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What is a Triquetra?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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A triquetra is a three cornered shape that is used as a symbol in many cultures, ranging from traditional Christianity to pagan Celtic traditions. People may be most familiar with the shape in Celtic art, where it appears extensively in a wide array of situations, from carved headstones to motifs in Celtic paintings. This design can be utilitarian and very simple, or incredibly ornate and quite beautiful, in the case of complex Celtic knotwork.

Typically, a triquetra is formed by interlocking three identical shapes to create a distinctive three-cornered pattern. Archaeological evidence suggests that it has been an important symbol in Celtic art for centuries, and it was also extensively used in Germanic paganism. Triquetras can be found on many rune stones, for example, and they also appear in wooden and stone carvings found throughout Northern Europe.

People who follow pagan and New Age traditions which are said to be rooted in ancient Celtic practices often use the triquetra as an expression of faith. Some say that it represents the Triple Goddess in her roles as Maiden, Mother, and Crone, for example, while others suggest that it reflects fertility, unity, and other ideas that are important to New Pagan practices. Because of the pagan associations of this symbol, it often shows up in works of art and jewelry that are meant to appeal to this community.

In Christianity, the triquetra is often used as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The three shapes symbolize the individual members of the Trinity, with their unification symbolizing the unity of the Trinity. It is common for a Christian triquetra to be made with three interlocking mandorlas, almond shapes formed by the vesica piscis symbol, another ancient symbol.

There are a number of variants on the triquetra. Some, for example, are interlaced with other symbols so that the shape acquires additional personal meaning. People may also see motifs with symbols or text inside the voids formed by the interlocking shapes. It also appears in the Trinity Knot, which is closely associated with Christian beliefs about the Holy Trinity.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon146944 — On Jan 27, 2011

I've never really been aware of this symbol before. until lately its popped up in my dreams quite often. so i looked it up and here i am. can anybody give me any insight on why i might be having these dreams?

By anon123993 — On Nov 04, 2010

EarlyForest: A triquetra and a pentagram are not at all the same. A pentagram is an inverted pentacle. (A pentacle is most representative of Pagan/Wiccan practices; each of the five points representing an element (spirit, water, wind, earth, fire) which are all interconnected, representing overall peace, balance, etc.) A pentagram is a Satanic symbol. Triquetras are not Satanic.

By EarlyForest — On Aug 30, 2010

So in Wiccan beliefs, what is the difference between a triquetra and a pentagram? I always see a lot of triquetra pendants and pentagram pendants, so I assume they're kind of the same -- am I right?

By zenmaster — On Aug 30, 2010

I really appreciate that this article focussed on a lot of different triquetra meanings, not just the triquetra of the trinity or the Wiccan triquetra or the Celtic triquetra.

I think it's great that you included many different traditions and interpretations.

Well done, wisegeek, for doing your research and being open-minded.

By rallenwriter — On Aug 30, 2010

The triquetra also shows up a lot in jewelry -- many people like to wear triquetra knot jewelry as a symbol of their faith, their beliefs and hope in the world, or simply because it looks pretty.

Of course, not everybody is aware of all the triquetra meanings, but the symbol is so attractive that they wear it anyway.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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