The power of the Triskelion
What is the origin of the triskell?
Celtic symbol? Is the Triskel Breton?
Contemporary Bretons as well as tourists who visit Brittany or learn the gavotte during the Festival de Cornouaille in Quimper or the Festival Interceltique in Lorient are all convinced that the triskel is, next to the ermine and the kouign-amann, one of the emblems of eternal Brittany. It is enough for them to frequent the souvenir stores to be convinced of it. In reality, the success of the triskel as a Celtic symbol seems quite recent in Armorica.
And so, although it is commonly said that the Triskel is of Celtic origin, the reality is a little bit different.
The word Triskel comes from the Greek "Triskelês" which means three-legged. The symbolism of the Triskel has been interpreted in many ways. It is a symbol representing three human legs, or three intertwined spirals. It is primarily a good luck charm but originally it was meant to be a solar symbol.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not a uniquely Celtic symbol. It is a much older symbol than the Celts as it can be found for example on inscriptions from the Nordic Bronze Age or on engravings from the Irish megalithic period.
According to Wikipedia, this symbol has been found since the Neolithic period in various cultures and periods, the oldest representations are found on the megalithic temples of Malta. This symbol can be found at the Neolithic tomb of Newgrange dated 3,200 BC, at the site of Bru na Boinne, Ireland.
Newgrange is one of the most famous archaeological sites in Ireland, located north of Dublin. It is a tumulus of 85 meters in diameter inside which we reach the burial chamber by a long covered passage. It is part of a whole of prehistoric sites called Bru na Boinne. In the form of engraving, it is present in several places in particular on one of the large stones placed of song in front of the entry of the monument. This symbol would nevertheless have been carved 2500 years before the Celtic presence in Ireland.
A Triskel representing three legs rotating around a central axis occupied by a human head, counter-clockwise, has been present on the flag of Sicily since 1285. This symbol also exists since 1931 on the flag of the Isle of Man with the same representation, also in the center of the flag but, instead of being naked, the legs are armed.
The same symbol also appears in the Japanese Tomoe. A tomoe is an ancient heraldic symbol of Japan. It is a whirlpool or vortex, with three branches facing right or left.
Like the swastika, the Triskel has also been used as a symbol by Nazi organizations that claimed to be Nordic in inspiration.
What is the meaning of the triskel?
The symbolism of the Triskel or Triskelion
According to archaeologists and historians, the meaning of the Triskel is primarily solar, structured on the number 3.
It is a cyclic and active symbol.
The symbolism of the number 3
The Triskel represents the law of the trinity. This law allows the creative principle to manifest itself in its creation. The law of Trinity is found in the Celtic religion and in all religions and in many philosophies in general because it is inescapable.
● Number representing the Holy Trinity, it is also the number of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity.
● Number of the man because this one is composed of a body, a soul and a spirit.
● Symbol of the compass.
● Perfect number according to the Chinese.
● Favorable number associated with childbirth and birth.
● Sacred number of the woman among the Mayans.
● Expresses totality, probably because there are three dimensions to time: past, present and future.
● For the Egyptians, 3 is the number of the cosmos, which has three elements: heaven, earth and duat (the area surrounding the intermediate world between the earth and the heavenly spirits).
What are the 3 elements of the triskel?
The Triskel could thus represent several elements:
● The three points of the sun's horizon movement: sunrise, zenith and sunset.
● The stages of the life cycle: birth, life, death.
● The different states of a single being namely "wakefulness", "sleep" and "dream".
● Expression of the mother earth in its 3 vital phases: youth, middle age and old age.
● The three dynamic elements: water, air, fire. The earth is the center of it.
● The flowing time: past, present, and future
● The 3 phases of the lunar cycle: the waxing moon, the full moon, and the waning moon.
● 1+1=3: the male and female principle that unite to give life
The ancients codified their knowledge in circles; the circle of the Gods and Goddesses, the circle of the totemic animals, the circle of the colors, the circle of the winds, the circle of the trees, the circle of the minerals...Three circles are necessary for the awareness of the human with the different forms of the divine (the terrestrial divine and the air divine). The Triskel is one of these primary circles, one of these three circles without which one cannot begin an approach to understanding this world.
