Triskele (Triple Spiral, Triskelion)

The triskele, or triple spiral, a symbol closely related to the triquetra, is a tripartite symbol composed of three interlocked spirals.

The triple spiral is an ancient Celtic symbol related to the sun, afterlife and reincarnation. The example above comes from the Neolithic “tomb” at Newgrange, where it is supposed by some to be a symbol of pregnancy (the sun describes a spiral in its movements every three months; a triple spiral represents nine months), an idea reinforced by the womb like nature of the structure. The symbol also suggests reincarnation- it is drawn in one continuous line, suggesting a continuous movement of time.

Triskeles are one of the most common elements of Celtic art; they are found in a variety of styles in both ancient and modern Celtic art, especially in relation to depictions of the Mother Goddess. They also evoke the Celtic concept of the domains of material existence- earth, water, and sky, and their interrelations.

Triskele found on an early bronze mirror



Related Symbols:
Odin's horn

{ 3 trackbacks }

Celtic Wedding Theme « desiredassistanceweddings
January 21, 2012 at 4:35 am
Triple Spirale et Triskel – PBP du 27/09 | Scáthcraft
September 27, 2013 at 12:52 am
Bibliography – BethB
June 20, 2018 at 8:12 am


Dochas December 9, 2018 at 3:14 pm

For clarification

It is a symbol that is used from the old religion.

It is a symbol of balance between mind, body and soul. Protection.

In the age of the war against magic, people were branded with the symbol to keep identification within the tribe because people posed as members who would then intrude within the tribes and get them ambushed. So, they would bare the symbol of a pagan or a “heathen,” in later hateful descriptions of those who were not of organized cults that did not practice balance.

In essence, the recreation of religion and organized religion disturbed the balance and was created for segregation and wealth.

This is a symbol that denotes the old religion; the religion of balance within the world.

This is a religion that is not enchanted, where one does not direct another and unity is natural.

Dochas December 9, 2018 at 2:52 pm

In my culture, Dalriadan Pictish, which is immigrant of Iceland; this symbol means the balance between mind, body and soul.

newb October 19, 2018 at 12:02 pm

You’re all wrong. It’s a sign of a rite of passage.

Dave February 18, 2018 at 1:00 pm

I’m far from an expert on ancient history/religion. But when I visited Newgrange, what seemed the most unique part of the experience was the simulation of how , on the day of the winter solstice, a ray of light from the sun penetrates the outer part of the chamber and lights up the small triskele. This was clearly not an accident and took some clever engineering.
When i was trying to work out the mystery of the triskele, I was thinking; could the three spirals mean life, death and reincarnation, influenced by the druidic belief in reincarnation, which may/maynot have been around at the time of the building of Newgrange. But the more I reflect on it I dont believe this is true.
The timing, ie Winter Solstice, is very important. Its the time when we move away from the dark back to the light. I believe the triskele is a symbol of a woman, in fact ‘The Woman’ , the Great Earth Mother goddess, who at that moment is impregnated by the light of the sun. Two of the spirals are the two ovaries and the other spiral is the entrance to the womb. I think Newgrange itself was the Mother’s body and the priest/esses who conceived the idea, were thanking the Mother goddess for allowing the sun to impregnate her and encouraging it to happen again

Of course I may be completely wrong:)

cat June 4, 2017 at 2:26 am

The term “triskele” sounds like a latinization… Does anyone know the original Celtic/Gaelic word for this symbol?

above below March 20, 2017 at 5:12 pm

if you think of our model of a toroid, which describes the energy around the tree of life (also incidentally, earth’s “magnetic” field)… perhaps the early peoples had an advanced understanding of toroidal forces and this is a crude (early) attempt to make an image of those invisible energies. there is an invisible energy which has much to do with the golden ratio and how and why it appears all over the natural world in matter and forces. i wonder if somehow these Celts …and ALL early peoples were MUCH more in touch with the real story of ‘creation’. look closely at how the world tree is imaged. i truly believe these symbols and knots were a representation of hidden forces and that this is why the knots and patterns are so symmetrical, or rather,, display an equal pull in opposing direction… just EXACTLY as the toroid behaves on and around the earth. just an idea.

Lone Wolf January 23, 2017 at 4:36 pm

Do you think it’s possible that any of the powers that be, used a Triskele (Triple Spiral, Triskelion, etc.) when they formulated the symbol for “Biohazards”? I like those that this article mentions, but I think the Biohazard symbol is fascinating as well.

Lone Wolf January 23, 2017 at 4:41 pm

U+2623 = ☣

Elayne M June 17, 2016 at 4:59 pm

For those who are remarking on the pregnancy correlation, the problem is that a pregnancy is typically 40 weeks – which is TEN ‘moon cycles.’ (One ‘moon cycle’ every 28 days, or 4 weeks.) It’s approximately nine months in our non-lunar calendar, because each of the months has 2-3 extra days. The concept of trimesters is a fairly modern one, and until fairly recently pregnancy was mostly broken into two phases: Before “quickening” (the first movement of the fetus that is detectable by the mother) and after quickening.

Elise November 17, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Does it relate to werewolfs? Because ignoring that its on teen wolf, I have read about it connecting to werewolfs and shape shifters. Anyone know anything?

