By Kristin Olsen
Welcome to the Way of the Celts, land of myth and fantasy. Most Cultures can trace their paths back to a time when there were no computers, automobiles or airplanes. The Celtic peoples origins can be traced far back to antiquity. For the ancient Celts, grand tales were told by word of mouth and passed from parent to child and to the clan. Imagine a vibrant bonfire of orange and yellow flames shooting towards the night sky. Close your eyes and see a clan of Irish Celts sharing tales of Giant Trolls chasing a wee Fairy Princess through the wooded forest. Envision now if you will a culture that did not write down a single word of its most precious and prized tales. Can you hear them speak? Listen to the wind as it passes grand stories and adventures through the air. What of these people? Why did they not write down for future generations their most prized tales and visions? Join me know as we explore an ancient way of communication from the Celtic Lands. Come let us explore the world of the Celtic Knot and what these strange and entrancing symbols meant to the Celts and mean to us today. Hurry the land of Shamrocks and Heather as it beckons you listen and observe! Welcome to the Celtic Lands.
The Celts have been around for quite some time. There is much magic and mysticism associated with these people and with the land of Erin, the Emerald Isle and all the British Isles indeed. Modern folk are attracted to the Celtic Knotwork of these lands. Spirals, Key Patterns, Interwoven Love Knots and Geometrically perfect symbols. What do all these symbols mean? Does each have a place in history? Did the Gods and Goddesses wear these symbols? Did the mortals design them out of reverence for their world and surroundings? Does the Spiraling knot shaped like hearts truly represent “Love”? Ah to answer this question in a mystical and enchanting way is quite the challenge on the part of Historians, Secular & Religious folk alike.
Before the time of the Christian influence on the Celts, the only known Celtic Knotwork consisted of simple geometrical patterns. While they were ornate, delicate and painstakingly crafted, I am sure; they did not represent anything specific to the ancient Celts. They did not create the love knot to express adoration of their spouse, nor did they create the peace knot in hopes of ending the Roman occupation of the British Isles. The basic premise of life was simple for the Celts, all things were revered and worshiped, but I do not believe and Historians have debated this, that they created Knotwork as symbolism. It is more likely they created it as a lovely way of adorning their land, their person and their dwellings. This early Knotwork did not feature plants, animals or humans. As most early Pre-Christian civilizations, they might possibly have believed that making a representation of any living thing was contrary to their belief of the interconnectedness of life. To form a symbol would be to take away the very spirit of what they were trying to represent.
As time marched on in the Celtic lands and Christianity and its teachings came to the Emerald Isle and the other cultures, the Knotwork symbols were re-born. Christian Celtic artwork was strongly influenced by pagan Celtic sources. It is only in the artwork of the post Pagan era that we see Knotwork representing a certain idea or aspect of life. The Christian Celts added human, plant, and animal forms to their glorious Knotwork designs. The most famous example of this artwork form is the beautiful illuminated manuscripts – The Book of Kells. Images of the ancient lands and of a people that were steeped in magic and mysticism come to life in the Book of Kells and other Knotwork manuscripts. The Crane, Raven and the Dog are gloriously depicted in the Book of Kells. The Celtic cross, which is now one of the best-known symbols of Irish Christianity, was introduced in this post Pagan era.
Today Celtic Knotwork symbols have been assigned attributes and meanings. This is a modern interpretation and re-design of the ancient Knotwork patterns. I will mention a few to entice your appetite to explore this symbolism further. Keep in mind these are the modern interpretations. The modern Eternity Celtic knot symbolizes the never-ending eternal circle of life. The Shield Celtic knot is a symbol for protection. The claddagh is a traditional celtic symbol, the hands are for friendship, the heart is for love and the crown is for loyalty and sometimes this symbol has Knotwork woven into it. The Celtic Love Knot can enliven relationships, heighten passions and attract true love. The Triscele was a sacred symbol to the Celtic People. It represents the eternal rhythm of life that we are all a part of. The traditional ancient Knotwork Interlace pattern is probably the most common pattern. Basically it looks like strands of braided strips that bend and weave amongst themselves. It could possibly represent the interconnection of life and the universe. The Trinity knot spirals are included in this grouping and may occur in double, triple or quadruple swirls. Spirals are typically joined to one another in either an “S” or a “C” type format. They may represent the universe, heavens, and water or an individual’s journey through life. I am sure as you explore the various Knotwork patterns of both the ancient Celtic People and the modern Christian art, you will see meanings within meanings. After all, artwork is about inspiration and magic and vision. Open your vision to see the sacred Knotwork of any ancient people still in use today.
Join me again for more tales of the Celtic Lands. We have much to discuss, The Book of Kells, Celtic Holidays, Runes, Gaelic, Poetry and Prose and perhaps even a way to see Fairies in your everyday world or how to obtain the pot of Gold from that dreaded Leprechaun. Magic and Adventure is all around you, just close your eyes, open your heart and listen to your soul. Celtic Magic is everywhere. Visit me at http://www.celticattic.com