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Celtic Cross Patterns

Celtic cross patterns are variations of a cross from centuries ago. How it came to be is not known, but there are several theories. Read on to look at some of these theories and different patterns for Celtic crosses.

Celtic Cross Patterns

Celtic Cross Patterns

The basic Celtic cross patterns all have a cross with a circle in the middle surrounding the intersection of the arms of the cross. Sometimes the circle is found towards the center of the cross and other times it is almost to the end of the two short arms. The shape of the cross's arms will vary as will the designs and gems placed on it.

Many times some Celtic symbols will be engraved on the cross and circle. Spirals are often seen as well as knots. The spirals and mazes are interwoven to show the complexities of nature with its seasons and other cycles. They also have no obvious beginning or end and that symbolizes eternity and the circle of life.

Origins and Symbolism of the Celtic Cross

One theory of how the Celtic cross was created tells about the circle being a symbol of eternity. It may also show the everlasting love of God that he showed through his sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Another theory is that the circle represents a halo and yet another theory says the circle stands for the endless mystery that surrounds the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ and the hope of salvation to men throughout all time. Some people think the circle represents the Druid sun god and the symbol was adopted or stolen and used by the Christians.

Then you have the legend of St. Patrick. As he was preaching and trying to convert the pagans, he was shown a sacred stone statue that stood erect and had the symbol of the sun. He made the sign of the Latin cross in the circle and blessed the stone, making it the very first Celtic cross. It is implied in the story that St. Patrick wanted to take Druid ideologies and rituals and make them into Christian practices and ideas. He was also willing to ordain Druid priests as Catholic priests. Some think putting the two symbols together showed the pagans that Christians agreed that the sun was important because of its life-giving properties.

Many historians have one other theory. They claim the cross came from the practice of hanging a victor's wreath around the intersection of the cross was a likely explanation.

Uses of the Celtic Cross

In the 8th century, people began erecting monumental crosses in stone. Earlier crosses were made of wood and may have had some metalwork on them. Some of them would have inscriptions on them and the ones found mostly in Ireland were shorter and more massive than others. By the 11th century, this practice died out.

In the mid-1800s, there was a Celtic revival and the use of Celtic crosses increased in Ireland. It was brought on by a renewed interest in Irish heritage. Celtic crosses showed up as cemetery monuments but came to have a more Celtic identity purpose than a religious one. Eventually, Celtic cross patterns started showing up in jewelry.

In modern times, Celtic crosses can be found on T-shirts, jewelry, tattoos, coffee mugs, and many other things. The Gaelic Athletic Association and the Northern Ireland national football team utilize the Celtic cross in their emblems. It became a symbol of white pride being adopted by white supremacist organizations. A prohibited neo-Nazi party in Germany adopted the symbol that led to a ban of the symbol. Lastly, the term "Celtic cross" refers to a divination spread in the use of tarot cards used to foretell an individual's future.