While Celtic designs have been around for centuries, it might surprise some people that Celtic tattoos only became popular worldwide in the last decade or so. That’s because there are plenty of people who like the cool yet simple designs and all of the great Celtic tattoo meanings out there.
If you’re interested in getting one of the many Celtic tattoo designs, take a look at the information below to narrow down your choices to ones that make sense for your personality.
Celtic mythology and culture pre-dates the strong Christian authorities that eventually overtook the Celtic nations of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, Cornwall, Isle of Man and Wales. These were the nations where Celtic languages were spoken and where the culture developed over hundreds of years, eventually absorbing the Christian influence.
This is exactly why many Christians decide to get these “alternative” designs to show their pride in their faith. You will see that many of the most popular Celtic Christian tattoo designs are simply tweaks to other popular Christian symbols that everyone has been seeing throughout their lives.
The ancient culture of the Celts is rich in artistic tradition and storied mythology. In fact, the most popular of all of the Celtic designs are the ones that have been around since the beginning. The symbolism might not be obvious to outside observers, but that can add even more mystery to many Celtic tattoos. Of course, it’s a good idea to know all about the new and the old Celtic tattoo meanings that are out there so you can be sure that the designs make sense for you.
The most common Celtic images are taken from the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the four gospels of the New Testament. The manuscripts are ornately decorated with intricate knots, intersecting and interlacing in an endless loop to demonstrate the eternity of God.
The knots are often designed into a cross shape, emphasizing the influence of Christianity. What’s great about these Celtic knots is that you can make small tweaks to them to make your design unique.
Some people decide to stick with the classic all-black design but will alter the lines a bit. Others will stick with the more tried and true designs, but they will add in a bit of color to possibly make it more meaningful to them.
The Triquertra is a trinity knot with three intersections creating a trefoil knot, a triangular shape. A circle, representing eternity, is sometimes added to the symbol. Its origins are uncertain and so it remains an important knot in both early Irish Christianity and the pagan pantheon.
What’s great about the Triquetra is that it looks great in all sizes. In fact, it is one of the more popular small tattoos since it looks fantastic on the wrist, the ankle, or even the finger. If you know that you want to get a very simple yet very meaningful Celtic tattoo, this might just be the best one for you.
In Celtic, or Irish, mythology, Dagda is the primary god, significant to the pantheon as a father-figure. He carries a club of immense killing power and is illustrated as both strong and clever. He is paired with the goddess Morrigan who is associated with fate and premonitory powers. She appears as a beautiful young woman but can shapeshift into many animal forms.
This is one of the best Celtic “power” tattoos and can look incredible when completed by an experienced artist. This is a tattoo that looks great as a large design on the back or as a circular design on the shoulder. While you can get a more simplified Dagda tattoo, most people see this as the perfect design to get when they want a heavily detailed Celtic tattoo.
Brighid and Boann are two other Celtic goddesses who are associated with the beauty and power of nature. These, like the Dagda tattoo, are not necessarily Christian Celtic tattoos. Instead, their meanings come from what the goddesses represent. There are plenty of tattoo designs that symbolize beauty and power, but Brighid and Boann tattoos allow you to do so in a unique way.
There are some classic designs that look like paintings, or you can get a statue design of these goddesses. If you wanted to incorporate these tattoo meanings and also happened to want to get a cool Celtic tattoo, then the Brighid and/or Boann tattoos might be absolutely perfect for you.
The Celtic wheel is another symbol of Celtic mythology, often carried by the god of thunder Taranis. The wheel is an iconic Celtic image that was used to imprint on coins and art forms. It is a representation of the sun and so the passage of time. It is associated with the Wheel of the Year, a pagan calendar used to mark the seasons of the year.
This is a great Celtic tattoo to get if you want a design that represents your expectance of time passing. It’s an excellent motivational tattoo for those who want a constant reminder to get the most out of every waking moment.
The Claddagh is also a symbol of Irish and Celtic heritage, named after the village from where the symbol originated. Two hands fit together to hold a heart topped with a crown. It is a symbol of love and friendship that has been used commonly as an Irish wedding ring.
Obviously, this makes for an excellent finger tattoo, but you really can get it anywhere on your body if you want to show some pride in your Irish ancestry. Even if you’re not Irish, the Claddagh is a different way to show that you have love and/or friendship in your life and you take pride in it.
Animals have long been used on Celtic tattoos, so you can really take any animal (and animal tattoo meaning) you like and blend it into a Celtic tattoo design. You can add a bear, or a snake, or even a giraffe if you want to. What’s great about this Celtic tattoo idea is that you can bring in any of those classic Celtic meanings and add in some new ones based on the animal you choose. These are especially great with “thicker” designs so you can incorporate your animal more easily.
Another great thing about Celtic tattoos is that you can very easily make them look like ancient jewelry without losing any meaning. For example, you could get a Celtic wheel attached to a chain to show its significance in your life. A cool effect that people use with these Celtic jewelry tattoos is to make the designs look very aged, like it has been passed down for many generations.
Regardless of the Celtic tattoo and meaning(s) you choose to use, it’s vital that you work with a top artist to get the most out of the design. It doesn’t necessary have to be the tattoo artist who eventually puts it on your skin, but it should be someone who knows how to draw tattoo designs that will look great on the skin. Most Celtic tattoos are a bit more complicated to draw than typical tattoo designs, so be sure to get a design that has that authentic look to it regardless of the tattoo you end up deciding on.
After you’ve come up with a Celtic tattoo that you like, then you’ll have to find the best place to place it on your skin. This is an extremely important step in the process since you’ll need to make the design, so it works with the natural lines of your body. For example, if you come up with a Celtic tattoo design that is shaped like a clover, then you will want to get it placed on your body in a way that makes it look exactly the same on both halves, such as on your shoulder.
As you can see there are a lot of Celtic tattoos out there and therefor a lot to think about before committing to one. Regardless of what you choose, chances are you will always be proud of your Celtic tattoo since there is a lot of history behind each tattoo, adding in that much more meaning.