The Power of Three: The Female Power

While the god was the embodiment of the sun, the Celts revered the earth as a goddess, whose domains were the earth, the sea, and the sky. Thus, goddesses were often portrayed in triplicities: The Morrigan, a goddess of sovereignty, was portrayed in three persons, Morrigan, Badb, and Nemain. These goddesses were associated with war, bloodshed, and death but also with fertility and earthly authority. Other triple goddesses included Brighid, the goddess of poetry, fire, and industry, and the ancient Matronae, or Dea Nutrix, goddesses of motherhood, nurture, and plenty.

Triplicities in Celtic iconography are associated with the three domains of nature, the lunar phases, and the three solar cycles of pregnancy. This association with repeating cycles also links them to concepts of resurrection, renewal, and rebirth. Both the natural and spiritual worlds were divided into the three intertwined, overlapping domains of land, sea, and sky. Each domain had its particular gods and goddesses, sacred animals, and symbols.

Common symbols of triplicity in Celtic iconography are the triskele, or triple spiral, and the triquetra. The simple triskele was a popular motif in Halstatt period art, where it was employed as a solar motif. Swirling, ornate, curvilinear triskeles and triple spirals are the hallmark of the La Tène period. The symbols remained so popular that in Christian times, they were adapted to represent the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, adorning many artifacts of the Celtic Church.


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