Celtic Symbols and Their Meanings - Learn More about the Irish Gods & Mythical Creatures

Celtic Symbols and Their Meanings - Learn More about the Irish Gods & Mythical Creatures

Are you an enthusiast of myths and legends? Can you still remember the first story you have ever read? While growing up, we are bombarded with mystical stories on reading books that gave us the inspiration to read. Who wouldn’t want to read about supernatural beings, with powers and in combination with animal characters to make them more appealing? Aside from book, there are a selection of movies and cartoons based on different myths and legends designed to captures children’s attention. A way to teach morals and ethical conduct. 

Myth is a story that is not well documented and proven by science. It is considered a folktale or a version of a story passed through generations. Myths are commonly coupled with religion. As with any religion where the existence of supreme beings are portrayed to guard and protect the human race. Like with any story, to balance the good, there would be criminal or evil beings. Like the Yin and Yang by the Buddhist religion, and the supreme God and Baal for Catholics.

For clarity, a myth is not a conviction but rather a portion of a story of the bigger picture, which is a religious conviction. There is always a debate regarding these stories, and that cannot be prevented due to personal beliefs. 

Folklore exists in every single nation-state, for we each have our specific principles, devotion, and philosophy. Some of these myths frame us as a nation-state. There is the famous Greek lore, Egyptian legends, and the celebrated Celtic folklore. 

Let’s talk more about Celtic mythology. Celts are ancient people that lived on the British isle to Europe. They have faith in Gods, Goddesses, and Demigods. 

Some of the most famous symbols of Celtic mythology are as follows:

Tree of life

Tree of Life

The tree of life is a location where the passage to the pixie realm can be found.  According to the myth, some entities live under the tree, also known as fairy people. A household of mystical beings that used to live in Ireland. The sudden disappearance of their race remained a mystery, but there were stories that these folks decided to live under the ground to prevent clashes with the Milesians when they arrived in Ireland.

These are Hawthorn trees that Celts regard as sacred and have healing powers.  Hawthorn trees are characterized by sharp woody spines with bunches of white flowers. There were stories that when people cut a pixie tree, they would come across misfortune. This is the reason why people used to deviate from cutting down these trees even for road development. They would consider the placement of the tree and build roads around the tree to prevent them from chopping down the tree. Farmers would never risk damaging these trees and would plant around the tree for their belief that it would give life to their plants.

The Fairy tree is a symbol of life, balance, and being in sync with nature. Trees were regarded to give shelter as a tree grows tall and wide to house different living species. They also provide food to all living species.

As a symbol, they are drawn to have interlaced knots for the leaves, stems, and all the way to the roots with a glowing center underneath. There are believed to be where the fairies live and thus giving magic and power to the tree. The knots depicted in this tree is known as the Celtic knots.  

Celtic Knot, Triquetra, Trinity Knot

Celtic Knot

Celtic knot is a symbol of the period without end or infinity. These are never-ending interlaced lines where you cannot see where it start nor end. Also known as Triquetra, these are three triangular knots that depict the connection of the supreme beings and the mortals. A symbol of the life of the past, the existing and the life to come. This is also assumed in having an association with the plane's eight insignia of infinity. These knots are believed to have no start and end, which connotes life after death or rebirth. 

Ogham

Celtic Alphabet

It is also known as the Celtic alphabet. This was also the basis of the Celtic calendar, which has been a controversial topic. It is based on the activity of the moon; therefore, it is unreliable. Thirteen moons are followed in the Tree calendar.

The first is the Birch month, wherein the name came from the foremost sapling that nurtured back from the wintertime. A time for rebirth, healing, and fruitfulness.

The second month is Rowan, based on the folklore, this is the time for ceremonials for the spirit of fire that offers her shield to forbearers and its families.

The third month is the ash, coming from the tree, which was said to be the substance used on Odin’s spike. A time for nonphysical voyages and oceanic ceremonies.

Fourth is the Alder month. Springtime, time for warning, and foresight. This is the time believed to connect the realms of the Gods and the sphere of mortals. An alder flower is also known as an object used in magic rituals.

The fifth month is willow, a willow plant is deemed to turn away dangers, a sign of salvation and evolution.

Six is the Hawthorns month, a time for childbearing, an increase in healthy libido and endurance.  

The seventh is the oak month. Summertime, known to be the month for security, power, and fruitfulness, just like the Oaktree.

The eight is the winterberry, a time for prosperity and eternal life cycle of Mother Nature.

The ninth tree is Hazel.  Hazel trees indicate knowledge and security. 

Vine is the tree for the tenth month. Like the shrub, this is the time to gather foodstuffs such as those who come from vine plants.

Ivy, the eleventh tree, a plant that signifies the life cycle of death and rebirth. 

