Celtic Skull Symbolism
The ancient Celts were a deeply spiritual group of people who saw symbolism in every corner of nature. When concerning the human skull symbol, the themes follow suit and have very deep connotations. It was a powerful and omnipresent signifier of the cyclical nature of life, the eternal and infinite, and the portals that allow us to connect with spirits. Additionally, skulls symbolized our perception of time, the divinity that exists in the universe, and our initiation into the afterlife.
The skull sits atop the rest of the body and houses one of our most crucial organs: the brain. Our skull is the only line of defense for the brain, which governs our every though, choice, and action. The Celts observed this and fittingly associated the position of the head with a seat of power.
Celtic Skull Symbol Meanings
Findings from archeological digs suggest that the Celts threw skulls into sacred water wells as offerings to the divine. As with all cultures, the Celts understood the cruciality of the water element for all of life and thus attached great symbolism to it. As the primary vessel for holding water in each community, wells were extremely important. The connection is not far-fetched: both skulls and wells are containers of crucial items.
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The symbolic nature of water also comes into play when considering Celtic skull symbolism. Water is the ultimate cleanser. It is pure, in both a physical and spiritual sense, and encourages us to be so, as well. Free-flowing water is also fluid in its motion, which speaks to us of allowing our own emotions to flow naturally. It encourages us to live in a free and organic fashion. Thus, by throwing the “seat of the soul” into the deep and sacred well, the Celts were effectively cleansing the tainted soul of the departed. They intended to facilitate clarity within the psyche and the renewal of the soul, preparing them for eternity.
Influence Of Skull Symbols
Skulls (and heads in general) have a presence in other areas of Celtic culture and tradition, as well. Artistic depictions of heads, such as carvings, decorated the doorways and hallways of ceremonial grounds and sanctuaries, possibly as an intimidating warning sign. We know that Celts were very drawn to the concept of openings and took great interest in things that had them (doorways, gateways, etc.). The skull, with its five openings (two eyes, two nose cavities, and one mouth), was obviously of special interest, as it is part of the human body. Additionally, the number five was considered to have magical properties in Celtic lore.
Technically, there are only three major orifices in the skull (two eyes, one mouth), and it just so happens that this was also considered to be a sacred number. The upside-down triangle that these three points create brings up another popular Celtic theme: that of the trinity.
Ancient Celtic symbolism utilized the triangle to illustrate their idea of binding ideas and beliefs together in order to create something new. In the case of the skull, the Celts considered the three openings to represent creation, magic, and the transitions that constantly happen throughout life. When put together, these elements will form a strong and productive energy.
The triangle was not the sole shape of focus; Celtic culture also had strong ties with the circle. The head (and skull) is circular naturally, as are the eyes. This shape reminds us of the cyclical nature of life, and also of the wholeness that we should feel with ourselves and in our communities. Lastly, the eyes and mouth, as oracles, were viewed as the gateways for receiving knowledge. All that we see comes through our eyes, and this is one of the strongest methods of learning that we naturally possess.
Although it might seem a bit morbid at first, the above mentioned reasoning behind the symbolism of the skull makes sense upon further reading. The Celts were an extremely intellectual and curious group. They had a gift for seeing connections that most people would probably not think of. Use the symbolism (in spirit) to help guide yourself down the correct path.