Celtic Symbols, Knotwork, Music & Magic

symbology ~ books ~ Tarot & Divination Cards ~ cds

celtic knots

In ancient times the seven Celtic nations were Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Brittany and Galicia. Ancient Celtic art was full of interlacing patterns, elaborate knotwork, spirals, animal forms and zoomorphics. The Celts lived close to the natural world but also had a strong spiritual sense. The Celts believed in the "oneness" of nature and that nature had the ability to transform itself on all levels of existance. Typical Celtic designs have a flowing, interconnected quality, from "endless knots" to spirals to zoomorphic animal designs in which body parts of a single animal or multiple animals are joined together in graceful knot-like configurations.

Celtic Knotwork
The intricate weave and flow of Celtic knotwork symbolizes the endless flow of the life force through the cosmos through birth, death and rebirth and the interconnectedness of all things.

The triquetra (pronounced try-KET-ra, Latin for "three cornered") is a Celtic knot with a triangular design symbolizing all trinities including the Triple Goddess (Maiden, Mother & Crone); the eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth, and the realms of Air, Earth and Sea which, to the ancient Celts, represented the entire Universe. To Christians, the triquetra has been used to symbolize the Holy Trinity (Father, Son & Holy Ghost) In fact, many cultures and religions have considered the number three to be holy or divine for millenia. A symbol of three interlocking circles looking somewhat like a three-leaf clover without out stem has been found on religious statues in India that were made 5000 years ago.

zoomorphic lion Zoomorphics
These are animal images that are twisted upon themselves, with tails ears and body parts weaving in and out of other parts, much like regular knotwork interlace.
triskele Celtic spiral symbol Triskele (Celtic Spiral)
The spiral is an ancient symbol reflecting the universal pattern of growth and evolution. The spiral pattern appears again and again in the natural world from the milky way galaxy to snail shells. The living spiral does not begin or end, it is an ongoing process of innocence, discovery, community, and the essence that connects all things. A common Celtic spiral type pattern is the Triskele representing to the ancient Celts, the triad of Sky/Earth/Sea and/or Triple Gods/Goddesses and to Christians, the Holy Trinity.

celtic knots

The Celts on DVD

The Celts television series The Celts ~ Rich Traditions & Ancient Myths

"The Celts" gave Irish singer Enya her first popular showcase, but there's far more to this epic documentary series than lushly ethereal music. Writer-narrator Frank Delaney explores the mysterious ancient Celtic society in 6 hourly episodes: "The Man with the Golden Shoes" begins with the Celts' earliest origins in Austria, studying burial remains to reveal a fiercely independent people, driven to expansion and exploration but failing to unite against the dominant forces of Rome. Subsequent episodes include "The Rise of Nations" in the British Isles leads to Celtic strongholds in Wales, Scotland, Ireland & Brittany; "A Pagan Trinity" surveys Celtic mythology & the transition (through cultural cross-pollination) from Druid priesthoods to Celtic-influenced Christian missionaries; "The Open-Ended Curve" illuminates the development of Celtic art, music & literature; "The Final Conflict" explores the fading & subsequent revival, of Celtic languages, and how this history is reflected in present-day definitions of "Celtic"; and "The Legacy" examines the tenacious efforts to preserve Celtic language & culture in modern society. Follow their fascinating story from their earliest roots 2,500 years ago through the flowering of their unique culture and their enduring heritage today, enhanced with stunning reconstructions of iron-age villages, dramatizations of major historical events & visits to modern Celtic lands. This fascinating look back at the legends & legacy of the Celtic heritage is underscored by the hauntingly beautiful music of Enya.

Celtic Music

Celtic Twilight Volume 1
The first Celtic Twilight CD combines traditional Celtic whistles, acoustic strings, and bagpipes with contemporary keyboards. Gentle, lilting and romantic, these songs are the music of the ocean and rolling green hills, of that magical pink-sky time of evening when the lines between myth and reality blur in a most pleasing fashion. This collection of 14 pieces includes songs from some of the best Celtic-inspired musicians around including Loreena McKennitt, Bill Douglas, Jane Grimes, Steven McDonald, Mychael Danna, John Boswell and Alasdair Fraser. Also check out Volume 3: Lullabies, Volume 4: Celtic Planet There are also some nice songs on Volumes 2 & 5, but for me they don't hold together as well as the others.

