The Symbolism
of Celtic Knotwork and Interlace

Have you ever looked at a Celtic border or knot design closely and noticed how the lines lace together and are formed from one continuous line that looks like it is woven? This form of Celtic art actually began as an imitation of the three-dimensional arts of plaiting, weaving and basketry. Interlacing borders and panels can be found in the art of most peoples including the Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Arabs, Hebrews, and North African tribes.

Some of the finest achievements in knotwork interlacing were done by the Pictish tribes. The Picts and other tribes saw the lines in natural objects as symbols of life. One such shape is the circle which may be considered mankind’s first step in art. Early peoples observed that with very few exceptions the constructions made by insects, birds, and animals are made by circular motions. Spiral lines, (which combine circular motions) are found in shells and horns and came to have magical significance. These spirals, which are often seen as three spirals radiating out from the center, can be seen in Ireland, at Newgrange, and at archeological sites throughout the British Isles. You can see these spirals, circles, and nature forms in the petroglyphs of Hawaii, in Mayan art from Mexico, in the Southwest, and in sites the world over. These circular forms link us with other cultures, and with other people past and present that we will never meet, and yet, we are connected by this symbolic artwork.

The art of the Picts and the Celts reflected their belief in the interconnectedness of life. To them, the one continuous line that formed the interlaced knotwork represented our connection with nature and the universe. The Celts knew that they were dependant on nature for their survival—if their crops failed and their animals died because of harsh weather, they knew they also might perish. There were no supermarkets available to buy food and supplies, and they would have to hope for help from their neighbors who may have also had a dismal harvest. The Celts revered the earth and took care of their land because they knew that it was the earth that would sustain their life.

But we have gotten too far away from this basic philosophy. We require more and more from the earth and we are severely depleting her natural resources. We have been used to taking all we want and not considering what the long term effects are. And now, we are seeing the destruction we have created: Global warming, species becoming extinct, not enough water and food for everyone, loss of habitats for animals, birds and sea creatures.

This message of the interdependence of humankind and nature is more important that ever. As we look at the Celtic Knot patterns we are reminded of the web of life that joins us all together. If we want our planet to be able to support life for future generations we need to make changes in our lives now. Make a personal commitment to mother earth. Don't throw away anything that can be recycled. Keep receptacles for paper, glass, plastics and plastic bags and use them. Use environmentally friendly cleaning products, and recycled paper products. Support organic farmers and take responsibility for your own food needs by eating locally grown foods and growing what you can.

Jon Maglinte

Working with other members of your community makes it easier. We know that if we work together we can create more far -reaching results in a shorter amount of time. In Willits, where we live, we have a community group called WELL: Willits Economic Localization. They feel that through economic localization we can create local food and energy systems that give us a stronger connection with each other and nature, and will give us more responsible options for food, energy and transportation. This will help us secure the future for our families and children, and for the wildlife that lives around us. They are happy to share ideas and offer advice on how to start a group in your community.

You can contact them at Willits Economic Localization Website

Celtic knots and interlace contain symbolic elements which tap into archetypal images that cross cultures and centuries. This art medium allows us to travel through time and see the ideas of people from the deep past. These images of interconnected animals, plants and humans remind us that for our world to survive we need to work together.

For a more for more about our business, see the Summer 1998 article about Midnight Moon in Sojourn / Grace Millennium Magazine.

Also, visit our Seasonal Festivals page.

About Our Work, Color Choices, Ancient Stone Designs

Our Offerings: Celtic Wall Plaques,  Goddess Wall Plaques,  Other Wall Plaques, Asian Plaques
Stepping Stones / Garden Plaques, Gazing Bowls,  Mystical Creatures,
Celtic Blessings

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Ann & Jon Maglinte
P.O. Box 1115
Willits, CA 95490

Phone: (707) 984-6747

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