Found throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Celtic Isles, the Celtic Cross is possibly one of the most well-known symbols of early Celtic Christianity. Surprisingly however, these crosses that predate Christ were first created and used by pagans.
The pagans worshiped the sun as the center of their existence. The circle in the center of the Celtic Cross represented the ancient sun god, with the arms representing the four seasons or directions.
During the great conversion of many pagans to Christianity, St. Patrick and Christian philosophers adapted the Celtic Cross as a Christian symbol and taught the meaning of the circle to represent Jesus Christ, the center of Christianity. By respecting the pagan sacred places such as holy wells and Celts monuments and symbols such as the Triknot the conversion to Christianity was swift with many Druids becoming ordained Christian priests.
Meaning of the Celtic Knot
All Celtic knots, whether square, triangle or round, symbolize“no beginning, no end... infinity,” the intertwining of this world and the “other” or spiritual world, the continuity of life paths, the mingling of relationships, and the binding together of all.
The history of the Celts is an oral one and the exact meaning of their artwork, including all Celtic knots, is unsure. However scholars believe the round Lugh knot comes from Celtic mythology with Lugh being the Celtic god of Harvest; to this day a festival called Lughnasa is celebrated, in Ireland and in the Celtic Isles, halfway between the Summer solstice and Autumn equinox.
The triangular three-point knot called Triquetra, Triknot or Trinity has meaning for Christians and pagans alike. Early Christians adopted it as a symbol of the three-in-one God or Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Triquetra is often found in insular art such as illuminated manuscripts such as the Book of Kells. It is also found in similar artwork on Celtic crosses from the early Christian period. Pagans took it as a symbol of division of the world into the realms of Earth, Sea and Sky, and as a symbol of the triple goddesses, for example, Epona and The Morrígan.