Friday, October 19, 2007

The Meanings of Celtic Art

Celtic art has been around so long that the Celts were carving spirals around tombs like the ones at Newgrange in Ireland long before the Great Pyramids were constructed.

The Celts believed that there were seven life forms - plants, insects, fish, reptiles, birds, mammals and man. But because there was common taboo that warned against creating an exact likeness of a living person these images are all represented symbolically with Knotwork, Spirals, Maze and Step Patterns in their artwork. These symbolic drawings are still popular today, we wear them on clothing, in jewelry, and decorate our homes with them.


Unfortunately there is no recorded history of the meaning behind the symbolism found in Celtic art. But we do find that there is a general agreement as to the meanings behind the beautiful geometric and abstract designs.

Knotwork - the interconnection of Life and our place in the universe, a journey through life and the understanding of life. Common knots include the Trinity knot, which is thought to represent the Holy Trinity or the Triple Goddesses of the ancient Celts. The Lover's Knot represents two souls entwined as one.
Spirals or Triskels - Are thought to mean the individuals personal spirit, as to balance oneself, as Yen and Yang is in the East.

Maze and Steps - Represents a journey through life, a path of experiences and learning.
Zoomorphics - Hounds - Loyalty, Lions - Strength, Snakes - Rebirth, Birds - Purity, Salmon - Knowledge, and Cats - Gatekeepers, Protectors.

If you want to incorporate Celtic symbolism in your own artwork, crafting or even a tattoo;
Celtic by Chris Down or Celtic Designs by Courtney Davis are both great reference books.

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