Celtic Tattoo

What Meanings Do Celtic Tattoos Have? An Illustrated Guide

Homage to the ancient art

Celtic Tattoo Meanings

Some tattoo designs are, and always will be, top requests in the tattoo world.

Celtic tattoos have a reputation for being among the most popular designs in the tattoo industry.

These tattoos carry profound meanings rooted in the rich tapestry of Celtic culture.

Each design is a unique expression, often reflecting a deep connection to Celtic heritage.

Central to these tattoos are intricate Celtic knots, symbolizing eternity and unity.

Spirals evoke personal growth and transformation, while the triskele embodies the cycles of life.

Celtic crosses signify the union of the divine and the mortal, representing spiritual journeys and faith.

Animals, nature, and legendary Celtic heroes are often part of these tattoos, symbolizing a range of qualities and mythical narratives.

Some opt for Celtic tattoos to honor family and friendship bonds, mirroring the Celtic value of loyalty and unity.

In essence, Celtic tattoos blend a celebration of heritage with personal interpretation, each design weaving a distinct narrative within the intricate patterns.

Blue Celtic Tattoo Meanings

Celtic Band Tattoo

The color of a Celtic tattoo, including blue, can add another layer of meaning to the design, but the interpretation can be somewhat subjective, as individual perception and intention play a significant role.

In Celtic culture, specific colors were often associated with various symbolic meanings, and blue was traditionally linked to concepts like water, healing, and calmness.

Celtic Tattoo Symbols

The Celtic tattoos always consist of Celtic knots intertwined with other Celtic tattoo symbols.

In general, the Celtic tattoo symbols represent vitality and strength.

They might also symbolize protection.

Celtic Knots Tattoos

Celtic Knots Tattoo

Of all the Celtic tattoos, knot tattoos are the most popular.

Celtic knot tattoos can symbolize an eternal bond between two people or humans and nature.

These tattoos can also be a symbol of eternal life.

There are variations on Celtic knot tattoo designs, but they generally fall into a few categories.

The Celtic knot was a highly important symbol to the ancient Celts, but nowadays it is an important symbol to the Irish and descendants of Irish ancestors.

There are so many different designs of Celtic Knot tattoos!

Interestingly, every single one has its own meaning and significance in modern culture.

  • Do you have to be Irish to wear a Celtic knot tattoo?

The answer is although they are typically representative of not only a specific meaning but also a celebration of Irish culture, no, you do not have to be Irish to have one.

If any of these tattoo meanings speak to you, you’re welcome to bring a little Celtic flair to your personal style!

But before we get started, keep in mind that it’s important to know that each and every Celtic knot is completely connected without a single break.

Now let’s check out these many Celtic knot tattoos and see what they represent today in the tattoo world.

Trinity Knot Tattoos

Celtic Triquetra Tattoo

This triple knot tattoo also called “three-cornered,” is one of the most popular Celtic knot tattoo designs for a reason.

In pagan belief systems these are the three sacred stages of a woman’s life.

Under the patriarchal model of Catholicism, it has come to stand for the father, son, and holy spirit.

The triquetra knot tattoo is composed of three-pointed sides with a circle connecting them along with many complicated lines that to be honest– who knows what’s happening to create this design.

Props to the tattoo artist making any Celtic tattoo because these designs are so much more complex than meet the eye.

Try to follow from one point around the composition of this tattoo and you will realize just how much goes into it: this tattoo design is special and deserves recognition.

Not only are the triquetra knot’s three corners beautiful, but they also have significant meaning along with being the Celtic symbol of strength.

This tattoo symbolizes unity because of its unbreaking line and symmetrical nature.

It also represents everlasting life, which can be taken as a symbol of your spirituality depending on your beliefs.

Not to mention, the triquetra knot tattoo means that you are protected by a higher power.

Celtic Love Knots Tattoos

Celtic Lovers Knot Tattoo

Love knot tattoos, also known as Josephine’s knots, are a modern twist on sailor’s Celtic knots, originally made by joining two ropes into one unified knot.

They are often chosen as wedding tattoos or symbols of enduring commitment between life partners, customizable for each couple.

