Study on the meaning of the Celtic Knot

Celtic knots are strange designs to say the least. They seem to have neither beginning nor end, thus reminding us of an infinity that exceeds us.

Appearing in the rock art of the first human clans in Europe, they are used to decorate ritual objects, to embellish architecture, to embellish clothing, to create jewelry... In short, the Celtic knot was (and still is) everywhere!

Its origin and meaning are so important that many people even today consider this type of Celtic lucky charm to be very powerful.

In short, to what extent is the Celtic knot just a simple decoration, a symbol among many others without any real depth?

And conversely, what is its spiritual significance? Are there certain models who possess “magical” powers?

In this article, we will try to answer all your questions.

Contents :

Usual precaution regarding the study of the Celtic world

Some particular Celtic knots

Chronology of Celtic art: paganism, Christianity and revival

Conclusion of our study on Celtic knots

Some objects of Celtic culture, clairvoyance cards and lucky jewelry

The power of a civilization

with Celtic symbols of strength and power

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Usual precaution regarding the study of the Celtic world

Before going into more detail in the analysis of certain models of Celtic knots, certain elements need to be raised.

Anyway, if the Celtic world interests you, you can now take a look at this collection of symbols of Celtic origins that we have found for you.

The importance of point of view

When we talk about the Celtic world, we must remember that things change with the time and place from which we view them.

The meaning they had for the monks who illuminated their masterpieces is not necessarily the same as that given to them by their original creators.

There are, however, ideas and concepts that have survived the test of time that have reached us (hopefully) relatively intact.

It can therefore sometimes be unwise to speculate excessively on the meaning of a Celtic knot. Apart from oral tradition, we have very little information that would allow us to understand the message conveyed by these works.

Very different cultural references

To go even further, we could even say that the state of mind and the way of understanding the world that the ancient Celts had are, for most of us, completely unknown and foreign to us.

Unfortunately, we no longer share the same values ​​and the same cultural references.

How in this case can we put ourselves in the place of the artist who once created the pattern we are looking at?

How in this case can we understand the meaning of a Celtic knot?

Far from discouraging us, these are not sufficient reasons to completely abandon the idea of ​​unlocking the secrets of Celtic knots.

The fact remains that we must keep in mind that most of the information that we will receive during our research will come from old sources which will necessarily have undergone bias and profound modifications made over time.

A subject that is still debated

Another major problem that quickly becomes apparent is the very little consensus among scholars as to the deep symbolism and perception we should have of this or that Celtic knot.

The honest but naive seeker who hopes to see secrets of the past revealed to him, the modern artisan who wishes to understand the philosophy which once animated those to whom he owes some of his techniques, the curious person who would be ready to leave his skepticism aside: Everyone is welcome here as long as they maintain a much-needed touch of critical thinking.

Dozens of different lucky Celtic knots.

Some particular Celtic knots

For me, the symbolism of knots is what has always attracted me.

Those who created them gave us beautiful and captivating works.

Understanding the idea that led our ancients to put their time and talent into this type of project is a good first step toward understanding Celtic knotwork as a primitive art form.

The idea of ​​infinity that surrounds them can be difficult to grasp. Look at this ring with an infinity knot for example, and try to put into words what it evokes for you...

Not easy, is it?

Especially since we have no less knowledge of how the ancient Celts viewed this concept.

We can therefore only try to grasp the meaning of the different Celtic knots with our current reading grid, a reading grid which unfortunately distances us from the thinking of the ancients.

Either way, there are a few things that everyone will have in common. For example, we can cite:

  • A spiritual, even magical use. Whether you like it or not, the fact is that some men have used (and still use) Celtic knots as symbols of protection.
  • A close link with the world view according to the Celts. For them, the universe is made up of different intertwined spheres which meet at certain points. The image of a long strand wrapping around itself to form knots is therefore apropos.
  • The notion of connection with higher forces. Protection of us or our family, maternity and fertility, love or power: each Celtic knot has a different use, but which always involves an energy that goes beyond us.
  • Varied interpretations. We are talking here about ancient symbols which were used extensively throughout history. Obviously, seeing lucky charms used so much is synonymous with meanings which diverge from one region to another on the map, sometimes even from one village to another.

In short, the beauty of the work of the people who came before us resonates in the hearts of many of us.

It is not uncommon to see a person change their life after having grasped the message carried by one of the Celtic knots that we are now going to present to you.

Celtic triquetra symbol in black color.

The triquetra: leading figure of the phenomenon

The most common Celtic knot is undoubtedly the triquetra (which you will find here incorporated into a ring).

From a purely aesthetic point of view, the triquetra consists of a long strand forming three slightly pointed ovals nested within each other.

So, as we said just previously, this Celtic knot has no clearly distinguishable beginning or end, thereby evoking notions of an eternity that nothing can break.

