Celtic infinity symbols

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For centuries, Celtic symbols and signs held incredible power for the ancient Celts in every way of life.

The word “Celtic” refers to people who lived in Britain and Western Europe from 500 BC and 400 AD. Celts were of the Iron Age and lived in small villages which were led by warrior chiefs.

With its rich history and culture, Ireland has been home to various civilisations for thousands of years.

Some of these Celtic symbols have even become symbols of Ireland itself.

But did you know that these symbols have much more profound and surprising meanings?

Celtic Symbols That You Will Find In This Article:

Top 20 Celtic Symbols And Their Meanings

Click to jump to any one of them: 

      1. The Awen – represents the harmony of opposites in the universe.
      2. St Brigid’s Cross – Brigid’s Cross is tied to Brigid of the Tuatha de Danaan, which, in Irish Celtic Mythology, is known as a life-giving goddess.
      3. The Celtic Cross – According to one theory, the Celtic Cross represents the four cardinal directions.
      4. The Green Man – He represents the lushness of vegetation and the arrival of spring and summer.
      5. Irish Harp – The national emblem of Ireland
      6. The Dara Knot – The name Dara comes from the word “doire,” which is the Irish word for “oak tree.”
      7. The Shamrock – The national flower of Ireland.
      8. The Celtic Tree Of Life – Symbolises the Druid belief in the connection between heaven and earth.
      9. The Trinity Knot – symbolises eternal spiritual life, one with no beginning and no end.
      10. The Triskele – represents three stages of life: life, death, and rebirth.
      11. The Claddagh Ring – represents love, loyalty, and friendship.
      12. The Shillelagh – The Irish fighting stick
      13. Quaternary Celtic Knot 
      14. The Celtic Bull
      15. The Ailm Celtic Symbol
      16. Serch Bythol – The Celtic symbol for eternal love
      17. Beltane – Celts symbol for the beginning of summer
      18. Celtic Five Fold Symbol – The holy Celtic symbol.
      19. The Eternity Knot or Eternal Knot
      20. St Brigid’s Cross – February 1st – Celtic Symbol

1. The Awen or the Three Rays of Light – Celtic Symbols

Awen - Celtic Symbols

This neo-Druid symbol, a popular design for tattoos, jewellery and artwork, is said to have been invented by Iolo Morgannwg, an 18th-century Welsh poet.

However, studies suggest that the symbol might be older than initially thought.

The word “Awen” means inspiration or essence in the Celtic language, and it first appeared in the 9th-century book “Historia Brittonum.”

The Awen was said that it represents the harmony of opposites in the universe.

For instance, the two outer rays represent masculine and feminine energy, while the ray in the middle represents the balance between them.

There are multiple meanings for the Awen Celtic symbol.

One interpretation is main outside lines are symbolic of both men and women while the inside line represents balance.

You can learn more about the Awen here.

2. St Brigid’s Cross – Celtic Symbols 

Brigid's Cross - Celtic Symbols

St Brigid’s Cross

Widely believed to be a Christian symbol, Brigid’s Cross is tied to Brigid of the Tuatha de Danaan, which, in Irish Celtic Mythology, is known as a life-giving goddess.

It is woven out of rushes and sometimes straw on the feast of Imbolc to mark the beginning of spring.

When Christianity came to Ireland, the goddess Brigid became St Brigid of Kildare. Many of the goddess’s attributes, including the symbol and her association with the destructive power and productive use of fire, were transferred to the latter.

Read more:How to make your own St Brigid’s cross here.

Hang this traditional St. Brigid’s Irish Cross on your wall for protection. St. Brigid, alongside St. Patrick, is one of the patron saints of Ireland. 

3. The Celtic Cross – Celtic Symbols

Celtic Cross - Celtic Symbols

Like with the Brigid’s Cross, many people have come to associate the Celtic Cross with Christianity. However, studies suggest this symbol predates Christianity for thousands of years.

The symbol has appeared in many ancient cultures. According to one theory, the Celtic Cross represents the four cardinal directions.

Another theory says that it represents the four elements of earth, fire, air, and water.

The cross is rich in powerful representation and an ideal reflection of the Celts’ hopes and ambitions.

While the Cross is indeed a Christian symbol, it has its roots in ancient pagan beliefs at the same time.

It is remarkable how widespread the distinct shape of the Irish Cross is in the modern era.

You can learn more about the Celtic Cross here.

4. The Green Man – Celtic Symbols

green-man-legend - Celtic Symbols

The Green Man is represented in many cultures as the head of man-made foliage.

Seen in many buildings and structures in Ireland and Britain, the Green Man symbolises rebirth and the co-dependence between nature and man.

He represents the lushness of vegetation and the arrival of spring and summer.

The Green Man’s tradition is carved onto Christian churches across Europe, including examples such as the Seven Green Men of Nicosia in Cyprus, a series of seven green men carved in the thirteenth century onto the facade of St Nicholas Church in Nicosia.

You can learn more about the Green Man here.

5. The Irish Harp 

Image of the harp - Celtic symbols

The national emblem of Ireland, the Irish Harp, is one of today’s most widely recognised Irish symbols apart from the Shamrock.

It is on the Irish Euro coins and is the Guinness logo, which many consider as the country’s national drink.

It is believed that the Phoenicians brought the harp to pre-Christian Europe from Egypt as one of their trading goods.

Since the 10th century, it has been an important symbol for the Irish people, personifying its spirit.

The harp so threatened the British Crown that in the 16th century, the British ordered all harps to be burnt and all harpists executed.

You can learn more about the Irish harp here.

6. The Celtic Symbol For Strength – The Dara Knot

We are halfway through this great list. I thought this would be an excellent place to talk about the Celtic symbol for strength.

Since publishing this article, I have received many requests for this and rather than publishing an entirely new article, I decided to include it in this post.

The most notable of these is the Dara Knot. The name Dara comes from the word “doire,” which is the Irish word for “oak tree.”

  • Trees connected the world of the spirits and the ancestors, living entities, and doorways into other worlds.

The most sacred tree of all was the Oaktree.

The Dara Knot Celtic Symbol

A basic Dara Knot – The Celtic Symbol for Strength

The intertwined lines have no beginning or end. This is known as the Celtic symbol for strength because of the analogy that we all have our own roots, and this symbol rises from the sources and has no end.

Oaktree symbolises power and strength, so the Dara knot is the best Celtic symbol for strength.

7. The Shamrock – Celtic Symbols

The Shamrock - Celtic Symbols

If there’s one symbol that is widely associated with the Irish, it’s got to be the shamrock.

Now the national flower of Ireland.

The shamrock is a small clover and was an important symbol to the ancient Irish druids because its three heart-shaped leaves represent the triad.

The Celts believed that everything necessary in the world comes in threes.

Like the three ages of man, the moon phases, and the three dominions of earth, sky, and sea.

In the 19th century, the shamrock became a symbol of Irish nationalism and rebellion against the British Crown, and anyone caught wearing it was executed.

If you are interested in tracing your Irish heritage, I recommend 23andMe DNA kits or Ancestry DNA kits.

You can learn more about the Shamrock here.

8. The Celtic Tree of Life or Crann Bethadh – Celtic Symbols

The Celtic Tree of Life or Crann Bethadh - Celtic Symbols

They are often represented by a tree with branches reaching to the sky and the roots spreading into the earth.

