The triskelion (triskele) can be thought to represent motion as all three arms are positioned to make it appear as if it is moving outwards from its center. Movement, or motion, is believed to signify energies, in particular within this Celtic Symbol the motion of action, cycles, progress, revolution and competition.
Secondly, and the more challenging area for symbolists, is the exact symbolic significance of the three arms of the triskele. This can differ dependent on the era, culture, mythology and history, which is why there are so many variations as to what these three extensions in the triple spiral symbol mean.
Some of these connotations include: life-death-rebirth, spirit-mind-body, mother-father-child, past-present-future, power-intellect-love and creation-preservation-destruction to name but a few.
A triquetra is an ancient symbol that consists of three overlapping and interconnected arcs, sometimes known as a Vesica Pisces shape, that creates a tri-pointed symbol. While the symbol is called a triquetra, it’s also known as the trinity knot, the Celtic trinity knot, and the Holy Trinity. The Celtic trinity knot meaning and the trinity knot meaning are vastly different, as they stem from different cultural beliefs, but the concept of three is what binds the two meanings together.
While the symbol is the same in various cultures, the meaning shifts. Since there is little written evidence surrounding pre-Celtic and Celtic life, scholars can only speculate regarding Pagan tradition. However, from corroborating various references, they know the concept of three was a linchpin of divine belief, signifying the Triple Moon Goddess which encompasses the maiden, the mother and the crone and connects to feminine fertility.
- The Maiden: represents a young girl symbolizing youth, pleasure, innocence, and new beginnings
- The Mother: represents love, fertility, and maturity symbolizing the middle of a woman’s life as she cares for others
- The Crone: represents the facets of the other stages but focuses on the wisdom learned from a long life
Together, the three females represent the life cycle, touching upon the innocence of a girl’s early life, the maturity as one ages, and the wisdom one gains throughout one’s existence.
When Christianity came to Ireland, most of the Pagan traditions were altered to connect with the new monotheistic religion, and symbols, such as the triquetra, were reused. Irish Christians took the concept of the three interlocking shapes and repurposed it to signify the holy trinity: the father, the son, and the holy spirit. The never-ending loops themselves are said to reference the concept of infinity which is why the inner circle was later added to the symbol.