What is Triskelion? Origins and meaning

- Célia Jeandel

What is Triskelion? Origins and meaning

The origins of the triskele

The words Triskel, Triskele, Triskell and Triskele all denote the same shape.

Often called Triskelion in its original form , its oldest creation dates back to the Neolithic era, as can be seen at the entrance to Newgrange, Ireland. Many historians claim that the Triskele, or Triple Spiral, is the oldest symbol of spirituality.

Its current name comes from the Greek words "Tri" and "Skelos", (also "Triskeles") which mean "three legs". In the ancient origins of Celtic culture, the Triple Spiral is an important and complex spiritual symbol.

Meaning of the Triskelion

The Triskelion gained popularity in its use within Celtic culture from 500 BC. This archaic symbol is one of the most complicated to decipher, as symbolists believe it reflects many areas of the culture of the time.

First, we can think of the triskele as representing movement , because the three arms are positioned to make it appear as if it is moving outward from its center. The movement, or displacement, is that of energies, particularly in this Celtic symbol those of action, cycles, progress, revolution and competition.

triskele pendant

The Triskelion is associated with the Celtic trinity of nature : water, fire and earth.

It is also considered a symbol of the trinity as a representation of the three aspects of divinity.

Second, and this is the most difficult area for symbolists, the exact symbolic meaning of the three arms of the triskele .

This can vary depending on time, culture, mythology and history, which is why there is so much variation as to the meaning of these three extensions of the triple spiral symbol.

Some of these connotations include:

  • life-death-birth,
  • mind-mind-body,
  • mother-father-child,
  • past present Future,
  • power-intellect-love,
  • creation-preservation-destruction,

To name just a few.

It is believed that by combining these two areas we obtain one of the meanings of the Celtic triskele. It is believed to represent a story of forward movement to achieve understanding. However, this is not 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 takes on a particular symbolism in the triskele.

The meaning of the triskele is diverse, varied and offers many possibilities. This Celtic symbol is much more mysterious than the others.


Particularity of the Breton Triskel

The Breton triskele is a strong cultural symbol in Brittany , it is often associated with the cultural and national identity of the region.

Breton triskelion

Represented as a circle with three spiral legs which intersect in its center, it has the particularity of being a levorotatory triskele . This variation of the Celtic symbol of the triskelion is distinguished by the fact that its spirals rotate counterclockwise (the direction of the needles being called dextrorotatory).

Also known as the reverse triskele or inverted triskele , the levorotatory triskele is associated with spiritual or esoteric significance, particularly in relation to the traditions of Celtic magic. It is often used as a symbol of Brittany, on flags, jewelry, clothing, public buildings, etc. It is associated with Celtic culture and the history of Brittany.

Difference levorotatory and dextrorotatory

The Breton Triskel is in the levorotatory direction

Even today, some Breton Druid practitioners use it as a symbol of protection, invocation and spiritual connection.

The Triskel and the Vikings

There is no symbol known as a " Viking triskele ", Viking culture does not have a symbol of this type. The Vikings had their own symbols such as the Valknut, Mjolnir (Thor's hammer), Vegvisir (magical compass) which were used to represent their culture, religion and history.

It is possible that there are modern designs that mix Viking and Celtic elements, but this does not reflect a true historical tradition. It is important to note that these cultures evolved at different times and places, and their symbols and traditions are not interchangeable.

Triskel derivatives

There are many derivatives of the Celtic triskelion symbol , which have been used in different cultural and historical contexts. Some examples include:

  • The triskelion : a symbol similar to the triskelion, but with the legs connected to a central circle. Used as a symbol of unity, balance and perfection.
  • The Triskele or three-pronged triskele : this is a symbol similar to the triskele, but with the legs connected to a common center. It is often used as a symbol of the trinity, growth and progression.
  • The four-pronged triskele : this is a symbol similar to the triskele, but with four legs instead of three. It is often used as a symbol of wholeness, stability and strength, like the swastika.
  • The triskele wheel : It is used as a symbol of life going in a circle, growth, progression and evolution.

Many other derivatives of the triskele that have been created over the centuries, each with their own meanings and uses.

For example , the triquetra is an ancient symbol which consists of three circles linked together. It is often used to represent the Trinity in the Christian religion, but it also has pagan and Celtic roots.

Triquetra

Triquetra

In Celtic tradition, the triquetra is often used to represent the three aspects of the goddess: the virgin, the mother and the grandmother. It can also represent the three elements of nature: water, fire, and earth. It is also considered a symbol of protection, spiritual balance and eternity.

Beyond Brittany, we find today the symbolism of the Triskelion in many regional flags . flag of sicily triskele

Flag of Sicily

Isle of Man flag

Flag of the Isle of Man

Triskelion and protection

Used since the dawn of time in different cultures to symbolize the trinity and oneness, it is considered a symbol of divine protection .

In Celtic traditions, the triskele is often associated with protective deities and protective magic. It is used in rituals to invoke divine benevolence and to reinforce positive energies.

In modern traditions, the triskele is often used as a symbol of personal protection . It is worn as a talisman or engraved on objects to protect against negative influences and bring good luck. It is also used as a symbol of protection for buildings and places, to protect against malicious forces.

Does the Triskel bring good luck?

Also considered in Celtic traditions as a symbol of luck and good fortune , the triskelion is believed to bring luck and prosperity to its wearer.

Among the Celtic peoples, the triskelion was also used in rituals to invoke prosperity. Engraved on objects such as jewelry or weapons, it accompanied warriors and hunters to victory.

Today, the triskele is still used as a good luck charm , worn as a talisman or engraved on objects to bring abundance to everyday life.


1 comment
  • Je le fais tatouer sur mon poitrine gauche , selon moi ça a de grande valeur 🙏🙏🙏

    Joseph Bill Stervenson on

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