The Celtic Tree of Life symbolises the Druid belief in the connection between heaven and earth.

The Celts believe that trees were the ancestors of man and had a connection to other worlds.

Here are some interesting facts about the Celtic Tree of life:

  • Trees connected the world of the spirits and the ancestors, living entities, and doorways into other worlds.
  • The most sacred tree was the Oaktree, which represented the Axis Mundi, the world’s centre.
  • The Celtic name for oak, Daur, is the origin of the word door– the root of the oak tree was the doorway to the Otherworld, the realm of Fairy.
  • Countless Irish legends revolve around trees. One could fall asleep next to a particular tree and awake in the fairy realm.
  • This is why the tree of life symbol itself relates qualities to it, such as wisdom, strength & longevity.
  • The Celts believed that their enemies would be rendered powerless if their sacred tree was cut down.
  • The Celts derived the meaning of rebirth from the seasonal changes they would see each tree go through(Summer to Winter and so on).

You can learn more about the Celtic Tree Of Life here.

9. The Triquetra or the Trinity Knot – Celtic Symbols

The Triquetra or the Trinity Knot Celtic Symbols

Like all Celtic knots, the triquetra is made with one continuous line that interweaves around itself.

Celtic knot meaning:

Itsymbolises eternal spiritual life, one with no beginning and no end.

Christians feel that it started with the Monks, who brought these designs and their teachings of Christianity when attempting to convert the Celts of the day.

However, the Triquetra has been speculated to be the oldest symbol of spirituality.

In the ninth century, the Book of Kells appears as a decoration with no particular religious significance. The symbol has been found in Norwegian churches dating to the 11th century.

This symbol matches the Celtic belief that everything important in the world comes in threes.

You might recognise it from Thor’s hammer in the modern-day movie.

You can learn more about the Triquetra here.


10. The Triskele – Celtic Symbols

The Triskele - Celtic Symbols

Another Irish symbol that represents the Celtic belief of the triad is the triskele or the triskelion.

The triskele is one of the oldest Irish symbols, and you can find many of them on the kerbstones of Newgrange.

According to researchers, these carvings were believed to be made during Neolithic times or around 3200 BC.

You can see evidence of this around the world, as you can see from the image below from Athens, Greece:

Beaked jug (ewer) decorated with triple spirals. Late Helladic III, 1400-1350 BC

Beaked jug (ewer) decorated with triple spirals. Late Helladic III, 1400-1350 BC

The spirals could have changed over the centuries, but the base meanings include:

  • Three stages of life: life, death, and rebirth
  • Three elements: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
  • Three domains: earth, sea and sky, past, present and future.

You can learn more about the Triskele in my latest post here.

11. The Claddagh Ring – Celtic Symbols

The Claddagh Ring - Celtic Symbols

The Claddagh ring (Irish: fáinne Chladaigh) is a traditional Irish ring representing love, loyalty, and friendship (the hands represent friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown represents loyalty).

Claddagh Rings are widely known in Ireland as the symbol of union and loyalty.

Claddagh comes from the Irish phrase, “An Cladch”, which means “flat stony shore.”

It was the name of the village on the coast of Ireland where the Claddagh design originated. The ‘GH’ ending is added for phonetic English speakers to create the guttural, phlegmy sound that doesn’t have a character in our language.

It is believed that Richard Joyce, a fisherman from the village of Claddagh near Galway, made the ring for her lady love.

The woman who eventually became his wife.

For years after Joyce was kidnapped by pirates, Waited for him, sold him into slavery, and later regained his freedom.

You might not know that there are a few ways to wear the Claddagh ring.

Below are the different ways the ring can be worn. 

The Claddagh Ring Rules

  • The right hand with the heart’s point toward the fingertips: the wearer is single and maybe looking for love.
  • On the right hand, the wearer is in a relationship with the heart’s point toward the wrist.
  • On the left hand, with the heart’s point toward the fingertips: the wearer is engaged.
  • The left hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist: the wearer is married.

The women’s Claddagh ring is a beautiful part of the long tradition of Claddagh rings.

The Claddagh ring’s tradition started in Galway, a western city that faces out towards the Atlantic Ocean. It was often used as a wedding ring, and the way one wears the ring- facing the heart towards the body or away from it designates whether their “heart is taken.”

According to the Claddagh ring’s story, it is better to give the Claddagh as a gift than buy one for oneself, so this Claddagh ring makes for a perfect gift!

This particular Claddagh ring is made out of sterling silver, while the heart in the centre is made out of solid 10K gold. The ring measures ⅜” wide and comes in a variety of sizes.

This Claddagh ring was designed and crafted by Solvar in Co. Dublin, a company that prepares Irish jewellery from fine metals for the modern era. Buy this elegant Claddagh ring for a loved one today!

Claddagh ring buy it for a loved one

Some celebrities have worn the Claddagh ring over the years. Including Julia Roberts, Walt Disney and Jennifer Aniston. Read the post on the celebrities wearing the Claddagh ring here.

You can learn more about the Claddagh ring here.

12. The Shillelagh – The Irish fighting stick 

Shillelagh (pronounced ” shi – ley -li ) is the name for a traditional Irish stick or stick of blackthorn wood, who, having a thickening at the upper end.

Known by many names, including bata in Gaelic – which means fighting stick.

The original cane gets its name from the Shillelagh Forest in County Wicklow.  The forest was once famous for its massive stands of fine oaks.

Unfortunately, many of those great oaks were cut down and exported to various parts of Europe.

The shillelagh was originally used for settling disputes in a gentlemanly manner — like a duel with pistols or swords.

What does a Shillelagh look like?

Shillelaghs comes in different forms, as walking or walking stick with a length of up to 100 cm, as a pure weapon with a mean and a concise length.

The Shillelagh what the different variations looked like

Irishmen carried the stick just about everywhere they went. Various groups or factions were always present at most social gatherings, and faction fighting was widespread until the famines of the 1840s.

The blackthorn wood was available quickly and in large quantities; high hardness and stiffness species grew on each side of the road.

In the 19th Century, it belonged in his form as a walking stick naturally to an Irish gentleman’s appearance; until modern times, disputes were often discharged with the Shillelagh.

How was the Shillelagh made?

Traditionally, the blackthorn sticks, whose thorn batches were left on the stick, smeared with whiskey butter and smoked over a fire in a fireplace.

This gave them their dark, glossy surface, along with a very distinct odour.

Sometimes, the knob on the end was hollowed out and filled with molten lead.

This was known as a “loaded stick.”

But with sticks made of blackthorn, the knob was actually the root, and it would not have been necessary to “load” it because it could pack a significant whack!

If you have an old bata or walking stick made of oak, ash, holly or blackthorn, you indeed have a real shillelagh.

The shillelagh came to be regarded as a stereotypical symbol of Irishness in popular culture, particularly in an Irish-American context.

Other spelling variants include shillelahshillalah, and shillaly.

Did you ever have a Shillelagh? Comment below.

13. Quaternary Celtic Knot

Meaning: Quaternary simply means “four” – in this case – four-cornered.

A picture of a Celtic Quaternary Knot

Celtic Quaternary knot simply means four-sided or four.

Ah, I just finished this lovely blog post about the many different types of Celtic knots.

Interestingly, the quaternary knot is a mix between the sailor knot, Dara knot, and a shield knot.