One of the first Irish bands to fuse traditional folk music with a pop sound. Members of the Brennan and Duggan families make up the band, taking their name from the Irish Gaelic for ‘family from Dore’ or ‘Clann As Dobhar.’ Their first album, 'Clannad' was released in 1973 earning fans at home & in Germany. 1982's 'Fuaim', featured sister Enya who eventually struck out on her own. Clannad's songs have been featured in many films: 'Theme From Harry's Game' was released in the winter of 1982. The 'Magical Ring' album followed in 1983; by now brothers Pol & Ciaran were writing evocative & powerful music. This was furthered on 'Legend' a soundtrack commissioned for the television series 'Robin Of Sherwood' in 1984. One of their most mesmeric records. 'Macalla', released in 1985, featured more electronic arrangements, while Maire's voice was reaching the extremes of joy & melancholy. U2's Bono sang a duet with Maire on 'In A Lifetime'. In 1989 'PastPresent' brought their music to an even bigger audience. The BBC commissioned 'Atlantic Realm' which was followed in the same year by their first soundtrack work on an animation, 'Angel And The Soldier Boy'. Maire, Padriag & Noel were writing more now, supplementing Ciaran's work & Ciaran was also honing his skills as a producer. 'Anam' made the top 20 in 1990. The band's music was increasingly in demand for soundtrack work, appearing in Patriot Games (1992), Last Of The Mohicans, (1992) & Message In A Bottle (1999). 'Banba' once again gave Clannad a Top 5 hit in the UK in 1993 & marked a momentous anniversary; 20 years together as a professional group. They released the albums 'Lore' (1996) & the Grammy Award winning 'Landmarks' (1998) again proving that no other act had such a distinctive imprint, such a variety of style & tone. It was time, they sensed, to pursue other projects, with the full knowledge that family business would resume in the near future. And in fact they just performed 3 brilliant live shows in Dublin in January, 2011.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley Irish Celtic CDLoreena McKennitt
The ancient Celts probably started from as far away as India before being driven to the western margins of Europe in the British Isles. With her refined harpestry, angelic voice & melodious compositions, Loreena McKennitt has infused Celtic sounds with a mix of influences as diverse as Moroccan, Greek, Turkish, Indian, Native American & Italian. But her latest CD, The Wind That Shakes The Barley is 9 tracks of pure Irish-Celtic magic. If you saw the The Mists of Avalon miniseries you also heard some of Loreena's hypnotically beautiful Celtic music. Her first album Elemental (1985) combines traditional Celtic folk songs & classic romantic poems by W.B. Yeats & William Blake set to her own original music. The Visit blends traditional tunes with even more original compositions & also adds a mysterious middle eastern sound to the mix. For those who enjoy worldbeat fusion music, try An Ancient Muse (Celtic+Mediterranean), The Book of Secrets (eclectiCeltic+Middle Eastern sounds & rhythms) and Parallel Dreams (Celtic+Native American rhythms). And the best way to describe The Mask and the Mirror is to say it reminds me of a magical Renaissance Faire :-)

celtic band from Titanic Gaelic Storm
Remember the music that was playing during the steerage party in Titanic? That was Gaelic Storm, who on their self-titled debut present an engaging mix of traditional music, dance music, and songs, all performed with infectuous energy and enthusiasm. (They landed the movie part while still drinking pints and playing weekly at O'Brien's, a pub in their adopted home-town of Santa Monica, California.) Just try to NOT get up and dance to this music...or hoot and and howl and stomp your feet loudly in between gulps of Guinness :-) Their follow up CDs, Herding Cats, Tree and How Are We Getting Home are excellent too.

