Celtic tattoos are hot right now. Rocks stars have them, movie stars have them, but do you know what separates a real Celtic tattoo from just a “tribal” tattoo? Did you know there was a difference? Here is how to find the perfect, authentic Celtic tattoo.
Good knot work is the first thing to look for when deciding on a Celtic tattoo. A true Celtic knot has not beginning and no end. This symbolizes infinity in many emotions such as love, life, or faith. They are also used for meditation. The popular “Trinity Knot” tattoo is a good example of an unending Celtic knot.
Celts also use symbols in their art to show what part of the world they are from. Shamrocks and harps are used by Irish Celts, the Scottish use the symbol of the thistle, and the red dragon, the leek, and the daffodil stand for those that are Welsh. If you have any Irish, Scottish, or Welsh heritage it may be a good idea to incorporate one of these symbols into your Celtic tattoo.
Other Celtic Symbols
Celts also use other symbols in their art and tattoos. They each have special meanings that should be considered when choosing your tattoo.
Numbers play a big role in Celtic symbolism. Nine was a very powerful number, only matched by twenty-seven, which is nine times three. The number three or a triskel is the symbol of many sacred things in Celt mythology and religion, including the marriage of the sea, the earth, and the sky and the three-layered nature of the human soul. Thirty-three means royalty and honor. Five is the Irish symbol for a family unit. The number seventeen was used as a mark for the passing of the moon and the number of farthest reaches of ancestral memory in the generations of a clan.
The tree of life and the Celtic cross are a merging of the two religions Christianity and Celtic mysticism by the Druid monks in the seventh century. Both are usually interwoven with endless knots.
The Claddagh, the symbol of two linking hands, a crown, and a heart, stand for friendship or love and is often used in symbolizing marriage.
The often misunderstood pentagram is used to stand for the five elements or the five stages of life. These are air, earth, spirit, water, and fire, and birth, youth, adulthood, old age, and death.
A combination of these elements will result in an authentic Celtic tattoo that has lasting beauty and meaning.