The main thing to keep in mind with the Quaternary Celtic knot is that it is four-sided.

The belief for what this actually means could be debated for hours and hours.

But a few possibilities are: 

  • The four Directions, North South East West
  • The four Latin Gospels in the Book of Kells
  • The four Celtic festivals Samhain, Beltane, Imbolc, Lughnasadh
  • The four seasons, Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • The four elements Earth Fire Water Air

Technically you could make an argument for anything with four sides—even a Rubix cube(haha just joking).

The Quaternary Celtic knot is very popular with Celtic tattoos because of its diverse meanings. Depending on the era the Celtic symbol could mean different things.

The Celtic knot with four sides

Another version of the Celtic knot with four sides

Source: Wiki 

14. The Celtic Bull Meaning And Mythology

Celtic bull a symbol for stregth

If one animal is recognized in Celtic mythology for its strength, it is the Celtic Bull.

There was often the relationship between the greatest Celtic warrior and the most powerful animal symbols.

Animals were featured in Celtic jewellery, tapestries, carvings, clothing and anything else that you could draw on.

The idea was simply a specific animal had specific virtues. In this case, the bull was strong, fearless and strong will. While Celtic men often would use the Celtic bull to ensue these attributes, it was also a sign of fertility for women.

A carving of a bull on a bed would represent stamina, and well I do not need to go into more details haha.

While you might be drawn straight to the symbol of strength the Celtic bull also surprisingly was a symbol of wealth.

The bull was a huge food source for Celtic villages and played a massively important role in the ecosystem.

It is no wonder that in today’s society, the bull is still so popular in tattoos. Particularly for men. Even on wall street, the statue of the bull has become an iconic piece.

The Celtic bull tattoo

15. The Ailm – The Celtic Symbol For Strength 

The Ailm a symbol for strength

If you have been reading the post so far you will probably be saying, “wait a minute I thought the Dara knot was the symbol for strength?”. 

You would be correct they actually are both the symbol for strength, but they differ quite a lot. 

The Ailm is derived from the letter “A” of the Celtic Ogham alphabet. Ailm represents strength, endurance and resilience. The word “Ailm” is assumed to mean “conifer/silver fir”. In tree lore, evergreen conifers are associated with the healing of one’s soul.

 This is one of the most important Celtic symbols.

It is held in high regard for so many positive notions.

So many of today’s symbols and brands use this symbol to take advantage of its positive connotations.

16. Serch Bythol – The Celtic symbol for everlasting love – Celtic Symbols

This Celtic symbol of everlasting love is formed from two triskeles.

The triskeles, three-cornered knots, denote the three aspects of two people, body, mind and spirit. The two triskeles, joined together, show a circle, the everlasting circle of eternity. This is a great gift to give someone as it not only has a deep meaning but looks just lovely. 

Celtic Symbol For Love The figure represents two people, joined in body, mind, and spirit in everlasting love.

The figure represents two people, joined in body, mind, and spirit in everlasting love.

17. Beltane – The Celtic symbol for the start of summer

Yes, who doesn’t love the beginning of summer!? It turns out the Celts also celebrated summer. I’d imagine their parties were a bit different from ours. 

While Beltane(May Day) is represented in a few different ways, the most well-known is the maypole. The young Celts would go off to the woods and select the straightest tree they could find. Typically it would be pine or birch.

With much ceremony, they would cut it down, drag it back to the village and then erect it on the village green. It is most commonly held on 1 May. About halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice.

Beltane fire start of summer festival

Beltane is a Celtic word that means ‘fires of Bel’ (Bel was a Celtic deity).

It also celebrates the fertility of the coming year. 

If you look up Beltane or May Pole on Google just be warned that the rabbit hole goes quite deep. I went from lovely Celtic celebrations to all sorts of spells and mythology. But if you are interested in that be sure to look further into Beltane.

18. The Celtic Five Fold – Celtic Symbols

This is an interesting Celtic symbol. It is not spoken about that much online, but it appears a lot in everyday life. 

Probably the most noticeable being the Olympics of course! The Celtic 5 fold is also known as the Borromean cross. It is five rings arrange as four outer rings are joined with one central ring. 

The Celtic Five Fold Meanings:

  • Celtic mythology represented heaven, spirituality, faith and god.
  • But also could have meant the four classical elements of fire, water, air, and earth, or the four seasons.  
  • Four directions: South, North, East, West

The extra ring would be the connection of us to the universe or balance. 

While you can compare it to the Olympic symbol, it is very different. The Olympic symbol represents the five continents coming together in unity for the Olympic games. 

Whereas the Celtic five-fold has one central ring holding the others together(God in this case.) The number five is also often associated with protection.  

Celtic five fold symbol representing protection.

A Typical Celtic Five Fold Symbol 

Olympic symbol compared to Celtic symbol Celtic five fold

The very similar Olympic rings

19. The Eternity Knot or Endless knot 

This is an interesting one. It actually overlays into a lot of other histories and even seen in Tibetan Buddhism. Their understanding of it is quite similar to the Celts. Because the knot has no beginning and no end, the eternal knot symbolizes the Buddha’s endless wisdom and compassion. Or in the Celt’s case the circle of life. Eternity Knot A Celtic Symbol

The Celt’s used this symbol to represent the world’s eternity, of life, of love and friendships and relationships. At its centre rests a Celtic triskelion.

Various interpretations of the eternity Knot Celtic symbol are:

  • The endless knot iconography symbolised Samsara, i.e., the endless cycle of suffering or birth, death and rebirth within Tibetan Buddhism.
  • The intertwining of wisdom and compassion.
  • Interplay and interaction of the opposing forces in the dualistic world of manifestation, leading to their union, and ultimately to harmony in the universe.
  • The mutual dependence of religious doctrine and secular affairs.
  • The union of wisdom and method.
  • The inseparability of emptiness (shunyata) and dependent origination, the underlying reality of existence.
  • Symbolic of knot symbolism in linking ancestors and omnipresence (refer etymology of Tantra, Yoga and religion) (see Namkha.)
  • Since the knot has no beginning or end, it also symbolizes the wisdom of the Buddha.

Wow, that is a lot of meanings! You can read more about it on the main Wikipedia page.

20. St Brigid’s Cross – Officially February 1st the last of my list on Celtic symbols

I couldn’t include a St Brigid’s cross as one of the Celtic symbols. Irish people around the globe still celebrate this day. St Brigid who was born in Dundalk in 450 AD is accredited with creating the very first unique cross which we know today is called “St Brigid’s Cross” 

Even now in 2021 people around the globe made their very own Brigid’s cross on February 1st.

Widely believed to be a Christian symbol, Brigid’s Cross is tied to Brigid of the Tuatha de Danaan. Which, in Irish Celtic Mythology, is known as a life-giving goddess.

  • This cross is thought to keep evil, fire and hunger from the home in which it is displayed.
  • Brigid’s cross or Brigit’s cross (Irish: Cros BrídeCrosóg Bríde or Bogha Bríde) is a small cross usually woven from rushes.
  • Typically it has four arms tied at the ends and a woven square in the middle.

What other Celtic symbols do you know about?


Be sure to pin this Celtic Symbols image to your Pinterest board, and if you enjoyed these, be sure to browse some incredible Celtic Jewelry here:

Ancient Celtic Symbols And Their Meanings

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Other hidden Celtic Symbols secretly that have been grown around Ireland:

The Emery Celtic Cross In Donegal

What a view!

