Celtic Symbols and their meanings





The spiral was found on many Dolmans and gravesites. Its true meaning is not known for sure, but many of these symbols were found as far as Ireland and France. It is believed to represent the travel from the inner life to the outer soul or higher spirit forms; the concept of growth, expansion, and cosmic energy, depending on the culture in which it is used. To the ancient inhabitants of Ireland, the spiral was used to represent their sun.

A basic element in Western ideography, the clockwise spiral (starting from the middle) is strongly associated with water, power, independent movement, and migrations of tribes. The sign's association with water may rather focus recurring rainy seasons, than water in general.
Well in accordance with the law of the polarity of meanings of elementary graphs also often seems to denote the sun. But maybe not the ordinary sun, but the eclipsed sun. See the entry below.                                                       
As stated in the entry of the basic graphic elements the dot and the spiral were used by man already 24,000 years ago. But thereafter the first instances of are found carved in rock faces not more than about 5,000 years ago.
Be that as it may, one finds on discos from Crete from around 2000 B.C., and as an old symbol for potential power in Tibet. It also appears among rock carvings in Utah.

A more circular and closer drawn version of the above entry sign is seen on many neolithic rock carvings. Until recently the meaning of this ideogram eluded researchers, but things have now changed. On rock carvings in Scandinavia one often finds signs which look like a strange type of boats or sleighs with short vertical lines on them. They have hitherto been interpreted as representing people. Together with them a lot of small, round signs, and the ideogram , can be seen. Why would people, thousands of years ago, hire rock carvers to work for long hours with the carving of these, seemingly rather meaningless pictures of ships or sleighs together with small, round signs and , in hard rock, as if they were messages important enough for posterity to be made to last thousands of years? Why did neolithic men think these pictures should be conveyed over eons to posterity?
A breakthrough in the understandning of these strange ideograms seems to have been made in 1991. An archaeologist got the idea that the small, round signs on those rock carvings could be signs for stars in the sky. He fed the structures of some of the rock carvings into a computer and had the computer to compare them with representations of the constantly changing structure of the constellations of the brightests stars of the sky, century for century for some thousands of years. What he found was that the rock carvings were documentations of the configurations of the visible planets and the brightest of the fixed stars at times of total solar eclipses.
Thus the sign might mean the eclipsed sun.      

Another idea states that the loosely wound anti-clockwise spiral represent the large summer sun and the tightly wound, clockwise spiral their shrinking winter sun.


A variation of the preceding entry sign consists in fact of two interconnected , that is spirals with clockwise rotation (from the center seen). , made up not by lines but by rows of dots, has been found engraved on an amulett of mammoth tooth which is 24,000 years old, and thus must have been engraved by Cro-Magnon mammoth hunters. The sign , often used to denote the sun, is at the center of the amulet, with two on each side of it.
During the Bronze Age was an often used graphic structure for decorations of artefacts of all types. In ancient Greece it was common on vases and amphoras, and often signified water or the sea.
An older variation on the same theme is 32:21, found on rock engravings from the Bronze Age in Scania, Sweden. This variation, however, is much more graphically sophisticated, as you will soon realize if you try to draw it.

Another theory: a double spiral is used to represent the equinoxes, when day and night are of equal length.

This sign structure is uncommon because it is closed. Since it is very difficult to draw, it probably had magical significance. It is often found on vessels and representations from the Bronze Age. This instance is found on a rock carving from Scania, Sweden. See         

This structure is called the spiral of life and was found in the remnants of an old temple from the Bronze Age in Ireland. The sign is drawn in one single line without beginning or end.
Compare with , an old Celtic sign that was also used in pre-Columbian America, and in Greece and neighboring countries in antiquity. See The triple spiral denotes the Threefold Goddess. The circle, spiral and wheel are all powerful symbols representing the cycle of life, death and rebirth, including the seasons of the year.

The ancient structure has been found both in pre-Columbian America and in Bronze Age Europe. In Europe it is especially associated with the Celtic tribes.
These symbols are called triskele or triskelion.
The Triskele is used to symbolize the cycles of life with in the three fold, or three spheres of influnce in the material world.
The three spheres (Land, Sea and Sky) represents the three aspects of the material world that are contained in every object. Each aspect ever flowing outward and always returning to the point from which it started.

This symbol is also used to symbolize the Druidic Threefold Sister Goddess: Fotla/Eiru/Banba. Ireland, or Erin, is named after Eriu. It also symbolizes the Wiccan Threefold Mother Goddess: Maiden/Mother/Crone.

The Triskele was a representation of the importance of the number three.

Frank Waters, an anthropologist who has studied the Hopi Indians and their culture, writes that the mirror image of the preceding entry sign was used by the Hopis in Arizona. Its spectrum of meaning seems to have been centred around the concept of several returns or homecomings.
Waters has interpreted as tribal migration, cyclical in nature, by a people consisting of a few large tribes or clans.



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