Reed is used to making musical instruments. A time for prophecy. It was said that people can listen to the sound of the lost as they journey to the realm of the dead.

The last month is the elder month. A time for rebirth, start and ends.

Triple Spiral / Triskele / Triskelion

Triskelion

Triskelion is depicted as three interconnected coils. This symbol has a variety of connotations, such as a symbol of life, death, and reincarnation, the connection between the supernatural beings, humans, and demigods. A symbol of impregnation, a female womb where the spirals represent the months in which the baby is carried in the mother’s womb.

This originates from the myth where the island was protected by the demigod of the sea, Manannan, thus the name of the country. Mann was acknowledged to safeguard this land in the tale. He was praised and worshipped by the people. In response, he would take care of them by means of his fog to keep them from being seen by the Romans. He has the capacity to modify the hues of the fog, reliant on his feelings. He also has a stallion that can journey on the surface of the sea, a dinghy that can navigate with or without the presence of a sail. He has an impermeable armor where no weapon can perforate and a golden spear.

A version of this symbol can be seen on the Isle of Mann’s flag. Instead of wind or wave-like features. The emblem depicts three steel-clad legs with golden divisions. This symbol shows strength and stability. A potent note, meaning whatever it is that you do, or whatever the situation might be, they will stand tall, move on after the trials they might encounter. The legs running towards the sun, worshiping the sun god. 

Another version of the Triples spiral is the flag of Sicily, wherein it is characterized by three legs and the head of Medusa at the center. 

Celtic Cross

Celtic Cross

A Celtic cross is not initially made out of gravels, it was etched on rocks. Prior to that, the Celtics gathers at a place where people used to worship the sun god. A place where pagans used to perform their rituals to worship the sun god Belenos.  The site made of tall large rocks in a round formation with an inner circle in the middle. It was St. Patrick who combined the two signs, the crucifix of the Christians and the round shape for the sun god. This was done at the time when the changeover from pagan belief to the belief on Jesus Christ was being established. In order to influence Pagan believers to accept Christianity as a religion. 

Celtic Cross is characterized by a mirror image of the tree of life formed with Celtic knots into a Christian Cross. A round shape placed within the arms of the cross. This symbol stands for the combination of infinity, experience, and sanctity.

Celtic Bull

Celtic Bull

As an animal, bulls are considered to be a stubborn and powerful beast. Celts believe that a bull is a sign of fruitfulness, in both fortune and producing offspring. Celts are known to be bull-headed or hard-headed, this originates from the character of a Celtic bull, strong-willed and determined. Furthermore, it is a symbol of manhood for men. It is a design on bed sheets and blanket that promotes power and endurance during sexual intercourse for those who are aiming to have babies. 

Shamrock

Shamrock

A young clover characterized by three heart-shaped leaves representing the holy trinity. The Celts believe in the trinity. As a symbol.  A shamrock is drawn with three leaves, but the veins of the leaves are illustrated with Celtic knots. The three-leaf shamrock is rumored to be related to the Celtic Goddess, representing her state as a damsel, a mom, and a timeworn enchanted woman or a crone.  Celts are a fan of the number three if you have observed.

It is the four-leaf clover that is the bearer of good luck and.  It is unusual to find a four-leaf clover.  Most famous because of the celebration of Saint Patricks day, where leprechauns are well-celebrated. 

Claddagh Ring

Claddagh Rings

Represented by two hands grasping a crowned heart in the middle. This ring symbolizes love for the shape of a heart, holding hands as a bond between friends, and the crown for fidelity. 

The hands were told to be the right hand of the Celtic God Dagda, while the left side was the hand of the goddess Danu. 

Cernunnos

Cernunnos

He is the God of wild animals and fertility. He is depicted as a person having tusk on his head while sitting cross-legged holding a serpent and a torque, torque is like a necklace or a neck ring that is characterized with animal heads the end. 

Epona

Epona

A Celtic goddess is depicted riding on a horse or surrounded by hoses, she was the guardian of the mares and steeds. According to the story,  Epona is the daughter of Felvius and horses.  This is because Felvius loathed women and only mate with horses. I t was believed to be a symbol of triumph at warfare.

Celtic Dragon

An animal sign that was believed to bring enchantment and a sense of balance into one’s life.  Dragons are regarded to be a powerful and mystic being, whoever can control or befriend a dragon can become the most powerful. It is also a figure of insight and foresight.  Like any other supernatural being that lived through centuries, a dragon has been through and seen a lot of things, making it a mystical creature with deep wisdom and knowledge. A dragon ca also a symbol of evils, with strengths come destruction; therefore also a bringer of death and sufferings.

According to the Celtic myth, Dragons are portrayed to be of a space equivalent to the mortal world. 

The Celtic dragon also embodies Valor, dominance, power, masculinity. 