This giant 100-meter long Celtic cross is now known as the “Emery Celtic Cross”, proudly named after its creator Liam Emery.

Liam intelligently planted two different pine trees species in the shape of this giant Celtic cross design ten years ago in the woods of County Donegal.

The reason being that the outer trees are evergreen and don’t drop their needles during Autumn, but the trees used for the actual cross design are not evergreen & turn a golden colour right before they drop their needles for the cold seasons ahead.

You can discover more about these secret Celtic Symbols in my article on them here. 

If you enjoyed this article and are in the mood for some Irish humour, I have 30 of the best Irish jokes for you to read here or 15 more Irish jokes here.


I have decided to update this article every week with a new Celtic symbol. When I first published this article five years ago in 2015, I only had 10 Celtic symbols.

Over the years, I have regularly kept it updated, and you will find only the most up to date information here from an Irishman.

Thanks for reading,

Stephen Palmer

P.S Love all things, Irish? Get your weekly dose of Irish straight to your inbox here. 


If you enjoy a good Irish joke, you can read these 30 Irish jokes or these 15 more Irish jokes.

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Sours: https://irisharoundtheworld.com/celtic-symbols/


triangular motif formed of three interlaced arcs or loops

Not to be confused with Triquetrum (disambiguation).

The term "triquetra" has formerly also been used to refer to the triple spiral design discussed under triskelion.

The triquetra (; from the Latin adjective triquetrus "three-cornered") is a triangular figure composed of three interlaced arcs, or (equivalently) three overlapping vesicae piscis lens shapes.

It is used as an ornamental design in architecture, and in medieval manuscript illumination (particularly in the Insular tradition). Its depiction as interlaced is common in Insular ornaments from about the 7th century. In this interpretation, the triquetra represents the topologically simplest possible knot.


Iron Age[edit]

The term triquetra in archaeology is used of any figure consisting of three arcs, including a pinwheel design of the type of the triskeles. Such symbols become frequent from about the 4th century BC ornamented ceramics of Anatolia and Persia, and it appears on early Lycian coins.[1]

The triquetra is found on runestones in Northern Europe and on early Germanic coins.[citation needed] It bears a resemblance to the so-called valknut, a design of three interlacing triangles, found in the same context.

Insular art[edit]

The triquetra is often found in insular art, most notably metal work and in illuminated manuscripts like the Book of Kells. It is a "minor though recurring theme" in the secondary phase of Anglo-Saxon sceatta production (c. 710–760).[2] It is found in similar artwork on early Christian High Crosses and slabs. An example from early medieval stonework is the Anglo-Saxon frith stool at Hexham Abbey.[3]

The symbol has been interpreted as representing the Christian Trinity, especially since the Celtic revival of the 19th century. The original intention by the early medieval artists is unknown and experts[who?] warn against over-interpretation.[2] It is, however, regularly used as a Trinitarian symbol in contemporary Christian iconography.

Buddhist tradition[edit]

The triquetra has been a known symbol in Japan called Musubi Mitsugashiwa.[citation needed] Being one of the forms of the AryanIakšaku dynasty signs, it reached Japan with the dynasty's Kāśyapīya spreading technology and Buddhism via Kingdom of Khotan, China and Korea.[citation needed]

Modern use[edit]

The four symbols used by the members of rock band Led Zeppelinon their 1971 album commonly known as Led Zeppelin IV. The symbols acted as a title for the otherwise untitled album. Bassist John Paul Joneschose the triquetra in a circle as his symbol.

The triquetra is often used artistically as a design element when Celtic knotwork is used, especially in association with the modern Celtic Nations. The triquetra, also known as a "trinity knot", is often found as a design element is popular Irish jewelry such as claddaghs and other wedding or engagement rings.[4][page needed]

Celtic pagans or neopagans who are not of a Celtic cultural orientation, may use the triquetra to symbolise a variety of concepts and mythological figures. Due to its presence in insular Celtic art, Celtic Reconstructionists use the triquetra either to represent one of the various triplicities in their cosmology and theology (such as the tripartite division of the world into the realms of Land, Sea and Sky),[5] or as a symbol of one of the specific Celtic triple goddesses, for example the battle goddess, The Morrígan. The symbol is also sometimes used by Wiccans and some New Agers to symbolise the Triple Goddess, or as a protective symbol.[6]

In the TV series The Walking Dead (2010), Michonne's katana features a triquetra, chosen for its meaning as a "triple goddess symbol".[7][8]

In the German Netflix series Dark (2017), it symbolizes the caves' closed time loops with each loop being 33 years apart, with the past affecting the future and the future influencing the past. The Triquetra is of significant symbolic value to the time travelers. This symbol can be seen on the Cave's metal door, on the Emerald Tablet, in The Stranger's papers and in the Sic Mundus photo. [9]


Variant forms
  • Triquetra composed exactly of three overlapping Vesica piscis symbols.

  • An interlaced double triquetra.

  • Tightly-knotted form of triquetra.

  • Triquetra interlaced with circle as Christian Trinitarian symbol (a "Trinity knot").

  • Triquetra in blue as part of an interlaced Christian Trinitarian decorative symbol.

  • Interlaced triquetra in the style of the Funbo Runestone

  • Cross composed of four interlaced triquetras.

See also[edit]


  1. ^John Burley Waring, Ceramic Art in Remote Ages (1874), 84f.
  2. ^ abTony Abramson (ed.), Two Decades of Discovery Studies in Medieval Coinage 1, Boydell Press (2008), p. 1.
  3. ^"The Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture". www.ascorpus.ac.uk. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  4. ^McMahon, Seán (1999). Story of the Claddagh Ring. Mercier Press. ISBN 9781856351898.
  5. ^Mac Mathúna, Liam (1999) "Irish Perceptions of the Cosmos"Celtica vol. 23 (1999), pp.174–187
  6. ^Cunningham, Scott (2004) [1988], "Rune Magic", Wicca: A Guide to the Solitary Practitioner, Woodbury, MN, U.S.A.: Llewellyn, p. 191, ISBN .
  7. ^Ross, Dalton; Snetiker, Marc (17 November 2013). "Michonne's Katana". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  8. ^Keveney, Bill (12 October 2014). "'The Walking Dead,' up close and personal". USA Today. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  9. ^"Triquetra | Official DARK-Guide Season 1&2 | NETFLIX". DARKNetflix. Retrieved 30 May 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Spoken Wikipedia icon

This audio file was created from a revision of this article dated 27 May 2005 (2005-05-27), and does not reflect subsequent edits.

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triquetra
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Celtic Symbols and meanings
It’s no surprise that Celtic symbols and their meanings are an integral part of Irish history and culture.

Now, just to clear something up from the beginning: there are Celtic symbols and there are Irish symbols, and the two differ greatly.

Celtic symbols, like the Celtic Knot and the Celtic Cross, were brought to Ireland by the Celts thousands of years ago (more on the origins of the symbols below).

Irish symbols, like the Irish Harp and the shamrock, are symbols associated with our little island that came about much later.

Below, you’ll find the most popular Celtic symbols and meanings. You’ll also find a few Irish symbols along with how they are used today.

