The most common interpretation of the heart is that of love and romance, yet the heart has also been used in some rituals to strengthen relationships.
Symbolically the heart signifies love, charity, joy and compassion. The heart is really an upside down triangle and is actually how it evolved. Upside down triangles signify the element of water which is symbolic if intuition, motion, emotion and transition.
The Celtic heart
The Celtic heart is most common among females as it represents love that is so strong that they want to show it outwardly which itself is symbolic of caring. The heart could also signify the qualities of tough love or love of nature even though this type of love is not easy to express outwardly. Impersonal love is translated as affection for another, love for a country, goal or ideal. The Celtic heart symbol is able to represent either romantic love, friendship love or even impersonal love.
Love Knot Tattoos
Most commonly though, the Celtic heart tattoo represents the union of souls. Celtic hearts are also known as love knot tattoos which have become popular in Celtic tattoo design.
The Celts used love knots for decoration and there is an almost endless range, yet perhaps the most well known love knots are those used for ornamentation in Christian icons and manuscripts.
The Celtic love knot first appeared in about the 3rd century AD and can trace its origins back to the Roman Empire. The ancient Celts perfected their use of key patterns, spirals, and step patterns in their designs before the Christian era. After the acceptance of Christianity, these designs changed and were used to decorate many Christian manuscripts. These early Celtic interwoven cords were called plaits. Plait work came before knot work. There are eight elementary knots that can be found in these knot work patterns.
Love knot patterns
Lovers exchange rings formed in the designs of ancient Celtic love knots as a way of admitting their feelings to one another. These rings can take many forms from circles to squares and even intricately patterned serpents. The serpent love knot is a design taken from the ancient monks and stands for eternal life.
A typical love knot however is demonstrated by two intertwining overhand knots. This is perhaps the simplest form of love knot. Ovals or spirals signify eternity of life. The oval knot is possibly the oldest and can be traced back many centuries.
There are many other symbols represented in knot patterns that signify love. The four love knot for instance. As suggested this design comprises of four distinct circles that interlock on another. Each circle is meant to represent the four seasons. The lines surrounding the circles are meant to signify love.
Their also exists a triple circle which is meant to embody the three forces of earth. It also represents unity. This triple circle design can also be found in the Celtic round love knot which is formed in the shape of the sun. This design bears the addition of three interlocking circles that also depict nature’s forces which are earth, water and fire.
Although circles were important to the Celts as they signified no beginning and no end they also used other designs to symbolize love and unity. The square love for instance. Much the same as the circle this design depicts love and loyalty.
Symbolism of love knots
Celtic love knots consist of complete endless loops in which images of animals are commonly seen can be seen worked in the cords, or plaits, no loose end is ever left on a strand unless it is going to be worked into a spiral.
Celtic love knots are oftentimes difficult to translate perhaps their meanings should be looked for at a deeper level. The repeated crossings often depict the physical and the spiritual and these are shown in the interlacing of the knots. The strand that has no beginning and no ending represents permanent and continuing life, love and faith.
Many of the ancient Celtic knot designs consist of several closed paths woven together which can be seen as a metaphor for how life weaves together. It is these Celtic knot designs that are referred to as love knots.
What makes this artwork so entirely fascinating is that it carries a secret language while many of the myths surround it carry with them a message in truth. Keeping these ancient Celtic symbols alive today is only made possible by those who study the old traditions.
Tim Lazaro is a Celtic Symbols enthusiast. For more great tips and advice on Celtic Tattoo Design visit http://www.allaboutcelticsymbols.com.