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Celtic Symbolism: The Trinity of Number "3"

Students of Celtic culture and mythology, as well as people interested in the esoteric, mystical, sacred geometry and/or neopaganism, have often noticed that 3 is an especially important number in many traditions, the Celtic in particular. Some examples of this include the shamrock, which is a three-leafed plant, the triple aspect of ancient gods and goddesses, and the ancient triple spiral symbol, also known as the triskel.
The "3" is a sacred number in ancient Celtic mythology and religion. Riddles and triadic phraseology pepper Celtic folk lore and faerie stories. The triskel, a figure composed of three spirals, signifies the three-layered nature of a human soul, and is in itself a central figure in ancient Celtic symbolism. The earth, sea, and sky share a three-fold marriage in oaths and as witness to deeds, and represent sacred elements.

The goddess Brigit, in many tellings, is not one entity but three sisters -a poetess, a smith and a doctor."Brigit" is one of three daughters of the Dagda all of the same name. Each one is a master of one of three different skills: smithing, poetry, and healing. These three skills are vital to the people of Eriu. The Three in unison are also seen as a symbol of fertility and life. It is the combination of these important skills which has truly allowed the people of Eyru to prosper.
She is assosociated with serpents - ancient symbol of the healing powers of the Earth Goddess - and her festival is at Imbolc, goddess of independence, integrity and energy, often depicted in her threefold aspect with fiery red hair. Symbols and associations of Brigit are fire, wells, healing cauldron, serpents, anvil and hammer, dandelion, amethysts and white candles.
According to the Cormac Glossary 9 th c. "Brigit i.e. a poetess, daughter of the Dagda. This is Brigit the female sage, or woman of wisdom, i.e. Brigit the goddess whom poets adored, because very great and very famous was her protecting care. It is therefore they call her goddess of poets, by this name. Whose sisters were Brigit the female physician (woman of leech craft), Brigit the female smith (woman of smith work), from whose names with all Irishmen a goddess was called Brigit. "

Triskel (also frequently used as a druidic symbol) or triple spiral is a symbol found in very ancient, even pre-Celtic sites in the British isles, such as Newgrange. With something like this, dating back to prehistory, it's hard to say exactly what it meant --other than that people have held the number 3 as significant for a very long time. Also asociated as a symbol of the Triple Goddess (maiden, mother, crone) in pre-Christian times, the triple centered spirals were also found in illuminated manuscripts. This design may represent the waxing, waning and full moon.
Number "3" is also present on other Celtic Symbols such as the "Triskelion", the "Triquetra" , The "Three Rays" of the Druidic Symbol, find out more about the symbolism of spirals here.

In the first three numbers, all of the others are synthesized. From the union of oneness and duality (which is its reflection), that is, from triad, proceed all of the other numbers, and from this primordial triangle all figures derive.

This threeness or triad, has always been considered sacred–like oneness, duality, and all numbers–by virtue of its very properties and particular attributes. These properties and attributes are manifested in its threefold nature, which of itself is the inevitable expression of a principle, an archetypal fact, that solidifies in a series, as a representation of ideas and energies that materialize in magical, mysterious fashion while obeying precise, universal laws, which the numerical codes and their geometrical correspondences symbolize.

This symbol a triad or trinity. It is a symbol of the unity of body, mind and spirit. The symbol is of universal significance - it is found throughout history and all over the world. It can be interpreted in many different senses: spirit/mind/body in a circle of synthesis; past/present/future enclosed in the ring of eternity; art/science/religion bound in a circle of culture.

The symbol of the triad or trinity has existed over immeasurable time and throughout the world. It can be understood as a key to the integrity and interdependence of all existence.
The shamrock is often associated with St. Patrick, and this symbol is prevalent on St. Patrick's Day. This saint supposedly used the shamrock to illustrate the principle of the Trinity when bringing Christianity to Ireland. Prior to this, the shamrock was held sacred by the druids, who may have associated it with the Triple Goddess. Thus, the sacredness of 3 was maintained from the pagan to the Christian era in Celtic lands.
The idea of the Triple Goddess is especially popular in Wiccan and neopagan circles. Robert Graves helped to bring this idea to the modern world in his influential book, The White Goddess. Graves, and many others to follow, illustrated the archetype of the Mother, Maiden and Crone as the triple aspects of the one Goddess.
The term "triple goddess" has been used to refer both to goddess triads and to a single feminine deity described as triple in form or aspect. In this case, the central concept comprises the idea of 3 separate female figures being united; frequently described as the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone, each of which symbolises both a separate stage in the female life cycle and a phase of the moon.
This concept represents the feminine part of Wicca's duotheistic theological system, her masculine counterpart being the Horned God.
Many other neopagan belief systems follow Graves and Wicca in their use of the figure of the Triple Goddess, and it continues to be an influence on feminism, literature, Jungian psychology and literary criticism.
Scholars have criticized the literal truth of Graves' work, and while it definitely has a poetic logic to it, it probably is oversimplified as a description of ancient Celtic symbolism or cosmology. Nevertheless, the Celts have always thought in threes, and this includes their mythology.
The relationship between Neopaganism and scholarship is contentious. The theories of writers such as Margaret Murray, James Frazer, and Robert Graves, are denounced by contemporary scholars, and the evolutionary model of social change they are based on is rejected. Historians of the contemporary neopagan movement such as Chas Clifton and Juliette Wood note that these writers continue to have an influence on much contemporary neopagan thought.
Today, Celtic symbols are resurfacing in the form of art, jewelry and tattoos. While not all of these illustrate the "power of 3," if you take notice you will probably find a surprising occurrence of threes in Celtic images even now.
Explore the many aspects of Celtic arts and culture! Celtic Symbols
Main Source: Larry_Christopher


tom brosman said...

What a beautiful site.

Celtic Sprite said...

Thanx for your compliments kind Tom, it was nice to get acquainted about your poetry works and short stories, I look forward to receive further comments from you... keep up the sacred fire as always ☼


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