Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Celtic Art and symbol of swastika

Today it’s my 820th day in Eire and I am having quite an enjoyable time here. Starting to count? No, not really. I am happy here so time passage does not count ;-)

There is routine in full swing here anyway.
Work, college and college, work. Sleep some time in between.
Books are a good escape from all of it.

I was reading the Art of the Celts last Monday night – by David Sandison

I read a fragment that was really riveting so as usual I went to sleep very late but it was worth it. The piece was on the ancient symbols of swastika and triskeles (I know finally where the Triskel Gallery in Corcaigh took its name from). It was quite brief but to the point and concisely described the origins of the two symbols, their importance for the Celts and they way they would depict the two in their art.

Swastika is thought to be symbol of good luck. It epitomizes Sun and is often called sunwheel or suncross (it is used both clockwise and anticlockwise). For the Celts it was a powerful talisman supposed to protect them from bad spells. An Indo-European symbol, it survives in Hindu and Buddhism and has similar connotations.

Swastika is to be found on Celtic crosses as well – for example on the Kermeria cross from La Tene period. You can find a photo in Sandison's book. The photo posted is courtesy of images

Yesterday just by accident I found an article online about Hitler. So I was surprised to find out that Adolph was the one to design it. It made me really laugh. I will not tell which website but the author was criticized on the forum for not even doing a proper research.

So while browsing the net yesterday I came across lots of websites on swastika (unlike the ignorant author of that article), triskeles and other related subjects ((Pagan beliefs in maiden mother and crone; Celtic Gods and Goddesses: Lugus – god of sun, Cernunnos – god of animals; Irish festivals – Imbolc, Samhain (November 1st – the Feast of the Dead), Beltaine (opposite to Samhain and associated with god of war Belenus, it would take place on the first day of May), Lugnasad – on August 1st, associated with sun god and snamh aoinaigh, which means ritual horse-bathing, horse swimming races))

The Pagan festival of Imbolc, which would take place on the first day of February to celebrate the beginning of spring, has been renamed as Brigit’s Day. It is easy to conclude that Irish missionaries found it to easier to appeal to the Celts and to convert them to Christianity by taking over the old customs and modifying it – changing its meaning to incorporate Christian teachings. Other festivals were also transformed and their Pagan origins are considered folklore not really related to spiritual celebrations nowadays. Still it is good to know Christian holydays stem from older Pagan festivals – that makes lot of sense to me and gives a sense of continuity.

Sandison suggests that the Celts in Ireland had no problem accepting the dogma of the Holy Trinity as their beliefs were also based on triplism – they had triple goddesses and gods – for example in Ireland there were “three Irish Brigits who ruled over healing, poetry and metal craft” (David Sandison, The Art of the Celts, Reed Consumer Book Limited 1998 page 34). So it must have made sense to rename Imbolc as Brigit’s Day.

The well known pattern of Brigit’s cross was inspired by the Celtic swastika symbol – so there is another proof of the Pagan imagery entering the Christian world.
The decorations in the Book of Kells also boast a number of Celtic motifs. Sandison also mentions the Book of Durrow and Lindisfarne Gospels as having decorations inspired by Celtic art.

The photo was taken this website

St. Bridget's Well, Liscannor. George Petrie, 1825 - is attached below.

Here goes a description of some
in County Clare.

Some webpages for reference:

A Google groups forum on various meanings of swastika and its origins – it is an interesting study of etymology as well.

You will also find an extensive description of the meaning of the swastika symbol in a number of countries and nations / cultures together with the history and importance in various religions.

There are some notes on TCD
Falu Dafa Society
– I really recommend that one, also when you have interest in Sanskrit and other ancient languages. The image posted is taken from the attached website.

Other websites for reference though I am sure you can find loads on your own.

Last but not least, the symbol of triskeles (triple arms) was a hate symbol for Nazi – along with swastika. I have no clue why the Nazi / Hitler would either to symbolize evil but here it goes.
It was quite ironic.

Especially since “The floor of the synagogue at Ein Gedi , built during the Roman occupation of Judea, was decorated with a swastika mosaic”.

1 comment:

nightspy said... - here it explains the why the Nazi and Hitler would use the swastika -"The swastika officially became the emblem for the Nazi Party on August, 7, 1920, at the Salzburg Congress. Describing the new flag in Mein Kampf, Hitler said the swastika symbolized the victory of the Aryan man."