Crimson December 14, 2015 at 7:57 pm

Werewolves…no, shapeshifting, yes. Shapeshifting is a common practice among animistic belief systems–so called shamanic practitioners–and depending on where you are in the world this can mean the shedding of skin or the donning of a skin of the animal that you are shifting into/taking the charactaristics of. In some belief systems, when a shamanic practitioner enters the upper or lower world of non-ordinary reality (See Harner or Elaide’s work on shamanism) they may shepshift into an animal such as a raven or a wolf, a seal or salmon to navigate the terrain. Other belief systems include reincarnation, so called “rebirth” cycles where a human being may be reborn as an animal but still have the spirit of a person. This may have been the result of witnessing the natural decay of the human body and it’s predation by animals such as jakals in Egypt, wolves and ravens in Europe, etc. The life force of the deceased was transfered into the body of the animal that fed upon him. Lycanthropy (wherewolfism) is a form of shapeshifting and sometimes it’s applied to a form of psychosis where a person no longer believes he or she is human, but rather an animal.

Romney September 27, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Three spirals equal three lunar cycles, three times three cycles equals standard pregnancy period. Very powerful!

Epona May 26, 2014 at 11:10 am

None here seems to mention the fact that the Celts originated in FRANCE. The Celts of Ireland and Wales are being studied for there relation to their ancestors of “Gaul” or what would in fact be now a-days: France, the netherlands, parts if germany…actually Most of central Europe. Read about Julius Caesar rising an army against them.

Crimson December 14, 2015 at 7:47 pm

It is unlikely that the people who became Celts originated in France, just like most of the people who became the Americans didn’t originate in the Americas. The Celts are part of a proto-indo-European migration that originated in the east, possibly as far away as India–given the linguistic and cultural evidence–and they didn’t settle into Europe until probably about 3000 years ago. There were already people living in France at that time as part of ancient France and Germany were ice age refugia during the last glacial maximum (southern Briton was as well, that’s why there are are sites there dating to about 25,000 years ago). The story of the Tuatha De Dana fighting the Formoans that already existed in Ireland can be interpreted as a tale of conflicts between two cultures. The Formoans represent the belief system of the people who lived in area at the time of Celtic arrival and the Tuatha De Dana represent the gods of the invading forces (the Celts) this is also bourne up by archaeological sites like Stonehenge and Skara Brae being several millenia older than sites bearing “celtic” iconography and technology, and sites like Chauvi cave in France which are in excess of 35,000 years old. As far as there being a celtic homeland in ancient Gaul, that does seem to be the place that we see the first Leptonic inscriptions, probably from the precedant Halstat culture that lived in the area around 700-800 bc.

Julia Fiadh March 21, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Re: the triskele and the Gregorian calendar… A lunar month is typically 28 days, which is also the length of a typical menstrual cycle; in the old days, we counted the gestation of 9 months by the Moon and not by the Sun. (For example, my great-grandad advised us that after 9 moon cycles, be prepared for birth.) Therefore, a correlation between the triskele and human fetal gestation is a definite possibility.

Lazurus February 16, 2014 at 6:12 pm

It is a ancient symbol used by faol long before the celts it was ancient 3000 years ago!

greg September 13, 2013 at 3:19 am

My apologies I didn’t articulate what I had wanted to properly. I was referring to the part in the description where it stated “it is supposed by some that the spirals represent pregnancy” with trimesters being three month periods is where the gregorian calendar came in,though any other calendar could have been mentioned. With so few historical facts in regards to the pre-celtic neolithic folk of Ireland it just seemed to me a little overly speculative to me. Sorry if my post came off as being snippy was not the intent, should have worded better.

Tracy September 6, 2013 at 5:40 pm

I agree with Greg. I’ve been to Newgrange personally, and if you do the research, you’ll find that the people who built the Neolithic mounds were there two thousand years before the Celts.

jeff August 2, 2013 at 8:39 am

this particular Irish symbol is not a celtic or druid symbol. it was craved onto the new-grange site far before the druids even exist. The forgotten architects of these pre-pyrimidine sites are its only true owners

Jennifer October 14, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Celtic refers to much more than Druid history. :)

Helen November 12, 2014 at 11:22 pm

You are correct… The symbol is from Asia, in its earliest forms, thousands of years before Celtic. It is also used by American Hopi Indians, where it has been found carved in Sanskrit. So many civilizations have used it, or some variation of a Triskele/Triskelion.

greg February 24, 2013 at 7:50 pm

to my knowledge they werent using the gregorian calendar back in stone age times. and to my knowledge this symbol appeared before the arrival of the celts to Ireland. Where do you get your info from?

Jennifer May 6, 2013 at 4:50 pm

I’m having some trouble figuring out where the Gregorian calendar figures into the post at all?

Kat March 20, 2014 at 2:54 am

Not Greg but I figure it’s prolly people who don’t understand how the spirals could represent three months before we had the standard months we have today.

And to answer that question- Even before the gregorian calendar, our ancestors were aware of the cycles of the moon. It was as understood as well as day and night. The moon got big over a certain number of nights and then got small again. And the lunar phases are a better gauge of the length of a pregnancy as well in any cases, modern science lumps it at nine months so we can remember it easily.
We see each as three months but they say each spiral as three moon-cycles, and a third of the time it takes a woman to bring a baby to life.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: