Celtic designs are very old and date back thousands of years, but they have never lost their beauty, mysticism or symbolism, in fact our fascination with them keeps growing. Perhaps the most well known and most symbolic of all Celtic art is the Celtic cross. The Celtic cross offers both aesthetic values to anyone wishing a tattoo as well as spiritual meaning.
The Celtic cross can also be called an Irish cross. It consists of the standard cross shape, but there is one significant difference and this is that the cross itself lies within a circle. The ‘arms’ of the cross are contained within this circle and do not overlap it or extend past it.
The bars of the cross are equidistant from the center of the cross and the cross and circle has very intricate and beautiful knot work adorning it. The overall design of this knot work makes the Celtic cross both simple and very complex, a mind boggling concept.
Legends and Meanings
Legend tells us that the Celtic cross was designed by Saint Patrick. Saint Patrick tried to convert what he believed were pagan Irish people, and the symbolism of a cross surrounded by a circle depicts the Christian cross and the sun. The sun was worshiped by the Druids.
The Celtic cross has different meanings to different people and varies quite a bit. For the Catholic faith, the circle around the cross is the symbol of eternity and for them this form of cross speaks of God’s infinite love.
To the Druids in the ancient world, the cross was actually a phallic symbol, and is seen by many as such today. For those who practice neo-paganism, this cross symbolizes the sun.
Celtic crosses adorn any part of the body, and while some prefer to show them off in their full splendor, others prefer to have it tattooed in a less obvious area of the body so that it can be covered up if necessary.
The Celtic knot patterns which often adorn and enhance the cross offer beauty and interest to a tattoo. These knots have their own meanings and are often referred to as mystic knots, or endless knots. Their symbolism is not as clear as that of the Celtic cross however, but many people attach magical powers to them. What is known and accepted is that these knots symbolize eternity. The knots used in the tattoo lines form one endless loop with no beginning and no end.
When a trinity knot is used to adorn a Celtic cross tattoo the symbolism is strong. Even though the design of the Celtic trinity knot is simple, its symbol is powerful and is very suitable for a tattoo. The knot has three corners to it and the meaning attached to these three corners is Christian, meaning Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The second corner is attributed to Pagan worship that of Mother, Crone and Maiden and the last corner represents the New Age being mind, body and spirit.
This type of Celtic tattoo art is an elaborate design which contains many interlinking spirals, strands. Spirals are those designs which form from lines that spiral and twirl in parallel. They are usually uniform though. The lines used to create the outline of this cross have no beginning or end and because of this it represents the immortality of human life. The Celtic cross is very significant to Celtics, and others who believe it has the power to protect them against harm and because of this it is considered one of the most powerful of all tattoo symbols.
The Celtic cross came about when it was infused with symbol of Christianity, but it still has roots in ancient pre-Christian worlds as well as in modern antiquity. This cross as a tattoo is one of the most popular designs, but is reputed to be amongst one of the most difficult of tattoos to re-create. In fact, most Celtic design tattoos are hard to draw and even harder to tattoo and may take several hours to complete.
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