What Does The 3 Spiral Symbol Mean?

3 Spiral Symbol

The three-spiral symbol, often referred to as the triskelion, has a fascinating history and meaning. Its powerful symbolic resonance has made it a mainstay across various cultures worldwide. This article will unpack the complexities of the triple spiral meaning, examining its roots and significance in different contexts, especially its relation to the Celtic triskele and the Celtic spiral of life.

Understanding the Triskelion

The term ‘triskelion’ is derived from the Greek word ‘triskeles,’ translating to ‘three-legged.’ This abstract geometric motif comprises three interlocked spirals, three bent human legs, or three twisted lines extending from the center. Even though the triskelion is popularly associated with Celtic and Irish culture, the use of this symbol stretches far and wide, predating the Celts by several centuries.

Origins and Historical Significance

The triskelion symbol can be traced back to ancient times, appearing on artifacts as old as 3200 BC in Malta and 4400-3600 BC in Ireland. Interestingly, the symbol’s initial interpretations still need to be discovered due to the lack of detailed written records. Over time, however, the sign has been imbued with various meanings across different cultures, relating to aspects such as spirituality, eternity, and the fundamental elements of life.

What Religion Is the Triple Spiral?

The triple spiral, or triskelion, has been adopted by multiple religions and belief systems throughout history, making it a symbol of broad spiritual resonance rather than exclusive to a single faith.

The triple spiral was an integral symbol in ancient Celtic religion and spirituality. The symbol appears on several Celtic artifacts and sacred sites, most notably at Newgrange in Ireland. While the precise religious significance of the triple spiral to the ancient Celts remains a subject of debate, it’s generally agreed that it had spiritual connotations. It might have symbolized the three realms (earth, sky, sea), the stages of life (birth, death, rebirth), or the triple aspects of the divine feminine.

The triskelion also appears in Greek antiquity, often associated with the goddess Hecate, who presided over crossroads, magic, and transitions. She was represented in a threefold form, thus connecting her with the triple spiral symbol.

The triskelion took on new meanings in Christian iconography while retaining its triadic essence. It came to represent the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As such, the symbol was often engraved on early Christian catacombs and artifacts.

The triple spiral appears in Buddhism, too, as part of the Tibetan Buddhist Gankyil symbol. It stands for the Three Roots of Liberation: emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness.

Modern Pagan and Neo-Pagan movements, including Wicca, have also adopted the triple spiral. In these contexts, it often symbolizes the triple goddess (Maiden, Mother, Crone) or the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

In summary, the triple spiral symbol transcends religious boundaries, making it a versatile emblem of spiritual beliefs. Its recurrent theme is the sacredness of the number three, which reverberates across cultures and faiths, underscoring the symbol’s universal appeal and timeless significance.

The Triple Spiral Meaning

The triple spiral or the three swirl symbol is essentially another interpretation of the triskelion. However, it refers to the version with three spirals joined at the center. This variant is often linked to the Celts’ pre-Christian era, prominently featuring in their megalithic art, such as the famous entrance stone at Newgrange in Ireland, a passage tomb built around 3200 BC.

Scholars and cultural historians have interpreted each spiral in the triple spiral symbol differently. Some suggest it represents three Celtic worlds: the spiritual world, the present world, and the celestial world. Others propose that it denotes the three stages of life: birth, death, and rebirth.

Celtic Triskele

In Celtic culture, the triskele, or triskelion, is a powerful symbol, often linked to the triadic nature of the Celtic belief system. It’s thought to represent key triads in the Celtic perspective—land, sea, and sky; mind, body, and spirit; or the Celtic goddess as the maiden, mother, and crone. While many of these interpretations involve speculation, it’s clear that the Celtic triskele is a symbol of important three-part concepts or entities.

How to Pronounce Triskele? 

Pronouncing the term “triskele” may initially seem intimidating, but it’s easier than it looks. The word comes from the Greek term “triskeles,” which means “three-legged.” Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to pronounce it:

  1. Break the word down into three syllables: “tri” (like “try”), “ske” (like “sketch” without the “tch”), and “le” (like “lee”).
  2. Pronounce it as “tri-ske-lee.”

Nonetheless, keep in mind that pronunciation can vary based on regional accents and dialects. In some English-speaking areas, you might hear “tri-skeel,” with the “e” in the last syllable remaining silent.

Although minor pronunciation variations exist, the most widely accepted pronunciation is “tri-ske-lee.” This pronunciation preserves the term’s Greek roots and aligns with its common academic, historical, and cultural usage.

Remember, practicing the pronunciation a few times will help you gain confidence. So, don’t be daunted by the unfamiliar term – like the triskele’s spirals, it just takes a bit of a turn to get it right.

The Celtic Spiral of Life at the Glance 

The Celtic spiral of life is a central theme in Celtic art and symbolism, and it directly relates to the triskelion. This spiral is often considered a symbol of the life-death-rebirth cycle, eternal life, or the sun. The triskelion, composed of three interconnected spirals, can be seen as three individual spirals of life, making it an even more potent symbol of the cyclical nature of existence.

What Does the Triskelion Mean in Vikings?

The triskelion, or the triple spiral, plays an intriguing role in Viking culture. The symbol carries significant meanings and implications as a prominent motif in Norse art and mythology.

Like the Celts, the Vikings placed a high value on the number three, viewing it as sacred. This reverence for the triadic can be observed in their pantheon of gods, sagas, and mythology. In the Norse tradition, the triskelion is frequently associated with the god Odin, often portrayed in triadic forms: Odin the Warrior, Odin the Healer, and Odin the Wise.

