The Triquetra: meaning of a Celtic Symbol of Protection

The triquetra is a Celtic symbol with a very particular design.

Made up of three intersecting triangles, the meanings that we can give to this lucky charm are as numerous as the people who have used it.

Some see the Celtic triquetra as a Christian representation of the Holy Trinity, others associate it with the eternal cycle of life-death-rebirth. There are even people claiming to be neopaganism who, just like the ancient Celts, see the entire universe there.

Today, those who identify with the ancient Celts can therefore use this symbol to display their attachment to this culture.

In fact, many cultures and religions have considered the number three to be holy or divine for thousands of years. To cite just one example, you should know that a symbol similar to the triquetra was found on religious statues in India... more than 5000 years ago.

However, there is something that we would like to make you understand in addition with this article: yes, the triquetra is a symbol of effective protection.

Contents :

Description of the Celtic triquetra

Celtic and Germanic paganism

The Celtic triquetra: an important element of European art

The triquetra in Japan

A Celtic symbol among Christians

Meaning of the Celtic triquetra today

Neopaganism

The Wiccan triquetra: a New Age lucky charm?

Conclusion: the scope of Celtic knots

Ancient pagan Celtic monument in the middle of nature: Stonehenge

Description of the Celtic triquetra

The triquetra is a particularly complex form to describe.

Before we look at it, we need to explain what a “ vesicae piscis ” is.

This Latin term represents a leaf shape formed from the juxtaposition of two circles of equal diameter. This shape is in fact delimited by two points corresponding to the intersections of the circles.

Add a third… and voila, you have a triquetra.

This Celtic symbol is very old. Over time, several ways of representing it have therefore developed.

For example, when the lines that form the triquetra are doubled, we will speak of a “ trinity knot ”.

It is notably in this form that it was used as a religious good luck charm in Christianity and European paganism.

Its design will then be closer to that of the valknut, another European symbol.

If you are also passionate about this subject, you can receive information on the subject of Celtic lucky charms here.

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Celtic and Germanic paganism

This symbol was found on runestones in Northern Europe and in certain regions of Germany.

It would probably be correct to give a meaning to the triquetra of a religious type, and more specifically linked to paganism.

We can say this thanks to an ancestral oral tradition that has been passed down to us ever since.

Like many other lucky charms of the past, it appears that the Celtic triquetra remained as a Christian symbol after the various European peoples abandoned paganism.

There is ample evidence of this. Take an interest and you will see that our museums are full of objects and works of art alluding to this Celtic symbol.

European city full of art related to the Celtic triquetra

The Celtic triquetra: an important element of European art

The triquetra is found everywhere in European art in the Middle Ages, particularly in metalwork and in manuscripts found in monastery archives, where this Celtic symbol served as illumination.

It is also found carved on Celtic crosses and slabs dating from the early Christian era in Europe.

Obviously, most of the continent remained very marked by paganism. This type of lucky symbol was therefore very present.

The Celtic triquetra is in fact rarely depicted alone in medieval art. This also cast doubt on its use as a main element of the belief system of the time.

As illuminations for example, it is mainly used to fill empty spaces or as ornament in much more complex compositions.

In any case, the triquetra is a puzzling good luck charm that left a lasting mark on Europeans, whether they were Christians, pagans or even agnostics.

If you also want to connect with this tradition and the thousand-year-old chain of transmission linked to it, here is a pendant using the symbol of the triquetra which should suit you.

Landscape of Japan with Mount Fuji and a sunset in the background.

The triquetra in Japan

We can find in Japan a symbol similar to that of the triquetra which is called the “Musubi Mitsugashiwa”.

It is one of the emblems of the Iakdaku dynasty (which later became the Kāśyapīya dynasty).

With trade and a unification of the region through Buddhism, Musubi Mitsugashiwa even reached the Kingdom of Khotan, China and Korea.

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A Celtic symbol among Christians

Pagans are not the only ones to have given their own meaning to the triquetra.

This Celtic symbol has been used in Christian tradition as a representation of the Trinity (that is, as a representation of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), particularly since the Celtic revival of the mid-19th century.