It is found in many religious buildings.
The Triskel, symbol of good luck and life
The very shape of the Triskel as a wheel also reminds us that it is a principle of life linked to the fundamental notion of natural cycles: life, death, rebirth.
This is what nature shows us through the magic of its seasons.
It links us to a symbolism of fertility and fecundity. This is what we find in the spirals that compose it. This aspect linked to the mother earth is very important.
The spiral shape of the branches of the Triskel is a symbol of life, dynamism and enthusiasm in opposition to everything that is straight and seems to be frozen. It is therefore the movement, the life. In Breton, it means the "three rays". Some people compare it to the sun, because it looks with its three branches in the three directions and seems to watch the universe.
A universal symbol of movement and the cycle of life, the Triskel combines the harmony of sacred geometry with a symbolism that links us to the laws of nature. Somehow it is the link between the forces of the earth and the celestial and cosmic forces.
Positive Triskel vs. negative Triskel: does the sense of rotation of the Triskel matter?
I talked about the subject in my article on the swastika ("Why Hitler Used the Swastika").
The Triskel and the swastika are similar in shape and the pattern is done in both directions. This pattern represents a positive or negative circular activation of energy in motion and can be used to promote it.
When the circles of the Triskel turn to the left, in a depression direction (senestrogyre), it will rather disperse the energy. When the circles turn to the right (dextrogyre), anticyclonic direction, it will energize. We find here the symbolism of the Celtic war dances which always begin by turning to the left, a manifestation of challenge and hostility, but which always end up to the right, a sign of victory. In the same way, Breton dances always turn to the right to symbolize joy, gladness.
The initial direction of rotation of the Triskel
To support this, I found a very interesting numismatic survey about the Triskel. And here is what it says:
Traditionally, the initial triskel is associated with a symbolism of solar origin according to a reasoning that is easy to understand. An observer located in the northern hemisphere and who wishes to follow with his eyes the course of the sun in the sky must turn towards the south. He then sees this race from East to West, therefore from his left to his right. For him, such a race in the sky is dextrogyratory just like the rotation of the wheel produced by the legs of the triskel. So the chariot of the divinized Sun always rolls in the sky from East to West, therefore from the left to the right of this observer.
We are expatriate Bretons. And in Brittany, well, we see the Triskel turning to the left almost always... And everyone reproduces it this way on jewelry or other. It's a pity because the meaning is really important from an energy point of view.
But, we realize that this story of rotation is not so simple that the interpretations diverge on the subject.
So, the easiest way is to let your intuition guide you! And that's why we now offer you the Triskel with both directions of rotation.
The terms positive Triskel and negative Triskel should not be taken literally. They simply refer to the direction of rotation of the symbol.
How to use the Triskel and where to place a Triskel in the home?
● The Triskel is a very effective symbol to rebalance our energy state.
● Placing a positive Triskel under your food, drinks, seeds and food supplements helps to energize them.
● You can place your stones, minerals on this symbol to cleanse and recharge them.
● You can also hang a positive Triskel on the wall to reharmonize certain rooms or stick a triskel sticker on the window.
● For a use in therapy, a priori it is possible to operate on the body with the 2 polarities of the Triskel according to the care to be lavished: positive rotation to dynamize or negative to disperse.
Why wear a Triskel?
The Triskel is a very effective symbol to reactivate your consciousness to the reality of the principle of the law of Trinity. This symbol is also an excellent rebalancer that can act on your energetic state.
Triskel tattoo: good or bad idea?
We don't want to mislead you by the choice of this symbol. If you are not convinced by the direction of rotation to adopt for your tattoo, don't!
The reason for your choice may be one of the reasons mentioned above, or it may be your own intuition. That's why I always insist that you follow your intuition, rather than fashion or other effects.
And you, tell us everything!
Do you usually use the Triskel? And if so, in which direction of rotation?