Because of their similarities, Viking tattoo designs are often confused with Celtic tattoo designs . However, if the first are turned towards their armours, the last are carried towards nature, animals, religious beliefs.
Fashionable still today, we recognize them through the knots, the spirals, rather broad strokes and the intertwining of strokes forming broad, mysterious and powerful patterns, through which transpires the spirit of the Celts.
But if they have a very high decorative value , Celtic tattoos have a very deep meaning based on the history and culture of the Celtic people. While we're at it, let's take a look at the most popular Celtic tattoo designs and see what they mean.
Animals occupy a very important place for the Celts who had them tattooed on their body. Obviously, a Celt does not have an animal tattooed on his skin, simply out of love for this animal. It was mainly to enjoy the power of this animal's spirit. Each animal was associated with symbolism . As a motive, a Celt can tattoo himself:
- A dog to symbolize fidelity;
- A wolf to symbolize wildness and loyalty to a clan;
- A butterfly to symbolize the ephemeral, impermanence, but also happiness;
- A bird to symbolize the freedom acquired, even if:
- The owl represents wisdom;
- The eagle represents rebellion and domination;
- The phoenix represents perseverance;
- The dove represents peace.
- A bull to symbolize virility and ferocity;
- A dragon to symbolize power;
- A horse to symbolize mystery, endurance and elegance.
Most of the time, these patterns are combined with other patterns for a fuller and more complex symbolism.
The Celtic Cross
Very close to the Christian cross, the Celtic cross is one of the most common Celtic-inspired tattoos. It is formed of a Christian cross placed on a circle , with a small ring placed just at the level of the intersection between the two branches forming the cross. On these branches intertwined lines.
The circle on which the cross rests represents the sun . Need we remind you, the sun is a deity venerated by the Celts. The cross itself represents the heavenly trinity. And it is precisely for this reason that it is often said that it was in the 5th century, at the time of the Christianization of the Irish that the Celtic cross was introduced.
The Celtic knot
Almost always present in all Celtic-inspired tattoos , the Celtic knot is a design featuring full, formed curls based on a single continuous line. Like a symbol of infinity, it teaches us that the entire universe is made up of the same essence and that life is a tangle that we cannot easily grasp . Better, it has neither starting point nor point of fall. It is therefore associated with the eternal relationship between continuing life and eternity.
The shield knot
The Celtic people have left us with a legacy of several Celtic knot designs offering diverse perspectives. Very popular with warriors, the shield knot, for example, is a circular pattern divided into four quarters on which lines intertwine and intertwine in shape to create a multitude of knots. The four quarters symbolize the four elements namely water, earth, air, fire. As for the multitude of nodes, it creates an impassable shield.
Warriors had this design tattooed on their bodies and in their coins to signify victory over their adversaries by virtue of their attunement with the elements of nature. The shield knot, however, can also represent eternal love that has no end and cannot be undone.
If the triskelion is currently the emblem of Brittany , it is because Celts lived in this region in the Middle Ages. This pattern is composed of 3 spirals connected in the center by a triangle, a circle, a square, etc. These spirals or volutes turn in the same direction and can represent:
- The three stages of the cycle of life namely birth and childhood, adult life and the 3rd age and death;
- The three dimensions of time namely the past, the present and the future;
- The three dimensions of existence, namely the physical world, the spiritual world and the world of the stars)
- The movements of the sun namely sunrise, zenith and sunset.
When the three spirals are tattooed turning left, they announce war, a fight that is not yet over. In the opposite direction, they announce peace, calm and tranquility.
The Celtic Tree of Life
The Celtic tree of life is made up of an oak tree with branches and leaves reaching upwards and intertwining roots that are really just Celtic knots. As a reminder, the tree of life is a very sacred tree among druids. It is quite different from the tree of life of Norse mythology whose symbolism differs in many respects.
Its branches were considered to be connected to the upper world , its roots to the lower world and its trunk to the physical world. This motif therefore symbolizes the link between the earth, the world of the living and that of the spirits, the balance and harmony between the forces of nature. The tree of life is also a symbol of eternity, longevity or immortality, strength and wisdom.
The Celtic spiral
Similar to the labyrinth of life, spirals are components of the very fabric of creation. It is enough to observe nature more closely to see them. It is found on shells, in shells, in the whirlpools and ricochets of water, etc. They are also among the oldest decorations created by man.
Celtic spirals have circular and upward movement which, starting from a point of origin, develops and extends to infinity . They symbolize the evolution of the universe, progress, the transition from one cycle or version to another both physically and spiritually.
It should also be noted that the spirals can be presented in a simple form or in a double form (also called sistrel). The double form (the Celtic double spiral) symbolizes the inherent duality of life and is equivalent to the concepts of Ying and Yan in Eastern culture.
The Celtic alphabet
The Celtic alphabet is made up of 25 letters, each consisting of a vertical bar on which we add between one and five horizontal lines. He is closely related to the god Ogham who is the Celtic god of language and elocution.
Legend has it that the Celtic alphabet was the very first language compatible with writing to come from Ireland. It should also be noted that each of the letters of the Celtic alphabet is associated with a tree considered sacred or at least useful for the druids. Note, for example, that the letter Luis is associated with the mountain ash, a tree that brings fulfillment and protection when planted at home.
Very popular among the Celts, the Claddagh is composed of a Celtic crown and a bare heart, a mark of sincerity, and held by two hands. It is one of the most popular symbols in marriage. If you can get this design tattooed, you can offer your loved one the Claddagh engraved on a wedding ring, on a bracelet, etc. It represents the sacred union and fidelity that characterizes couples. Generally, other Celtic designs are added to the Claddagh.
Arwen or the tribe
The triban or the Arwen is a design composed of three segments contained in three concentric circles and representing rays of light, each crowned by three circular dots.
The middle ray is arranged as an axis of symmetry, so that one of the other two rays is similar to a symmetry of the other with respect to the middle ray. The left ray represents masculine energy while the right ray, feminine energy, the two being made equal by the middle ray which ensures their balance.
The pattern therefore symbolizes harmony and the balance of opposites. It also symbolizes the blessing of the gods to men or even spiritual enlightenment.
The five circles
The pattern of the five circles. It comes in the form of a set of four circles arranged in the cardinal directions and in the center of which is a fifth circle. The five circles represent the four elements (air, water, earth and fire) and the central circle, the sun, one of the Celtic deities. The pattern therefore represents the balance of the universe.
So these are the main Celtic tattoo designs . It is true that there are several hundred of them, but for the most part, their meaning is close to that of the patterns that we have presented here. If the Celtic style appeals to you, choose a pattern that speaks to you and get a nice tattoo.