Given the simplicity of its shape and especially of tracing it without any particular tool, the triquetra was adopted by many groups, sometimes very different. Both the pagan Celts and the Christian Irish therefore gave it pride of place.

In fact, this ancient symbol has long been considered representative of all the trinities found in the world.

It can therefore also take a pagan meaning (by representing natural balances such as that of earth-sea-sky) or a Christian meaning (as a representation of the Holy Trinity).

Nowadays, individuals from all walks of life use the triquetra in their daily spiritual practice. With such a large number of uses bringing a profusion of different meanings, discovering the true origins involves some serious detective work!

What we know therefore comes from in-depth research and critical analysis of the tradition that has reached us.

Archaeologists, for their part, have found an impressive number of artifacts and objects from daily life decorated with the triquetra. Some, mainly those that were created between the 7th and 10th centuries, are real finely crafted treasures that have nothing to envy of our modern jewelry.

The recurrence of this symbol suggests that it may have had an importance and meaning that goes far beyond that of a simple decoration.

Some speak of magical protection, others of an astrological representation of the union of the Sun and the Moon.

However, none of these hypotheses being verifiable, they are only simple suppositions, ideas which have sprouted here and there illuminated by the light of oral tradition taught for centuries.

Celtic shield composed of curves and knots

The Celtic shield: astonishing protection

In fact, we should not talk about the Celtic shield but rather about Celtic shields. Indeed, there are various types which, although all having a rounded shape, sometimes differ in the path that their strands take.

Typically, these Celtic knots contain four angles in their center but have curvatures on their exterior.

Regardless, with their curves communicating a certain power, these symbols live up to their name. In addition to their appearance, the powers they also hide make them similar to shields.

Engraved on bulwarks and shields of course, but also on helmets and armor, Celtic shields were used by the Druids of the time to bless and protect the warriors who went into battle.

Sometimes also, this type of Celtic knot was used during rituals to heal the sick. This makes us think that they didn't just offer us simple physical protection... And that's precisely what our ancestors thought!

The Celts believed that this symbol warded off evil spirits that caused ailments in our bodies.

More specifically, the four right angles at its center were believed to inspire fear in the hearts of evil forces. (Don't ask me why, but that's what people say anyway).

Celtic triple spiral, also called triskele.

The triskele: even older than the Celts

The spiral shape of certain Celtic knots brings them closer to prehistoric symbols found in cave paintings in many corners of Europe.

Yes, the people of so-called megalithic civilizations already decorated their most sacred places with this type of motif.

If you are interested in this culture and have already visited menhirs, dolmens or stone circles, you cannot have missed it.

As such, the most remarkable site of all is undoubtedly the Newgrange mound. Dated several millennia before the height of Celtic culture, the large stones surmounting the entrance to the site are engraved with clearly visible spirals.

Often, specialists associate these primitive drawings with the emergence of the idea of ​​the “cycle of life”, meaning by this the cycle of birth-growth-death-rebirth. The continuity of the spiral would then represent the continuity of this cycle.

For others, the spiral Celtic knot symbolizes the journey from physical life to a more spiritual life. This hypothesis is based on the location where most of these engravings were found, namely around tombs, burials, etc.

When it has three spirals, we often speak of a triskelion, triskelion or triskelion. This model appears very often in Celtic-inspired art and, for example, still serves today as an emblem of Brittany. Here is a lucky pendant that should please all lovers of Brittany.

This Trinitarian symbol, a bit like the triquetra that we talked about before, was also taken up by the Christian religion to describe the Trinity.

Simple sailor's knot used to carry out certain Celtic customs linked to the sea.

The sailor's knot: memory of the missing

The sailor's knot is made from two ropes woven together to create endless loops.

The story behind it this time is rather simple. Celtic sailors from the coastal regions wove knots of thick rope which they hung in the center of their village before setting off on a voyage which actually served as a reminder to their loved ones remaining on dry land.

As they passed each day they remembered to ask the gods to instill strength and courage into the hearts of those who faced the ocean.

If unfortunately one of them did not return, the knot was left in memory of this comrade who died at sea.

At the time, modern boats were not known and shipwrecks were common. It goes without saying that it took immense courage to attack the waves in these conditions.

A sailor's knot therefore has a double meaning: on the one hand it represents the love we have for those whom the sea has taken from our arms, on the other hand it is associated with the courage and determination which these men have make proof. Highlighting the qualities of those who have left... This is undoubtedly the most beautiful way to pay tribute.

There is a legend still told in Ireland according to which, the day one of these ropes was cut, the ghost of the sailor with whom it was associated would come and haunt the village. If, on the other hand, it is the weather, the wind and the rain which cause the rope to tear naturally, the spirit will be able to reach the sky.

