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Quaternary Celtic Knot Meanings & Symbolism

Celtic Knots Symbolism

The ancient Celts used specially designed knots to represent their symbolic beliefs in an artistic visual form. These Celtic knots can take a variety of forms, each of which is instantly recognizable as a symbol of their unique culture. This is due to the two essential characteristics that all Celtic knots share: endless, interwoven strands and a strict over-under pattern.

Symbolic interpretation of knots typically focuses on the interlacing in these designs for obvious reasons. The tracts in Celtic knots are endless, symbolizing continuity and the infinite and eternal. In addition to this, the special pattern used in emblems (over then under) speaks of themes of the interconnectedness between people, nature, and the universe.

In Celtic knots, each strand is significantly placed and follows a specific plan. Just like each person, plant, and animal in the world, each strand, although different, is woven into one unified entity. No one of them is more important than the other, for the grand design relies equally on each individual.

Quaternary Celtic Knot Symbol

Celtic Astrology Sign



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Quaternary knots symbols are especially recognized because of their four corners and four distinct sections within the design. Without a beginning or an end, these knots demonstrate cyclical paths and the connection between all that is natural and eternity.

Another special trait of Celtic knot work was its ability to display clan history and heritage. Families often created their own special knots as unique identifiers. This makes it particularly challenging to guarantee the true symbolism and meaning behind each knot, for each groove and thread could have special meaning that is not widely known.

Quaternary knots have meanings that are also dependent, like other other Celtic art, upon the timing and region of creation, along with specific artist interests. Each artist put his or her own twist and creativity into the knot or its depiction- this adds to the character and personality of them. The Celts were great artists, after all.

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Quaternary Celtic Knot Symbolism

As far as general symbolism is concerned, there are several schools of thought in Celtic tradition regarding quaternary knot symbolism. Several of them are fairly obvious and do not require detailed explanations. For example, the number can be indicative of the four directions – North, South, East, and West- and/or the four seasons of the year.

When considering the natural world, which the Celts found much symbolism in, the quaternary design could have been representing each of the four physical elements: Earth, water, air, and fire. Once Christianity made its way to Ireland, it is also possible that the four corners became symbolic of the Latin Gospels in the Book of Kells.

The four-cornered symbolism could have gone deeper still. While the Celts found a somewhat general list of characteristics and traits in all of the natural and celestial realms, they also had thoughts and legends that went into more specificity. One such example is of the four great treasures of the Tuatha de Danann, the group who reclaimed Ireland from the Fomorians.

The treasures were four talismans that this group of men carried to attack and defend themselves: a spear, a stone, a sword, and a cauldron. Each of the treasures stood for one of the four symbolic cities located in the northern isles where Tuatha de Dananna settled after fleeing and before reclaiming the stolen land. They were magical items and are still treasured for being such.

Some associate this number with the four important Celtic fire festivals – Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh. Others claim that it is an emblem of the legend of the Queen of the Four Fires (also known as Brigid). This queen possessed four kinds of wisdom: hand, hearth, head, and heart. These were obviously great qualities to aim for achieving. Still, others give a more stereotypically Irish explanation for the quaternary design, stating that it mimics the good luck of the four-leaf clover.

Celtic knots have been utilized for more than 1500 years and still continue to represent their unique, creative, and spiritual tradition. Whether being viewed as a sign of protection, representative of a certain family’s tradition and heritage, or as a good luck charm, the quaternary knots of the Celts are each special and unique in their own way. By focusing on this Celtic symbol, you open your mind to absorbing the energy of this ancient spiritual group.

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