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Meaning of the Triskele / Triple Spiral / Triskelion

What Does the Triskelion Symbol Mean?

Derived from the Greek word "Triskeles" meaning "three legs", the Triskele or Triple Spiral is a complex ancient Celtic symbol. Often referred to by many as a Triskelion, its earliest creation dates back to the Neolithic era, as it can be seen at the entrance of Newgrange, Ireland. The Triskele gained popularity in its use within the Celtic culture from 500BC onwards. This archaic symbol is one of the most convoluted to decipher as symbolists believe it is reflective of many areas of culture from the time.

Firstly, the triskele can be thought to represent motion as all three arms are positioned to make it appear as if it is moving outwards from its center. Movement, or motion, is believed to signify energies, in particular within this Celtic Symbol the motion of action, cycles, progress, revolution and competition.

Secondly, and the more challenging area for symbolists, is the exact symbolic significance of the three arms of the triskele. This can differ dependent on the era, culture, mythology and history, which is why there are so many variations as to what these three extensions in the triple spiral symbol mean.

Some of these connotations include: life-death-rebirth, spirit-mind-body, mother-father-child, past-present-future, power-intellect-love and creation-preservation-destruction to name but a few.

It’s thought that through the combination of these two areas we gain one meaning of the Celtic triskele. It is believed to represent a tale of forward motion to reach understanding. However, this is thought not to be the only meaning, as it is also believed to represent three Celtic worlds; the spiritual world, the present world and the celestial world. Like the ancient Trinity knot, the number 3 holds a special symbolism within the triskele. 

The meaning of the triskele is diverse, varied and has many possibilities. This Celtic symbol is far more complex than others and has much prominence in modern day Celtic jewelry. Most notably as Celtic pendants, earrings, Irish charms or Celtic brooches.

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