Typically, these tattoos feature a heart with a triquetra knot, signifying the connection of two hearts.

These knots are significant because they represent the bond between lovers, often brought home by sailors as a gift to their significant others.

In essence, a Celtic lovers knot tattoo symbolizes eternal love that endures, even during periods of separation, expressing an infinite and undying love for a significant other.

Celtic Lovers Knot Infinity Tattoo
Celtic Lovers Knot Infinity Tattoo

This Celtic knot infinity design is an interesting concept.

It is the same as the Celtic lovers’ knot tattoo except it also includes the infinity symbol joined intellectually into an amazing interconnected design.

The mix of pointed and round shapes makes for an aesthetic tattoo and both the hearts and the infinity symbol stand out depending on what your eyes are focused on.

The meaning of this tattoo is that you have experienced a love that is not only incredibly special to you but also is one that you view from the perspective of being infinite.

This would be a great tattoo to show the permanence (literally, on your skin) of your marriage!

Not only that, but this tattoo could represent lots of types of permanent love such as the love you have for a family member or for God.

Celtic Spiral Knots Tattoos

Celtic Spiral Knot Tattoo

This is an interesting design because there are many ways to create a Celtic spiral knot tattoo.

The most common design is three spirals that are each connected in the center.

This tattoo can be in black ink or even a touch of blue!

The spirals are contained by a circle and there’s a lot of white space creating an interesting look.

As for the meaning of the Celtic spiral knot tattoo, this is a tattoo that represents the different parts of life that connect such as life, rebirth, and ending.

It also symbolizes the spirit of the mind and body and the concept of love.

It’s almost impossible to explain how much this tattoo means– it encompasses all the joys of life itself.

It even symbolizes the importance of remembering the past and looking forward to the future.

What a special tattoo!

There are many reasons that you could get this tattoo, and one could say that this is one of the most meaningful of the Celtic knot tattoos.

Spirals have been a symbol in Celtic culture since the earliest recorded carvings.

They represent a person’s journey through life and into the spirit world.

Triskele Tattoos

Triskele Tattoo

As in many belief systems, 3 is a sacred Celtic number.

The triple spiral, also known as the triskele, is thought to represent earth, water, and sky.

Some say it stands for the human world, the spirit world, and the celestial world.

It could also be a symbol of beginning/middle/end, past/present/future, or father/mother/child.

Triskele tattoos symbolize cycles, continuity, and transformation, reflecting deep spiritual and Celtic connections.

Celtic Eternity Knot Tattoo

Celtic Eternity Knot Tattoo

A Celtic eternity knot tattoo is a design that looks so complicated that it’s hard to believe all those lines are interconnected!

Also, it is important to note that its design can come in many variations– it’s almost as if no two Celtic eternity knot tattoos look the same.

They all share an infinity symbol, representing eternity.

As we mentioned, each Celtic knot is interconnected through a line that loops and ends up back where it started.

This Celtic knot tattoo is especially related to this concept because its meaning (much like the meaning of an infinity symbol) is that everything in life is connected and will repeat for eternity.

Life has no beginning; neither does it have an ending.

This is quite a spiritual concept which not everyone may agree with.

If this idea of eternity in nature and in the universe itself speaks to you, then this is a great tattoo for you to be reminded of your beliefs.

Celtic Motherhood Knot Tattoo

Celtic Motherhood Knot Tattoo

This tattoo essentially looks like many hearts joined together in a downward cascading fashion.

Connecting the hearts, in the center, are two semicircles joined to create an unusual shape that is not rare for a Celtic symbol but is definitely unique in itself.

The empty spaces created by the hearts can be decorated such as with dots near the top or by adding initials.

The meaning of this Celtic tattoo design is pretty simple but has some rules to it.

First of all, the amount of dots placed in the design refers to the number of children you have.

This is not a necessary part of the tattoo, however, it is an option to add these dots to emphasize your number of children.

Also, this is a tattoo for a mother to honor the bond between her and her children combined with her and their faith.

Importantly, this tattoo also symbolizes the family’s heritage in a big way. 

