Ah, the Triquetra, it has to be one of my favourite ancient Celtic symbols. Known to be one of the oldest symbols in history and is famous in modern-day film, and many people have the Celtic Triquetra tattoo. But you are probably here to find out just what is a Triquetra. Well, you came to the right place!
So what is the Triquetra meaning( also known as the Trinity symbol)?
Triquetra symbol meaning: The Triquetra essentially means a three-cornered symbol that connects to the power of three symbol. The triquetra symbolizes interconnectedness and the concept of threefold unity, whether representing the Holy Trinity, the cycles of life, or the interconnectedness of body, mind, and spirit.
The Celts worshipped the idea that everything important in the world came in threes.
The power of three examples:
- Three stages of life: life, death, and rebirth
- Three elements: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
- Three domains: earth, sea and sky, past, present and future(also known as the three domains).
As you can see, there is much more to this ancient Celtic symbol than you might think.
In its purest form, the Triquetra is three interconnected ovals — one pointing upward, the other two pointing down, to the left and right. Just like this image of the basic Triquetra:
While many of the other Celtic symbols are popular in modern-day tattoos, the Celtic Triangle knot or “Triquetra” is one of the most popular.
The history of the Triquetra:
Throughout history dating back to the 7th century, the Triquetra and the symbol Triquetra have appeared across nearly all religions.
These are the five main moments in the history and religion of the Triquetra
- Christianity: In Christianity, the triquetra is sometimes known as the Trinity Knot or Celtic Trinity Knot. It represents the Holy Trinity—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—as three distinct entities that are also interconnected and inseparable.
- Celtic and Norse Traditions: The triquetra is commonly associated with Celtic(Celtic triangle) and Norse mythology. In these traditions, it can symbolize the three realms of land, sea, and sky or the three elements of earth, water, and air. It is often seen as a representation of interconnectedness and the cycles of life.
- Pagan and Wiccan Beliefs: Within Pagan and Wiccan practices, the triquetra is sometimes referred to as a symbol of the Triple Goddess, representing the three stages of the female life cycle—maiden, mother, and crone. It can also represent the three realms of existence—earth, sky, and sea—and the concept of body, mind, and spirit.
- Symbol of Protection: The triquetra is sometimes seen as a protective symbol, believed to ward off negative energies or bring good fortune. It is thought to create a protective shield around the wearer or the area where it is displayed.
- Eternal Love and Unity: The interwoven nature of the triquetra’s design is often associated with eternal love, unity, and the concept of never-ending cycles. It can symbolize the interconnectedness of relationships, the past, present, and future, or the interdependence of body, mind, and spirit.
It’s important to note that the Triquetra has been used in various contexts throughout history and religion.
Some incredible facts and appearances of the Triquetra or Trinity Knot:
So now you know just precisely what the Triquetra means; you might be saying that you have seen this symbol before.
Well, you would be right! This Celtic Symbol has had some impressive appearances in the modern-day.
- In the motion picture Thor, a triquetra symbol is displayed on Thor’s Hammer, Mjollnir.
- The symbol appears as one of the four symbols on the cover of Led Zeppelin’s fourth album, where it is used as the personal symbol of bassist John Paul Jones.
- Michonne’s katana in the TV series The Walking Dead features a Triquetra on the inner crossguard. Custom-designed for the character, propmaster John Sanders intentionally chose the Triquetra for its meaning as a triple goddess symbol.
- The Charmed symbol: The Triquetra symbol in a circle became well known as the cover motif on the Book of Shadows in the American TV show Charmed. It represents the three sisters working together as one and the sisters’ “power of three” when united.
Where did the Triquetra symbol come from?
Who created the symbol has been an issue of controversy for centuries:
Christians feel that it started with the Monks, who brought these designs along with their teachings of Christianity when attempting to convert the Celts of the day. However, the Triquetra has been speculated to be the oldest symbol of spirituality.
It appears in the ninth century in the Book of Kells as a decoration with no particular religious significance, and the symbol has been found in Norwegian churches dating to the 11th century.
It has been documented and carved onto tombs that are thousands of years old.
When the triple spirals are drawn in a straight line, it has been speculated that this represents life and death.
What is the difference between the Triquetra and Trinity symbols?
The triquetra and the Trinity symbol both have connections to the concept of the Holy Trinity, but they differ in their visual representation.
