Celtic Symbol – Triskelion
The triskelion is one of the more common Celtic symbols used in popular culture, but it has been around since Neolithic times. It is a symbol of three conjoined spirals that curve outward in a flowing fashion and presents a great deal of meanings.
Since Christianity found its way to Ireland, the triskelion has been symbolic of the Holy Trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. From this perspective, we can see themes of the cyclical nature of life and also eternity. Celts recognize notions of competition and the progress of mankind. Therefore, ancient Celts truly recognized two major symbolic components when looking at the triskelion.
Triskelion – Symbolic Meanings
The first component deals with the fluidity of the “legs” in the appearance of the symbol. The Celts considered this to be indicative of motion, since the three branches are always positioned in a way that makes them appear to be in constant forward motion. With this in mind, the Celts (and other groups across Western Europe that used the symbol) associated the triskelion with ideas of action and moving forward.
The triskelion symbol was popular as an indication of both fierce and friendly competition. For humanity, this symbol could be used to inspire revolution or simply to symbolize the progress that societies have made. In a natural sense, though, the constantly revolving triskelion portrays the ever-moving cycles that exist in life: day to night, season to season, birth to death, etc..
The Celts also had a second approach to interpreting the ancient triskelion, which focused specifically on the number three. Many trifectas can be represented by this three-pronged symbol, each dependent on the region, culture, era, and individual. The combination of three branches often refer to: spirit, body, and mind; mother, father and child; past, present, and future. It can also speak of a non-Christian trilogy of divinity, such as the Creator, Destroyer, and Sustainer, and their subsequent roles of creating life, preserving it, and destroying it when necessary.
Most likely, though, the triskelion was viewed as representative of the three worlds that the Celts believed in: the Celestial World, the Mortal World, and the Otherworld. In the Celestial World, the sun, moon, wind, and water exist with other unseen physical energies while humans, plants, and animals occupy the Mortal World. The Otherworld is the home of the gods, goddesses, and spirits. All of these theories were accepted by the Celts, and still more can be found in other cultures. Just as the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and so is meaning.
Together, the themes of motion and the triad form a story. The Celts viewed this simple symbol as telling a complex tale of moving forward on a journey through life in order to reach the terminus of pure understanding (or enlightenment). Although they held great symbolism and value from other numbers, “three” was believed to have a very powerful energy associated with it.
The Celts had a number of reasons for thinking this. Apart from the numerous trilogies that the triskelion symbolix meanings could symbolize, the number three was also connected with phases of the moon: new, half, and full. When we view the triskelion as a lunar symbol, we open up the possibility of an entirely new list of potential symbolism.
In the darkness of the night, the feminine and maternal moon offers a mysterious light. Creatures and spirits of the night are known to move silently, acting with subtlety and relying on well-founded intuition. They inspire us to act in a similar manner, trusting our intuition and allowing it to evolve. We mustn’t show all our cards, so to speak. Rather, we should keep some mystery and subtlety in our own lives if we wish to see the greater picture and gain the almighty wisdom.
Those are a lot of differing interpretations for Celtic symbols, but they are all founded in a belief in a strong and meaningful spiritual nature. The triskelion has broad connotations for the Celtic tradition and can still be used by each of us today. In general, we can use the triskelion for mental and spiritual growth and development. By expanding our hearts and minds, we can continue down our path more joyously and meaningfully.