The Meaning Behind the Ink: Celtic Triskelion

A couple of folks have asked about the meanings of the tattoo on my left leg. Here is some insight into Celtic triskelion on the calf.

TriskeleIn a nutshell, the triskelion Celtic symbol meaning deals with competition and man’s progress. The Greek term triskelion literally means “three-legged,” and appropriately, this sign looks very much like three legs running.

The triskelion (also referred to as triskele, triquetra or fylfot) Celtic symbol meaning holds two major components of symbolism.

First Component: Motion
When we observe this symbol, we are taken with the concept of motion. All three branches (legs, protrusions, angles) are positioned in such a way so as to make the symbol appear as if it is in constant forward motion.

This is no accident as this feeling of motion in this symbol represents:

  • action
  • cycles
  • progress
  • revolution
  • competition
  • moving forward

Second Component: Triad
The three protrusions (legs, angles, branches, etc) are of significant symbolic importance. However, depending upon the era, region, culture, mythological history, etc… symbologists can have a challenging time defining the exact symbolic meaning of the three protrusions. The various representations of the three protrusions found in the triskelion include:

  • Spirit, Mind, Body
  • Father, Son, Holy Ghost
  • Mother, Father, Child
  • Past, Present, Future
  • Power, Intellect, Love
  • Creator, Destroyer, Sustainer

All of these (and still yet more) can be designated for each of the protrusions found in the triskelion – it is simply up to the observer to proffer up these meanings.

The combination of these two components (motion and triad attributes) lead us to the conclusion that this Celtic symbol meaning tells a story of forward motion in the endeavor to reach understanding (within the context of one of the many triad dynamics above listed).

Interesting side note… The number three is a powerful energy for seemingly infinite reasons. One such representation of number three deals with the three primary measure-marks within the phases of the moon (new, half, full). This is a worthy point because most lunar creatures are depicted as only having three legs in Alchemical and early European esoteric art.

When we add lunar implications to the meaning of the triskelion we are dealing with:

  • mystery
  • intuition
  • subtleness
  • subconscious
  • spirituality
  • illumination
  • hidden desire

As you can see, the Celtic symbol meaning of the triskelion is more far reaching than just “three-legged.” When we combine the variables listed here with the concept of motion and evolution and illumniation, we find that the Celtic symbol meaning of the triskelion has much broader connatations.

In short, the sum of this Celtic symbol meaning is:

  • personal growth
  • human development
  • spiritual expansion

– Avia Venefica