Triskele

January 31, 2022 6 min read

Triskele | A Meaningful Symbol  | Viking Heritage

The Triskele: a symbol that is still very meaningful today!

The Triskel is a well known and recognized symbol, at this time. Many people have already seen it or know the history of the symbol! Although some say that it is Breton, you should know that its origin goes back to a much more distant era. But don't panic, in this article, you will know everything about this symbol that fascinates more than one! Moreover, whether it is in tattoo or in drawing, the Triskèle has real symbolism! Ready to learn more? Let's discover together the Triskèle, its history, its origins, but also its meanings! So, let's go !

What is the meaning of the Triskele?

 

The Triskel is a symbol that we have known for years. Between Viking and Celtic, the war is not really finished to know to which belongs this symbol. The history of the Triskel is quite complicated, but we will see it later in this article.

Nevertheless, it is important to say that it can be found in different forms of writing: Triskel, Triskell, Triskelion or Triskèle. It is a symbol that represents three legs (if we talk about a Triskel of the first type) or three spirals (if we talk about the Triskel of the second type). But it can also be related to any other symbol with three geometrically similar elements.

It is also important to know that the Triskel can turn in two different directions:

  • Dextrogyre: which turns to the right and therefore represents the positive side.
  • Sénestrogyre: which turns to the left and therefore represents the negative side.

But it is legitimate to ask whether the meaning of the Triskel is really important or not. And as surprising as it may seem, opinions differ:

  • Some will say that it makes no sense and that it only represents a shamrock.
  • Others say that the Triskel turning to the left is a diurnal symbol and therefore a sign of peace. For the right side, it is possible to say that it is a sign of refusal and war.

What are the meanings of the Triskel?

It is also important to know that the Triskel has different symbolism. At the time of the Vikings, but also in other civilizations, the number three represented many different elements. We have made a list of these so that you can easily find your way around:

  • At the Celts: it represents the three principal Gods who were only Lug, the primordial god, Dagda, but also Ogme. It is also necessary to know that it represents the trinitarian character of the single goddess at the latter.
  • From a social point of view, it could also represent the three social classes which are the priestly break (that of the druids, the bards, but also the vates), the warrior class as well as the productive class which represents the inhabitants of a village.
  • Note also that the Triskeles could also represent the three elements: water, earth and fire.
  • It is also possible to see time passing through the three branches of the Triskel: the past, the present and the future.
  • When you see a rotating Triskel, you should know that it can also represent the sun.
  • The Triskel could also represent the three age groups: youth, adulthood, but also old age.
  • Again, the Triskel could be seen as a religious symbol and thus represent the Holy Trinity.
  • It is also important to know that the Triskele could also represent the three worlds of the human: the physical, the spiritual and the divine.

What is the history of this unique symbol?

Triskele | A Meaningful Symbol  | Viking Heritage

But before we go any further, let's tell you about the history of the Triskel. This way you will really understand what it is all about. It is a very ancient symbol. Indeed, it was possible to find it in various civilizations, but the first appearance of the Triskel was on the Megalithic temples of Malta.

It is also possible to see it on the Neolithic tombs of Newgrange in Ireland. Newgrange is one of the most popular archaeological sites in Ireland. And this can impress many: it is simply a circular tomb that has large stone walls.

In other words, it is perfectly possible to see it from far. Let us also note that when one enters inside this tomb, a long corridor is drawn with small rooms. Human remains could besides be found inside these last ones.

It is important to know that the entrance of the tomb is oriented with the rising sun in winter. Thus the light is entirely on the tomb, which was very important at the time.

Nevertheless, the inhabitants of the time were not Celts. But the Triskel was indeed present on this tomb. This symbol dates from about 5200 years before our era.

Nevertheless, the Bretons and Celts are pleased to say that it is a symbol created by them. Indeed, it is used in these civilizations between the 5th and 1st before Christ. Nevertheless, as we have seen in the previous paragraph, the Triskel would have existed long before this civilization.

But it is important to know that it is a symbol that has remained popular throughout its life. Indeed, following the use of the latter among the Bretons, it fell into oblivion. Yes, other symbols were created and the Triskèle was not really part of it.

It is under the Merovingian era that it reappeared. Nevertheless, with the arrival of the Middle Ages, it was quickly forgotten.

It will thus be necessary to make a good until the 20th century to see again the Triskèle! It is in 1914, that the Triskèle was rediscovered in Brittany. It is certainly from there that comes the idea that this symbol is more Celtic than Viking. And for good reason, the Triskèle has been used many times in different nationalities. The Breton national party finally made it its symbol in 1940.

Later, in the 1970s, the Triskel also got a new lease of life! Yes, Celtic music made its appearance bringing this unforgettable symbol out of its tavern. It is partly the artist Alan Stivell who wanted to make this symbol known in all Brittany, but also in all France.

At present, the Triskèle is very associated with the Breton culture. Moreover, it is one of the elements that tourists wish to see when they come to spend a few days in Brittany.

Some will say that the Triskèle deserves to be Breton, only because they reinvest, but also because this symbol could be used in the current culture. It is also necessary that the Bretons have a real attachment to this symbol and that one cannot take that away from them.

To answer the question, no it is not a Breton symbol, nor even a Celtic one, but it would certainly have been forgotten again if the Celts had not paid any attention to it.

The Triskele and the Triquetra: difficult to find your way!

Triskele | A Meaningful Symbol  | Viking Heritage

 

If you have read our article on the Triquetra, you must certainly see that there is a real resemblance between these two symbols. Indeed, in both, it is perfectly possible to see the three symbolic branches, but also the circular movement of the latter.

Moreover, it is important to note that the Triskeles as the Triquetra had a real symbolism in the religious field, but also pagan. And when we study the meanings of these two symbols, we can notice that they are rather close too. We can find, in particular, the Holy Trinity or the symbolism of the Gods, which is not negligible!

The Triskel in popular culture: a much used symbol!

Nowadays, the Triskel is a very popular symbol in the popular culture, since the Bretons made it rise from its ashes. Here are some examples where you can easily find a Triskel:

  • This is a very popular tattoo. Indeed, many people who appreciate the Celtic or Viking culture wear this type of tattoo. It is also possible to find it in the form of drawings, but also in jewelry. In other words, it is a very used symbol in the current artistic field.
  • Some flags also have their Triskel. Indeed, we can quote for example that of Sicily or that of the Isle of Man.
  • It is perfectly possible to find this symbol in popular culture, and especially on television. You can see it in the series "Marvel's: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D". But the series "Merlin" also has its symbolism of the Triskele through the episodes.

As you can see, the Triskèle has a very strong symbolism. Nevertheless, the origins, at the present time, are still unclear. Indeed, many researchers are still working on the subject to learn more. However, the next time you come across a Breton who claims the Triskel as a Celtic symbol, you will be able to share your culture with him!

It is also possible to see this symbol both in Brittany and in Britain, during the Celtic era, but also pre-Celtic. In other words, they would have almost the same origin and would have been used both by the same civilizations.

Moreover, it should also be noted that the Triskèle and the Triquetra are two symbols very much used in the popular culture, at the present time. They are not about to be forgotten soon!