triskelion celtic symbol meaning

Triskelion Celtic Symbol Meaning

Last Updated on September 30, 2020 by Avia

History Behind the Triskelion Celtic Symbol Meaning

The ancient Celts had many symbols, many of them revolved around a three-fold theme. Triskelion Celtic symbol meaning is a trinity of themes like: Mind, body, spirit for example. There are other meanings for each of the three branches of the triskelion. Check out the history and meaning of the triskelion symbol here.

In a nutshell, the triskelion Celtic symbol meaning deals with competition and man’s progress. The Greek term triskelion literally means “three-legged,” and appropriately, this sign looks very much like three legs running.

The triskelion (also referred to as triskele, triquetra or fylfot) Celtic symbol meaning holds two major components of symbolism: Action and Passive. The symbol itself appears to be in action. It looks as if it is in motion.

In fact, the Manx (coat of arms for the Isle of Man) is essentially a triskelion, but the spirals are legs. These legs look as if they are running.

So where do the action and passive elements play in this symbol? The action we invest in using this symbol, must be paid attention to because the reaction is a response from the universe. The passive is our ability to sit back, trust, believe, have faith that our path will be clear and known to us. It’s a lovely concept. It takes these two to tango…well…at least ideally. Some of us can hammer our way with our actions and get quite a bit accomplished. Others of us can nap more than act, and still get stuff done. But really, it takes a harmonic balance and conscious employment of passive and active energy to accomplish great things. The Celts knew this. They understood they were responsible for growing crops, building shelters, tending to livestock, hunting game, protecting territory. They purposefully positioned themselves for advantageous conditions. They were prepared to reap the rewards of their labor. The ancient Celts also understood that faith is about action too. They gave thanks, gave devotions, sacrificed and honored their deities. They actively sought their higher powers and expected results. If all this isn’t a lot of action, I don’t know what is.

So what about passive? Passive comes when we reached the top of the mountain. Everybody knows the walk downhill is easier. Same concept with the Celts. They employed the passive side of the triskelion Celtic symbol meaning by: Enjoying the harvest, Communing with nature, Enjoying peace in the clan, etc. The passive aspect of this Celtic symbol also plays a big role in faith. As mentioned, any form of prayer (whether meditation, affirmations, devotions, rituals, etc) is active. It is the trust that is passive. Trust in our higher power. Trust that our questions will be answered. Trust that our hard work will pay off. Faith relies on both the quest and the rest, and this is what the triskelion elegantly demonstrates. What’s lovely about this symbol is that it is also three-fold. As such, it’s meanings are a trinity of wisdom (as you will read in this article). But I wanted to touch on that active vs. passive concept because it really makes the symbol more profound as a whole.

“Mystery is at the heart of creativity.”

~Julia Cameron
Triskelion Celtic Symbol Meaning

When we observe this symbol, we are taken with the concept of motion. All three branches (legs, protrusions, angles) are positioned in such a way so as to make the symbol appear as if it is in constant forward motion.

This is no accident as this feeling of motion represents fundamental energies within this Celtic symbol…

Active Keywords for Triskelion Symbol

  • Action
  • Cycles
  • Progress
  • Revolution
  • Competition
  • Moving Forward

The three protrusions (legs, angles, branches, etc) are of significant symbolic importance. However, depending upon the era, region, culture, mythological history, etc…symbologists can have a challenging time defining the exact symbolic meaning of the three protrusions. The various representations of the three protrusions found in the triskelion include:

Meanings of the Three Symbolic Extensions of the Triskelion

  • Spirit, Mind, Body
  • Father, Son, Holy Ghost
  • Mother, Father, Child
  • Past, Present, Future
  • Power, Intellect, Love
  • Creator, Destroyer, Sustainer
  • Creation, Preservation, Destruction
More on the History and Triskelion Celtic Symbol Meaning

All of these meanings mentioned in the list above (and still yet more) can be designated for each of the protrustions found in the triskelion – it is simply up to the observer (or originating culture) to proffer up these meanings.

The combination of all these components (active/passive + triad attributes) lead us to the conclusion that this Celtic symbol meaning tells a story of forward motion in the endeavor to reach understanding (within the context of one of the many triad dynamics above listed). This Celtic symbol also prompts us to see these heavy concepts as a whole, and meditate upon them (passive).

The Celts had a diverse and multi-layered view of life. This carried through to their idea of the afterlife too. When you research their ways, it’s a pretty cool concept. They understood that there are separations, but everything is connected. When it comes to existing in this endless universe, the Celts had a great idea. In fact, they used the triskelion as an illustration of existence. The symbol represents their three worlds of life and living in harmony with all these phases of life. This prominent Celtic symbol may also represent the three Celtic worlds…

Three Worlds Respresented by the Triskelion

  • The Otherworld: Where spirits, gods and goddesses live.
  • The Mortal World: Where you and I live along with plants and animals.
  • The Celestial World: Where unseen energies live and move about. Like the forces of sun, moon, wind and water.

An interesting side note – the number three is a powerful energy for seemingly infinite reasons.

One such representation of number threedeals with the three primary measure-marks within the phases of the moon (new, half, full).

This is a worthy point because most lunar creatures are depicted as only having three legs in Alchemical and early European esoteric art.

As you can see, the Celtic symbol meaning of the triskelion is more far reaching than just “three-legged.” When we combine the variables listed here with the concept of motion and evolution and illumniation, we find that the Celtic symbol meaning of the triskelion has much broader connatations.

Triskelion is a symbol of three which is powerful and deep in meaning. It is a triad. A foundation. It is a symbol of perfect balance.

Triskelion symbol Meanings

When we add lunar implications to the meaning of the triskelion we are dealing with…

Lunar Symbolism Associated with the Triskelion

  • Mystery
  • Feminine
  • Intuition
  • Subtleness
  • Subconscious
  • Spirituality
  • Illumination
  • Hidden desire

This Celtic symbol meaning is vast, varied and diverse. With so many possibilities for profound depth and meaning, it’s no wonder the triskelion was such a predominantly featured symbol amongst the Celtic people. But if we could try to sum up the trinity meanings of this symbol, here’s a good start…

Summary of Symbolic Triskelion Meanings

  • Personal growth
  • Human development
  • Spiritual expansion

I hope you have enjoyed this more detailed background of the fascinating triskelion Celtic symbol meanings.

For more Celtic symbol information on this website, simply the links on this page. Happy symbolic journeys, and thanks for reading.



“Cast your vision into Nature. Consider it. So many stars, so many blades of grass, so many wonders. Such activity. So much glistening and bustling. Everything works independently. Yet each works as a whole. It is all a perfect pinwheel of harmony. One sail cannot catch wind without the other working in tandem. This is what Nature does. Humans are essential to the whole, but sometimes we struggle with the concept of unity. We must find ways to be uniquely us, while still joined-at-the-hip to the core of Nature as a whole. It’s the only connection that matters.”

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