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CELTIC SYMBOLISM

Introduction

celtic knotTo understand celtic symbolism is to understand the art and what the artist is trying to put across in his work. They are the link between the ancients and generations to come. Celtic patterns are a favourite with artists and pyrographers, they are intriquing and intricate, working beautifully with pyrography. I have pyrographed many celtic patterns a few of which are featured here and throughout my website they are always a joy to do and the results are very pleasing. This section covers celtic art it's history, patterns, lessons and books. This ancient art honors the spirit of the Irish, Scottish, Welsh, British and those who have Celtic souls! Celtic symbols are difficult to define as the Celts kept no written records, most are based on what scholars know of their culure. They depict connections between all living things. Modern Celtic artists say that the meaning lies in the complex interlacing patterns. These endless strands are like the ties that bond us. As each generation grows it grows more complex and brings itself back on itself, so that the next generation will continue to bring forth the next. The lines of Celtic knots are interwoven, though each loop is individual, it can't be separated from the whole.

celtic design on tagua

Animal Symbols

The Celts celebrated nature in the form of plants, animals and the elements. They looked at the animals of the earth, sky and sea to find teachers, friends, healers and how to live in harmonty with nature.This symbolism was an attempt to understand the natural cycles of the earth. This can be seen in the wonderful medieval manuscript, 'The Book of Kells'. The Celts believed the animals rose fron the Otherworld, where elves and faeries come from. With their feats of flying, swimming, sight and strength, they seemed beyond the power of man. These symbols can still be seen today in coats of arms, pub signs. Infact, Groundhog Day first arose from Imbolc - the ancient celebration of the world awakening from winter.

Horses: Used by the Celts in battle, these companions of the Gods were known for their beauty, speed, vitality and fertility. They symbolised development, healing rejuvenation and life in motion. Horses were linked to the night, mystery and magic. The term 'nightmare' is taken from the word 'mare' - female horse. They beleived that nightmares were brought to the dreamer by a horse visiting from either Epona or Mare.

Deer & Hounds: According to the Celts, deer are the oldest living creatures. They represented fertility, abundance and renewal. The antlers, trees and harvesting and sowing of grain. Dogs were sacred to the faeries of Scotland. They represent loyalty, devotion and unwavering faith and love.

celtic detail

Birds & Fish: Cranes - There are several myths of heroic figures being turned into cranes, they came to represent an apparant but not real change and are often signs of punishment for deception. Crows - Death. Ravens - Death, and they also flew over Celtic battlefields as a god incarnate. Eagles - Nobility and death. Peacocks - Purity. Herons - Used on wedding bands, as these birds mated for life. Salmon - The symbol of all knowledge. Linked to sacred mystery and deep emotion.

Dragons: These mystical creatures are found in Celtic Ireland. There is no more powerful symbol than the dragon. They were symbols of a chief or warrior. The celtic word for chief is 'Pendragon. The rugged and fierce Celts believed that dragons influenced the land and had special power.The mystery of 'leylines' is also known as 'dragon lines'. In ancient Ireland the 'ley of the land', describe how cosmic forces flowed through and influenced an area. The Celtic dragons were honoured like Gods, believed to bring earthly and heavenly forces together, they guarded the gate to both heaven and the underworld.
Contune to knots, spirals, crosses and the tree of life »