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Celtic Tattoos and Their Meaning

Celtic tattoos and their meaning

Celtic tattoos have a symbology behind that makes them special for each person who decides to become one. There are many legends and mythological scenes that hide behind a Celtic symbol, and either because of its meaning or because of the interest that each form arouses, they have become very popular tattoos in our culture. The Celtic word refers to civilizations that shared the same language, Gaelic, and the same customs that spread throughout areas of Western Europe, such as Ireland or Great Britain, during the Iron Age.

The Celts were characteristic for being very warriors and brave and, therefore, many of the symbols that represent them symbolize protection in war, life or the universe. They are symbols with great spiritual beliefs behind them and, in them, the practices and rituals of the era in which they expanded are represented. On this occasion, in a COMO, we will talk about Celtic tattoos and their meaning, as well as the most common symbols of culture.

Celtic knot tattoos

The Celtic knot was considered, at the time, a powerful lucky talisman which was added to gifts as a symbol of good wishes to the sender. Each Celtic knot has a meaning depending on the shape of the knots, the drawing they create and how complex they are. The main Celtic knots that we can find in the form of tattoos are:

  • The Celtic knot: It symbolizes eternity, the cycle of uninterrupted life with infinite reincarnations. It is the most famous knot, since it represents love, the union between a couple.
  • The triqueta or triquetra: It is a Celtic symbol represented with three intertwined elements. This knot has double meaning. On the one hand, it symbolizes the triple feminine divinity: maiden, mother and old woman; and, on the other, it is associated with life, death and rebirth.
  • Celtic Quaternary Knot: The knots that form this Celtic symbol have no beginning or end, therefore, this knot symbolizes the cyclic paths and the connection between the natural and eternity.
  • Maternity Knot: It is known as the knot of the Celtic mother and is composed of two hearts entwined in a knot. It is the Celtic symbol of the family and represents the love between a mother, a father and a son.
Celtic tattoos and their meaning - Celtic knot tattoos

Celtic cross tattoos

Celtic crosses have a mainly religious meaning. As in the case of knots, the meaning of the Celtic cross will vary depending on its shape, although this will always be related to religion. In ancient times, Celtic crosses were used for memorial purposes. In many cases, the monasteries raised giant crosses as a symbol of identity. The most common tattoos related to this symbol are:

  • The Celtic cross: Its origin dates back to the expansion of Christianity in the Irish territory. It is a symbol formed by a Christian cross surrounded by a circle that represents protection against the devil.
  • The cross of Brigid or Brigit: This cross is made of interwoven reeds that represent protection against evil. It brings abundance in those houses where it is stored.
  • The solar cross: The drawing forms a combination of the cross and the circle. It represents the union, the sun and the tree of life.
Celtic tattoos and their meaning - Celtic cross tattoos

Trisquel or triple spiral

The trisquel, also called trikele or trinacria, is a symbol formed by 3 spirals attached to the same central axis, creating the shape of a propeller. It has 3 spirals because it is the number that represents perfection and balance in celtic culture. Like other Celtic symbols, the trisquel is also polysemic. These are some of their meanings:

  • Learning between the past, present and future.
  • The balance between body, mind and spirit.
  • The beginning and the end.
  • The evolution and growth.
  • Good luck, because it was used as a remedy against the evil eye.
Celtic tattoos and their meaning - Trisquel or triple spiral

Awen

He awen tattoo, with three points and three lines within a circle, represents inspiration, as well as the harmony between two concepts. These meanings are represented by the figures that appear in the symbol: opposite ends and a central line as a point of equilibrium. As we see, 3 reappears as the sacred number of Celtic culture.

Celtic tattoos and their meaning - Awen

Wuivre, another of the most popular Celtic tattoos

It is represented by two snakes entwined each other and surrounded by a circle, and its meaning is the union and the power of the earth, granting love and power to the one who has it tattooed. In the Celtic culture, the snake and the dragon were considered wild animals, since they could move through all the elements: air, water and earth.

