If today we often associate the Triskel with the Breton region , the wheel with three branches is above all a Celtic symbol which has known how to cross continents and ages.
Some call it Triskel , others call it Triskelion , Triskelion, Triskele , Triscele, … almost all spellings are possible. The Greek etymology of this word refers to three legs and its Latin etymology refers to three sides . Hence its representation. The Triskel is indeed a wheel with three legs, rolled up on themselves and meeting at a central point.
Little history of the Triskel
The symbol of the Triskel was found on Irish tombs , dating from 3,200 years BC It is on the site of Newgrange therefore, in Ireland, that we first find engravings of Triskels. One inside the site, and the other outside.
From the 5th century to the 2nd century BC, the symbol is used by the Celts . It is then found on pottery , manuscripts , or even megalithic sites . Then the Triskel fell completely into oblivion, except in Ireland where it continued to be represented on buildings or stained glass windows.
During Greek antiquity, the Triskelion was marked on coins in Sicily. It then appears in German , English and even Swiss coats of arms. Before appearing in works of art .
Triskel, symbol of Brittany
In 1914, the Bretons appropriated the Triskel . And in 1941, the National Breton party took it as an insignia, as did the 27th SS “Langemarck” division. The Triskel became popular again with the revival of Celtic music in the 1970s.
Where do we find the Celtic symbol?
The Triskel appears on religious buildings first. It is found in large numbers on the facade of the Abbey of Saint-Antoine, in Isère. It is also the building that brings together the largest number of Triskels in all of Europe. But we still find some on the facade of the church of Tonquedec in Brittany or on the floor of the cathedral of Coutances in Normandy.
On the flags then. The one from the Isle of Man depicts a Triskel formed by three legs in armour. The flag of Sicily shows a triskel formed by three bare legs around a gorgon's head.
The Triskel is also found outside the European border. Its variant is used in Japan , under the name Tomoe . As well as in Tibet as Gankyil .
Where to place a triskel in the house?
For the benefits of the Triskel to work, it must be placed at the heart of the house . Attention, right in the heart and not in the center. It must also be placed in the north and vertically.
The different representations of the Triskel
Multiple representations of the triskel exist. But in each of them, the idea of “cycle” is always present .
The three wheels of the Triskel can represent water, earth and fire . They revolve all around the same central point which in turn represents the air .
The branches , in Gallic art, represent the sun in its different times of the day: morning , noon and evening twilight.
For others, the wheels of the Triskel may also represent birth , death , and rebirth . The past , the present and the future . Youth , middle age and old age . Body , soul and spirit .
Or the trinity . The father , the son and the holy spirit among Catholics. Teutates, Taranis and Esus among the Gauls.
Odin , Thor and Freyr in Vikings .
What is the meaning of the Triskelion?
The Triskel can have different meanings. As a general rule, it is considered to bring good luck , and is a sign of life and eternal renewal .
The Triskel, a positive or negative meaning?
But the direction of rotation of the Triskel is important. Its meaning remains positive when it is right-handed, and the wheels turn clockwise . In this case, the Triskel is a sign of peace .
On the other hand, its meaning is negative when the Triskel is levorotatory, so when the wheels turn to the left . It is then a sign of misfortune and war .
Contemporary representations of the Triskelion
Today, the Triskel has a strong economic vocation. Brittany uses and abuses it, and the symbol is represented on many regional products. Biscuit boxes, caps, hats, crockery, stickers, jewellery… absolutely anything goes.
But beyond a symbol of Celtic and Breton belonging, the Triskel remains a symbol of peace and luck for many.
In black or in color, with a classic or tribal style, the Triskel is also fashionable in the tattoo sector.
Here are some examples of Triskelion tattoos for you: