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Celtic symbols chart

Celtic Symbols - Druid Symbols - Gaelic Symbols

The Celts and Celtic symbols have long been rooted in legend and lore, especially for their use of architecture and symbolism. An Indo-European tribe, the Celts were known to have covered large swaths of Europe, and have left remnants of their cultural practices throughout England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and even the north of France. The Celts lived in small, rural settings and were incredibly dependent on the weather and the seasons. An agricultural tribe, the seasons dictated whether they would have a fertile harvest, or have to survive with little food during harsh winters. For the Celts, natural phenomena became deities, simply because of their dependence on the seasons. As small farming communities the forces of nature, such as the sun, rain, thunder, lightning were all elements that controlled their lives and made up much of what is currently known of Celtic symbols, and the Celts attributed god-like abilities to these forces. This is where Celtic symbols were borne out of and this continues to be the case as these symbols continued to be used today.

The Celts connected to the natural world on a deep level, and this is reflected in the symbols they created. Although much of the Celtic art and symbols that have been found point to later time periods rather than the ancient Roman Empire, much of it was unable to withstand the test of time. However, the common understanding is that Celtic symbols were primarily used symbols and iconography for religious purposes and to demonstrate the control of the elements over their lives. Celtic symbols were a method through which they could influence life through invocation and drawing, and also served as a way to record their cultures and traditions as a rural farming society. Currently, Celtic symbols are used as a means of connection and to showcase a shared history that has withstood the test of time across different regions such as Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. The symbols are used as a way to represent belonging, and connection to a deep and storied past that is not rooted in ancestry, but rather a shared culture and belief.

Bowen knot Celtic symbol

Bowen Knot

The Bowen knot is not a true knot, it is sometimes knowns as a ‘heraldic knot’. It is also called ‘true lover’s knot’. It consists of a rope in the form of a continuous loop laid out as an upright square shape with loops at each of the four corners.

Solomon’s Knot Celtic symbol

Solomon’s Knot

The Solomon’s Knot is a Celtic symbol that is believed to symbolize the union of man and the divine. It is extremely ancient and may date back to the stone-age, used by many other ancient civilizations, not just the Celts. It was later attributed to King Solomon. The absence of any beginning or end in the knot makes it a symbol of eternity and immortality, while the design of two entwined figures makes the knot a symbol of love.

Malbon Celtic symbol

Malbon

Malbon is a modern Pagan ritual of thanksgiving at the autumnal equinox. Practitioners are thankful for the fruits of the earth and share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and the God during the winter months. The name Mabon was coined in 1970 as a reference to a character from Welsh mythology.

lammas Celtic symbol

Lammas

Lammas Day was originally a Pagan Celtic festival, marking the wheat harvest. It was customary to bring to church a loaf made from the new crop. In England, it was called ”the feast of first fruits”. Lammas day typically fell at the very beginning of August.

beltane Celtic symbol

Beltane

Beltane was the Gaelic May Day festival, held around 1st May. It marked the beginning of Summer, the time that cattle would be driven out to the pastures. Bonfires and their flames, smoke and ashes were lit as part of rituals to protect the cattle, crops and people.

eostre Celtic symbol

Ēostre

Ēostre was a Pagan diety. Celtic tribes held feasts in Ēostre’s honour, but this tradition died out with the proliferation of Christianity, replaced by the Easter celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Germanic Easter customs, including hares and eggs, may have come from the festival of Ēostre.

Imbolc Celtic symbol

Imbolc

Imbolc, later called St. Brigid’s Day, is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of Spring, held on 1st February. Imbolc was originally a pagan festival which became a celebration of St. Brigid, a Christianization of an earlier Pagan goddess. Brigid’s Crosses are hung in houses to protect homes and livestock from fire and evil.

Yule Yuletide Celtic symbol

Yule Yuletide

Yule or Yuletide is the historical festival of the winter solstice, originally celebrated by Celtic tribes in what is modern-day Germany. Yule lent many customs to the later, Christian, Christmas festival at the same time of year. Customs like the Yule log, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others originated with Celtic Pagan traditions.

Samhain Celtic symbol

Samhain

Samhain is the name of a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of winter, after the autumn harvest. Celebrated from 31 October to 1 November, between sunsets. Samhain is Pagan in origin, celebrated since ancient times. Neolithic tombs have been found in Ireland aligned sunrise at the same time of year. It marked the time cattle returned from the summer pastures livestock was slaughtered for the winter.

Triple Spiral Celtic symbol

Triple Spiral

The triple spiral is extremely ancient. It may be older than the first Celtic tribes who used it. The symbol represents female power, femininity, motherhood, transition and growth.