12 Celtic symbols and meanings explained

  1. The Celtic Tree of Life
  2. The Celtic Cross symbol
  3. The Dara Knot
  4. The Ailm
  5. The Triquetra / Trinity Knot
  6. The Triskelion
  7. The harp
  8. The shamrock
  9. The Claddagh Ring
  10. Serch Bythol
  11. The Celtic Motherhood Knot
  12. The symbol for new beginnings

1. The Celtic Tree of Life

Celtic Tree of Life Symbol

The intricately interwoven branches and roots of the Celtic Tree of Life form a strong and earthy Celtic symbol that’s often associated with the Druids.

While the branches reach for the sky, the roots permeate the earth. For the ancient Celts, the Tree of Life symbolizes balance and harmony. Spin this symmetric Celtic symbol 180 degrees and its appearance remains the same.

Known in Irish as ‘Crann Bethadh’, this Celtic symbol represents the belief of the close association between heaven and earth.

The Celts believed that the trees were the spirits of their ancestors, providing a link between their earthly life and the next.

A symbol of strength, longevity and wisdom

The Celtic Tree of Life symbol represents strength, longevity and wisdom, all of which were attributes that the Celts revered.

They also believed that the tree symbolized rebirth (they would have witnessed it shed its leaves in fall and grow new ones in spring).

The Celtic tree of life symbol also clearly shows the link between every root below the ground and every branch above.

Discover more: Read more about this symbol in our guide to the Celtic Tree of Life.

2. The Celtic Cross

celtic cross symbol

The Celtic Cross has been present in Ireland from the early Middle Ages and it is arguably the most recognisable of the many Celtic symbols.

Interestingly enough, some of the earliest Celtic Cross symbols in Ireland date back to the 8th or 9th century and can be found in Kilkenny and Laois. 

Originally, these crosses would have been made from wood or metal and they were likely much smaller than the surviving stone carved pillars that can be found across Ireland.

In the Middle Ages, many Celtic Cross symbols were carved into rock, but over time they were developed and built as independent standing stones or monoliths.

One of many Celtic symbols with several meanings

There are many theories about the meaning of the Celtic Cross. One interpretation is that the four ‘arms’ represent the four cardinal directions of the earth (north, south, east, and west).

Another interpretation of the Celtic Cross symbol is that it represents the four elements: Earth, fire, water and air.

The four quadrants may also represent the four seasons of the year or the four stages of the day: morning, midday, evening and midnight. 

Discover more: Read more about this symbol in our guide to the Celtic Cross.

3. The Dara Knot

the dara knot

Another of the better-known Celtic symbols is the Dara Celtic Knot. This symbol boasts an interwoven design and a name that comes from the Irish word ‘Doire’ which means “oak tree”.

The Dara Knot is derived from this word and the symbol represents the root system of an ancient oak. Like other Celtic knot symbols, the Dara Knot is made up of intertwined lines with no beginning or end.

There is no single design for the Dara Celtic Knot but all versions are centred on the common theme of the oak tree and its roots.

Celts and Druids revered nature, particularly ancient oak trees, and considered them sacred. They saw the oak tree as a symbol of strength, power, wisdom, and endurance.

The Celtic symbol for strength

In the same way, the Dara Celtic knot is symbolic of the roots of the oak tree with the same symbolic source of inner strength. 

Celtic knots were used for decorations, as spiritual charms, and as teaching aids. With its association with nature and oak trees, the symbolic intricacy of the Dara Celtic Knot clearly represented strength.

The symbol would be called upon by the ancient Celts to provide strength and inner wisdom in tough situations.

Discover more: Read more about this Celtic symbol in our guide to the Dara Knot.

4. The Ailm

the ailm symbol

There are two traditional Irish Celtic symbols for strength – the Dara Knot (above) and the Ailm. The symbols differ greatly in design, but their meanings are similar.

The Celtic Ailm symbol is derived from the first letter of the Celtic Ogham alphabet. Ogham was a primitive form of written communication in Celtic history and the Ogham was originally a group of trees that were thought to dispense knowledge and wisdom.

The Ailm is thought to be a type of conifer or silver fir tree. In ancient Celtic tree lore, evergreen fir trees were associated with the healing of a person’s inner soul.

The Celtic symbol for inner strength

The Celts saw trees as the ultimate symbol for strength, and it’s no mystery why. The likes of an oak can survive and grow in difficult circumstances and can ‘live’ for hundreds of years.

The Ailm represents strength, endurance, and resilience as well as healing, purification, health, and fertility. The Ailm tends to be one of the most popular Celtic symbols used to represent inner strength.

Discover more: Read more about the Ailm in our guide to the Celtic symbols for strength.

5. The Triquetra / Trinity Knot

the trinity knot

There is no definitive Celtic symbol for family, but there are several ancient Celtic knots that represent the meanings of eternal love, strength and family unity.

The Triquetra is thought to be the oldest symbol of spirituality. It is depicted in the 9th century Book of Kells and also appears in Norwegian stave churches from the 11th century. 

The elaborate Triquetra, also known as the Trinity Knot or Celtic Triangle, is one of the most beautiful Celtic symbols and it shows a circle interwoven with a continuous three-pointed symbol.

The Celtic Symbol for Family

The meaning of this Celtic Knot is that with no beginning and no end, it represents unity and eternal spiritual life. The symbols line interweaves through the circle in an unbroken flow.

Many believe that this symbol represents the pillars of early Celtic Christian teachings of the Holy Trinity (God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit).

It also represents the unity of spirit when enclosed in a circle. The circle protects it, so the symbolic spirit cannot be broken.

Discover more: Read more about the Triquetra in our guide to the Trinity Knot.

6. The Triskelion

the Triskelion

Also known as the Triskele, the Triskelion is another of the ancient Irish Celtic symbols thought to have been around during Neolithic times (that’s around 3,200 years BC!).

This spiral symbol once again reflects the Celtic belief that everything important comes in threes.

The Triskelion has three clockwise spirals connecting from a central hub, a little like the Manx three-legged symbol. In fact, the Greek word Triskele means three-legged.

Also known as the triple spiral, the Triskelion has rotational symmetry and is very common in Celtic art and architecture.

A symbol that represents progress 

The Celtic spiral is one of the oldest and most primitive decorations on earth and is believed to represent the sun or ethereal radiation energy.

Celtic spirals that are clockwise are believed to have a meaning connected to harmony or earth; if they are anti-clockwise they are thought to be pagan symbols that manipulate nature.

The meaning of the Celtic Triskelion is seen as a symbol of strength and progress. As it appears to be moving, the Triskelion also represents the will to move forward and overcome adversity.

Discover more: Read more about this symbol in our guide to the Triskele.

7. The Irish Harp

Irish Harp Symbol

The first of the non Celtic symbols in this guide is the Harp. The Irish Harp is the national emblem of Ireland and is still widely used today.

Look for it on Irish Euro coins as well as on the label of every can and bottle of Guinness. The meaning of the Irish harp symbol embodies the spirit and essence of the Irish people and is said to represent the immortality of the soul.

In fact, it was so revered that the British banned all harps (and harpists!) in the 16th century in an effort to break the symbolic tie.

Needless to say, the Irish Harp symbol survived and it is now one of the best known Irish Celtic symbols along with the Irish flag.

8. The Shamrock

Irish Symbols

The Shamrock is another of the many Irish symbols that tends to be mistaken for one of the ancient Celtic symbols.

This tiny bright green three-leafed plant grows all over Ireland and beyond, and it thrives in cool damp climates.

