From The Bench

Celtic Symbols and Meanings: The Rich History of The Celts’ Heritage

Celtic symbols and meanings continue to fascinate the world. Celtic knot patterns, for example, remain a staple in jewelry-making. However, there is much more to Celtic symbols and meanings than we previously thought. These settlers carried with them artisan skills, trade, and traditions. If you’re interested in adding some of these beautiful Celtic symbols to your art or craft, check out Xinar’s extensive collection of Celtic and Wiccan belief charms.

The name “Celt,” or “Kelt,” comes from the Greek word “Keltoi,” which has been in use since at least the sixth century B.C.E. to describe the Pagans who lived across much of Europe and the Iberian Peninsula. Celtae was the name given to the people of Celtia when they were translated into Latin. These settlers eventually colonized the British Isles, establishing communities on the other side of the English Channel and the Irish Sea. The Druids were the priests of the Celts and oversaw their religion’s strict hierarchy.

The Celts’ primary means of subsistence was farming and herding cattle. They were expert marksmen and gladiators.

When provoked, they would fight and steal each other’s cattle. The Celts’ religious rituals included sacrificing human sacrifices to their deities. So they were headhunters.

The Celts acknowledged a wide variety of lesser spirits, demons, and fantastical creatures in addition to the significant deities they worshiped. A few of these, they theorized, could morph into whatever form was needed. Although the Celts did not construct temples, they had well-defined sanctuaries, often using topographical features like hills, valleys, springs, and forests.

The Celtic people were organized into tribes, and it was to these groups that oaths of loyalty were made. Even though they had no written language, they were influential in the visual arts of Britain and Ireland. Even though the classical Greeks and Romans wrote more about the Celts, Ireland is still largely influenced by the works of the medieval Irish monks who described them more accurately.

Iron was already well-known in Asia, but the Celts were instrumental in spreading that knowledge to Western Europe, where they were used in creating plowshares, scythes, and even early reaping machines made of iron. They pioneered the use of iron spokes for the wheels of carts and chariots. Even though the Celts didn’t leave behind a written language or any major cities, they did leave behind works of art made of stone, iron, bronze, pottery, gold, and other precious metals.

Celtic Knots

Celtic knots were used to decorate stone and wood objects and jewelry to evoke the look of basketry, plaiting, and weaving. The gold-rimmed silver Ardagh chalice and the Tara brooch are just two examples of priceless Irish artifacts that feature intricate knotwork.

Christian priests began including this knotwork in their written works in the Middle Ages. The latter frequently featured human, animal, and reptilian figures among the intricate interlacing found on initial letters and elsewhere. The interlacing borders and panels characteristic of the Pictish school of Celtic art appears to be the most intricate of those found in Mediterranean art.

Triskelion

The Triskelion, or Triskele as it was once known, is another ancient Irish and Celtic symbol. Neolithic people (who lived around 3200 B.C.) are thought to have used it. This spiral design once more alludes to the Celtic belief that occurrences of great significance occur in sets of three.

Like the Manx three-legged sign, the Triskelion is made up of three interconnected spirals that wind clockwise around a common center. The Greek word “triskele” means “three-legged” in English. The Triskelion is a recurring motif in Celtic art and architecture; it is a trigonal trigon with a central triangle and two equal spirals at its base.

The Celtic Triskelion is widely interpreted as a symbol of progress and authority. The Triskelion’s apparent motion represents the will to advance in one’s career and overcome obstacles.

Celtic Harp

Irish claims each and Scottish Gaelic clarsach refer to the same instrument: the Irish and Celtic harps, commonly used in medieval Ireland and Scotland. Like the medieval Scottish harp, it had a massive soundbox carved from a single block of wood, a heavy, curved neck, and a profoundly curved fore pillar.

The harp has been a symbol of Ireland in its heraldry since at least the 13th century. The National Library of Ireland claims it was initially projected against a deep blue background, a color thought to represent Ireland’s kingship in ancient Irish legends. The picture was originally shot here.

Claddagh

Authentically Celtic love is a symbol. Claddagh rings are a universal symbol of everlasting love and friendship, not just among Irish people. Claddagh is derived from the name of the coastal town of Claddagh, where Richard Joyce conceived the design.

According to legend, a Claddagh is not something you should buy for yourself but rather present to someone else. This is sound advice, considering that the Claddagh ring is frequently used in wedding ceremonies.

Sisters Knot

The Celtic Sisters Knot heart symbolizes sisterhood and the unbreakable bonds we share with our sisters and friends. It also represents the Celtic people’s pride in their history and culture.

One continuous thread symbolizes sisters’ eternal love for one another in the intricate Celtic knot used to represent them. The Celtic Sisters Knot contains a stylized triquetra, also called a triple spiral, at its center.

A woman’s life can be divided into three distinct periods, each represented by one of these signs.

A woman has three roles throughout her life: housekeeper, mother, and sage. In the circle of your life, where do you and your sisters currently stand? The Celtic Sisters Knot is a beautiful symbol for celebrating the unbreakable bond of female friendship.

Mother’s Knot

In Celtic symbols and meanings, the intricate Mothers Knot symbolizes the bond between a mother and her child, or the Madonna and Child in Christian symbolism. The unbreakable bond between a mother and her child, faith in God, and pride in one’s Celtic heritage are all represented by the Celtic Mothers Knot.

This ancient Celtic symbol represents a mother’s unending love for her child. As a symbol of Celtic matriarchy, this knot is an unbreakable, eternal bond between love and life. It is true regardless of one’s religious or philosophical orientation.

The Mothers Knot symbolizes eternal love in Celtic culture, typically depicted as two intertwined hearts. Children are often represented by another heart or a dot, or another symbol within or outside the heart pattern, and each successive heart is smaller than before. For larger families with more kids, you can get more and more symbols to represent each kid.

The Green Man

Another legend in our list of Celtic symbols and meanings also happens to be called Jack in the Green, Robin in the Woods, and a foliate mask (because he was traditionally made out of foliage), he was a symbol of the Old Religion’s God of Nature. By this time, nature had taken the place of the hunting god’s horns or antlers.

Lucky Four-Leaf Clover

It is commonly accepted that stumbling upon a four-leaf clover is cause for celebration (and to carry it is to retain that good luck). Love, health, wealth, and fame are said to be represented by the four leaves.

The Mandrake Root

One of the most fascinating Celtic symbols and meanings is the root of the mandrake plant (Atropa mandragora) often develops into a humanlike figure. This led people to believe it had powerful magical properties, making it worth a lot of money.

The greater its humanlike appearance, the greater the price. That’s why many mages were excellent at tweaking the plant as it matured. First, they’d carefully unearth a young plant to get their mandrake fix. Then, after giving it the once-over, they would trim away excess material and, if need be, carve a face into it to make it look more human. Then, they’d bury it again after a month or so and watch it flourish.

Again, it would be dug up and examined thoroughly. Again, it could be altered before being reinstalled. Finally, once the mandrake had fully matured, it could be dug up and appear as if it had grown naturally, looking like a human, fetching a very high price.

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