Double Spiral Celtic symbol

Double Spiral

The double spiral represents balance between two opposing forces. It also symbolizes spiritual awakening, the concurrence of the physical world with the spiritual realm. Birth and death, creation and destruction exist in balance and are represented, also, by the double spiral.

Wheel of Taranis Celtic symbol

Wheel of Taranis

In Celtic mythology Wheel of Taranis is the god of thunder who was worshipped primarily in France, Britain, and Ireland. Taranis was the recipient of human sacrifice, according to the Roman poet Lucan. Usually depicted as a bearded man, often with a thunderbolt and a wheel in his hands.

Awen Celtic symbol

Awen

Awen is the symbol of the poet bards, a sort of personified creative inspiration, similar to the Greek muses. The inspired individual would then be an awenydd. It is depicted as a circle containing three lines below three short dots.

Druid Sigil Celtic symbol

Druid Sigil

While the Druid Sigil is certainly Celtic in appearance, it may not be as old as we think. It is the symbol of the Reformed Druids of North America, formed in 1963. Although the founder claims it to be an ancient symbol of Druidism and the Earth Mother, there is no evidence that this is the case. The Druid Sigil depicts a circle intersected by two vertical, parallel lines. Often, this is shown as a wreath of leaves overlaid with two wooden staves.

Brigid's Cross Celtic symbol

Brigid’s Cross

Brigid’s Cross, a simple cross woven from rushes, predates Christianity coming to Ireland. However, it is now named for the Christian St. Brigid. It is said to protect a house from fire and evil. The cross also signifies Spring in Ireland, as St Brigid died on the 1st of February, officially thought to be the beginning of Spring.

The Bull Celtic symbol

The Bull

The Celtic bull represents strong will, belligerence, and stubbornness. The bull is sign of virility and fertility. Finally, as ownership of cattle as a food source was highly prized, the bull also represents wealth and prosperity.

The Griffin Celtic symbol

The Griffin

The Griffin, depicting a the mythical cross between an eagle and a lion, symbolizes strength and ferocity. The Griffin also represents the balance between goodness and darkness. The creature was thought to protect Celts on their journey after death. Later, the Griffin would become a heraldic symbol, representing loyalty, nobility, gentleness, and justice.

The Dragon Celtic symbol

The Dragon

Almost all cultures around the world have some kind of creature similar to the mythological dragon, and Celts were no different. In Celtic artwork, dragons were often depicted with their tails in their mouths, symbolizing the cycle of nature and immortality, as well as power and energy. Often twisted upon itself, the symbol begins to resemble Celtic knots.

The Boar Celtic symbol

The Boar

The Boar symbol is perhaps unsurprisingly common in Celtic art and symbolism. Wild boar were often hunted and their meat relished. The boar is a symbol of fertility, fearlessness, strength, stubbornness, war, and chaos. It is also a symbol of hospitality, as boar meat was served to honored guests.

Cernunnos Celtic symbol

Cernunnos

Cernunnos was the ancient Celtic and Pagan god of fertility, life, animals, prosperity, and the afterlife. He is typically shown with the horns or antlers of a stag, seated cross-legged, often surrounded or accompanied by animals.

The Stag Celtic symbol

The Stag

The Celtic Stag symbol is associated with warfare, as it was often painted on the chests of warriors as they prepared for battle or to hunt. The Celtic god, Cernunnos, was said to have the antlers, or horns, of a stag. The stag was thought to provide protection.

The Celtic Cross symbol

The Celtic Cross

Although the Celtic Cross is widely considered a Christian symbol, it predates the birth of Christ. It did become widely used in Christian art and symbolism. The circle is came to be thought of as symbolizing God’s eternal love.

The Sailor’s Knot Celtic symbol

The Sailor’s Knot

The Sailor’s Knot is a four-pointed Celtic knot, with two entwining, looping lines creating the overall shape. When the Celtic sailors would leave home, they wove notes to remember those left behind. The Sailor’s knot represents eternal love.

The Tree of Life Celtic symbol

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life takes the form of a complex Celtic knot, signifying nature, and harmony with nature, it might also represent balance, particularly in relation to the balance of nature and the seasons.

triskeles - Celtic love knot - Celtic symbol

Triskeles – Celtic Love Knot

The Triskeles, sometimes known as a “Celtic love knot”, is one of the oldest Celtic symbols. The three sides represent earth, water and fire. The continuous line represents love, unity and eternal life. The significance of the three sides is unknown, though some symbologists suggest a connotation of motion, movement or energy.

triquetra celtic

Triquetra – Trinity Knot

Also known as a “trinity knot”, the Triquetra was adopted by early Christians from an ancient Pagan symbol. In Pagan mythology, it represented earth, air and water or – life, death and rebirth. The Triquetra is sometimes referred to as a Celtic triangle, but is more accurately a three-pointed shape.

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