Ireland Calling
Ireland Calling Store

The Spiral – thought to represent the sun

The spiral pattern is one of the most common in nature, from snail shells to whirlpools to entire galaxies.
Spiral - Celtic symbol. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling

It is also one of the oldest patterns created by humans, with evidence of rock carvings throughout the world, some dating back tens of thousands of years. So it is not surprising that it features prolifically in Celtic culture.
Spiral copyright Ireland Calling
In fact, the spiral is the oldest symbol in Celtic culture. In Celtic belief it is thought to represent the sun or the radiation of ethereal energy.


The symbol of the spiral in various forms can be found on carvings throughout Europe where the Celts travelled. This has led to a belief that the symbol could also represent migration, perpetual movement.

The Celts were travelling tribes and this theory matches up with other migratory tribes who used the same symbols thousands of miles away. There is also a link to water. The spiral occurs naturally in the form of waves and other cultures have used the spiral to depict water. Also related to migration, some of the spiral carvings in Scandinavia are thought to represent the stars and their positions in the sky.

The double Spiral

The double spiral is found at many Celtic grave sites and has been linked, not only to the sun but to the idea of death and rebirth. This could mean the transference of energy from the body to the soul or the body giving life back into the earth, a constant cycle of life, which is a popular theme in Celtic symbolism.

Newgrange kerbstone
Newgrange kerbstone

In relation to the sun, the double spiral is thought to represent the solstices or the equinoxes. Sometimes the double spiral appears as a loose anti clockwise spiral joined with a tight clockwise spiral.
Double Spiral. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling
This is thought to represent the large, warm summer sun and the small shrinking winter sun whereas equal sized spirals represent the two equinoxes where the days and nights are of equal length, a sign of balance.

Clockwise and anti-clockwise spirals also represent energy in different ways – clockwise: emergence and growth, anti-clockwise: drawing inward.

A Triskele is a triple Spiral. It had huge significance for the Celts. Find out more about the triskele

All images copyright Ireland Calling


Check out the Ireland Calling store

Book of Kells style personalised illuminated manuscripts

Book of Kells style personalised illuminated manuscripts

Sign up to our FREE newsletters

Please click on your confirmation email,
Check your junk mail folder in case it gets sent there.

The wonderfully ornate illustrations and calligraphy in the Book of Kells has inspired artists for centuries and is still highly influential today. It’s now possible to have your name written in the style of the Book of Kells with ornate initial letters and calligraphy that are direct replicas of work created by the monks more than a thousand years ago.

These examples also have the names written out in the ancient ogham script, using vertical and horizontal lines. Click here for more information


Have your family name written in Ogham - personalised prints

Personalised Ogham prints

Celtic Mythology SymbolsMore on Celtic symbolsMore on Celtic myths and legends


XSLT Plugin by Leo Jiang