Triquetra, the Circles of Existence
The sacred symbol
The Circles of Existence, sometimes called the Triquetra became popular as a result of the television series "Charmed" In that television series it is represented on the cover of the Hallowell sister’s “Book of Shadows” A book containing spells and incantations passed down by generations of witches. The Triquetra has a much older representation. The word “Triquetra” is a Latin word that translates as “Three cornered” However for the ancient Celtic people it had a sacred and special meaning. The Symbol has been found carved on stones in various parts of North West Europe and is found on the Irish Book of Kells. Its widespread use marks it as something more than decoration. We find the answer to the question of its meaning in ancient story and legend.
The three points have led to some in the modern Pagan movement claiming it as a representation of the Goddess in her three manifestations of Maiden, Mother and Crone or as a representation of the God in his manifestations of Youth, Warrior and Sage.
Here is a much older definition. Welsh words are used. There are literal translations of these words but they do not sufficiently convey the meanings. Certainly not in the context they are used in the old Welsh Myth and legend.
Abred, our mortal home
The first Circle is called "Abred"
This is mortal existence. This is where we are now. Abred encompasses this Earth and all the other Worlds that exist on this material plane. We are born to live out our mortal lives here in Abred. This mortal plane, this Middle Earth, is not some punishment nor is it a testing ground. It just is. It’s the place where we live a mortal existence and experience the “Cause and Effect” laws. Here our actions, whether good or bad have an effect and we must keep coming back here until we have wiped out all of our footprints. When we have learned to live without disturbing the flow of the universe then we will be ready to move on. Until then we are caught in the circle of our mortality. This story illustrates the dilemma;
“There was once a priest whose duty it was to sacrifice goats. One day while preparing a goat for sacrifice he heard the goat laugh, a very human laugh. Surprised, he asked the goat why he was laughing. The goat explained that for the past 500 years he had been born as a sacrificial goat, to die on the altar and be reborn only to be sacrificed again but this time he was to be reborn as a man. The priest was pleased for the goat but then he saw a tear in the goat’s eye. He asked why the goat was sad. The goat replied; “Because 500 years ago I was a priest who sacrificed goats.”
Annwn, The undying land
Annwn, The Otherworld
The second Circle is "Annwn"
When we pass from this mortal existence our spirit, that essence of us that is truly us, enters Annwn. For those who die bravely and honorably in battle this is a place similar to the halls of Odin in Scandinavian legend. Annwn is also a place of rest and reflection; it can be a home of joy and delight for those of a less warlike nature or for those who wish to rest from war. For the wicked it can be a grim and forbidding place but it is not an eternal resting place for anyone. After we absorb what we have learned and experienced we prepare for our re-birth.
We die into Annwn and are born into Abred to die into Annwn and so on.
Gwynfyd, The "White Life'
The third Circle is called "Gwynfyd"
When we have passed all the trials of Abred it is time to move on. Now we go to Gwynfyd, known in Irish as "Tir na Nog" the land of youth. Here, in these undying lands, we face other adventures. Little is known of this Circle. Only that in each transition from Abred to Annwn we become better prepared for Gwynfyd.
Now it is time to add the three Circles together, where they intersect forms a sacred symbol that we have come to know as the Tri-Quetra.
There are beings that are able to travel freely between all three Circles or spheres of existence. These beings are said to live in the "Ceugant" Sometimes a fourth Circle is added to symbolize the Ceugant itself and the wanderers travelling through the three Circles.
This is the symbol of the Ceugant and the travelers of the Multiverse.