Celtic tattoos and their meaning - Wuivre, another of the most popular Celtic tattoos

Celtic spiral

In Celtic culture, this spiral symbolizes immortality; eternal life, without beginning or end. It is one of the oldest symbols of such culture and is a most artistic and philosophical way of representing nature and the passage of time. When getting a Celtic spiral tattoo, you should keep in mind that there are different shapes with different meanings:

  • Simple Celtic Spiral: it represents the sun and everything that it symbolizes; energy, growth, life, etc.
  • Celtic double spiral: symbolizes the duality of the world and of nature; life and death, as well as the balance between opposites and how they complement each other.
  • Triple Celtic Spiral: It represents the eternal cycle of life and rebirth, as well as the resurrection of the dead. In fact, this type of spiral could be found in many Celtic tombs and is, once again, a reminder of the sacred number for this culture.
Celtic tattoos and their meaning - Celtic spiral

Tribal tattoo

Tribal tattoos were used in ancient times to identify each person according to the tribe to which they belonged. And beyond being used to differentiate each individual, tribal tattoos symbolized social status and personal achievements, as well as the personal and religious beliefs of the one who wore it. Currently, many ink lovers simply choose these tattoos to decorate their skin, although some interested in Celtic culture try to be true to history.

Celtic tattoos and their meaning - Tribal tattoo

The Clover

Clover is a very common plant that represents, especially, Ireland. Most clovers have three leaves, which is why finding a four-leaf clover is a symbol of good luck. Therefore, if someone tattoos a four-leaf clover, attracts luck daily. Further, each of the leaves of a clover has a special meaning: the first leaf symbolizes hope, the second leaf faith, the third love and the fourth luck.

Many people decide to tattoo the green clover, as Ireland is also known as the Emerald Island for its incredible landscapes.

Celtic tattoos and their meaning - Clover

The Tree of Life

It is one of the most famous tattoos of Celtic symbolism, since the Celts considered trees to be a sacred symbol. In this case, the tree symbolizes the essence of life; the connection between earth and heaven and good and evil. If you want more information about one of the most important and popular Celtic designs that exist, do not miss this article about the Tree of Life: meaning, what it is and origin.

Celtic tattoos and their meaning - The tree of life

El ailm

The Celtic symbol of the Ailm represents the fir, which is evergreen and strong. The symbolism of this tattoo is very interesting, because it represents the power of survive and grow despite difficult situations. Its shape is a cross within a circle (although many ink lovers prefer to tattoo the cross without the circle), and symbolizes energy, objectivity, good health, strength and integrity. It is also interpreted as a symbol of progress and, formerly, the Celts believed it was a symbol capable of healing the soul.

Celtic tattoos and their meaning - El Ailm

The harp

The harp is a musical instrument that was and still is very popular in Ireland due mainly to its mythology and the ancient Gaelic tradition. In fact, formerly the Celtic priests used the harp as an instrument with which to accompany their songs and their knowledge. They were wise and educated people who differed from the rest of the population because of their sensitivity and intelligence. This is why, apart from representing music and poetry, the harp tattoo also represents wisdom.

It is common to see this tattoo accompanied by a green clover.

Celtic tattoos and their meaning - The harp

The Claddagh

The Claddagh is represented in the shape of a heart with a crown between two hands, each symbol acquiring a different meaning: the heart symbolizes love, the crown loyalty and both hands friendship and affection. All together form the pillars of what true love means. That is why Claddagh is one of the best tattoos for couples that exist.

If you want to find out more about the history of this symbol and wonder how to use the Claddagh ring, check out this other article of a COMO.

Celtic tattoos and their meaning - The Claddagh

The labyrinth

The tattoo of a Celtic labyrinth was mainly used in the rituals of this culture. It was formed by twelve rings connected to each other that enclose a path that ends in the center. According to Celtic history, whoever traveled the labyrinth had the privilege of receiving knowledge. That is why, today, the tattoo of this maze symbolizes self integration, the journey of life and the infinite possibilities of the beyond.

Celtic tattoos and their meaning - The labyrinth

Fold

Like other Celtic tattoos, the fold symbol Is associated with the balance of the universe. In the drawing that forms, the same universe is found in the center, surrounded by four circles that represent the four elements: earth, air, fire and water.

To discover more about the Celtic Symbols and their ancestral meaning, we recommend reading this other interesting post of a COMO.

Celtic tattoos and their meaning - Fold

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