Celtic symbols and signs possess incredible power among ancient Celts in every aspect of their life. As a result, there is a peculiar beauty and charm linked to the Emerald Isle. Let us discuss the Irish symbols for luck.
‘Celtic’ refers to people who lived in Western Europe and Britain around 500BC and 400AD. They belonged to the Iron Age and settled in small villages led by warrior chiefs. Due to its rich culture and history, Ireland is home to various civilizations for centuries. The ancient communities of Emerald Isle heavily relied on Celtic symbols, giving them their prestigious identity and heritage among the Irish people. One of the most popular Irish symbols and cultural icons are those linked with the concept of luck.
We have all heard about ‘The Luck of the Irish.’ There are numerous icons and symbols associated with the Irish people and their luck. Some are based on myths, folk tales, or legends, while others have a rich historical background that reveals more about the Irish heritage and culture. Here is a list of some of the Irish symbols for luck and their history.
The four-leaf clover is one of the Irish symbols for luck, with many Celtics believing that it had the power to avoid fairy tricks while enabling them to see fairies. There are different varieties of clovers, but the Celts considered that those from a white clover plant are the true lucky ones. The four leaves on the clover stand for love, faith, hope, and luck.
The four-leaf clovers are exceptionally rare as they come into existence as a result of a genetic process, once every 10,000 times. Their rare quality is probably one of the significant reasons why it is considered so lucky for those who find them.
Another significant Irish symbol is the Celtic Cross. It combines the traditional Christian cross with a Celtic circle through its middle. As a result, this symbol represents substantial religious and cultural beliefs among the Irish.
One of the theories behind the emergence of the Celtic Cross is that Saint Patrick, or Saint Declan, created it. He combined the Celtic circle and cross in a bid to convert pagan Irish people (the Druids) who believed in the importance of the sun and its life-giving powers. However, other resources claim that the Celtic Cross predates Saint Patrick and Christianity as the icon dates back to the 4th century when Christianity did not exist at the time. Similarly, many pre-Christian gravestones featuring the Celtic Crosses were found all over Britain.
Another legend behind this symbol suggests that it comes from the Sun’s Cross, another famous symbol among ancient Celts. Taranis, a god of thunder, believed in by the Gaelic people, was often portrayed as one who holds a thunderbolt in one hand and a wheel on the other hand. The wheel often featured on pieces of jewelry and Celtic coins during the bronze age. As a result, some experts believe that the Celtic Cross originates from the wheel of Taranis.
Earlier illustrations of the Celtic Cross had even arms with a circle surrounding them, as seen in Calanais on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland on the stone circle. The even-armed Celtic Cross was assumed to be the symbol of the sun among ancient Celts. Apparently, it represented the four times of the days; morning, noon, evening, and midnight. Other people considered it to represent air, water, fire, and earth. In Norse mythology, this sun wheel/sun cross is known as Odin’s Cross.
With time, the even-armed Celtic Cross converted into the cross with the longer bottom arm, otherwise known as ‘the high cross.’ Today, the Celtic Cross is a symbol of the Welsh, Irish and Scottish origins as well as a symbol of faith. It is an ideal reflection of the ambitions and hopes of the Celts.
Liam Emery created a massive 100-meter long Celtic Cross from two different species of pine trees in County Donegal over ten years ago. As a result, this beautiful scenery is now known as the ‘Emery Celtic Cross’ and is a fantastic tourist attraction in Ireland.
By visiting this fantastic sight, you will see that the outer trees are evergreen and do not drop their pines during autumn. However, the trees used for the actual cross design turn to a golden color right before they lose their pines in preparation for the cold seasons ahead. Otherwise, you will find the trees used for the actual cross green during the other seasons.
Originating from the Irish word ‘seamróg,’ the shamrock is one of the most famous symbols of Ireland. Shamrock refers to three-leaf young or little clovers, a plant that is of vital importance among the Irish people since the time of the ancient Celts. It was of crucial significance to ancient Irish Druids because they understood the three heart-shaped leaves to amount to the triad.
The Celts believed that the world’s most important treasures come in threes and its multiples, like the three phases of the moon, the three ages of man, and the three dominions of the sky, sea, and earth. As such, this symbol might also have been used as a sign of Mother Nature’s regenerative power.
According to mythology experts, Saint Patrick used the plant to Christianize the Irish pagans. Legend provides that Saint Patrick used the shamrock and the Celtic Cross to convert the Druids by using their beliefs in trinities against them. He is responsible for introducing the Christian Concept of the Holy Trinity to the Irish People. Experts have found Saint Patrick halfpennies and artworks, which existed during the 17th century showing Saint Patrick holding a shamrock while driving away serpents from Ireland.
In the 19th century, the Irish people made the shamrock a symbol of nationalism and rebellion against the British Crown, causing anyone caught wearing it liable for execution. Today, the shamrock is one of the most widely known symbols of Ireland related to long-lasting happiness and good fortune. It is also the national flower of Ireland.
As one of the most popular good luck charms throughout Ireland, horseshoe charms represent the horse’s dependability and incredible strength. As a result, these charms symbolize fertility, power over evil, good luck, and good fortune. More so, many people believe that when you hang the horseshoe with the open part facing upward, your good luck will last for a long time to come.
The culture of Irish people provides that there exist mischievous fairies that cause harm and trouble among the Irish people. The horseshoe consists of iron material, which fairies cannot tolerate. As a result, the iron horseshoe wards off their troublesome magic tricks that cause mischief.
Another legend suggests that Saint Dunstan, an Irish blacksmith, was ordered by the devil to shoe his horse. However, he attached the shoe on the devil’s foot and removed it after the devil gave his word to keep away from any home with a horseshoe. As a result, many people hang horseshoe’s in their homes or at the entrance to ward off any evil.
The Celtic people played a huge role in shaping the Irish culture as well as that of the world. Whether it is their ethical codes, jewelry, building techniques, artworks, diplomacy, or beliefs and folklores, the ancient Celts had a unique lifestyle. Similarly, Celtic symbolism made an impact on their belief and cultural system. Other than these popular ones discussed above, there are many other lucky symbols from Ireland.
If you have an interest in the Celtic people and their culture, you must understand these fantastic symbols of good luck and their origin. Furthermore, understanding the Irish symbols for luck may bring you some good luck of your own!
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