Celtic cross whose branches are covered with patterns and arabesques.

The Celtic cross: between old and new beliefs

If you have ever had the chance to visit Ireland, then you have already seen the Celtic cross.

Many examples (mainly those built in stone) have survived through the centuries to tell us the story of a founding stage in Irish culture: the abandonment of ancient paganism.

A true symbol of the island, the Celtic cross is closely linked to the history of the Christianization of its inhabitants. If you are of the Christian faith but also want to respect your ancient roots, this type of Celtic cross should please you.

In short, it would in all likelihood be the famous Saint Patrick who had the idea. The pagan Celts who then populated Ireland used a very basic circular Celtic knot, a simple loop in reality, as a representation of solar energy.

By associating it with the Catholic cross, Saint Patrick wanted to send a strong message : the power of Christ surpasses that of the ancient pagan gods.

Helped by this type of symbol, the saint in any case succeeded in a truly exceptional work of evangelization, one of those that we have seen very rarely in the history of humanity.

Its meaning was indeed seductive. The Celtic cross is a religious symbol that refers to the dominion of the Lord, yes, but dominion through love and greater goodness.

According to some sources, this idea particularly appealed to the most educated Druids for whom the idea of ​​a purely good god had previously been only a distant dream.

Large Celtic knot forming a heart.

The knot of love: a name that says a lot

The love knot is made up of intertwined patterns, at least one of which takes the shape of a heart.

Without too much surprise, this type of knot will convey a message of love between two inseparable individuals, a message of union between two beings that life has made for each other.

It was common for the Celts to exchange knots of this type to loudly proclaim their love, much in the way modern lovers exchange engagement rings. Here is an article which talks about marriage among the Celts.

When they hear the word love, many people only think of their other half. However, this term can just as easily refer to love between members of the same family or between close friends.

This type of Celtic knot is therefore not limited to one scenario, far from it. There are even thousands of situations where they turn out to be just right!

As lucky jewelry is often something that is given as a gift, these Celtic knots are among the most popular on our site even if they are not the most widespread in absolute terms.

Love, friendship, attachment: the knot of love is indeed to be associated with everything that concerns human relationships.

The Dara knot, a powerful Celtic protection symbol linked to the figure of the oak tree.

The Dara knot: all the power of the oak

The Dara knot is derived from the Irish word "doire", meaning oak. The idea behind this Celtic knot is that of a deep root system, a source of great power, balance and strength.

As with most of those we have seen so far, there is no single design for creating this Celtic knot. However, all share the same theme of oak and more precisely its roots.

Just like this century-old tree, the Dara knot invites us to strengthen our roots, the base of values ​​on which our life and our inner strength are built.

You should also know that oaks were the most sacred trees among the Celts. For the Druids, they embodied life and offered wisdom and spiritual powers.

Often, during conversations between sages, there was talk of the “king of trees”, the “tree of life” or the “elder of the forest”.

The Dara knot therefore symbolizes, without too much surprise, wisdom, knowledge, calm but also access to certain energies. This Celtic lucky charm was therefore used in difficult situations where wisdom and inner strength were necessary for man to meet his challenges.

Celtic triquetra symbol in black color.

Rediscover a forgotten magic

pagan jewelry, symbols and lucky charms

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Chronology of Celtic art: paganism, Christianity and revival

Throughout their existence, Celtic knots have maintained a close connection with the religion and spirituality of the people who used them.

The laws which governed the lives of our Celtic and pagan ancestors therefore necessarily influenced their symbols, both from a formal and symbolic point of view?

Yes, and this is precisely what we are going to see now.

Reconstruction of a Celtic village.

The origins

We designate by “Celtic art” (of which here is a more precise definition ) an artistic movement which developed in certain regions of Europe (typically, in Ireland and Brittany) with the arrival of Christianity during the second half of the 5th century. century.

For a long time, Christians have used art to convey messages, convince, impress and sometimes even convert. From illuminated manuscripts to Michelangelo's paintings in the Sistine Chapel, this has been a key means of transmitting the Good Word and understanding certain key concepts such as the Trinity or the Immaculate Conception.

However, faced with sometimes deeply rooted local cultures, they had no other choice but to deal with it and include certain practices in their customs. The pagan influence is therefore felt on Celtic art!

Despite the test of time, the meanings originally attributed to Celtic knots have prevailed.

Their longevity is largely explained by the great flexibility shown by the Catholic Church in Ireland regarding the aesthetics that was in place before its arrival.

Some will add that Celtic knots are a perfect expression of the mentality and soul of the people heirs to the Celts, and that they could therefore only continue.

Interior of a medieval Irish style Christian monastery.

Middle Ages in Celtic land

With the invasions of Britain by the Anglo-Saxons, Celtic art slowly began to decline.