When Christian thinkers began to use the triquetra as a symbol of their religion, some also recalled that a parallel could be drawn with Saint Patrick's shamrock, another Celtic good luck charm.

The triquetra was widely used on Christian sculpture, for the creation of clothing, books or stained glass windows.

You should know that one of the first emblems and signs of recognition among Christians was the fish.

As the triquetra resembles three fish placed side by side, it was very quickly recovered by the pioneers of the Church.

Archaeologists have also found engravings representing her in Roman catacombs, secret meeting places of the first faithful.

Some Christians even give this symbol a slightly more precise meaning...

The three leaves always represent the Trinity. The circle that surrounds him sometimes has an additional meaning for them: that of the love of God which emanates from his simple presence in everything.

Current contemporary city with lots of passers-by and entertainment

Meaning of the Celtic triquetra today

In contemporary Ireland, it is common for lovers to exchange jewelry like this triquetra pendant that we have already presented to you to show the affection they have for each other.

Our symbol is in fact often used as the basis for the design of sometimes very popular Irish jewelry.

It is amusing to note that the emblem of Ireland's national airline is based on the Celtic triquetra.

Here are also some examples of its use in pop culture:

  • In the eponymous film, Thor has his famous hammer decorated with a triquetra.
  • As an emblem of bassist John Paul Jones, the cover of the band Led Zeppelin's fourth album is decorated with this symbol.
  • The katana of Michonne, a character from the television series “The Walking Dead”, is also decorated with it.
  • In the American series "Charmed", the triquetra is used to represent the power of the three heroine sisters working together.

Lucky and magical objects from Celtic paganism

Neopaganism

It is difficult to date the exact origin of this Celtic symbol.

We know that it was probably first used in a context even before European paganism as we know it today, but don't really have any more information.

Due to its presence in Celtic art throughout Western Europe, neopagans use the triquetra as a symbol either to represent the tripartite division of the world into sky-sea-earth entity in their cosmogony, or as a symbol of three primordial Celtic goddesses.

Another spiritual current, another use. It is also used by practitioners of Wicca as a symbol of protection.

We're going to talk about it now.

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The Wiccan triquetra: a New Age lucky charm?

We recently asked ourselves a question.

What is the meaning of the triquetra in Wicca, and can it really be called a symbol of protection?

As we have just seen, the triquetra is an ancient Celtic symbol linked to paganism but also to the Christian religion, although it very possibly predates these religions.

Whether it is used to represent God, his love, pagan deities or even the world, one thing remains constant with this symbol: it remains of capital importance in all cases.

However, it is also used by the Wicca (or Wiccan) movement.

For them, the Celtic triquetra symbolizes the three aspects of the moon goddess (maid, mother and old woman).

According to Wiccan precepts:

The Celts worshiped a lunar goddess who had three polarities which were actually associated with the three phases of the moon. Whether the moon is waxing, waning, or full, the Wiccan interprets this in a different way. For some, it also represents the three stages of life: youth, adulthood and old age (or, for some, birth, life and death). This Celtic lucky charm can also be used to denote the connection of mind, body and soul, or to denote the three divisions of the world according to ancient mythology - earth, sea and sky. »

For the Wiccan, the answer is yes: the triquetra is a symbol of protection.

Several dozen different Celtic knots.

Conclusion: the scope of Celtic knots

For many specialists, knot-shaped motifs constitute one of the most beautiful expressions of Celtic art.

Whatever your opinions on Celtic civilization, there is no denying that these depictions carry deep meaning.

In fact, to understand the meaning of Celtic knots, we need to look at their history.

With the triquetra that we talked about in this article for example, we have clearly seen that there are several ways to interpret its message. If we take a Christian vision or, on the contrary, a purely pagan one, the conclusions will be very different!

When it comes to understanding the meaning of a Celtic knot, the only limit will often be your imagination.

Many traditions have disappeared over time. Unfortunately, the message carried by certain symbols or motifs engraved in our churches and monuments are now lost.

For those, it will therefore be up to you to (re)discover its meaning in the light of your knowledge (and, why not, ours).

Lucky charm featured in this article

Pendant of the triquetra

Pendant of the triquetra

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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.