6 Mysterious Irish/Celtic Symbols For Family

Celtic symbols have proven to be influential in their way of expressing aspects of our lives. That is why it is natural to want to know what the Celtic symbol for the family is. However, there is no one such symbol, but there are specific knots, symbols, Claddagh (a ring), and Ogham (the ancient alphabet) that one can use to signify the same. For the most part, what they do represent is the love and strength that a family holds. 

Here, we are going to look at some ornate symbols that have historical meaning behind them. They are perfect if you’re looking to have a family symbol of your own or if you’re looking for an inspiration for a tattoo. Let’s dive in. 

Celtic family symbol -Triquetra/Trinity Knot

The Trinity Knot or the Triquetra is a complicated three leaf-like design that is found in insular art for the Celts. In some cases, there is a circle in the middle. The places that you could find these symbols were in metalwork and illuminated manuscripts. An example of one such manuscript is the Book of Kells, a gospel book written in Latin. One can also find the symbol of triquetra on Celtic crosses and even slabs that date back to the early Christian period. 

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The reason why this could also be considered as a symbol for the family is that in the places it was found historically, it was not a stand-alone sign. Therefore, it might not have merely meant belief. In manuscripts, the shape got used as an ornament or a space-filler. Even with that, it is believed to have special meaning when it comes to aspects of life that are threefold. 

In the family context, the triquetra symbol is used to depict eternal spiritual life. The other thing it reflects is the unity and trinity of the mind, soul, and heart. It is also used to signify unity within a family and the endless love that exists between them. 

Celtic family symbol – A Claddagh ring

The Claddagh ring is native to the Irish, and it represents love, loyalty, and friendship. The heart represents the love, the crown represents loyalty, and the hands represent friendship. This ring is first believed to have come from an Irish fishing village in Galway that going by the same name. The ring first came about in the 17th century, but the name for the ring came about in the 1830s. The origin of this ring is unclear because there are various signatures of the goldsmiths that made individual rings dating back to the 1600s. 

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Following the Medieval and Renaissance age in Europe, the Claddagh ring was used for engagements and to symbolize the union between man and wife. However, in present times, it would not apply as such. Therefore, one can take the aspects of love, loyalty, and friendship as traits that uphold a family. These are what makes for a strong family. 

Celtic family symbol – Triskelion

The name triskelion is a Greek word for “triskeles’. It means “three legs.” Even with that, in reality, the triskelion is indeed a complex ancient Celtic symbol that is made of triple spirals. One of the earliest findings of this symbol is located at the entrance of the Newgrange found in Ireland. The ruins are believed to date backs as far as the Neolithic era. The popularity of the symbol within the Celtic culture begins much later in 500BC. Pinpoint one meaning is ambiguous though it is said to symbolize many cultural aspects at the time. 

The spirals are going outward, and that is said to show movement. One can then say that the symbol depicts motion. It could also mean energy, action, progress, cycles, and revolution. Variations of the same symbol exist throughout history, so one cannot know what the original meaning of the symbol was per se.  

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Just like the trinity, the triskelion perhaps means the trinity that occurs in various aspects of life. That could be spirit-mind-body, life-death-rebirth, physical-mental-spiritual, past-present-future, and so on. It can equally symbolize the flow of nature or spiritual growth. In context to the family setting, one can use the triskelion to represent them moving forward even through adverse conditions. 

Celtic family symbol – Serch Bythol

Here we have a symbol that shows everlasting love. Such a symbol lets us know that the Celts at the time deeply valued relationships. The Serch Bythol is a significant symbol that is made from two Celtic knots or otherwise known as triskeles. The two parts represent the intertwining of two people in spirit, mind, and body. When you look at the symbol, there are interconnected lines that mean love with on end. 

Though there are only two parts to this ring, one could say that it can also depict man and wife, who together form a family. It doesn’t have to mean that you have children to create a family. It can equally be important in single-parent households to have such a symbol that adds meaning to their life. 

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Celtic family symbol – Ogham

The Ogham is an early medieval alphabet that got used in writing the ancient Irish language and later the Old Irish language. Currently, there are stone monuments containing inscriptions of this language in Ireland and Britain, with the majority being in the Irish province of Munster, and the others are found in Wales. A majority of the inscriptions are people’s names. 

How the letters work is that each letter represents an individual tree. The earliest Ogham is said to have been around the 4th century AD though there are Celtic scholars that believe it began as far back as the 1st century BC. As a family, if you’re looking to have your names inscribed using the Ogham, it would make a unique way to represent your family. The lettering as made of a vertical line with either horizontal or perpendicular lines attached.

There are only 20 letters in the alphabet, so this might only work if you’re able to find all the letters to fit your names. Ideas that a person can take to symbolize the family is to ink their children in the Ogham alphabet on their skin. The other way is to make a tapestry that you can hang in a common area for all to see. Alternatively, you can have jewelry inscribed in the same letters. 

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Celtic family symbol – Celtic Tree of Life

The Celtic Tree of Life is common. You might have seen it on tapestries, tattoos, and jewelry. This symbol for the Celts was a symbol of balance and harmony. The Celts do hold trees in quite a high regard, thinking them to hold spiritual powers. They are also what made up their alphabet. The Celts also believed access to their ancestors and other worlds was via the trees. That is why you will find many Celtic legends revolving around trees, the Oak being the most honored. 

The tree of life was a single tree left in the middle of clearing as the Celts were settling down. This tree was where essential ceremonies took place. It was at the time believed the tree had magical powers. For that reason, cutting the tree down was quite a serious offense. In war, it was said cutting down the enemy’s tree was the ultimate defeat. 

The other symbolic meaning of the Celtic Tree of life is wisdom, strength, and long life. It also represents rebirth when the trees transition through the various seasons. As a result, the trees were considered magical living beings guarding the people against foes. It was also a doorway to the spirit realm. The base of the tree was found to be where the two worlds converged; the roots symbolized other worlds. Overall, the Celtic Tree of Life symbolizes oneness with nature. 

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Various trees did have a different meaning. The oak tree was indeed the most sacred. It was considered the center of the world and also a doorway to the Otherworld. It was also supposed to symbolize nobility, strength, and stability. The ash tree was said to represent connection, surrender, and wisdom. Lastly, the willow did signify imagination, vision, and intuition. 

With that, you can take the Celtic Tree of Life to symbolize the link between people born from the same family. In the past, present, and future, you will always be part of a family; that will never change. The Celtic Tree of Life can then be used as a symbol when making a family tree. It could also make for a fantastic tattoo that shows the oneness and the eternal nature that families have. 

Conclusion

Though there are no specific symbols for a family in the Celtic culture, there re still symbols that signify what a family stands for. For whatever reason you’re looking for a symbol for your family or for yourself, you can use the above to create meaning and significance for yourself. 

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