Celtic Woman Irish singers
Celtic Woman
Irish music for St Patrick's Day

Celtic Woman is renowned for singing inspirational melodies and heartwarming songs that stir fans of all ages and cultures. The 5 member Irish female ensemble (vocalists Chloe, Lisa, Alex, Lynn and Celtic Violinist Mairead) under the musical direction of David Downes, categorically defined a distinct genre by putting a modern twist on the Celtic sound. A true celebration of Ireland, Celtic Woman's unforgettable signature style can be enjoyed by all on their PBS TV special, concert tour, CD and live DVD "Songs from the Heart". They have recorded 21 albums and their debut CD Celtic Woman is still one of my favorites.

Pagan Celtic Music Emerald Rose

Emerald Rose is one of the top Celtic folk-rock bands in the Southeast US. A rich "world fusion" sound with influences ranging from the Chieftains to Jethro Tull has given this band a ten year career and national following. The band's original lyrics address everything from Celtic myth to modern science, often with a touch of humor. Blending vocal harmonies, pennywhistle and world percussion with driving guitars and bass, their sound is "rock-n-reel" but not ear-splitting. "Fire In The Head" is a collection of some of their best songs played live. Other standout CDs are "Bending Tradition", "Emerald Crescent", the live recording "That Night In The Garden" and "Archives of Ages to Come"

Celtic Music: A Complete Guide
by June Skinner Sawyers

celtic knots

Celtic Tarot Card & Divination Decks

The Sacred Circle Tarot: A Celtic Pagan Journey
Deck & book
by Anna Franklin & Paul Mason

The Celtic Dragon Tarot Kit
Deck & book
by C.J. Conway & Lisa Hunt

The Druidcraft Tarot
Deck & book
by Philip Carr-Gomm & Bill Worthington

The Druid Animal Oracle
Deck & book
by Philip Carr-Gomm, Stephanie Carr-Gomm & Bill Worthington

Books: Celtic Art & Design

Celtic Design: Knotwork
The Secret Method of the Scribes
by Aidan Meehan

101 Celtic Knotwork Designs
by Courtney Davis

How To Draw Celtic Knotwork: A Practical Handbook
by Andy Sloss

Celtic Knotwork Designs
by Sheila Sturrock

Celtic Designs for Artists and Craftspeople CD-ROM and Book
Dover Electronic Clip Art Collection

Celtic Art: From Its Beginnings to the Book of Kells
by Ruth Megaw & Vincent Megaw

A Celtic Life: Pathworking, Traditions & Magic

Celtic Book of the Dead
boxed set: cards, book & spread cloth with Celtic symbols
A Guide for Your Voyage to the Celtic Otherworld
by Caitlin Matthews

The Celtic Tree Oracle: A System of Divination
boxed set: cards & book
by Colin Murray

The Celtic Wisdom Tarot Cards: Book and Deck
by Caitlin Matthews

The Celtic Dragon Tarot
by D. J. Conway & Lisa Hunt

Druid Animal Oracle Cards with Book
by Philip Carr-gomm

The Spiral of Memory and Belonging
A Celtic Path of Soul and Kinship
by Frank Henderson Maceowen

The Encyclopaedia of Celtic Myth and Legend
A Definitive Sourcebook of Magic, Vision, and Lore
by John Matthews, Caitlin Matthews

The Mist-Filled Path
Celtic Wisdom for Exiles, Wanderers, and Seekers
by Frank Henderson Maceowen & Tom Cowan

Druid Magic: The Practice of Celtic Wisdom
by Maya Magee Sutton & Nicholas R. Mann

Celtic Traditions: Druids, Faeries, and Wiccan Rituals
by Sirona Knight

Clan of the Goddess: Celtic Wisdom and Ritual for Women
by C. C. Brondwin

The Lore of the Bard: A Guide to the Celtic and Druid Mysteries
by Arthur Rowan

Gypsy and Celtic-inspired jewelry, including Charmed Triquetra Designs
Gypsy Cat Jewelry

celtic knots

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Thanks to AON for the first Celtic knot illustration & zoomorph