Celtic Symbols

 

Irish Claddagh RingCladdagh - in this symbol the hands represent friendship, the heart stands for love and the crown represents loyalty. The claddagh ring has been used to represent the unity of two people since the 1700's. The way a claddagh ring is worn also has symbolism. If you wear the ring with the tip of the heart pointing towards your heart, you are "taken", if the ring is worn the the tip of the heart facing outward, then the wearer is "available".

To read more about the origin of the claddagh ring, click here.

 

 

 

 

Celtic Tree of Life PendantTree of Life - represents wisdom, strength, longevity and rebirth. It depicts the ideal of the different forces of nature converging to create harmony. It was also believed by some to be an entity that connected the upper and lower worlds with the roots connecting the lower world with trunk and the plane of life and then connecting to the upper world by the branches. Druids and ancient Celts may have believed these trees carried messages to the other world.

 

 

 

Celtic Four Point Knot RingQuaternary Knot - this special knot represents four-fold concepts such as the four directions, the four earth elements and the four seasons. In the Book of Kells, it refers to the four Gospels.
Possibly due to its connections with nature, this symbol is sometimes associated with the Druids.

 

 

 

 

Celtic CrossCeltic Cross - the Christian cross was altered by placing the circle behind it to represent the enlightenment felt by pagans after they were converted. It is meant to represent the sun for rebirth and new beginnings. It represents the unity between the celestial and earthly entities.

 

 

 

 

Trinity KnotTrinity - from the Christian religious interpretation the trinity represents the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. In pre-Christian times, the trinity represented the power and importance of the series of three. Ancient Celts placed great importance on anything that occurred in a series of three. The trinity has been found on stones in northern Europe that date back to 1000 A.D. and is also found throughout the Book of Kells. It is sometimes rendered with a circle in it which stands for the continuity of the three ideals it represents.

The trinity shares symbolism with the triquetra and triskele and all three are at times referred to as one in the same.

 

 

 

Celtic TriskeleTriskele - this ancient Celtic symbol represents triplicities such as land, sea and sky or maiden, mother and crone. Ancient Celts used variations of the triskele, trinity and triquetra to represent a number of things that they grouped into three's. These designs may vary slightly but always illustrate the equality among the three ideals they represent through the equal rendering of the three sides of the design.

 

 

 

 

Celtic Spiral of Life SymbolCeltic Spiral of Life - this symbol represents the concepts of growth, expansion and cosmic energy. The spiral, beginning in the center and winding outward, symbolizes the travel from the inner life to the outer spirit or soul. The spiral is found in numerous ancient cultures.

 

 

 

 

Celtic Knot WorkCeltic Knotwork - found in thousands of different configurations and designs, Celtic knotwork is representative of the cycle of life and the connection and dependency of everything on everything else. It beautifully illustrates how all things end and begin at the same place and how wonderfully interwoven and connected all things are, essentially making all things never ending. A true Celtic knot has no beginning and no end, the line is unbroken.

 

 

 

Irish Shamrock SymbolShamrock - According to legend, the shamrock was used by St. Patrick as a metaphor for the Christian Trinity as it was already held in high regard by the Celts. The shamrock has been registered by the Government of Ireland as a trademark

 

 

 

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Saint Brigid's CrossSt. Brigid's Cross - fashioned after the cross made by Saint Brigid while tending to a dying pagan chieftain. It is said that watching her make the cross from hay or reeds strewn on the floor calmed the man in his delirium and allowed him to convert to Christianity before his death. When hung in a house, the cross is believed to protect a dwelling against evil and fire.


 

 

 

 

Fish - In Celtic mythology, salmon and trout are often linked to sacred wells and springs, places of physical healing and spiritual rebirth. The salmon are said to eat hazel nuts which fall into the pool from the tree of knowledge, thereby gaining the wisdom of the worlds. As symbols of sacred wisdom and foreknowledge, the fish represents renewed and sustained life.

Serpent - Symbols of healing and wisdom, serpents live within the depths of the Earth Mother and have mastery of all her secret knowledge and vital forces. Both Brigantia and Sironi, Celtic goddesses of healing, use the serpents' mystical powers to work their cures. Because of their wave-like movements, serpents are also associated with healing waters and sacred wells, sources of regenerative powers from within the earth, thus protectors of health and well-being.

Horse - The horse is associated with many Celtic deities as an emblem of power, sovereignty, abundance, and guidance. Epona and Macha are Celtic horse Goddesses who watch over the land, protecting its abundance and insuring a good harvest. As protectors of nature, they both grant sovereignty over the land and are the goddesses of the stable, protecting all who work with horse. As goddesses of maternity, prophecy, and prosperity, they guide and protect mortals on their journeys through life.