If you find a clover with four separate leaves it’s said to be lucky (read more about the luck of the Irish). It is the national flower of Ireland and its symbolism is deeply rooted in the past.

The shamrock is believed to have been an important Druid symbol. Druids are said to have felt that the three heart-shaped leaves represented the triad.

According to legend, St Patrick used the trefoil leaves to explain the unity of the Holy Trinity – three parts yet one whole – to the pagans during his Christian teachings.

9. The Claddagh ring

Celtic symbol for love

When it comes to Celtic symbols for love, one design tends to (incorrectly) pop up time and time again, despite clear evidence of its origin.

I’m talking, of course, about the mighty Claddagh. Now, don’t get me wrong, the Claddagh is a beautiful Irish symbol, but it has nothing to do with the Celts.

The Claddagh symbol originated in County Galway in a little fishing village of the very same name. 

The Celtic symbol for love

Claddagh rings are widely exchanged in Ireland and elsewhere as a symbol of loyalty and unity. The word Claddagh is the name of the coastal village where the design was invented by Richard Joyce.

The Claddagh ring is often used as a wedding ring and tradition says that you should never buy a Claddagh for yourself; it should be given as a gift.

Discover more: Read more about this symbol in our guide to the Claddagh ring.

10. Serch Bythol

serch bythol celtic symbol

Although less well known than some other Celtic symbols, the Serch Bythol is significant. It also shows the early Celts were deeply in touch with their emotions and relationships.

The Serch Bythol symbol is made from two Celtic knots / triskeles to symbolize the everlasting love between two people.

The two defined yet closely intertwined parts represent two people joined together forever in body, mind, and spirit.

The Celtic symbol for everlasting love

This symbol is believed to represent eternal love and the side-by-side design creates an endless interconnected flow of lines without end.

The unification of the symmetrical left and right halves signifies the bringing together of body, mind and spirit with the central circle representing the eternal love which binds them together.

11. The Celtic Motherhood Knot

celtic motherhood knot

Celtic knots, called Icovellavna, include many knots used for decoration in the Celtic style of Insular Art.

The elaborate Celtic Motherhood Knot symbolizes the bond between mother and child or, in Christianity, the Madonna and Child.

The meaning of the Celtic Motherhood Knot is one of enduring love between a mother and child, faith in God and the Celtic heritage.

A symbol of enduring love

Whatever your personal faith and beliefs may be, this Celtic symbol depicts an unbreakable, never-ending bond of love and life.

Traditionally, the Celtic Motherhood Knot consists of two hearts interlinked with no beginning or end.

One heart is lower than the first and children are often denoted by a dot, heart or another symbol inside or outside the heart design. As the family grows, more symbols can be added to represent each child.

A Celtic symbol for mother and son or mother and daughter

So, a lot of very finely designed Pinterest images would lead you to believe that there are specific Celtic symbols for mother and son or mother and daughter.

If you’d like to discover more about these designs (and why many of them are false) jump into one of the following guides:

Discover more: Read more about this symbol in our guides to the motherhood knot.

12. The Celtic symbol for new beginnings

Celtic Symbols and meanings

Despite what you find on Pinterest, there is no such thing as a Celtic symbol for new beginnings; it’s entirely made up.

Someone invented a design, posted it online and now people believe that it’s one of the ancient Celtic symbols.

The most likely explanation for this Celtic symbol is that it is one of several ‘Zibu’ symbols created by an artist (Zibu) who claims he was given the symbols by the angels.

Where did Celtic symbols come from?

Celtic Cross Ireland

Celtic symbols arrived in Ireland with the Celts. The Celts were an indigenous race that lived in groups across Northern Europe from pre-500BC to the Medieval Period.

These ancient people lived in small tribal communities and, despite being widely scattered, they spoke similar Celtic languages and had many common cultural symbols.

One of the groups among the ancient Celts were the Druids. Druids were among the high-ranking professional, religious and law-keeping members of Celtic culture.

Consequently, Druid symbols have a close association and overlap with many Celtic symbols and meanings.

What do the Celtic symbols mean?

Irish and Druid Symbols

Many Irish Celtic symbols were handed down over time and their meanings were never actually recorded in writing. However, many symbols have been interpreted over the years.

With these symbols, there is a common theme of love, loyalty, strength, unity and religious belief. Many Celtic symbols have three intertwined parts which represent the belief that everything of significance is in three parts.

These included three domains: Earth, sky and sea. The Celts also divided the stages of life into three phases: the past, the present and the future.

With the arrival of Christianity to Ireland in the 5th century, the Celtic trio was extended to include the Holy Trinity: God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Other trios in Celtic symbolism include humankind being made up of mind, body and spirit. 

FAQs about Celtic symbols and their meanings

celtic cros symbol

We’ve had a lot of questions from people over the years about the meaning behind certain Celtic symbols. 

Below, I’ll try and tackle as many of these questions as possible. If you have one that we haven’t answered, ask it in the comments.

What’s the Celtic symbol for strength and courage?

The Dara Knot is the most notable symbols for strength and courage. The Celts revered nature (ancient oak trees, in particular).

They saw the oak as a symbol of strength, power, wisdom, and endurance. If you’re looking for the Celtic symbol for inner strength, go with the Dara Knot, also.

Is there a fancy Celtic symbol for love?

We’ve had questions about ‘fancy’ and ‘quirky’ symbols that would ‘look really aesthetic as a minimalist tattoo’… I don’t even know what that means…

As mentioned in the guide above, the most accurate symbol for love is the Serch Bythol. This symbol is made from two Celtic knots (or triskeles) that symbolize everlasting love.

Are Celtic symbols and meanings still relevant?

Celtic symbols and meanings associated with them are still popular in Irish culture today. Some people, naturally enough, are more interested in them than others.

Have a question about Irish, Celtic or Druid Symbols? Pop a question in the comments section below and we’ll get back to you.

Keith O'Hara

Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!

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Celtic symbols and their meanings

Celtic Knots have no start or end and represent our complex physical and spiritual nature. Celtic symbols can represent family, strength, protection, love and more. This article is divided into two main sections: Celtic Knot Meanings and Other Celtic Symbols (that are not knots). Scroll down halfway to see that one.

Celtic Knot Meanings

Triquetra (also known as the Trinity Knot)

The Celtic Triquetra is perhaps the most famous of the Celtic symbols

The Celtic Trinity Knot or Triquetra is one of the most common Celtic symbols. Some people also refer to it as the “Irish Trinity Knot” or the “Celtic Trinity Knot”.

A number of different cultures used the triquetra for various meanings over time. Christians use this knot as a symbol of the Holy Trinity. In fact, it appeared on the cover of the King James Bible. Some historians believe pagans used it long before that. To pagans, the triquetra symbolizes Earth elements, or religious meanings. The triangle shape of the triquetra always represents three elements. For example, here is a list of some triads it might represent:

  • The Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)
  • Land, Sea and Air
  • Life, Death and Rebirth
  • Order, Justice, Peace
    Three Intersecting Circles
  • Faith, Hope, Charity
  • Past, Present, Future
  • Mind, Body, Spirit

Some call the triquetra without the interlocking circle the “simplest knot”. Only two linked circles is not a knot, so three linked circles would be the simplest.

