Celtic tattoos impress with beautiful endless lines bearing the deep meaning of the ancient tribes. We selected some of the most popular images and will explain their meaning. The selection of photos will help you understand the beauty and magnetism of each image.
The Celts were skilled, but fierce warriors, attacked the neighboring nations in order to expand their lands and increase wealth. Despite the cruelty, they were wise and believed in the rebirth of the soul. The intricate patterns were part of Celtic culture and they applied them to weapons, clothing, dishes, temple walls, etc. and each ornament had its own meaning.
At first glance tattoos in Celtic style consist of several elements – loops, intricate knots, spirals, geometric shapes, resembling a wicker basket of different shapes. Looking closely, one understands that each pattern is made of just one line and its end is connected to the beginning. Based on this, almost all the drawings mean infinity, the close connection of life with the Universe, the earth with the sky, the constant cycle of life.
Nowadays tattoos are widely popular and many people have one. The art of body painting allows people to express their feelings and emotions, their character and life experiences, beliefs, hopes, etc. When choosing a tattoo design, many choose animalistic or botanical but Celtic tattoos are equally popular.
Table of Contents
Celtic tattoos – popular symbols and their meaning
Celtic patterns are so unusual and beautiful that everyone is fascinated by their mysteriousness, the infinity of lines and the deep meaning that came to us from the ancient tribes. Celtic tattoos have many variations and everyone can choose a unique design for himself but before choosing a sketch, it is important to know the meaning of the symbol. When choosing a particular ornament, it is important to focus not only on your personal taste and preferences, but also on the meaning of symbols. The Celts believed that every pattern was sent by the gods and when a person applies them on their body, he chooses a certain way of life.
Celtic knots resemble the sign of infinity and symbolize the unity of spirituality and the material world, eternity, perfection and strength and are believed to have magical properties. Knots can be tattooed as a separate element or as an additional element in a more complex design. Knots were the favorite and most common element of Celtic patterns. Among them, there are several main varieties:
The Trinity knot, also called the Triquetra, is one of the earliest symbols of Christianity. Among Christians it is a symbol of the Holy Trinity and can also express the unity of mind, soul, and body. The simplest image of the Trinity knot is represented by three interlocking circles and could have symbolized earth, air, and water.
Triskelion is another widely popular knot. The name comes from the Greek word “Triskeles”, which means “three legs”. The Triskele (Triskelion Triple Spiral) is a complex ancient Celtic symbol – three spiral lines extending from the center. There are different interpretations for the meaning of this symbol. One of them is that each spiral symbolizes one of the main Celtic Gods. Triskelion means the unity of all worlds and combines the three energies – the element of fire, water and air. The ancient symbol gives protection from natural disasters and accidents. It also provides protection against the evil forces.
The spiral knot is one of the oldest Celtic designs. It is a three-sided knot which stands for the forces of nature – water, fire and earth. The spiral is always triple, concentrated in one the center. The simplest interpretation of the Celtic spiral is the human desire for spiritual growth. Another interpretation of the meaning is that it stands for eternity, harmony between body, spirit and mind. A third interpretation says that the pattern reflects the life of a person which is not straight and smooth, but brings the man to self-knowledge with each step.
Love knot is a symbol of the union of male and female energy and is associated with loyalty and the interweaving of bodies and souls of two lovers. The oval knot is one of the oldest and simplest designs. Love knots indicate the union of two souls and are able to help lovers maintain their feelings for many years. The images feature interlaced knots and it is believed that Celts gave them to each other in the same way couples exchange wedding rings.
Celtic cross – this is an ancient image with a very deep meaning. Its ends are slightly widened and a circle is depicted around it. The symbol is ornate and is very popular in both Christian and Pagan religion. It is believed that the cross gives wisdom, saves from the influence of dark forces and stands for the four directions, the unity of the four natural elements – water, earth, fire, air and it is the meeting place for all divine energies. Early Christians associated the sun with this image and later, it represented the cross on which Jesus Christ, the son of God, was crucified.
The tree of life is one of the sacred symbols expressing close relationship between earth and sky, as well as renewed endless life, fertility, growth and development. The Celts personified the tree with wisdom, comprehension of truth and the cycle of life. In the mythology of the ancient Celts, the tree has a soul and gives warmth, shelter and food to many animals and birds. The roots are the symbol of the afterlife, and the branches serve as bridges between these two worlds and the leaves symbolize the divine help to people.
Animals and plants symbols and their meaning in Celtic tattoos
Figures of animals and birds are also popular in Celtic tattoos and each image has its own meaning. Warriors tried to transform into animals before a battle. They believed that it was possible to inherit the character of animals only through food, so before the battle they drank the blood of the wolf to be brave and ate boar’s meat to gain its ferocity and strength. Bird means freedom, snakes – wisdom. Images of wild animals symbolized physical and spiritual strength. Plants had an important significance for the Celts – strength, power, energy, longevity.
Birds are heavenly messengers, symbols of freedom, of the free spirit communicating with celestial forces. Returning to earth, birds bring the message of the gods – prophecies and instructions. In the Celtic tradition, the raven is a bird of omens. Pigeons are birds of spiritual life, love and spiritual well-being.
Deer stands for masculinity, nobility and prosperity. The deer personified the rebirth of the soul, as he sheds horns and new ones grow in their place. Often, God descended to earth in the form of a white deer to help people in their search of truth.
The dolphin leads the soul to the sacred islands and is also a protector of travelers and sailors.
Celtic dragon tattoos is a symbol of power. The tribe considered them prophets and guards of portals to another world.
The rabbit was a sacred animal, a symbol of prosperity, abundance and good life. In spiritual terms, it represents the dawn, rebirth, immortality of the Spirit.
The shamrock is the widely recognized symbol of Ireland all over the world. Most people confuse the four leaf clover with the shamrock. The shamrock has three leaves and is an ancient symbol in Celtic design. The Druids in ancient times used the shamrock as a symbol of earth, air, and water. Another interpretation is that the image is a symbol of faith love and hope and was used by St. Patric to teach the concept of the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
The Celts are known to be brave, courageous, dedicated and freedom-loving people. All these qualities are considered to be masculine so Celtic tattoos are especially attractive to men. In most cases men choose large designs located on the back but shoulder and forearm tattoos are also quite popular.
Celtic tattoos include a wide variety of different images which impress with their beauty and originality. Thanks to this, everyone can choose his own design which will attract good luck and will make the body look more attractive. Simple Celtic patterns like dragons, crosses, the tree of life, predators are often the choice of men.