Learn the Meaning of 3 Traditional Celtic Symbols

Posted by Robert Heiney on

The Triskele – the Triquetra  – the Shamrock. You may have seen these traditional Celtic symbols many times, especially if you’ve traveled through Ireland. But what’s the meaning behind them? Keep reading to learn a little bit about the background of these beautiful classic Celtic designs.

The Triskele

Just as Celtic Knots use one single line to create an elaborate design, the Triskele is a single line used to represent an intricate concept: one’s travel through time. In some traditions, these travels can extend beyond a single lifetime, and the Triskele is associated with reincarnation. The Triskele has been used in Celtic churches to represent an individual’s faith journey, and among mystics, it is commonly seen as a symbol of the search for deeper understanding. 

Triskeles are also known as Triple Spirals, and looking at the design, you can see why. Spirals are symbolic of investigation into the deeper mysteries, which is why the Triskele is also used to represent growth, transition and expansion. This is also why Triskeles are commonly given to people who are in the process of changing themselves for the better or pursuing a noble dream. 

The Triquetra 

The Triquetra is the much beloved triple knot. Artifacts from as early as the Seventh century have been found with this classic design. Three interlocking arcs that form a triangular shape, the Triquetra appears throughout the Celtic lands in architecture, medieval manuscripts, and textiles. During the Nineteenth century, the Triquetra became known as the Trinity Knot and became a very popular Christian symbol. Today, the triple knot represents interconnection, eternity and life. That’s why it appears so often in wedding jewelry as well as in romantic gifts sweethearts give each other. 

The Triquetra is also strongly associated with the Morrigan, the Celtic goddess of war and fate. Said to inspire bravery and offer some measure of protection, this timeless symbol makes a good gift for anyone who needs to be strong in a troubled world. 

The Shamrock

Most often seen on St. Patrick’s Day, the Shamrock is now symbolic world wide of all things Irish and fun. It’s not the official symbol – that honor belongs to the harp – but for many people, shamrocks mean Ireland. 

Delving into the history, early Christians used the shamrock’s three lobes to represent the Holy Trinity. Before those times, shamrocks were associated with Danu, a mother goddess in the Celtic pantheon. Other interpretations of the shamrock include standing for faith, love, and luck, as well as representing different life stages of youth, adulthood and maturity.

To fully connect my Shamrock design with ancient Celtic tradition, I added three spirals. Spirals are a ancient mystic symbol of growth and discovery – important to anyone on a quest to better understand themselves or the world we live in. 

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