The “three circles” form of the Celtic triquetra knot appears often in popular culture. For example, a form of this symbol is on the album cover for Led Zeppelin IV. John Paul Jones chose the triquetra to represent himself. This is what Wikipedia says about that:

Bassist John Paul Jones’ symbol, which he chose from Rudolf Koch’s Book of Signs, is a single circle intersecting three vesica pisces (a triquetra). It is intended to symbolize a person who possesses both confidence and competence.

Red, green, blue Venn diagram

Another place you see the Celtic triquetra is in Venn diagrams. These charts show the relationships between different classes of things. A Venn diagram illustrates how the classes of things overlap. The triquetra appears in these charts when they have three classes or elements. For instance, a triquetra appears in the Venn diagram that shows the how the primary colors red, blue and green combine to make other colors. This diagram shows a simple and easy way what colors you get when primary colors are mixed. For example, red and green make yellow.

Without a doubt, the Celtic triquetra is one of the oldest and most popular Celtic symbols. Personally, my favorite interpretation is the union of Mind, Body and Spirit.

Celtic Eternity Knot (Or Celtic Infinity Knot)

Celtic Infinity Knot Ring

Another Celtic Knot is the Celtic Eternity Knot or Celtic Infinity knot. These come in many different variations. They are all some kind of variation of the infinity symbol. The knot looks like a sideways figure 8. This symbol came out of the world of mathematics. According to experts and historians, Leonhard Euler introduced a symbol close to what we use today.

The Mobius strip is another concept from math that is very similar to the infinity knot symbol. That is a circular plane with a twist in it. Another one is the ouroboros. This a symbol or drawing of a snake eating its’ own tail. Sometimes the snake is shown in a figure 8 pattern in these pictures. These are both closely related to the eternity knot symbol.

Wedding bands, engagement rings and other jewelry pieces use this symbol. In that context, it represents the eternal bond of marriage. The symbol used on our Celtic Eternity Knot Ring is a sideways figure 8 that is not closed. The “open” end of it is looped around to create the next knot in the series.

In general, Celtic knots are like circles that have no beginning or end. The circle is another symbol of eternity or infinity. Many believe that knots represent the Celts’ beliefs in eternal life and in humans’ complex relationship with the natural and and spiritual worlds.

Celtic Motherhood Knot

Motherhood Knot Necklace - Silver

The Celtic Motherhood Knot is a heart-shaped symbol. First, note that it has two separate, interwoven heart-shaped Celtic knots. The two separate knots represent mother and child. In addition, notice that the lower knot is an upside-down Trinity Knot. Two of the corners are rounded into a heart shape. Sometimes colored dots accompany this knot. In jewelry, a birthstone can be used to represent each child. A version of this pendant with birthstones is available here.

Another common theme is that Celtic symbols stand for virtues such as wisdom, strength, love and honesty. These traits definitely apply to the motherhood knot.

Celtic Wedding Knot

This ring features the Celtic Wedding Knot. The wedding knot has three different elements: it has two ovals interwoven with an Eternity knot. Each oval represents husband and wife. The eternity knot represents their eternal love. Therefore, the symbol taken as a whole represents the marriage of these three elements.

Other Celtic Symbols and their Meanings

This section is about other Celtic symbols we use in our jewelry that are not Celtic knots. Some versions of them contain Celtic knots, but the symbol can also be done without them.

Celtic Tree of Life Meaning

There are many different versions of the Celitc tree of Life. Some show the roots and branches reaching out and becoming intertwined. Others show the leaves falling down to the ground. The idea is that the leaves decay and become part of the roots. Often (as is the case with ours) the tree is within a circle. All of these things symbolize the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth, and how all life is inter-related. In other versions, the tree has spiral branches. You can read more about spiral symbolism in the section on the Triskele or Celtic Spirals below.

Dozens of different cultures all over the world have utilized the Tree of Life in art. Ancient Egyptians and Norse mythology both used the Tree of Life, and many others in-between. Wikipedia has a great explanation of what it means to many different cultures. Trees feature prominently in early Irish art. It is not known if their version refers to a “Tree of Life” or if the Celtic tree had some other meaning. Like a lot of things, when Christianity came to Ireland the symbol took on more of a Christian meaning. The book of Genesis in the Bible refers to the tree of life. Genesis 3:22 – 3:24 reads:

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

In the Bible, the Tree of Life is a separate and distinct concept from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It says if you eat of the Tree of Life you will live forever.

Science Tree of Life

Science also refers to a “Tree of Life”. The scientific tree of life depicts how all species evolved from another, “branching” off from the original. When you go back far enough, you will find that all life evolved from a single-celled organism. Some of the main branches of this tree divide plants and animals. To learn more about the scientific view of the tree of life, go here.

The Tree of Life appears in popular culture as well. It plays a role in C.S. Lewis’ book The Magician’s Nephew from the Chonicles of Narnia series. Cigna (the health services company) uses a Tree of Life motif in their logo.

The Tree of Life appears in several movies. It plays a central role of symbolism in the 2006 movie The Fountain by Darren Aronofsky. That film played off of the idea that if you eat from it, you will live forever. Through three different stories the main character searches for a way to extend life. Another movie that uses the scientific concept is The Tree of Life. It is a very unique unique story that uses evolution and the tree of life as kind of a parallel to the main story.

Celtic Shamrock Meaning

People associate The Celtic Shamrock with Ireland so tightly that many assume it is the official symbol of Ireland. In reality the shamrock is an unofficial symbol of Ireland, and the harp is the official symbol. Few people stop to ask how the Shamrock became an Irish symbol.

The main reason the shamrock is so closely tied to Ireland is because of the legend of St. Patrick. According to the legend, he used a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to people during his mission there. The symbol caught on and many people adopted it. He of course won many people over to the Christian faith. This article explains more about St. Patrick and the symbol of the shamrock.

The shamrock is a clover, and there are four main species considered “shamrocks”. Clovers are very prevalent in Ireland. The one most people recognize is the Trifolium Dubium. You can read more about the different species of clover here. In addition, at one time it was a food source for livestock. Therefore, the shamrock or clover can also be a symbol of abundance or fertility.

Today people associate four leaf clovers with good luck, but experts say that a fairly recent development. Experts say roughly 1 in 10,000 clovers have 4 leaves. So if you find one it is good luck indeed.

People also associate shamrocks with Leprechauns. The myth says if you capture a Leprechaun, he may cast a spell or hypnotize you to escape. According to the myth, the only way to disperse this spell is with a shamrock.

The Celtic Shamrock is yet another of the Celtic symbols that sometimes represents the Holy Trinity. Others are the Trinity Knot and the Triskele (or Triple Spiral) symbols. Like those, the Shamrock represents a “triad”. Examples of this would be “life, death, rebirth” or “Earth, Sea, Sky”. It is interesting there are so many different symbols for the same concept.

Celtic Cross Meaning

The Celtic Cross meaning seems obvious – it is a symbol of religious faith. However, there is quite a history behind it. There are many different versions that have slightly different meanings. Many of these crosses closely associate with specific Irish Saints.

The earliest Celtic cross is just a simple cross with a circle. This was possibly a variation of the Sun cross, which goes back to an even earlier era. It is clear that pagans used the cross as a symbol. Christians converted it into a Christian symbol as missionaries introduced Christianity to Ireland. Once it became more of a Christian symbol, the lines of the cross extended beyond the circle. Also, they lengthened the bottom line to make it more like a Christian cross.