It is believed that the Vikings interpreted the triskelion as a representation of the past, the present, and the future. This aligns with their belief in Wyrd, a concept similar to fate, which posits that past actions directly influence present circumstances, which in turn shape the future. Thus, the triskelion in Viking culture symbolizes the cyclical and interconnected nature of time and life.

The triskelion also has martial connotations in the Viking context. Some scholars suggest it may represent Odin’s magical spear, Gungnir, which never misses its target and always returns to Odin’s hand. Thus, the symbol embodies not only the passage of time but also the qualities of strength, precision, and reliability, echoing the Vikings’ courage and martial prowess.

Additionally, the triskelion is said to symbolize the Valknut, another significant Norse symbol consisting of three interlocked triangles. The Valknut is closely associated with Odin and is believed to represent the transition between life and death — another testament to the triskelion’s embodiment of life’s cyclical nature in Viking culture.

In the end, the triskelion’s meanings in Viking culture are manifold, steeped in the depths of time and life, martial valor, and the mysterious workings of fate. These interpretations imbue the symbol with an enduring allure, making it a powerful emblem of Viking heritage.

What Does the Triple Spiral Mean Female Power?

The triple spiral, also known as the triskelion, is a potent symbol resonating with female power in various cultures. The spirals are often interpreted as a representation of the feminine aspects of life, symbolizing the cyclical nature of existence that parallels women’s experiences, especially in the realms of reproduction and spiritual connection.

One of the most compelling interpretations of the triple spiral’s connection to female power comes from its link to the triple goddess archetype. This concept, prevalent in many ancient cultures, represents the goddess in three phases – the maiden, the mother, and the crone. These stages reflect different stages of a woman’s life, the cycles of the moon, and the seasons of the year, creating a potent metaphor for feminine power and continuity.

The maiden represents youth, new beginnings, and potential. The mother symbolizes fertility, stability, and power. The crone, meanwhile, stands for wisdom, endings, and rebirth. With its three interlocked swirls, the triple spiral beautifully embodies these aspects of the feminine divine, demonstrating the inherent strength, resilience, and cyclical nature of womanhood.

In Celtic tradition, the triskelion or triskele, often associated with the goddess Brigid, further emphasizes this connection. Brigid is a multifaceted deity overseeing healing, poetry, and smithcraft, mirroring the multi-dimensional nature of women.

Moreover, the spirals’ continuous motion in the symbol signifies the perpetual cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth, resonating with the natural cycle of menstruation and childbirth that women experience. This cyclical motion reinforces the theme of female power as a source of life and regeneration.

In summary, the triple spiral serves as a potent emblem of female power. It acknowledges and celebrates the cyclic nature of womanhood, the transformative phases of a woman’s life, and women’s pivotal role in the continuity of life. The symbol’s enduring relevance testifies to its universal resonance with the essence of female power.

Triskele Tattoo Meaning

The triskele, or triskelion, is a favored design in the world of body art, with its enigmatic spirals gracing numerous tattoos. Whether simple in design or enhanced with additional elements, a triskele tattoo holds profound symbolism that spans various cultures and historical periods.

In essence, the triskele tattoo is a symbol of movement and change. Its three spirals continuously move outward from the center, symbolizing progress, personal growth, and the constant evolution that characterizes the human experience. It’s a potent reminder that life is a journey filled with transformation and advancement.

A triskele tattoo can also embody the concept of the triadic. It might represent any three-part elements that hold personal significance to the wearer — mind, body, spirit; past, present, future; or birth, life, death, to name a few. This triple symbolism makes it a versatile and deeply personal tattoo choice.

For those with Celtic or Irish heritage, a triskele tattoo can signify a connection to ancestral roots and Celtic tradition. It can embody the Celtic belief in the sacredness of the number three and its symbolic associations, like the three realms (land, sea, sky) or the three stages of life.

Lastly, a triskele tattoo may represent resilience and determination. Its spirals, forever propelling forward, signify an unyielding will to keep moving forward, mirroring life’s inherent dynamism.

Ultimately, a triskele tattoo is more than an artistic decoration. It’s a powerful symbol of life’s perpetual motion, personal growth, and cyclical nature of existence, making it a meaningful choice for those seeking tattoos with depth and personal significance.

Contemporary Usage and Interpretations

Although the triskelion is an ancient symbol, it has not lost its allure in contemporary times. Today, it is widely used in jewelry, tattoos, and corporate logos due to its captivating design and rich symbolism.

Spiritual and Personal Significance

The triskelion continues to be a popular symbol in spirituality and personal self-expression due to its versatile interpretations. Some people use it to symbolize personal growth, human development, and spiritual expansion. Others see it as a symbol of strength and will to move forward despite challenges. Many find the concept of constant motion and progression, inherent in the triskelion’s design, to be a potent metaphor for life.

The Triskelion in Pop Culture

In pop culture, the triskelion has found its place too. It features in the design of the Seal of the U.S. Department of Transportation and the flag of Sicily. The symbol is also often used in television series, movies, and books to evoke an aura of mysticism, ancient wisdom, or magical power.


The three-spiral symbol, or the triskelion, is more than just an aesthetically pleasing design. Its roots in ancient cultures, especially the Celtic, imbue it with deep meanings and symbolic interpretations. Whether viewed as a representation of the Celtic spiral of life, a reflection of the natural world’s triadic aspects, or a symbol of personal and spiritual growth, the triskelion remains a powerful and enduring symbol.

The continuous swirl of the three spirals, ever-moving and never-ending, seems to encapsulate the essence of life itself — its constant change, cyclical nature, and infinite possibilities. And so, the triskelion’s enduring allure lies not just in its ancient origins but also in its potent symbolism, which resonates with the human experience’s universality, transcending cultural and temporal boundaries.