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Living Arts Originals features a wide variety of articles on all types of symbols and their meanings. The types of symbols that Living Arts Originals focuses on include flowers, animals, colors, nature, color, sacred, and many more.

Celtic Symbols in Life and Culture

Celtic Symbols
Celtic Culture
Celtic Symbology
Celtic Symbol with Meanings
Celtic Knots
Celtic Spirals
     Books About Celtic Symbolism
     Books About Ireland and Irish Culture
     Related Articles on This Website

Celtic Symbols

By Tim Lazaro

Druidism sits at the core of Celtic traditions and culture and their existence can be traced back as far as 2,000 BCE (years before the Christian era). However, much of what we know about them today we owe to the symbols they left behind. Ancient Celts had no written words, but they depicted in their symbols a deep reverence for nature, the universe, the world around them and their relationship with everything and one another.

celtic symbolThe advent of Roman invasions and persecution caused these ancient people to scatter and settle in distant lands. Over time they were converted to Christianity and many of the ancient beliefs and practices were all but lost. However, Christianity itself took on many of their symbols and attributed their own meanings.

Even though there is tangible evidence of pagan symbolism what is known comes mostly from mythology and folklore. Celtic symbology and Celtic symbols with meaning are today a source of much debate worldwide.

Celtic Culture

The Celts were skilled people, master craftsmen, successful warriors, farmers, builders and artists. They shared spiritual traditions and lived in harmony with nature. However they were considered uncivilized due to their beliefs and their lifestyle. They were considered pagan because of the Druids and their practices.

It was to the Druids that people turned for wisdom and council and it was they who made up the clan elders, astronomers, diviners, healers, historians, musicians, philosophers and keepers of the secrets of the universe. They were far from being pagan although their practices may have seemed so.

celtic symbolThe life of the ancient Celt was rooted in tradition and mysticism. They revered their ancestors and the earth and the things on it were attributed with great powers. They believed in the interconnectedness of man and his surroundings and used symbols as a way to illustrate it.

Celtic symbols with meaning were a way to continue their traditions and explain their interlacing and intricate relationship with that around them.

Celtic Symbology

The Celtic culture was all but lost with the appearance of the Romans and later as a result of Christianity. While much of their symbology exists, the exact meanings no longer do. What has been preserved however has been salvaged from Celts such as the tribes from Great Britain and Ireland. What they could, they put into writing in the Middle Ages.

It is thanks to these writings that today we know that they had no written form; in fact it is known that the Druids were forbidden from writing. For this reason they turned to symbolism as a form of communicating their ideas and beliefs.

Celtic Symbol with Meanings

celtic crossEarly Druids were the keepers of all things spiritual which they passed on. In order to do so and the absence of the written word they used symbols to do so. One of the earliest Celtic symbols that today has great meaning is the tree of life. So powerful is this symbol that it has transgressed cultures. Yet its meaning is rooted in Celtic symbology. The druids and Celts believed trees were living entities endowed with great powers. Not only were they gatekeepers of the present world, the underworld and the gods, but they were able to give and sustain life.

The Sun Cross is another ancient Celtic symbol that was used to illustrate the relationship between spirits and the earth. consisting of a circle with a cross in its center, the circle depicted the sun which was believed to have cosmic powers. The sun was considered to be the center of the universe. The cross was meant to illustrate the connection of the sun with self, wisdom, nature and the gods. However, it could also have depicted the four seasons or the four directions.

celtic knot
Celtic Knots in Celtic Symbol Meaning

Celtic knots are perhaps the most identifiable of all Celtic symbols and held great meaning. The strands that made up a knot were intertwined with one another which symbolized protection and unity. It is also said to symbolize how everything is interconnected. Yet Celtic symbols seen depicted in knot work are more Christian than pagan in origin.

Celtic Symbols Seen in Spirals

Around 500 BCE Celtic symbols started taking the form of swirling patterns which they used to symbolize their spiritual connection to the natural world. Although not as well known as knot work, the spiral is perhaps the oldest of all Celtic symbol designs. For many the Celtic symbol and meanings attached to the spiral depicted the balance between consciousness and the cosmos. Other meanings attributed to the spiral were mystical powers capable of preventing evil spirits entering sacred tombs. They could also signify the seasons of life, the cycles of time or the three pronged spiral was said to represent the three stages of womanhood, the holy trinity or three cycles of life.

About the Author: Tim Lazaro is a Celtic Symbols enthusiast. For more great tips and advice on Celtic Symbols visit Article Source: Celtic Symbols


Books About Celtic Symbolism

Learn more about Celtic symbolism in these recommended books from Amazon:
Celtic Symbols
Celtic Folk Soul: Art, Myth & Symbol
The Book of Celtic Symbols: Symbols, Stories & Blessings for Everyday Living
Symbols of the Celts

Books About Ireland and Irish Culture

Try the following recommended books from Amazon on Ireland:
How the Irish Saved Civilization
Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Ireland (Country Guide)
The Country Cooking of Ireland
Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America

Related Articles on This Website

See the following articles for more information about the Celts, Ireland and Irish culture:

Saint Patrick's Monks
By Patricia Doherty Hinnebusch and Pollux Parker
After his ordination in 430 A.D., Patrick went to Ireland as a missionary. He founded monasteries in northern, central, and eastern Ireland. There were no cities in Ireland then and his monasteries became centers of trade as well as knowledge.

The Truth About the Blarney Stone
By Patricia Doherty Hinnebusch
What is the blarney stone? What is the Irish way of speaking? That legendary stone in the wall of Blarney Castle and my prolonged tarrying in the grove of magical trees nearby are merely two of countless treasured memories of a land where words, like the wings of a butterfly, let you soar above the mundaneness of everyday life to acquire a proper perspective on reality.

The Name of Ireland
By Patricia Doherty Hinnebusch
Discover the origins and history of the name Ireland. Learn about the influence of the Gaels, the Scots and others on the etymology of Ireland and the many peoples who fashioned her early history.

An Irish Song: Danny Boy
By Patricia Doherty Hinnebusch
By the first week in March, supermarkets, restaurants, and taverns and bars that serve food are well-stocked with corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day celebrations. Bagpipers and tin whistlers and flutists are practicing one song above all. And the habitues of elegant lounges, rustic taverns, and neighborhood pubs hear strains of that song loved around the world, Danny Boy.

Bird Symbolism: Celtic Symbols

The Celts flourished from 500BC to 400AD and were later reduced in numbers and geographic spread by both the Roman expansion and Germanic immigration. Among the most utilized Celtic symbols were those based on animal forms, including the bird symbols delineated below.

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