Cultures all over the globe are filled with meaningful symbols that most of the time attract our curiosity. Find out about the powerful symbols and meanings of Celtic, Viking and Japanese culture, which you have seen but don’t know what they stand for.
Celtic mythology is a realm marked by mysterious and strange looking signs. Here are some of the Celtic symbols and meanings that you might find interesting.
The word is a Greek term, which means “three-legged. ” If you look closely at the sign, it does look like three legs running. The meaning of this Celtic symbol stands for competition and the progress of man.
The word comes from Latin and means “three-cornered” and represents a holy symbol with many meanings. It is a symbol composed of three interlocked Pisces, stressing on the intersection of three circles. Most often, it’s used as a symbol for the Holy Trinity and used by the Celtic Christian Church. Sometimes, it can be found as three interlaced fish.
The triple spiral is a symbol found in many Celtic tombs and drawn as one continuous line, implying rebirth or resurrection. The theory of its meaning comes from the fact that many of these drawings were in places where they catch the first sun rays on the solstice. They appear to have been placed there intentionally.
Celtic Tree of Life
The Tree was an important part of the early Celtic spirituality. For the Celts, the tree was a source of living, a bearer of food, a shelter and fuel provider for cooking and warmth. Without the existence of trees, living would have been almost impossible.
Celtic stories say that trees were the ancestors of mankind, beings of wisdom who created the alphabet, the calendar and the entrance to the land of the Gods.
Many consider it a good luck charm, but the shamrock has a much deeper meaning. The Druids believed that it represented a three in one concept of the three dominions on the planet, sky and sea and the ages of humans and the stages of the moon. In the Celtic folklore, the Shamrock stands as a symbol against evil. It is a belief that has been carried till the present day, as the four-leafed clover is used as a good luck charm.
A Celtic cross represents a cross with a ring that surrounds the intersection. The symbol is associated with the Celtic Christianity, even though it has much older origins. Crosses like such are part of large Celtic art. A Celtic cross, standing, made out of stone and usually with lots of ornaments, is called a high cross or an Irish Cross. In Ireland, a popular myth was that the Celtic cross was brought by Saint Patrick or Saint Declan while he was converting the pagan Irish people.
The Green Man
The Green Man is believed to be an ancient Celtic symbol. In Celtic mythology, he is the God of Spring and Summer. He is believed to disappear and come back every year, century after century, enacting death and resurrection and the circle of life. The legend of Sir Gawain, The Green Knight, is an obvious image of the Green Man from the Middle Ages. Gawain is wearing a green helmet, green armor and a green shield but also a green horse. After he was beheaded, he continued to live.
Symbols and Meanings belonging to Vikings
Vikings have had a lot of symbols with plenty of sacred or mystical meanings. Many of them have very interesting looks.
The Triple Horn of Odin
This Viking symbol is made out of three interlocked drinking horns and usually worn or displayed as a proof of commitment to the modern faith Asatru.
Yggdrasil, the Norse World Ash, is the giant mythic tree that holds together the Nine Worlds or lands of existence. The World-ash stands for the Nine Worlds and protected by the Jormungadr serpent. Yggdrasil is one of the plenty variations of the Universal World Tree, known to all the human cultures.
The Julbock, also known as the Yule-goat, is a universal symbol of the winter holidays in the Scandinavian countries. Going back to the pre-Christian times, the Julbock is yet another Pagan Yule symbol taken by the Christian holiday customs. In the pagan Norse religion, a goat represented the conveyance of the gods-early representations of Odin in a goat-drawn cart. That is strangely similar to further portrayals of Santa Claus.
The troll cross is some sort of amulet consisting of a circle of iron crossed at the base. The charm has been worn by early Scandinavian people to protect themselves against trolls and elves. Iron and crosses were believed to be a combination that casts away evil spirits.
The symbol is known as the Valknut, meaning “a knot of slain.” It has been found in stone funerary carvings, which most probably were meant to represent the afterlife. The signs are often found in the art portraying god Odin, and it may represent his power over death.
The Helm of Awe
The Helm of Awe is a protection against spells used by early Vikings. Some legends say that when worn between the eyes, the protective symbol was meant to offer invincibility to the one who wore it or make the enemy fearful.
Thor’s Hammer stands for an ancient Norse symbol and represents the legendary magical weapon of Thor. Also known as Mjolnr, which means “lightning”, it symbolized Thor’s power over Lightning and Thunder. The Hammer or Thor was said always to come back after it has been thrown.
A Thor Hammer amulet has been often worn by believers who thought that it would protect them. That practice continued even after the Norse population had converted to Christianity. Modern times use it as a sign of recognition of members belonging to the Asatru faith, and is symbolic of Norse heritage.
Japanese symbols and meanings
Japan is another country with many powerful symbols related to its national culture and magical beliefs.
Japanese symbols of dragons are very similar to Chinese dragons, with the exception that the Japanese dragon has only three claws or toes, while the Chinese dragon has five. The common dragon has four claws. There are two types of Japanese dragons: one lives in the sky or clouds and the other is found in water or rain. It is believed that dragons are controlling rain, fire and Earth. Most known Japanese words for dragons are ryu and tatsu.
Japanese culture sees butterflies as the souls of the living and the dead and considered to symbolize happiness and longevity.
The carp(koi) represents perseverance and is also a symbol of faithfulness in marriage and good luck. It is often shown in motion, arched upwards with water sprays. This suggests the virtues of a great warrior and is usually associated with the qualities desired in young men.
Starting from the Heian Period, cherry blossoms have been revered by Japanese culture. The brief blooming of the flowers and the fragility of its blossoms has been associated with the transience of life.
In the Japanese symbolism, dragons flies are an emblem of martial success, as several names for the insects are homonyms with words that mean victory. Dragonflies are also a symbol for late summers and early autumns.
Turtles are a complex motif of Japanese culture. Taoism, Hinduism, Confucianism and Buddhism are all beliefs that promote understanding and are all claiming that the turtle helps prop up the world. They also believe that it is a guardian of the northern quadrant of the Universe, together with the snake, and carries its sacred carapace inscriptions. Further reading about Japanese symbolic animals is available at the Japanese Shop.
Many symbols of Japan have been assimilated from China, and Chinese symbols and meanings are widely present in the Japanese culture. Chrysanthemums were believed to have healing powers for excessive drinking, nervousness and debilitating diseases. Chinese culture associates the flower with integrity and endurance.
Final Thoughts About Powerful Symbols
The article covered the most important symbols in the Celtic, Viking and Japanse cultures. Our intention with the article was to keep each symbol concise but also provide as much detail as possible. We hope that the powerful symbols enlightened you about the different cultures.
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