A Brief Introduction to Celtic Symbols
The word Celtic, often refers to the people who had once lived in parts of Britain, Europe, and other Western civilizations, during the Iron Age. These people were often recognized as warriors, and were believed to have lived within small villages. But little documentation has been known of the writing of the Celts, other than their symbols,and signs that were left behind. The most notorious and recognizable of these ancient symbols, is those of the Celtic knots, also known as the mystic knot, or the never ending knot. Throughout this article, we will discuss a few forms of Celtic knots, that where used, and the symbolic gestures, surrounding them. Along with a few of the Celtic Animals, the Celtic Cross, the symbolic tree, as well as various other subjects.
The Celtic Knot was created during the 5th century, and is often believed to be extensively used by ancient Monks. Although no guideline was left to interpret or to date, besides the finding of the symbols in the book of the Kell's. There are many people who believe that the knots can be interpreted as no beginning, as well as no ending, through out everlasting love. The looping of a Celtic knot, is believed to be the eternity and interconnections, while the interloping could signify the interdependent nature of life.
The trinity knot is comprised of three interlocking pointed ovals, that make up a pyramid shape. This shape is known to be one of the earliest Celtic symbols, and is often believed to predate the cross. The symbolism, of the trinity is often recognized as being body, mind, and soul. Although the Celts where not the only civilization to adapt the trinity, in civilization dating after the birth of Christ the adaptation was modified. By the Christians, and Pagans, who used the Trinity to adapt to their own beliefs. For the Christians, the knots that composed the trinity were symbolized as being the following.
- the Father,
- the Son,
- and the Holy Ghost.
However the Pagan's had a different symbolism for the trinity, that composed up of:
The motherhood knot is portrayed as two heats that overlap one another, and intertwine creating a knot structure. The symbolic meaning is that of an enduring love between mother and child.
The Solomon's knot consists of two closed loops, which are double interlinked in an alternating manner. The over and under of the looping, forms a central square. Where the ends could result in the shaping of an oval, square, triangle, or any other form of shape. This symbol is equivalent to that of the Nazi swastika, or the Freemason masonry tools.
The endless knot is often associated with the eight auspicious symbols, that are incorporated with Buddhism. This ancient symbol represents the interweaving of spiritual paths, the following of time, movement, and place. Although others have believed that the knot also holds a meaning of enlightenment and love.
A common occurrence in courtyards, located in England, Ireland and Scotland, as well as many Celtic Islands, are the Celtic Crosses. The dating of these crosses date back to the time when St. Patrick had brought the word of the Lord to Ireland. The Celtic cross, appears similar to the normal cross, but with a ring within the intersection of the upright and and crossbar section. It has been stated that, the cross had gotten this image from St. Patrick, after seeing the druids and Celts, where worshiping a circular hallow stone. Which is possible stone hedge, and decided to put a Roman cross around it.
The significance of this symbol is controversial, but only one fact is undeniable, and that is no one will ever know. Unless we lived in that time period, it is hard to debate. My personal opinions is that the circle is the divine presence of immortal life, and represented as a crown, through the form of a circle. The crown is believed to never fade, which is the estate of Christ hood, and his essential divine. The cross may be seen as an ancient sign that brings spirituality, as well as fear, and nobleness. The crossbar represents, the past and future, with the inside of the circle presenting the present.
The tree of life, or the Celtic tree has been used for everything ranging from science, to religion, from philosophy, to mythology. The tree of life is a common narrative among mystic theology, and ancient philosophers. It interprets the interconnection of all living life, our planet, and the purpose of each living thing upon the earth. The Celtic tree is often associated with folklore, and fiction, and uses various forms of trees.
The tree of life, can be found within the Holy Bible, in the book of Revelations. The book of Revelations, represents the immaculate state of humanity, and the free forms of corruption, and original sins. It is also used within science, as a metaphor for evolution. The metaphor describing the relationship between the earth, and the evolution, as well as the origin of species. But the tree of life, is not just a religious or scientific aspect, it is also used through out various regions of the world.
The Celtic tree, was often regarded as all nourishing, and all giving. The tree is a reflection of heaven an earth, where the roots reach down to earth, and the branches reach up to heaven. There interlacing branches are symbolic, to the never ending life, and the trunk is symbolic as the food, protector, elements, shelter, and a source of warmth.
The Celtics, believed that every animal kingdom had much to teach us, about how to survive, and the techniques of adaptation. Through animals, Celts could gain the courage, to be great protectors of there family, and the agility to cover peace, courage and strength. There belief was in the divine silence of ones true-self. They believed that if they would listen, they could hear the animals talking to them.
For the early Celtic Shamans, animals, were not only spirit guides, but they were also skins, masks, and the symbol of a reawakening, they were glimpses of oneself through animal energies. The same type of enthusiasm, that enlightened the shamans, was also portrayed through the art of that time. Whether that art was in the form of drawings, paintings, carvings, or knotwork. Undeniable we are able to measure the greatness, and the high fascination that animals had upon the ancient Celts, of the 5th century. Below you will find, a few of these animals and there meanings.
The horse was a significant animal to the Celts, it held many positions, with the most notorious of them all being the goddesses Epona, and Macha. Epona, was known as the protector of the horse, the donkey, and the mule. She was also the goddess of fertility, which is why the horse is also known as a symbol of fertility. The goddess Macha is associated with war, and was believed to be the wife of Nimrod.
From these two goddesses the horse, became symbolic with the following signs:
The pig is considered one of the most sacred of all Celtic animals, and represented the energy of the land. The pig is signified as being a messenger between the underworld, and earth. The pig is associated with plentyness, divinity, and with the enchantress Cerridwen.
During the medieval ages, the legend of Cerridwen the enchantress, had been told. Within these tales, she was known as the mother of Morfran, who is from the tale Taliesin. Within the legend Cerridwen was magical, and created potions, that turned her sun into various creatures.
he crow was a sacred bird, that was respected and highly treated with care. In fact the crow was so respected, that it was against Drudic rule, to kill a crow. The Celtics believed that the crow brought bad luck, through death, and if the crow was killed, it would spread death.
The crow has been often associated with the goddess Badb, the goddess of war. Badb was often refereed to as the battle raven, for the role she played on the battlefield. Once Badb is upon the battle field, confusion would be brought upon the warriors, through magic. The crow was responsible for teaching the mistakes of the past, and how to forgive the past.
But the crow has also been known to be a symbolic meaning for:
- Single Mindedness
These are just a few of the ways Celts would use symbols, there is a lot more information that can be found, but this was just a brief doctrine, of the symbols.