Celtic tattoos designs have been influenced by the long, complex history and culture of the people themselves. They are a spiritual people, with one foot in this world and one in the spiritual world. The modern designs have been influenced both by their earlier pagan religious practices, which were nature based, and their now long practiced Christianity.Most of their designs have reference to a deeper meaning. Their folklore is full of stories of the other world. Their art and symbols are heavily influenced by their pre-Christian pagan religions in which they worshipped nature. The sun, moon, stars and the earth were sacred to them, as were animals and the seasons. Later, after they were introduced to Christianity, their art included the cross, in various forms, but their earlier traditions were well established by then. This mixture is seen in their work today.
Celtic Cross Tattoos
This is the predominant symbol of Christianity but the Celts have given it their own unique design with the ringed cross. The cross, of course, represents the Christian belief itself while the circle can represent eternity or God's eternal love or the continuing act of salvation brought by Christ's death and resurrection.The symbol of the cross predates Christianity and can be found in ancient civilizations. Both the cross and the circle are found in a number of cultures. They have been found on rock carvings several thousand years old. The circle can represent the sun. Those not drawn to Christianity can find other spiritual meaning in the symbols.
Celtic Knot Tattoos
The Celts have made knot work their own but it has elements that evolved from earlier cultures and civilizations. The intricate criss-crossing and inter-weaving designs of their knot work is said to represent life itself. Life is a maze, complex, with each life interwoven with another's. The lines of the drawings are never-ending, representing the continuity of the natural cycle of death and rebirth. It can also represent the crossing over of the physical and spiritual world. It can represent eternity and the boundlessness of God's bounty and goodness. Animal forms are often intertwined, reflecting the people's earlier connection to nature and the animal world. The images of horses, dogs, birds and other animals can be found skillfully woven into the lines of artwork so that they become an integral part of the whole. Animal images were used in many cultures, often in the hope the wearer might take on some of that animal's skills or characteristics or simply link them spiritually to the animal.All these elements can be found in illuminated documents, such as the Book of Kells, which have heavily influenced modern Celtic tattoo designs.
Celtic Spiral Tattoos
The spiral has fascinated humans from earliest times. It appears on early rock carvings and in most cultures. It appears in nature in the horns of animals, in snail and seashells and in the galaxy. It has been studied by scientists and mathematicians and pondered on by philosophers. The spiral most associated with Celtic design is the triple spiral or triskele. The design is found around the world because the Celts made inroads into so many cultures. In earlier times it represented the sun but later came to be used in Christianity to explain the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Some see it as representing our spiritual journey to God - an ever-unfolding mystery. Others see in it our journey through life. It is a tattoo symbol full of mystery and can remind us of our own spiritual and emotional journey.