This, however, made Ireland an important center of Christianity in north-west Europe in the early Middle Ages but, in return, caused it to move away from part of its roots.

Another event that destroyed part of the traditional fabric was the Viking invasion of the late 8th century. Without going into further detail, this left a lasting mark on the societies, culture, art and even ethnic groups once present in Celtic lands.

The use of interlaced designs still persisted in some predominantly Gaelic areas, but this was clearly marginal in comparison to the period which had preceded it.

If Celtic art has been able to persist, it is in fact not so much by its richness as by the attachment that the population had towards it. Faced with the military and cultural advance of Anglo-Norman power, the Celtic knot had become a real identification mark, a sign of recognition for an occupied people.

Until the 18th century, Celtic art was able to preserve itself without real patrons or highlighting the powers of the time.

Some crude sculptures and engravings demonstrate clumsy attempts to imitate the glory of the ancients, and to preserve a separate cultural identity. In short, these few centuries were gloomy to say the least regarding this form of art, if not downright dark.

Celtic harp played by a young woman of Irish origin.

The Celtic Revival

It was then that in the middle of the 19th century, an unexpected phenomenon took place. As an effort to restore a sense of pride to an Irish people stricken by poverty and famine, what historians call " the Celtic Revival " led to a rediscovery of the glory, grandeur and treasures of the past.

In fact, the Celtic Revival is part of an Irish nationalist movement specific to Europe at the end of the 19th century. The goal was to distinguish itself from empires (notably British) by creating its own cultural identity.

All this will bring about a revival (the name is therefore apt) in the art and culture of people of Celtic ancestry.

Cultural anthropology, history, literature, architecture: the areas covered by the Celtic revival were truly numerous, and this is still felt today.

In short, and that's good for us, all this gave a second lease of life to Celtic knots and the traditional art of the region as a whole.

Concretely, it was common at the time to reproduce, without necessarily understanding them well, the symbols found in old manuscripts or on monuments. To put it simply, it was a real renaissance for the Celtic knot.

Two stone crosses covered with Celtic knots of all shapes.

Conclusion of our study on Celtic knots

The more you study Celtic art, the more you realize that the question of meaning is not necessarily that important.

Art historians have become entangled in problems of chronology, place of origin, and migration of styles and ideas.

Artists today who wish to work with a Celtic knot among those we have presented to you would do well to take an interest in the creative uses they could make of it and the technique that this requires.

Working with this type of Celtic lucky charm, however, amounts to carrying a message. Sometimes, words and images are not enough and it is then necessary to use symbols of this type which will resonate more strongly in the collective imagination.

Placing a Celtic knot in the right place can also make those who see it ask certain questions.

What does this strange knot mean?

Where is he from ? What is its meaning ?

What connection with what I have next to you?

The mystique of the “secret, esoteric language” present in Celtic art is what makes it so fascinating to many of us. Many of us are indeed interested in the symbols and mysteries of our world.

Many myths, customs and legends tell us about it. Some of them undoubtedly carry some truth.

There are men who say the symbolism that was hidden behind it is now lost forever.

Those who are more seriously interested in the mysteries of the Celts (of which you are perhaps one) know that this is not the case and that a certain tradition has managed to preserve itself, transmitted from near and dear by men and women. everyday women.

Either way, the fact is that the subject of the Celtic knot is (and probably always will be) shrouded in a most fascinating veil of mystery.

Lucky charms featured in this article

Celtic Endless Knot Ring

Celtic Endless Knot Ring

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Ring composed of triquetra

Ring composed of triquetra

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Triskele pendant

Triskele pendant

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European Celtic Cross Pendant

European Celtic Cross Pendant

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author picture(Cyril Gendarme)

Discover the author: Cyril Gendarme

Cyril Gendarme is a writer whose website "The Lucky Door" ("La Porte Du Bonheur" in French, his native language) has become a reference in the field of esotericism. Born in Belgium, Cyril has been attracted to the mysteries of the world since he was a child. When his interest in occultism was awakened, a particular subject caught his attention: lucky charms.

After years of study and in-depth research on esoteric traditions from around the world, Cyril decided to share his knowledge with the public through the internet. In 2019, he launched "The Lucky Door," a website dedicated to exploring lucky charms, magical symbols, and esoteric arts.

The Lucky Door is much more than just a showcase for those curious about magic, divination, or tradition. It is the result of Cyril's passion for researching and understanding the mysteries of the universe. Every piece of information available on the site testifies to his dedication to sharing his knowledge of the most hidden symbols and their unique powers.

In addition to his online work, Cyril regularly organizes workshops and conferences in different countries. His presence on social media is also highly appreciated, where he offers personalized advice and happily answers questions from his community.