Celtic Triskele Meaning | Triple Spiral Symbol
Learn the various meanings of triskele art.
The triskele or triple spiral is Celtic symbol used by the Druids to represent the sacred number three. The tripartite symbol is composed of three swirling lines that radiate from a common center, and it is an ancient symbol of pre-Celtic and Celtic beliefs. It is probably the most famous Irish megalithic symbol.
The symbol was discovered at the Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange in Ireland, which is believed to have been built about 3200 BC. The passage and chamber of Newgrange become illuminated by the winter solstice sunrise. A shaft of sunlight shines through the roof box over the entrance and penetrates the passage to light up the chamber. The alignment is too precise to have occurred by chance. Therefore, the theory is that the symbols carved there have some relation to the sun.
The symbol meaning of the triskele to the pagans who built Newgrange is unknown. Some believe it to be a symbol of fertility. The idea originates from the fact that the sun is spiral in its movements. A triskele, or triple spiral, represents nine months.
“The triple spiral may represent the nine month period of human pregnancy”.
Uriel’s Machine by Knight and Lomas (2003)
This idea is reinforced by the womb like shape of the structure at Newgrange. The symbol also suggests reincarnation because it is one unbroken line, suggesting a continuous movement of the universe within eternity.
The triskele appears in various forms in pre-Celtic and Celtic art. Later found in the Celtic Christian illuminated manuscripts of insular art, the triple spiral was possibly the precursor to the Celtic triskele design found in Celtic manuscripts. The Celtic Christians have used it to represent the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
In Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism, the triskele often stands for the “three realms” – Land, Sea, and Sky. It is also use it for a number of deities who are described in the lore as “threefold” or triadic. In their religion, the triskele is most often the symbol of the god Manannán. Also among their Gods to be symbolized by the triple spiral is too is the goddess Brighid. Many Celtic-inspired Wiccans also use the triple spiral symbol, most often to represent the concept of the triple goddess.
Triskeles are very popular in Celtic art and the styles vary, especially as they relate to the Mother Goddess. They also evoke the Celtic concept of the three domains of material existence (earth, water, and sky), and their interrelations.
The Celtic triple spiral is a symbol of the Triple goddess (maiden, mother, crone) also, waxing waning and full moon (in ancient times).
To help clarify the above statements for the Celtic triskele, or triple spiral symbol, the sun takes a quarter (1/4) of a year to go from the celestial equator (an equinox) to the extreme north (or the extreme south) declination (a solstice), and vice versa. During each three-month period, the sun’s path across the sky seems to form a closely wound quasi-helical shape. This shape resembles a spiral. The spirals could represent nine months and provide an explanation for a link between fertility and the triple-spiral symbol.
Celtic Symbols and their meanings
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