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Celtic Knots

Deciphering Celtic Knot Patterns

by Marc Choyt 26 Dec 2023 0 Comments

We are often asked, "What is the meaning or symbolism in this Celtic engagement/wedding ring?" We start first by recognizing that Celtic knots are composed of various lines, weaving to create shape and form. You can understand the meaning of the knots in Celtic rings by engaging with the meaning of these forms.

Sometimes, it is helpful to meditate on a design, asking what its meaning is for you. Yet even without the contemplative element, gaining insight is not as hard or as complex as it might seem. Circles, squares, triangles and crosses that create the motifs in Celtic rings actually have certain functions. Here’s some basic information that might get you started.


The Line:
It seems pretty obvious that everything starts with an individual point of view — a line or vector that follows a trajectory toward a certain destination. Lines are the basis of any Celtic design. In Celtic jewelry, a line can be straight, curved, or irregular. It can have an ending, or it can connect with other lines and be endless, representing eternality. Lines in Celtic jewelry design are the elements from which knots in wedding and engagement rings are made.




Cross motifs:
From the line, the most basic element of any piece of Celtic jewelry knot work is the crossing of two lines. Any time that two separate paths cross, you have the possibility of a new perspective. Look at the lines in a piece and decide in a general sense whether the pattern flows with harmony. This suggests a rich and potent creative discord. For example, in this ring, the simple crossing of the lines suggest harmony and balance, the coming together of two.



Circle motifs:
The most basic knot is circular or has parts of circles. Consider, now, what a circle symbolizes. Look around you right now with your round eyes and see all that is in the form of the circle. We speak of a circle of friends and the cycle of the days and seasons. Certainly circle teaches about equality and community. Circles are cohesive wholes that allow life to exist as it is. 



Wave motifs:
Parts of circles — the arcs — form wave-like patterns. Waves are fundamental expressions of all that exists. Particle physics states that matter itself exists in waves. On a more basic level, remember what it is like to be in the ocean and feel the steady rhythm of waves. Waves represent steady, regular movement and flow over time.




Celtic Nature motifs:
Not all designs from the Celts were knots. The movement and flow of water, or the curl of roots and vines, were common in Celtic motifs. Some of these designs seem particularly contemporary today, even though they are ancient.

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