Celtic symbols have held powerful positions in the way of life of ancient celts. These are groups of people who lived in Western Europe and Britain, between 500BC-400AD. They lived in small villages led by chieftains, much like Vikings. Their symbols have commonly represented love, unity, strength, and loyalty, aside from religious beliefs.
Among the famous Celtic symbols is the Triquetra Knot. You’ve probably seen it in books, movies, or as tattoos, but do you know the meaning behind it? It is possible, many people don’t. This article aims to explore the symbol’s true meaning, by looking at what it is, its origin, and what it represents even today.
What Is A Triquetra?
The name Triquetra means triangle, where tri- stands for ‘three’ and -quetra stands for ‘cornered’. The symbol involves overlapping arcs or shapes that resemble the vesica Pisces, which is the shape gotten when you overlap circles. It was developed by the Celts and categorized under Celtic Knots along with Dara Knot. These Celtic knots were complete endless knots, mainly used as Celtic decorations in Insular art. The triquetra is among the oldest Celtic symbols believed to date back all the way to 500BC. At the time it was used as a symbol of the triple goddess, believed to be maiden, mother, and crone.
Over the years, the meaning of the symbol has changed depending on the group of people that used it. Christians saw it as a sign of the holy trinity, others saw it as the representation of past, present, and future. Some saw it as the infinite cycle of life or the representation of the bond of three elements, earth water, and air. It is also sometimes considered as the protection rune.
In the modern-day, the symbol is taken as a representation of anything with three parts. It has been used in marriage, parenthood, philosophy, and many more. Today, people also incorporate it into their emblems, logos, tattoos, or decoration for their ornaments and jewelry.
As mentioned, the Triquetra symbol dates as far back as 500BC or even further. The exact date has yet to be determined and there is still an ongoing debate about it. That’s because it has appeared in different locations dating back to different periods. There is however a wide acceptance that the symbol is over 5000 years old.
The Triquetra symbol is believed to have existed during the Iron Age and became popular due to the Persian and Anatolia ceramics that adorned them. But the first notable appearance was in the 7th century in Celtic culture when it was used in Insular art. It later also appeared in the 8th century on carved stones in Northern Europe as well as the early German coins. In the 9th century, the symbol again appeared in the legendary book of Kells. It bared a religious meaning to pagans due to its resemblance to the Valknut symbol.
The triquetra symbol continued to enjoy its golden age since the 7th century until the Norman invasion when Celtic Knotwork started to decline. This continued up to the 15th century when the knotwork was re-introduced as political and cultural identities. The Triquetra symbol once again started being adorned with jewelry and weapons. But that again began reducing around the mid-18th century following the period of the Jacobean Rebellion. This changed in the 19th century after the Celtic revival and the symbol has been in steady use until today.
As we’ve mentioned the Triquetra symbol has changed meaning over the years based on the different groups. That is why it is considered a versatile symbol and goes by many different names, including the Celtic triangle, Celtic trinity, trinity knot, and so on. The symbol was originally a Celtic symbol of strength, although after being adopted by different faiths and cultures, its meaning is a representation of their core beliefs.
To begin with, Christians saw this symbol as the representation of the Holy Trinity, that is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As a result, the symbol became known as the Trinity symbol. There were variations of the symbol, with some including a fish, the earlier symbol of Christian faith, and others including a circle, to emphasize the unity of the Trinity. The continuous line of the symbol was taken to mean the eternity of the Holy Trinity and the eternity of Christian faith.
Neopagans and Wiccans also used the Triquetra symbol in their faith. The number three was an important number for them and so the symbol carried various meanings. First, it was believed to have been the representation of the triple goddess, the mother, crone, and maiden. The mother aspect represented creation, the crone, represented wisdom and the maiden represented innocence. They also saw the triquetra as a symbol of the forces of nature, earth fire, and water. It was also used as a representation of the cycle of life that is birth, death, and rebirth. Other Neopagan uses of the symbol are to represent the past present and future, the body-mind, and soul, as well as the earth, sky, and sea.
Other groups of people used the symbol for various reasons as well. It was used as the representation of a husband’s promise to his wife, that is to love, honor, and protect her. Triquetra was also used to represent the three stages of pregnancy and the aspect of family, father, mother, and child. As we mentioned before the symbol was also seen as a protective charm with the ability to dispel negative energy and protect the bearer against evil forces.
The Triquetra In Modern Use
In the modern-day, the popularity of the triquetra symbol has grown since the 19th century. People from Ireland and Britain have especially used it to reconnect with their Celtic origins. Even people who are not necessarily connected to the Celtic culture, incorporate the symbol into their lives in one way or another, for example in the form of tattoos. Others have used the symbol in making knotted jewelry or decorating ornaments. The New Age has incorporated the symbol in their clothing and CD covers. It is also used in cosmology and theology as a representation of aspects with three parts and a significant symbol when it comes to time traveling.
The symbol has also been used as a symbol of Ireland’s ancient culture. The symbol appears in the County of Sligo, where it’s a man-made design surrounded by beautiful nature. The design was created by the McCabe family in the 80s by planting trees as an example of Woodland art. It signifies the importance of the symbol to the Irish, their culture, and their belief system.
In pop culture, the symbol has also made several appearances. To begin with, it featured in the TV show called Charmed, the Walking dead, and a German Netflix series called Dark. It also appeared on Thor’s hammer from Marvel and has been incorporated on the cover of the Book of Shadows, which talked about the power of the symbol is intact when the power of three is intact and divided when the three are not united. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The use of the symbol today is simply wide.
The main reason this symbol has managed to survive that long is that then it doesn’t have a singular meaning. Over the years people have adopted the symbol and given it meaning based on their individual beliefs. You could also give the Triquetra symbol your meaning. It could be anything whether it has to do with love eternity, faith, or anything unique to you. You could also gift the symbol as a way of wishing a loved one longevity given the continuous lines that make up the symbol.