Celtic Four-Cornered Knot Tattoo

Celtic Four-Cornered Knot Tattoo

This tattoo design is very intricate and can be simplified or made to be extremely complicated.

The most important part of the design which signifies that it is in fact a four-cornered or quaternary tattoo is that there are four significant sections to the tattoo.

This tattoo is a definite way of displaying Celtic heritage: the design screams pride in being Celtic!

There are a few different meanings to this tattoo design.

One more obvious one is the four directions: North, South, East, and West.

This can mean that you are an avid traveler, or that you have had trouble finding direction in life and want to find the right path.

On the other hand, this tattoo can symbolize the four elements: Earth, wind, fire, and water.

This symbolism can represent that you are at peace with all elements of nature and therefore you feel that you are an old and wise soul.

Celtic Five-Fold Knot Tattoo

Celtic Five-Fold Knot Tattoo

Not exclusively Celtic, this symbol encompasses four circles with a fifth circle joining them in the knot.

This design can also have four circles, which when intertwined create a quaternary symbol in the center representing the fifth element of the tattoo.

It all depends on how the circles are placed and what shapes they create in their lines and within the empty spaces.

The meaning of this tattoo is similar to the four-corned knot tattoo in that it symbolizes the four elements, the four directions, and even the four seasons.

However, the fifth ‘element’ of this tattoo is the powerful connection between these four elements of nature.

This tattoo is for someone who values the connectivity of nature (especially since Celtic knots are all about connectivity) and is highly spiritual.

This tattoo makes you think– again, this design is for a wise soul.

Celtic Dara Knot Tattoo

Dara Knot Tattoo

The Dara knot tattoo is one of the most elaborate Celtic knot tattoos and also one of the most different.

This design actually opens up and has lines that aren’t connected, which is unusual for a Celtic knot tattoo.

This tattoo looks like a tree because Dara is an old Irish word for ‘oak tree.’

So, we know it symbolizes an oak tree, but what exactly does that mean?

The Dara knot has a powerful meaning of having strength under enormous amounts of pressure and still being able to persevere.

This tattoo can also represent wisdom in all things, just as how trees are known to be wise and see many things around them.

It symbolizes that you have the ability to transform knowledge and life experience into wisdom about all aspects of life.

Also, this design can mean that you have the leadership skills to do well in life and that you cherish being able to lead others and guide them.

Celtic Sailor’s Knot Tattoo

Celtic Sailor’s Knot Tattoo

A Celtic sailors knot is a two-strand knot that represents duality.

There are many ways of showing a sailor’s knot in a tattoo, and a sailor’s knot is a whole genre of Celtic knots in itself.

A sailor’s knot was traditionally made by sailors as a way of remembering those they left behind to go to sea.

The meaning of a Celtic sailor’s knot tattoo is wrapped in the meaning of why the knot was made itself.

Therefore, it represents friendship, eternal love, romance, and unity.

This tattoo can represent the actual union of marriage, literally meaning that two souls are attached and become one permanent bond just as how the knot itself is one continuous line.

This is a common knot tattoo to receive when getting married, or even as a symbol of eternal friendship with someone special.

Celtic Mandala Knot Tattoo

Celtic Mandala Tattoo

This tattoo design is a circle which contains many knots which can vary a lot in shape and design.

The most simplistic design is a ring of twisted knots surrounding a symmetrical center of similar-looking twisted knots.

Other designs include various swirling designs within the same spherical shape, keeping a common symmetry.

The Celtic mandala knot tattoo means that you have found peace, or wish to be more grounded.

This is a tattoo for someone who believes in a soul and knows that their soul is traveling through the universe in order to learn and to grow.

It also means that you understand your deep connection to your ancestors and your origin within the universe.

We are all interconnected with our ancestors and however you believe that connection exists, it is important to someone who gets a mandala knot tattoo.

Celtic Shield Tattoo

Celtic Shield Tattoo

A Celtic shield knot tattoo design is a circle with the main design within it.

This design inside is an intertwined symmetrical four-cornered knot.

This knot design is interesting because it encompasses many of the traditional knot styles all in one!