Here are examples of Celtic Symbols that are a popular design in the jewelry industry

Tree of life

A popular design for necklaces and bracelets. This is a symbol or a reminder for those suffering from pain and misfortunes to continue to fight and believe, trust, and have faith that everything has a reason, and as with any cycle, one will be able to survive such a state in their lives. An excellent symbol of hope, faith, and trust.

Celtic Knot, Triquetra, Trinity Knot

Bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings, broach, what else? Name it. I am sure they have a trinity knot design. A well embraced and loved design due to its deep meaning. For the holy, as a sign of the Father, the Son and the holy spirit, for couples, as a sign of loyalty and love. For friends, a bond of friendship that will never end. And for a person who is suffering from illness, a symbol of eternal life, a light at the end of a dark alley that they are currently in, to be able to move forward and embrace what is to come.  

Ogham

The alphabet of the old. As a pendant or a broach, it is a favorite design for eclectic personalities who wants to have a mysterious keepsake, letters that signify different meanings depending on how it is received. A symbol of the different months that reminds the wearer that time has its way of healing and telling us that there is a right time for everything. It may whatever state you are in today, will be different tomorrow or in the coming future, just believe in the power of time and nature. Have faith, and the universe shall grant you your wish at the exact time that you genuinely need and deserve it. 

Triple spiral / Triskele / Triskelion

Available in pendants, bracelets, and earrings. An excellent design for couples and divine people. This is an exquisite design not just because of its meaning, but it is also fashionable. It is obvious that the Celts love everything in three, a cycle and a connection between the realm, character and times of life. This is a perfect symbol of love between couples, a sign of faith, love, and stability. A sign of the holy trinity for the Christians and other religious people. 

Celtic Cross

A beloved design for the religious and the fashionable. Be it as a necklace, a pair of earrings, part of a bracelet, and as a centerpiece of a ring. This symbol signifies faith in the sun god for the Celts, the head of Jesus for Christians. The Celtic cross would undoubtedly catch attention wherever it’s seen. Usually combined with the Celtic knots as its original design was a two tree mirroring each other, creating a cross shape. A great model for the believer and vice versa.

Celtic bull

A widely popular design for men. Depicted with a muscled and well-endowed bull, full of power and pride. Oozing with manliness and sexual energy. A masculine design for highly egotistical and stubborn men that wants to express their supremacy over those he lords upon on. Available in pendants, bracelets, and rings.

Shamrock

An endearing design for ladies that denotes affection and holiness. Some actually believe that a shamrock brings good fortune and wealth. Mistaking it for a four-leaf clover. Available as a set of earrings, bracelet charms, and rings. 

Claddagh Ring

A well-known symbol of love, loyalty, and promise. Even the gods fell in love with each other and promised loyalty and faithfulness to each other. What a perfect symbol for mortals like us. Be reminded, though, that it is bad luck to purchase a ring for ones-self. It must be given or received to bring the gift of eternal love and faithfulness for couples. 

Claddagh rings should be worn in a way to send a message of your status. Wear the ring on your left hand with the heart pointed in the opposing direction of the heart, this only means that the wearer has intent on having love and a romantic connection with the other individual. If the one wearing the ring garbs it on the right hand, with the heart pointed to the direction of the heart, this only means that she is not enthusiastic about having a connection.

Cernunnos

Cernunnos

Most common as a pendant or a bracelet charm that denotes power and viciousness. A scary-looking symbol of a god that is favored upon by men rather than women. Like the Celtic bull, this depicts an increase in sexual stamina. God of the animals, treasure, and the underworld, A mystic creature that can be seen as a hero or a villain.

Epona

Epona Jewelry

The god of steeds. As a jewelry style, it is represented by a white stallion in pendants and charms. A sign of independence for the free-spirited who wants to get away from the norms of society. This also denotes victory and voyage.  At present, we are embracing our uniqueness and individuality. A journey to self-awareness and independence. 

Celtic Dragon

Celtic Dragon Jewelry

Dragons everywhere! The symbol does not even matter to most. With its grand design and intricacies. A Celtic dragon is incontrovertibly the most widespread design among the Celtic signs. A symbol of power and wisdom, a mystical being that can travel through realms and time. Available in different forms of pieces of jewelry, such as bracelets, necklaces, rings, bands, earrings, pendants, and others. Even as a skin tattoo.

Conclusion:

Just like with any other stories, whether you believe it or not, Celtic myths still remains as a myth until proven otherwise by facts and science. There is nothing wrong with learning the history and origins of these symbols in order to understand more about the culture and the history of one's nation. Stories are made for entertaining, teaching and ingraining ancient cultures. There was once a saying that you need to learn about the past before surging into the future, garb yourself with the knowledge and understand what was before and learn from past mistakes. This is how you can grow into the future.

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