Birds - Birds play a prominent role in Celtic myth and legend. As symbols of freedom and transcendence, they represent the human soul in flight, liberated from earthly ties, able to soar in spiritual communication with the heavens. Returning to earth, they bring messages of prophecy and guidance, aiding mortals on their spiritual and earthly journeys. As spirits of the air, they provide a link between the soul and the spiritual forces of the heavens.

Nehalennia - Nehalennia, the steerswoman, is the Celtic goddess who protects travelers during their life, but also on their journey through the afterlife. She is represented by dolphins, who protect seafarers, and dogs and ravens who protect land travelers. Along the coast of ancient Celtic settlements are standing stones carved with stylized dolphins, tributes to Nehalennia. As the goddess of guardianship, she symbolizes prosperity and the abundance of the earth.

Hare - The hare is considered an intermediary between mortals and deities, a messenger of the gods, but also a trickster with powers to effect transformation and control destiny. Its erratic movements foretell future events and as a lunar animal, it represents rebirth, immortality, good fortune and prosperity. The hare is the totem animal of numerous moon goddesses, most notably oestre (the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring) whose name is the source of the word Easter.

Brigantia - Brigantia (St. Brigit or Bride) is the Celtic goddess of healing, fire and inspiration. Often portrayed with serpents who possess the healing powers of the earth, she is closely associated with the curative energies of sacred wells and springs. As the muse of the creative arts, she provides light and inspiration to the bard, smith, and other artisans. As well, her association with fire makes her the goddess of the family hearth, childbirth, and domestic accord.

Celtic DragonDragon - As a winged serpent, dragons unite earthly powers with celestial forces, guarding the gates to the nether worlds, protecting the treasure (both material and spiritual) and controlling the earth's energies. Symbols of strength and protection, they are often portrayed as stylized spirals or mazes; sources of spiritual centering, self discovery, and a return to Mother Earth. Inhabiting lakes, barrows, and hilltops, they guard and protect all the earth and its inhabitants.

 

 

 

Divine Couples - Celtic goddesses are often portrayed with mortal kings as consorts, representing the union of the feminine and masculine energies of both the spiritual and material world. As a couple, they embody this sacred union of separate forces creating harmony, peace, abundance, well-being, and new life energies. The divine couple represents the duality of one's spiritual and worldly nature and at the same time stresses each partner's need for independence and balance, creating friendship, harmony, and cooperation to enrich life's journey.

Stag - The majestic stag is an important solar animal of the Celts. Its antlers, shed and regenerated the following year, represent the tree of life and are symbolic of spiritual regeneration, abundance, and prosperity. As a divine messenger, its antlers are seen as a receptacle for celestial energies. The stag, representing the masculine side of the balance of nature, was the totem animal for the antlered deity Cernunnos, ruler and protector of water, animals and nature.

Cerridwen - Cauldrons in Celtic mythology are symbols of abundance, inspiration, and divine knowledge, as well as sources of metamorphosis and spiritual rebirth. As keeper of the cauldron, Cerridwen is the goddess of transformation, controlling the shape changing of humans and animals and offering guidance and spiritual renewal at crucial junctures on life's journey. Cerridwen, whose totem animal is the boar, guarded the cauldron of inspiration and is considered the muse of the bards.

Cat - In Celtic mythology, cats were often portrayed as liaisons to mystic realms, granting the caller a variety of insights regarding esoteric and ethereal knowledge. They were considered the guardian of souls, their eyes the windows to the other world. The Celtic cat received much respect. The Celts recognized cats’ unique abilities such as sensing the coming of terrible storms long before thunder was heard.

Dog - To the Celtic peoples, dogs have often symbolized the strong bond of companionship and loyalty between human and animal. The Celtic goddess to protect travelers, Nehalennia, is often depicted with dogs at her side.  Dogs figured prominently in Celtic artwork, especially within the Books of Kells, Durrow, and Lindisfarne. Fiercely protective of their human families, the barking of a faithful dog can be a first alert to danger or concern.

Celtic Heart SymbolHeart - Since ancient times, hearts have been used as a symbol to refer to the spiritual, emotional and moral core of a human being. Poetically used to refer to the soul, hearts are most commonly used as symbols representing love. The Celtic heart is among the most romantic of symbols, formed from one continuous line, representing the union of souls in a visual continuity, of continuing faith and love as one travels through the journey of life. 

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