The Trinity symbol, also known as the Triquetra Knot or Celtic Trinity Knot, is specifically associated with the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three distinct persons in one God. The Trinity symbol is typically represented by an equilateral triangle interwoven with a Triquetra circle, emphasizing the unity and interconnectedness of the three persons of the Trinity.
What is the meaning behind the Triquetra?
Meant initially as “triangle”, it was used to refer to various three-cornered shapes. Sometimes, the traditional symbol is accompanied by a Triquetra circle.
This also relates to the Celtic tree of life, another example of where the Celts favoured that everything in this world came in threes.
- Three stages of life: life, death, and rebirth
- Three elements: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
- Three domains: earth, sea and sky, past, present and future.
What does a Triquetra tattoo mean?
The Triquetra image is a popular tattoo among men and women. The main symbology of this is not just because they look nice but the reason behind them.
If you see or are thinking about getting a Triquetra tattoo, the Triquetra can mean one of the following:
- The cycles of life (life-death-rebirth)
- The promises of a husband to his wife (love-honour-protect)
- The family (father-mother-child)
- The passage of time (past-present-future)
- Or just something that has a hidden meaning in someone’s life.
It is for this reason that not only have Triquetra tattoos become a famous symbol, but the Triquetra appears in knot-work, jewellery, emblems, logos and anything with a three-fold meaning.
Among females, the preference is for the smaller symbols visible on the wrist and the nape of the neck. The Irish trinity symbol is also a popular tattoo.
Why would someone get a triquetra tattoo?
Good question! Here are five reasons someone would choose to get a Triquetra tattoo:
- Personal Beliefs and Spirituality: The individual may resonate with the symbolism and meaning associated with the triquetra, such as the interconnectedness of life, spiritual unity, or their faith in a particular religious tradition like Christianity or Celtic/Norse mythology.
- Connection to Ancestral Heritage: The triquetra has strong historical and cultural ties to Celtic and Norse traditions. Individuals with ancestry from these cultures may choose a triquetra tattoo as a way to connect with their roots and honour their heritage.
- Symbol of Protection: Some people view the triquetra as a protective symbol and may get it tattooed as a form of personal or spiritual protection, believing it will ward off negative energies or bring them good fortune.
- Representation of Unity and Relationships: The triquetra’s interconnected design can symbolize unity and the interdependence of various aspects of life, such as relationships, family, or the mind, body, and spirit. A person may choose a triquetra tattoo to express their belief in the importance of these connections.
- Aesthetics and Personal Preference: Tattoos are often chosen for their visual appeal and personal meaning to the individual. Someone might simply find the triquetra visually pleasing or be drawn to its intricate design, regardless of specific symbolism.
Ultimately, the reasons behind getting a triquetra tattoo can vary significantly from person to person, and it’s a deeply personal decision that often holds personal significance or reflects one’s beliefs, heritage, or aesthetic preferences.
What is the meaning of the circle on the Triquetra(Trinity Knot)
Sometimes it is drawn weaving around a circle, symbolising the unity of the three parts. The circle, in many belief systems, is a symbol of eternity.
I’ve had a request for an upside-down trinity knot, meaning:
The main upside-down trinity knot meaning is that it represents the opposite of all the attributes the right-side-up trinity knot stands for.
This could be interpreted as the opposite. Instead of moving from life, death to rebirth, it would now mean the reverse moving from rebirth to death.
Other interpretations could be upending of the Truth (such as in an upside-down cross) and a Trinity symbol of the beast.
But all that said, it could have no additional meaning and not be taken to mean anything different just because of the way it is displayed.
Some final notes on the Triquetra
As you can see, there is quite a lot of depth to the Triquetra meaning. Whether it is the eternity of God’s love or the eternal circle of life itself, the circle adds even more weight to the significance of the Triquetra. The power of 3 symbol plays such an important part in history that it has remained eternal all these years later.
So, whether you’re Christian, Pagan, or somewhere in between, there’s a good chance that the Triquetra could hold some kind of personal significance, and no one else can dictate what it should mean to you.
Otherwise, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to grab your weekly dose of Irish(a free email I send every Friday on all things Irish) right here.
Some FAQ’s that I get about the Triquetra or Trinity knot.
Q. Is Triquetra Norse or Celtic?
A. The triquetra is commonly associated with both Norse and Celtic cultures, although its exact origins and meanings can vary.
Q. Where does the Triquetra come from?
A. The exact origins of the triquetra symbol are not definitively known. However, it has been found in various ancient cultures, including Norse, Celtic, and Roman civilizations. The symbol has a long history and has been used in different contexts throughout time.