balance between their inner thoughts and the behavior in the society of the Celts, and all with a visual tool and a creative way to connect with their ancestors and honor their culture.
The quantity and variety of these designs is practically unlimited, and some of them have been universally adopted by other peoples.
The Celtic Triple Symbol
This Celtic symbol is almost synonymous with triskelion, triskele, triquetra. Its main meaning refers to the balance between the central influences found in Life, Nature, and the Cosmos.
The center of this symbol represents the “center” which means the unity of the three powers.
Or, this center can also represent the heart of humanity at the center of natural influences and become a whole being through these energies.
The biggest subtle difference between the triple symbol and all the others mentioned here is this: The three extending arms end in a spiral.
This indicates an experience with the trinity (as a Celt, a Druid, or a human can see it) that broadens human consciousness.
Ultimately, contact with the trinity (mind, body, spirit, sun, moon, earth, etc.) brings the human soul back to the center – the core of understanding and consciousness.
This symbol also stimulates a symbolic dialogue that goes something like this: “No matter how far apart we are, no matter how far apart we are, no matter how sprawling and chaotic life may seem, we are always connected – we are always united with the divine.
Double Spiral or Epona Symbol
This is a sacred symbol of the Celtic goddess Epona. She is a goddess of horses on Earth.
Epona was invoked during the equinoxes (Autumn and Spring) to achieve a smooth passage of the seasons. These two seasons can be unsettling as they unfold over the land.
As overseer of the two equinoxes, Epona unleashes her power during these times to help ensure an easy transition during these times. Aside from being a remarkable symbol of the Celtic goddess, the double spiral also holds deep personal significance to mortals. Each end of the spiral expresses a polarity.
For example: Left against Right, Night against Day, Death against Life, Moon against Sun, Good against Evil, etc.
The reality of polarity is perhaps one of the most important ideals in symbolic transmission. In fact, the entire universe is elegantly perched on polar or opposite energies. There cannot be a push without a pull.
There can be no night without day. Therefore, this double spiral is the perfect symbol that represents the balance between opposing influences.
“If you don’t sow in spring, you won’t reap in fall.”
~ Irish proverb
The Celtic Cross
The Celtic cross is one of the most widely used and open to interpretation signs, but its use was long before Christianity.
Specifically, the crosses whose arms are the same were positive elements and were used prolifically in their constructions, and their function was similar to the use they currently have in cemeteries and places of worship since they indicate a specific place where people were buried or gathered. .
Later, after the conversion to Christianity, the positive symbolism of the cross was put aside, evolving as a religious image.
Celtic crosses came into vogue in the 18th century during the ‘Celtic Renaissance’ with intricately carved crosses and a return to the geometric symbols used to mark graves and memorials
Any self-respecting Irish wouldn’t be seen dead without a Celtic cross!
Whatever its appearance or age, the Celtic cross is a powerful symbol that represents the bridge or passage between heaven and earth. The circle often seen on the ringed cross signifies infinity and eternal spiritual communion.
The symbolism of the apple for the Celts
You will be surprised to learn that the common apple has its place in ancient Irish folklore. Just as the apple is important in Christianity and was the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, the common apple also has meaning in ancient Celtic culture.
Apples were considered by the Celts as the fruit of the “other world”, a realm or spiritual world not accessible to humans. In Celtic tradition, apples were sometimes used as symbols of immortality and Druid wands were commonly made from the wood of the apple tree.
In the Arthurian legend, Avalon is literally translated as “The Isle of Apples” and similar concepts appear in several other cultures.
Celtic folklore included tales of apples containing the soul of a king lying in the stomach of a salmon that appeared once every seven years and was part of the Ulster cycle, a branch of Irish mythology.
In the tale of ” Echtra Condla” ( Cole’s Adventure), a man is fed an apple by his fairy lover who holds it for a month. There is also a story of a man sent on a quest to retrieve apples as a quest or task in the Apples of the Hesperides.
Quaternary celtic knot
Quaternary simply means “four” – in this case – four-cornered.
This symbol considers a Celtic quaternary knot motif. As a symbol, the quaternary have meanings similar to those of the Celtic cross.
The quaternary also means central energies found in all existence, such as Fire, Earth, Air, Water. North-South East-West. Spring Summer Fall Winter.
These influences are captured in the quaternary symbol to convey the importance of direction and balance.
This symbol also carries the importance of the four seasons within its folds. The Celts viewed the passage of time and especially the seasons with profound seriousness.
Let’s face it, the survival of an entire tribe could easily be threatened by a harsh and deadly winter or a drought in summer. In this light, the quaternary symbol served as a kind of sigil.
The printing of this symbol is considered to be a protective mark that restrains the negative effects of nature. This symbol is also sometimes known as a quatrefoil.
No matter what religion is prevalent today, the history of ancient Ireland and the Celtic peoples still lives on, and these symbols and emblems speak to the beliefs and culture on which this country was founded.
Each symbol has its own meaning and importance, whether it is to protect the bearer or to protect a house from evil spirits, each symbol had its use and meaning.
From the ancient Druids to the Celtic tribes, these recognizable symbols were so important that evidence of them still remains in our society today.
We can see that many of them are still used in ancient buildings, monuments, and texts not only in Ireland but also in many other parts of the world.
Read more: The symbol of the five points and its five Celtic meanings