Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Celtic and Irish Cross Tattoo Symbolism

Celtic Cross and Irish Cross Symbolism

Symbolism of the Celtic Cross

The Celtic Cross was a symbol of the four quarters
North, which represents wisdom, stability, and winter
East, for knowledge, learning, and spring
South for vitality, passion, strength, and summer
West, representing intuition, emotion, and inner knowledge
The circle connecting the four arms of the Celtic cross symbolizes the unity and the eternal cycle of life and rebirth.

Also it's four arms were perfect for denoting
The four elements
The four directions of the compass
The four parts of man - mind, body, soul and heart. 
The addition of the ring around the cross has many explanations, including sun worship

The Celtic Cross had it's evolution in the British Isles, with it's earliest form dating to approximately the ninth century and appearing mostly in Ireland. This early version is called a recumbent cross-slab, and they lied flat rather than standing upright. Eventually these made their way into an upright position (now called erect cross-slabs), and acquired a slightly rounded top. Both versions were often decorated with key patterns, interlaced knotwork, and spirals

The celtic cross then underwent another change. Extraneous rock was carved away from the head of the slab, leaving the rock with the outlined shape of a tall cross, usually on a wider base. Because the cross form was in effect "freed" from the rock now, these types of crosses were commonly called erect free-standing crosses. From these, the arms of the cross eventually became extended beyond the ring of the cross, and the inner quadrants between the rings and the arms were cut away or recessed from the rest of the cross design. The free-standing crosses were elaborately made, and often composed of several pieces of stone. A large cross could have been made of up to four pieces of stone (the base, the shaft, the head, and the upper cross arm), held together by mortise and tenon joints carved into the stone. 

An Irish legend tells how St. Patrick created the first Celtic cross by drawing a circle over a Latin cross to incorporate a pagan moon goddess symbol. 

For an Irish Catholic, the circle in the Celtic cross may be a symbol of eternity and the endlessness of God's love. It can even represent a halo emanating from Christ.

The celtic cross and Irish cross shape itself has been widely used by many ancient peoples, long before the arrival of Christianity. 

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