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Celtic Cross Meaning

Celtic cross meaning and symbolism




Some Symbolic Meanings of the Celtic Cross

With the abeyance of the ancient Druids, so too vanished centuries of accumulated oral wisdom about the Celtic way of thinking, about their faith and their symbolic perception of the Celtic cross meaning.

What remains of Celtic understanding comes to us from Roman writings (which, are biased at best). We can also turn to Christian monks for understanding about the faith of the Celts as it was their charge to transcribe much of their mythology. Even here we see religious projection and grand liberties of supposition about how the Celts exhibited their faith.

So where does that leave us in deciphering the grander meaning of their symbols of faith? I think it's our responsibility to dive into the collective energy of the ancient Celts and resurface with our own personal understanding.

We can do this by objectively studying the Celts from the literature offered. We can also meditate with the Celts. Energy does not recognize linear time (our scientists have validated this), so there's no reason why we can't sit with the ancient Celts with intent to discuss, learn, and observe them.

They are, after all, our energetic kin. Just like families get together to share, I believe we can sit at the table of the ancients and swap stories in our meditations.

I've spent time contemplating, reading, observing (and done some raucous partying with) the Celts, and this page is a result of the treasures I found swimming about in their energetic waters.

A few quick-keywords to enhance our understanding of the Celtic cross meaning:

  • Transition
  • Balance
  • Honor
  • Faith
  • Unity
  • Temperance
  • Ascension
  • Hope
  • Life
  • Navigation

The symbolism of the Celtic cross (especially the equal-armed cross in which each protrusion is equidistant from the center) is indicative of the human desire to know and experience the unfolding mystery of life. We could say that mystery can unfold in a 4-fold pattern in which the arms of the cross offer four ways to ascension, an invitation to objectively know:

The cross is also a symbol representing the meeting place of the Divine energies. At the center of the cross-section (illustrated below) is the energetic touchstone where a concentration of cosmic power resides (symbolically).

Celtic cross serves as a meditative focal point

If each cross arm symbolizes a branch of higher wisdom, and if there is a encircling symbol to represent unification of these four elements, then the center of the cross will be a focal point that is our spiritual destination. Indeed, should we meditate on the Celtic cross, and laser in on the very center of it - our energies begin to hone in, and centralize into this exhilarating experience of oneness. Try it. The sensation of oneness, wholeness and unity is palpable.

The Celtic cross meaning can also represent navigation. In fact, we can look to the cross as a symbolic compass, guiding us through a spiritual sea. In this analogy the cross can serve as a stable guidepost that always leads us to our "true north."

Here are a few forms of navigation the Celtic cross offers:

  • Spiritual navigation:
    When we find ourselves tossed by tumultuous seas of life, the symbolic attributes of the cross can re-center our focus and move our thoughts in the right direction. By affirming the symbolic meanings of the cross, we set our spirit on solid ground. Walk the cross in your mind, recounting the 4 arms of spiritual deeper knowing: Self, Nature, Wisdom and the Divine. This can put a gentle spiritual wind back in our sails, and sets us back on course.
  • Cyclical navigation:
    The Celtic cross meaning also deals with the transition of the seasons, and even mark the four Celtic fire festivals (Samhain, Imbolc, Beltain, Lughnasadh). These were massively profound events for the Celt as they defined a clear mark of transition. These distinct time delineations would provide stability in an otherwise uncertain and transitional world. Each festival prompted specific activities associated with the time of year in which they fell. The Celtic cross may well have been a reminder of the transition of time, the transitory nature of our lives, and a call to relish the different flavor each turn of the earth provides.
  • Time navigation:
    Not only could the Celtic cross mark the four seasons (punctuated by the Celtic fire festivals), but the cross could also delineate day and night. If we consider the horizontal bar of the cross as a literal horizon, the top half would symbolize sunrise, and the lower half sunset. This would be particularly relevant when we see a circle around the cross - we get the sense of the earth as an orb, and the sun rising above her contour (upper 1/2 of semi circle in the cross) and vice versa. But, given the spiritual connotations of the cross, I'm of a mind to denote a rising and setting of consciousness. For example, visualize your divine awareness rising and setting like the sun, with the center of the cross as a focal point for balance.

What about the vertical crossbar? Intuitively, I feel this represents the past and future with the center point representing the present. Celtic kind established westerly direction with a reflective quality (looking back, recollecting) and a forward quality (forecasting, looking to the future) to the east. We can quantify this by their observation of the setting sun (in the west) as a goodbye to the day. Likewise, the dawning sun (to their east) would be a harbinger of newness, a welcome to the future day.

A word about circles around the cross:
This added element of the Celtic cross brings meaning of unification, totality, wholeness and inclusion. With all the powerful insights we've discussed in this article, it makes good spiritual sense to want to include all this virtue. That inclusion can be symbolically represented by encircling the cross.

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