Round Celtic ross Necklace - Bronze

Another kind of Celtic cross is the kind with Celtic knots and interwoven patterns on it. This kind of cross frequently appears on gravestones, churches, or other religious sites. It definitely appeared after the conversion towards Christianity began. There are several historic monuments which use this kind of cross, such as the Ardboe High Cross and the Monasterboice ruins.

Yet another variation of Celtic Cross is the round kind, or “shield” type. Some refer to this as the Celtic warrior shield or symbol. There are different types of this one as well. One version of a round cross is at the St. Brynach church yard in Wales. St. Brynach was a 6th century Welsh saint who spread Christianity and built a monastery. It is also used on headstones and other religious settings.

The last type of cross associated with Celtic symbols is Brigid’s Cross. Historians attribute this cross to Brigid of Kildare, or Brigit of Kildare. She is also a saint. There is a legend associated with this cross. According to the story, a pagan chief was very ill and in a lot of pain. His caretakers could not calm him down. Brigid tried to console him. She picked up some straw off the floor and wove it into a cross. Finally, the man calmed a bit and asked what she was doing. She explained what the cross meant and how she wove it. He converted to Christianity moments before his death.

Triskele or Triple Spiral Meaning

Triskele Pendant - Steel

The Triskele (or triple spiral) is one of the oldest Celtic symbols and has many different meanings. However, triskeles appear in many modern contexts today.

Some of the earliest examples are at ancient sites in Ireland. The triskele appears on tombs there. One notable example is at the Newgrange passage tomb. This symbol pre-dates Christianity in Ireland. However, Christians also used it. For them it was another symbol for the Holy Trinity.

Above, we discussed how the Triquetra was often used to represent triads. Similarly, the Triskele also symbolizes any type of “triad”, or things that come in threes. For example, this could be “mind, body, spirit”, or “past, present, future”. For early Celts, it possibly symbolized the three realms of Earth, sea and sky. A full list of triads is in the Triquetra section at the top of this page.

Triskeles appear in many non-religious contexts today. However, they have a very different meaning in many of those contexts. In some versions, three sets of running legs replace the spirals. For example, one the flag of Sicily. In this context, the triskele symbol symbolizes action, progress, or moving forward. Another example is the U.S. Department of Transportation. They use a triskele as their logo. The triskele also appeared in the television show Teen Wolf.

This idea of progress can also take on a more personal meaning. In that context, the triskele means personal growth, or learning and understanding. Buddhists used this symbol in this context. This is my favorite idea behind the triskele.

Finally, there are several variations on the triskele symbol or triple spiral. Some have the triangle in the center and some do not. In other versions, elements wrap around the outside of the symbol and make a circle. Undoubtedly, it is easy to understand why the various versions of triskele symbol stood the test of time.

Claddagh Ring Meaning

Claddagh Ring

Another famous symbol is the Claddagh ring. It dates back to the 17th Century in Ireland and is one of the more famous Celtic symbols. Its’ name comes from the fishing village of Claddagh, which was just outside Galway, Ireland. A Claddagh symbol contains hands holding a heart adorned with a crown in most versions. Furthermore, according to the story, the hands represent friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown represents loyalty.

There are a couple legends associated with the origin of the Claddagh ring. One credits silversmith Richard Joyce with creating it. To illustrate, here is the key passage from the story according to Wikipedia:

According to legend, Algerian Corsairs captured Joyce and enslaved him around 1675 while on a passage to the West Indies; he was sold into slavery to a Moorish goldsmith who taught him the craft.King William III sent an ambassador to Algeria to demand the release of any and all British subjects enslaved in that country, which at the time included Richard Joyce.

After fourteen years, they released Joyce and he returned to Galway and brought along with him the ring he had fashioned while in captivity: what we’ve come to know as the Claddagh. He gave the ring to his sweetheart, married, and became a goldsmith with “considerable success”. His initials are in one of the earliest surviving Claddagh rings but there are three other rings also made around that time, bearing the mark of goldsmith Thomas Meade.

The Claddagh ring works as a promise ring, an engagement ring, a wedding ring, or simply for decoration. Some debate whether promise rings is a proper use for a Claddagh ring, but I cannot find an exact answer to this question.

There is another element to the Claddagh ring meaning. It takes different meanings depending on how it is worn. How it is worn indicates the relationship status of the wearer. Specifically, these are common meanings of how the Claddagh ring is worn:

  • Single and looking for love: wear the ring on the right hand, pointed away.
  • In a relationship: wear the ring on the right hand, pointed towards you.
  • Engaged: wear it on the left hand, pointed away.
  • Married: wear it on the left hard, pointed towards you.

In the last decade or so the Claddagh symbol appeared in a lot of other contexts. It is pretty unmistakably Irish. So, I believe the Claddagh is another symbol of Ireland. Some artists combine the Claddagh symbol with Celtic knots in different ways.

In the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy was given a Claddagh Ring by the charcter Angel. According to this site, many famous people graced Claddagh rings:

One of the first movie stars seen wearing a claddagh ring was Julia Roberts in 1995. Observers speculated that Daniel Day Lewis gave it to her. In addition, Jennifer Aniston and Tate Donovan exchanged claddagh rings to celebrate their first anniversary, and Jude Law gave Sienna Miller a claddagh ring.

Many musicians also wear claddaghs. Irish musicians Liam and Noel Gallagher from the band Oasis have both sported the claddagh, as has U2 singer Bono. In her book Strange Days, Patricia Kennealy explains that she gave Doors frontman Jim Morrison a gold claddagh and he gave her a silver one in a pagan hand-fasting ceremony.

Celtic Shield


Celtic warriors used shields in battle. Because of this, to many people the shield is a Celtic symbol for strength, resolve and protection. Knots and other Celtic symbols often adorn Celtic shields. The most famous Celtic shield is perhaps the Battersea Shield. Shields take many forms. Some are square in shape, while others take the shape of more of a traditional shield (flat across the top, rounded and coming to a point at the bottom).

The shield pendant shown in the picture at right is a circular design. It contains two knots, each with four loops. Since James Bowen invented this type of knot, it became known as the Bowen Knot. The shield shown here contains two Bowen knots. Some refer to it as the “true lover’s knot”. The knot on the inside is traditional and the one on the outside rounds into a shield shape.

Leaf Celtic Symbols

Primarily, the leaf means renewal, rebirth or revival. This was my intention when I designed this leaf Celtic Knot. The main reason for this is that leaves grow back on trees every spring. Similarly, the leaf represents fertility or personal growth, as leaves only grow in fertile soil and climates. Different cultures believed that leaves had medicinal value (and some actually do).

In one sense the leaf symbol relates closely to the Tree of Life. The tree represents the cycle of birth, life and death. In the same way, the leaf can represent those things. First, the leaf grows off the tree and falls to the Earth. Then it decomposes and incorporates into the roots, completing the cycle. So the leaf also symbolizes the journey of life.

The Bible mentions leaves or a leaf numerous times. It presents the leaf as a symbol of truth, faith or prosperity. To illustrate, here are Bible verses that mention a leaf or leaves:

Psalm 1:1-3

1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

Jeremiah 17:8

7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Sours: https://docelticjewelry.com/celtic-symbols-meanings/

Symbols celtic infinity


Resin art - Celtic Symbol Infinity purple \u0026 pink


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