Celtic Five Fold Symbol Meaning
This page is devoted to the Celtic Meanings within the Five Fold Symbol (symbol shown at top. The center green circle represents the fifth element.)
Celtic meanings surrounding the five-fold motif are fascinating and their significance far-reaching. Specifically, I’m completely enchanted by the fifth element, and how it’s translated by the ancient Celtic mind.
I love the idea of integration in the five-fold symbols. The idea is not exclusively Celtic. Indeed, almost every culture has the spiritual capacity to observe their world and the universe in which it spins, has five prime symbolic themes.
The first four themes are timeless, honored cornerstones of life found in countless cultures (including Celtic) and they are fairly straightforward. They deal with classic structures. For example:
Celtic Symbol Meanings: Four Aspects
- Four elements: Fire, Earth, Air, Water
- Four directions: South, North, East, West
- Four seasons: Summer, Winter, Spring, Fall
What About the Fifth Element?
Our spiritually sagacious forebears pressed their minds out of the rigid confinement of the “four-sided” box. They grasped the concept of a more expansive essence unifying the common four elements. That’s where the fifth element makes its appearance in esoteric thought.
The table of correspondences below explores the Celtic meanings and associations of four, and how these are joined together by a fifth element. Together, all five designations create a balanced, unified power that, conceivably, can be tapped by the human mind.
Tapping into the five-fold balance, who knows what kind of awareness can be gained? Druids hinted at an all-encompassing illumination when the five aspects of nature were balanced within human understanding.
Celtic meanings behind the five fold concept could fill a book. The following correspondences are standard, and found throughout Celtic legend, lore, poetry and history. Here are just a few Celtic meanings associated with the five fold symbol.
Five-Fold Symbol: Celtic Meanings of the Five Stations
(Click for Larger View)
Explanation of superscript stations:
1) The Danu columns are mythological references to the history of Ireland as observed in the Book of Invasions. The children of the goddess Danu are the Tuatha De Danann, a high-minded noble race with the blood of magic and divinity running through their veins.
2) Part of that magic is the tools each of them kept in their possession. These tools were also symbols of their forte and expertise. These are what I refer to as “gifts of Danu” in the table above.
3) The Celtic Cup of Truth is mentioned in Celtic mythology and repeated in their historical storytelling. We see it first referenced in lore as the magic cup belonging to Manannan Mac Lir who passed it on to Cormac Mac Airt. Legends of the cup vary, including one in which the cup detects truth from lies in the one drinking from the cup. There are also references to the cup being the holy grail in Arthurian supposition.
I included the Cup of Truth in the five-fold Celtic meanings because I appreciated the symbolism of the chalice and the act of consuming the elixir of perspective offered. The point here is choice.
A note about directions: To my western mind, I wanted to attribute the cardinal directions to the four “cross” circles, like a compass. That’s not the way of the Celt. They were an enhanced, agricultural people who moved in a cyclical rhythm with the ebb and flow of the cycles of time. It makes sense the uppermost (number “one”) circle in our five-fold symbol has an Eastern assignment, as this indicates the rising of the sun in their hemisphere.
If you walk through the circles from the perspective of the sun, all the other positions make sense. The Celtic time wheel diagram (below) might bring clarity too.
While on the subject of perspective, the Celtic five-fold symbol can be used as an awareness-broadening mandala. You can easily fall into the interconnecting circles and find depth in meaning that otherwise could be overlooked in a superficial glance. For instance, as I dove into the symbol, I discovered the segments of the Celtic year nestled in the center (fifth element) circle. I made this diagram to illustrate…
Five Fold Symbol Meaning and the Celtic Year
More About the Meaning of Stations of the Celtic Five Fold Symbol
An additional note about this special Celtic symbol and the five stations:
As shown in the table above, each station is symbolic of direction, elements, and Celtic tradition. This five-fold symbol is often seen as a pentacle or pentagram. The very nature of this ancient symbol as been maligned over the ages. It is not demonic. Rather, it represents crucial aspects of the scaffolding that constructs our entire cosmos. Our basic building blocks of fire, earth, air water, and aether (spirit) are key to the function of all life. The Celtic five-fold represents this beautifully, as does the pentagram.
Post script: My thanks to Esteban, whom without his prompting, this page would not have been written.
I hope you enjoyed these thoughts on the Celtic meanings associated with the five fold symbol.
If you found this page interesting, please check out the in-site links at the end of this page fore more Celtic meanings and Celtic symbols. Thanks for reading!
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