Celtic Knots Designs - Where do they come from? What do they mean?

With only one thread used in each design, Celtic Knots are a series of knots - complete oops, that are overlapped and interwoven with no start or finish.

Referred to as the mystic or endless Knot, the Celtic knot is a significant symbol. Its symbolism involves beginnings and endings but also according to another interpretation, no beginning and no end - to remind us that our spirits are timeless in nature, interconnected in eternity. 

So when I took pencil to paper to begin design my logo for www.ritapalma.com.au, it was the Celtic Knot that I was drawn to and worked with -  what for its mystery and of the infinity.  Thinking about it… I actually began writing the prayer cards first and then designing what these prayer cards should look like. I didn’t want them to look ‘religious’ as such as I hoped our younger generation will find them attractive enough to take and read but I did want them to have a spiritual look about them – after all, I wrote them to act as prayer cards. You will notice that on each prayer card is a photo that I took of a stained-glass window from a Church I could access as COVID had begun just as I began Rita Palma.  The boarder around each window has swirls that I drew and from there began my intrigue with Celtic knots. And so..  here I drew my inspiration for my logo for www.ritapalma.com.au which evolved into scented candles.  Now… back to this article!

Used in designs like art, clothing, cutlery, candle jars and jewellery, these Celtic Knots in their many designs yet always recognisable have come to represent eternity in loyalty, faith, friendship and even love.

Interestingly, when we think about the Celtic knot, automatically we assume it originated as a Celtic symbol. While there is evidence this symbol showed up in Celtic art in the latter part of the 5th century, the spirals used in the designs have actually been recorded as far back as 600 BC.

In fact, it is thought the designs can be traced back to the ancient Romans, and even further, to Byzantine Constantinople. However, it was not until 650 AD, that this intricate knot was fully developed and used to create biblical manuscripts by Gaelic monks in Ireland, as well as Britain.

In early Christian manuscripts, we can find some of the best examples of the Celtic Knot, for instance, the Lindisfarne Gospels (from the late 7th century) and the 8th century Book of Kells both incorporate these designs. 

Often, initial letters were decorated with Celtic knots, and these knots were even used to decorate the apostles’ hair. 

To see some of the greatest examples of Celtic knots, one must look no further than many of the Irish high crosses or Celtic crosses that were created and erected from the 8th to the 12th century. 

These crosses have biblical designs incorporating Celtic patterns that include spirals and knot work, as well as key patterns along with animal patterns at times.

There are many different styles of Celtic Knots – some such symbols have even long been used as charms to help ward off ailments or personal problems or setbacks.

The Rita Palma Celtic Knot that you see on my website www.ritapalma.com.au and Instagram @ritapalmacandles is a stylized Trinity Knot. Arguably the best known Celtic knot and is also called the Triquetra. It was used to symbolize and honour the Mother, Maiden and Crone of the neo-pagan triple goddess. It signifies the three life-cycles of a woman in relation to the phases of the moon. Today, its three pointed design has come to be recognised as a symbol for 'The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit'.

And so, here is a brief introduction to Celtic Knots.  There are some many variations – all beautiful.  Personally when I see the knots in art and especially in jewellery I can’t help to think how interesting they look and the time and labour the artist or jeweller would have taken to make them come alive.