Trinacria: discover these three legs, Symbol of Sicily

Present on the Sicilian flag, engraved in the walls of houses or sold in the form of lucky jewelry: Trinacria is present everywhere in Sicily.

Symbol par excellence of this southern Italian island, Trinacria has ancient mythological origins, an astonishing history and great hidden powers.

We will now discover all this together.

Contents :

Trinacria? Trinacria? What is this symbol?

The meaning of the Trinacria

The Trinacria in the history of Sicily

Italian lucky charms: a Venetian mask, a cimaruta amulet and a cornicello

Italy's kept secrets

revealed with these lucky charms full of Sun

Trinacria? Trinacria? What is this symbol?

So what is Trinacria?

To put it simply, it is a Sicilian emblem made of a strange woman's head placed over wings, all surrounded by three legs and three ears of wheat which rotate as if to form a whirlwind.

The head, sometimes neutral and sometimes hideous, is in fact that of Medusa. We are talking here about this Greek mythological creature that the hero Perseus fought. If you look closely, you will even see that his thick locks of hair are in fact monstrous and, undoubtedly, very venomous snakes.

As for the name of this Sicilian symbol, some speak of “ Trinacria ”, others of “ Trinacria ” and still others of “ Trinacrium ”. In the end, this is just about details of the language. The designated emblem remains the same.

In the same way, wear this pendant or amulet to the Trinacria, and its powers will remain the same.

Two bronze figures of Medusa, on a wooden door.

The meaning of the Trinacria

With its different elements, the Trinacria is rich in symbolism. There are therefore several ways to understand its meaning.

Between history, legend and tradition, let's now discover the main points of view.

The three capes of Sicily

In Italian, the word “Trinacria” could be translated as “ three capes ”. Some say that the triangular side of Trinacria represents my three capes of the island of Sicily.

This region has in fact a triangle shape delimited by:

  • Cape Pachino
  • Cape Peloro
  • Cape Lilibeo

Not very poetic, this theory would however explain the arrangement of the legs and ears of wheat.

Protection of Medusa

The Gorgons are mythological characters depicted by the Greek poet Hesiod. The author thus presents three sisters to us: Medusa, Stheno and Euryale.

In the middle of Trinacria, it is the head of Medusa which sits enthroned, she who is the most powerful of the Gorgons. According to ancient legends, this creature had the power to turn anyone who looked at it into stone, had superhuman speed and devious intelligence.

Using representations of Medusa as good luck charms was a long-standing practice throughout the ancient world. Greeks, Romans, but also Persians and Egyptians decorated the entrance to temples so that the presence of Medusa repels malicious entities.

Today, it is the Sicilian people who have remained most faithful to this tradition.

The creation of Sicily by three nymphs

There is a Sicilian legend which tells us how, one day, three magnificent nymphs set out in search of the greatest beauties in the world.

They traveled around the globe to collect the most beautiful fruits, the strongest stones, the most fertile lands. Satisfied at having amassed such greatness, they threw their spoils into the middle of the sea. From there emerged the island of Sicily from the waves.

The three capes of the island would thus be the three places where the nymphs stood, and the ears of wheat from Trinacria would symbolize the fertility brought to this piece of land.

Trinacria, Triskelion and Trinity

The meaning of the Trinacria is linked to the very history of humanity. In fact, we find similar symbols on many early monuments (monoliths, tumulus, standing stones, etc.).

The Celts, and their ancestors before them, used for example the Triskele, an identical symbol made up of three spiral-shaped arms.

A whole bunch of primitive people used stars with three curved points as representations of solar deities.

And so on.

Map of the Mediterranean, with Greece and Sicily.

The Trinacria in the history of Sicily

Sicily is the largest island in the entire Mediterranean. It is only separated from the rest of Italy by the Strait of Messina but, surprisingly, its original history is rather linked to that of the Greeks... and perhaps even the ancient Babylonians.

In short, let's now look at the history of the meaning of the Trinacria throughout Sicilian history.

Greek origins…

Like everywhere in Europe in the past, there were first peoples in Sicily. Undoubtedly descended from the Indo-Europeans, history does not consider them to be civilized and therefore begins the Sicilian epic with the arrival of the Greeks.

In any case, the Hellenic settlers found fertile land in Sicily on which they built numerous towns and shaped the landscape through flourishing agriculture. To learn more, read this encyclopedia page on the colonization of Sicily by the Greeks.

Then known as “ Magna Graecia ”, Sicily had some of the most important cities of Greek civilization, such as Syracuse, Catania and Zyz (present-day Palermo).

We can suspect this given the place of Medusa on the Trinacria, but the link of this symbol with Hellenic culture is obvious.

…or perhaps Babylonian!

There is undoubtedly an element of the Trinacria which arouses your curiosity and of which we have spoken very little: the three legs.

Indeed, finding a mythological creature on a coat of arms, why not. Seeing ears of corn symbolizing fertility is not surprising either. But legs are more intriguing.

Well actually, teams of historians have been able to trace this element back to two Babylonian deities.

On the one hand, we have Baal, a semi-demon who controls time and is known for demanding heavy sacrifices. Symbols formed of three legs were found near shrines dedicated to him.

Opposite we have Sîn, the Babylonian goddess of the Moon. One of its emblems was made of three scythes which, with their angle, presented the same shape as our bent legs.

The official adoption of the Trinacria

We understand that the Trinacria has always been part of the history of Sicily, and that similar symbols have always been part of that of humanity.

However, a question arises: when was Trinacria officially recognized by a government, a state?

We have to go back to the 13th century and more particularly to 1282 to find our answer. That year popular revolts broke out in Sicily in the face of the invasion of the Kingdom of France.

The revolting populace needed an emblem to put on their flag, and Trinacrima was chosen. Placed between the colors red and yellow (which represent the cities of Palermo and Corleone, the first to have risen), Trinacria has been part of the island's coat of arms since that date.

If you are curious to learn more about Sicilian vespers, this university archive document will tell you about it in an interesting way.

Trinacrima in World War II

The big story is always made up of smaller ones that revolve around it. That of the Second World War notably saw the conquest of independence by the Sicilians.

Because the people helped the Allies land at the end of the war, and thus defeat the Germans, Sicily was granted the right to become a free and independent republic. It was therefore necessary to choose a flag for it, and it was the one with the Trinacrima that was chosen.

Even though the region is now part of Italy, it remains the most autonomous... and undoubtedly also the most indomitable.

Other similar coats of arms

Anecdotally, it may be amusing to note that other regions of the old continent have coats of arms similar to Trinacria.

The Isle of Man for example (located in the United Kingdom) sees three armored legs enthroned on its standard. Many noble houses throughout Europe have three legs on their coat of arms and a whole bunch of organizations or companies do too.

In fact, from 1072, it was nobles from Normandy who governed Sicily. Through alliances and marriages, Sicilian customs (and in particular those of coats of arms) spread throughout Europe.

Lucky charm featured in this article

Amulet carrying the Trinacria

Amulet carrying the Trinacria

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Sicilian regionalist pendant

Sicilian regionalist 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.