Plus, it looks like a shield. It looks powerful and even regal.

This symbol was used by soldiers as a good luck charm to be safe and even was used to help people who were weak, viewed as almost a magical amulet.

The meaning of the Celtic shield knot tattoo is protection from evil spirits.

This shield knot is meant to protect you just as a shield protects someone during battle.

Someone would wear this tattoo for the purpose of always knowing someone out there is looking over you, whether it be God, people who love you, any higher power, or even the universe working in your favor.

This tattoo is great for someone who needs help in life and guidance towards a better life!

Celtic Solomon Knot Tattoo

A Solomon knot tattoo is essentially two ovals joined together in a knot that formed four distinct sections.

This Celtic knot is one of the more simplistic of the knots because it can be more easily sketched out, unlike the complicated mandala knot, for example.

However, it can be made to be more complex by adding multiple ovals connected to each other or by creating space in between the spots where that would overlap.

This Celtic knot design goes way back all the way to cave drawings of the stone age.

Therefore, its symbolism certainly involves the heritage of the Celtics and can be received in remembrance of the great ancient civilization.

Its name comes from King Solomon who was known for his great wisdom.

However, this knot tends to represent the connection between us humans and the divine, or in other words, our deep personal connection to our spirituality.

Celtic Cross Tattoos

Celtic Cross Tattoo

The Celtic cross tattoo is a popular and meaningful symbol, often chosen to showcase Irish heritage and Christian faith.

It originated with Celtic and pagan beliefs, featuring intricate knots and a circle representing the sun god, later adopted by Catholics as a symbol of God’s love.

The tattoo symbolizes pride in Irish heritage, religious devotion, and divine protection.

Various designs, including ornate patterns and tribal black ink, offer different interpretations, from celebrating ancestry and comradery to symbolizing infinity, loyalty, and everlasting peace through faith in God.

In essence, the Celtic cross tattoo is a powerful statement of Irish heritage and Christian commitment.

Celtic Animism Tattoos

Not all Celtic tattoos are symbols.

Celtic animals are also a popular tattoo design choice.

The original Celtic Druids were animistic.

This means they held the belief that everything has a soul.

This includes plants, animals, rocks, and other inanimate objects.

Plants and animals are popular symbols in Celtic tattoos.

They each have their own significance.

Celtic Bear Tattoos

Celtic Bear Tattoo

Bear tattoos can symbolize bravery in battle, but they also have strong feminine connotations.

The Celtic goddess Artio is regularly depicted as a bear.

She symbolizes strength and protection because of the way a mother bear guards her young.

Celtic bear tattoos also symbolize new life.

Mother bears are the first animals spotted after hibernation.

Celtic Wolf Tattoos

Celtic Wolf Tattoo

A fierce choice for a Celtic animal tattoo is the Celtic wolf.

Wolves hold a deep connection to the Celtic community.

Ancient Celtic culture considered wolves to be relentless protectors.

The Celtic wolf tattoo can also represent one’s Celtic heritage.

To some people, Celtic wolf tattoos are a way to symbolize their beliefs.

For others, the wolf is a guardian.

In Celtic traditions, wolves connect the people with their ancestors and spiritual guides.

They help bridge the spiritual and mortal realms.

Some people choose this tattoo design because it pays homage to the ancient Celtic religion.

Celtic wolf tattoos serve as fierce protection.

The animal possesses strength, vigor, and confidence.

In the wild, wolves stay together and protect their pack.

People can choose the Celtic wolf to represent that trait in themselves.

It can show that a person stays with and guards their family.

Celtic wolf tattoos may only portray the head, or they can include the entire body.

Some tattoo designs show the wolf on the prowl.

As is common in most Celtic tattoos, artists often tattoo the wolf without color.

The use of black as the only shade makes the Celtic wolf tattoo exceptionally bold.

A Celtic wolf stands out compared to other wolf tattoos.

Celtic Salmon Tattoos

Celtic Salmon Tattoo

Because of their intelligence and built-in tracking systems, Salmon are sacred animals in the Celtic tradition.

To eat Salmon is said to give you wisdom.

A Celtic salmon tattoo would suit someone who is pursuing academic or intellectual glory.

Celtic Owl Tattoos

Owl Tattoo

Because they are nocturnal, owls are seen as a symbol of mystery and mysticism.

A Celtic owl tattoo would be appropriate for someone who embraces the more pagan traditions of the culture.

Celtic Tree of Life Tattoos

Celtic Tree of Life Tattoo

The tree of life exists in a few faith traditions.

While the branches reach for the sky, the roots dig into the ground.

This is a humble way to walk through life: staying grounded but striving for greatness.

The Celtic tree tattoo is suitable for anyone who wants to live in balance, or who values the mind/body connection.

Celtic Harp Tattoos

Celtic Harp Tattoo

The Celtic harp is the national emblem of Ireland for a reason— it is a musical instrument that honors Celtic traditions.

It is a very popular tattoo in that it represents peoples’ heritage with a bit of luck of the Irish.

In other words, a Celtic harp tattoo is primarily a symbol of Celtic tradition and Irish pride.

Claddagh Tattoos

Claddagh Tattoo

This type of Celtic tattoo is not only popular on the skin.

The Claddagh symbol is known to be made into rings, necklaces, and nick-nacks galore.

That’s probably because it’s the ultimate tattoo symbol of Celtic love and loyalty, with two hands holding a heart together.

The Claddagh tattoo is often received in honor of someone else who they love or cherish.

Brigid’s Cross Tattoos

Brigid's Cross Tattoo

Not only does this tattoo symbolize Ireland in general, but the design of woven rushes can also be transformed into many different types of Celtic knot tattoos, changing its meaning.

This meaning itself is mainly concerned with keeping away evil, so a Brigid Cross tattoo has the potential to lead you on the right track.

Celtic Tattoo Ideas

There isn’t just one way to wear a Celtic tattoo— their size and placement take some time to commit to.

While you are deciding, here are some detailed options of how exactly to place the Celtic tattoo design you have picked out.

Small Celtic Tattoos

Small Celtic Tattoo

If you don’t want to make a big statement, but still want to show off your Celtic pride, a small Celtic tattoo may be for you.

This especially works for Celtic knot tattoos, which can be a small addition to your style and identity.

Just because it’s a small tattoo, though, doesn’t mean it can’t be complicated enough to have the full tattoo design you’re dreaming of (it’s all in the details!).

Simple Celtic Tattoos

Simple Celtic Tattoo

Now, these simpler tattoo pieces are almost always of Celtic knot tattoos because they can be made with simple black line work.

Simple Celtic tattoos have a very modern look and add a lot of style to the body while still having a significant meaning.

Celtic Band Tattoos

Celtic Band Tattoo

Celtic band tattoos are Celtic knotwork tattoos that circle around the wrist or forearm in a knotwork pattern.

They can also wrap around any part of the arm.

These tattoos are wonderful because they are like a bracelet that you will wear permanently!

They incorporate Celtic knots, which represent eternity due to their unending connected lines.

Practically any Celtic knot can be incorporated into a Celtic band tattoo.

Celtic band tattoos can represent love, luck, Christianity, the Holy Trinity, Paganism, among other meanings.

The meaning of the Celtic band tattoo that you choose is completely dependent on which knots you choose to use in the band– and there are countless options.

Their look is fascinating– they captivate people’s attention and make others want to ask what your tattoo means.

No matter which one you choose, there’s no doubt that your Celtic band tattoo will bring you joy for years to come.

Celtic Tattoo Sleeves

Celtic Tattoo Sleeve

If you’re really into the Celtic culture, Irish pride, and loyalty, then for you a Celtic tattoo sleeve makes sense.

Not to mention, a tattoo sleeve can look quite cool and specifically for men can show that you are a strong person who perseveres through anything.

For women it can be just the same, however, for her, there’s an added tattoo meaning of love of life and family.

Celtic Tattoo Placement

Where do you get a Celtic tattoo?

There are so many options, because, a Celtic tattoo is highly versatile in both design and style.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular body placements for Celtic tattoos.

  • Celtic Tattoos on Shoulder
Celtic Tattoos on Shoulder

A Celtic shoulder tattoo is bold and powerful, showing the meaning of the chosen tattoo for all to see.

You should choose to put your Celtic tattoo on your shoulder if you are highly proud of what it stands for.

  • Celtic Tattoos on Chest
Celtic Tattoo on Chest

A man with a Celtic tattoo on his chest represents the warriors of their ancestors.

This tattoo placement is shown here as a masculine tattoo with the meaning that you are proud of your heritage and are a strong person.

  • Celtic Hand Tattoos
Celtic Hand Tattoo

Hand tattoos are highly visible, making them a statement of one’s identity, beliefs, or cultural heritage.

This placement provides a canvas for intricate Celtic knotwork, which can symbolize eternity and interconnectedness.

Celtic hand tattoos may be customized to represent the wearer’s unique story or heritage.

The specific design, style, and elements incorporated into a Celtic hand tattoo are often highly personal.

Remember that the decision to get a hand tattoo, Celtic or otherwise, is a significant one, and it’s essential to consider the long-term implications, as hand tattoos are quite visible.

Additionally, work with a skilled tattoo artist experienced in hand tattoos to ensure a quality and visually appealing design.

Summing Up

There are so many beautiful knot tattoos and ancient stories from the Celtic tradition.

If you have a Celtic background, these tattoos are such a meaningful way to celebrate your culture.

There are so many important meanings that go along with a Celtic tattoo.

From celebrating friendship to being proud of your children, there are many ways that a Celtic tattoo can become an official symbol of the bond you have with others, of your spirituality, or, most importantly, your relationship with your heritage.

Most people who receive a Celtic tattoo do have an important pride in their Irish heritage.

It is also important to remember that almost every Celtic knot tattoo is itself a continuous line that represents the eternity of whatever concept it symbolizes.

A Celtic tattoo is a great tattoo to have and is packed with important personal meanings that will last a lifetime.

Celtic Tattoo FAQ

What is a Celtic tattoo?

The Celtic tattoos always consist of Celtic knots intertwined with other Celtic symbols.Celtic tattoo

What do Celtic tattoos mean?

In general, Celtic tattoos represent vitality and strength. They might also symbolize protection and Celtic heritage.

What do Celtic knot tattoos mean?

Celtic knot tattoos can symbolize an eternal bond between two people or humans and nature. They can also be a symbol of eternal life. The Celtic knot was a highly important symbol to the ancient Celts, but nowadays it is an important symbol to the Irish and descendants of Irish ancestors. It is also important to remember that almost every knot is itself a continuous line that represents the eternity of whatever concept it symbolizes.

Do you have to be Irish to wear a Celtic knot tattoo?

The answer is although they are typically representative of not only a specific meaning but also a celebration of Irish culture, no, you do not have to be Irish to have one.

Did Celtic Warriors Have Tattoos?

It is theorized that Celtic Warriors battled bare-chested or even in the altogether. They would wear tattoos as an intimidation tactic against their enemies. The tattoos were made with blue ink derived from the woad plant.

What does a triquetra tattoo mean?

The Triquetra tattoo symbolizes unity because of its unbreaking line and symmetrical nature. It also represents everlasting life, which can be taken as a symbol of your spirituality depending on your beliefs.

What does triskele symbolize?

The triple spiral, also known as the triskele, is thought to represent the earth, water, and sky. Some say it stands for the human world, the spirit world, and the celestial world. It could also be a symbol of beginning/middle/end, past/present/future, or father/mother/child.

What does a Celtic cross tattoo mean?

The meaning of this tattoo is pride in your Irish heritage. It also signifies that you are highly religious and want to show off to the world your belief in Christianity.

What do Celtic wolf tattoos symbolize?

Celtic wolf tattoos serve as fierce protection. In Celtic traditions, wolves connect the people with their ancestors and spiritual guides. Some choose this tattoo design because it pays homage to the ancient Celtic religion.

What are the most popular Celtic tattoos?

From our research, some of the most common Celtic tattoos are the Celtic cross, Yggdrasil, Triquetra, Triskele, and Celtic motherhood knot.

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